9 best free training apps

1/ Saucony Stride Lab

iOS

Some running apps want to track your runs, but Stride Lab aims to help you run better. It takes everything Saucony has learned from its performance lab over the past 10 years and adds insights from biomechanics expert Jay Dicharry to put a cutting-edge, virtual biomechanics lab in your smartphone. After guiding you through a personal evaluation of stance, mobility, stability and stride, the app crunches your data and provides a customised training plan that will help you improve where you need it most.

 

2 / My Money Time

iOS, Android

Turn miles into money. Yup, this app is real. The catch? You can only spend what you earn in certain partner stores. A 10-mile run earned us £48.80 in vouchers; the money had to be spread across multiple brands, but with the likes of Asics, Polar and Under Armour as partners, it’s worth clocking up the miles. You won’t even have to stop using your favourite run-tracking app because you can import data from Strava, Garmin and Endomondo and still cash in.

 

3 / TruBe

iOS

Booking a personal training session made as easy as it gets. Think Uber but instead of hailing a taxi, you summon a personal trainer to come to your home, office or local park. From kickboxing and CrossFit, to specific task-focused training, there’s a great variety of runner-friendly sessions to choose from. Your trainer brings all the kit you need, and you can arrange sessions for under £35. The service is currently London-based only, but is planning to expand nationwide in the near future.

 

4 / Racefully

iOS

Running buddy just moved to the other side of the world? No problem, Racefully has your back. This clever app lets you run virtually, in real time, with your own tribe of race mates from anywhere on the planet. Invite fellow runners on a run date and during the session the app’s audio commentary keeps everyone updated about how they’re doing in the group. The app even recognises if one of you is toughing it out on hills and adjusts itself to ensure a fair race. For the competitive among you, there are leader boards, badges and achievements to unlock, too.

 

5 / Nike+ Run Club

iOS, Android

Updated in 2016, the Nike+ Run Club app hasn’t been to everyone’s liking, thanks to changes that have made sharing workouts to Facebook more difficult, and the removal of some community challenge features. But Nike’s app is still a great GPS run tracker and you’ll be hard pressed to find personalised coaching plans that are easier to set up. There’s also full support for the Apple Watch Series 2 and useful touches, such as in-app Spotify controls.

 

6 / Under Armour Record

iOS, Android

More a total health solution than a running app, this bills itself as the world’s first 24/7 connected health and fitness system. That’s a fancy way of saying it syncs with Under Armour’s body-fat scales and heart-rate monitor, will track your training using GPS for distance, pace and the like, and also keep tabs on other lifestyle factors that influence how well you run and how fit you feel, such as steps, sleep quality and nutrition. But its neatest trick might be comparisons that let you check a run performance against a night’s sleep or a day’s food intake to see how that affected you.

 

7 / Charity Miles

iOS, Android

The link between charity and running is now even stronger, thanks to this award-winning app that lets you earn money as you log your miles. Dosh is donated by brands sponsoring the app (Johnson & Johnson is among the larger companies featured) and you can choose to donate to a charity of your choice from a list of (currently) 40, including Save The Children, WWF, RED and the Ironman Foundation. So far, the app has raised over US $2m (£1.65m) and you can now even join teams to run for specific causes, such as Stand Up To Cancer.

 

8 / Ghostracer

Android

Race against a ghost partner, all based on past runs from Strava. Choose to beat your personal best or take on another runner from the Strava leader board, racing as if you’re there live, with the data shown on your Android Wear smartwatch. You get to see in real time if you’re lagging and there are audio-coaching pep talks to keep you on track. The stats upload to Strava, making it easy for you to take your place at the top of the leader board.

 

9 / RUNZI

Android

This is all about improving cadence and reducing impact. The idea is simple: you get regular cadence readouts along with an audio metronome, with pulses sound-tracking runs, helping you push for a 180 BPM (beats per minute) foot-strike rate. The aim is to improve form and efficiency, and reduce impact on your joints. There’s a daily, weekly and monthly impact tracker, so you can avoid injury while pushing your limits.

 

Running buddies

Two ingenious services that unlock added potential from your favourite running apps.

Trainasone

An artificially intelligent personal-coaching system that sources data from other runners around the world (over one million kilometres of data) and uses it to create smarter training plans for people trying to achieve similar goals. It’s Robocoach. Connect your running app or GPS watch, share some stats and TrainAsOne gives you a tailored training plan to help you achieve your goals. 

Smashrun

Web-based platform Smashrun helps you spot trends in all those stats you log using a smartphone app or running watch. You get brilliant visuals of your running history and clever insights, such as the days you tend to run least. But that’s just the half of it: There are also the hundreds of badges you can earn for all kinds of challenges, such as run 10 times at 7am to notch the early bird badge.