17 of the best running and training apps

Looking to get more out of your run? There’s an app for that – or more like a hundred apps. These days, apps can not only track your run, but coach you, motivate you with music, keep you safe and so much more.

To keep things simple, we’ve rounded up our favourites, based on the kind of runner they’d be perfect for. We’ve split things into four categories: beginner, advanced, music and motivation and safety to help you download the tools to get the most out of your miles.

Best beginner running apps: Human

Human running app

Best for: Getting motivated to be more active

Human isn’t the most advanced activity tracker on this list, but it wins points as a strong motivator. The app works in the background and tracks the time you spend being active (running, walking and cycling), and nudges you to hit your “Daily 30”, or 30 minutes of exercise per day. Yet for the competitive runners out there, the biggest motivation actually comes from other people. Human compares your data to other nearby users to create a leaderboard of who’s exercising nearby, so you can see how you rank against your neighbours.

Free on iOS and Android.


Best beginner running apps: Couch to 5K

Coach to 5k app

Best for: Building your confidence by working towards a goal

The popular NHS England Couch-to-5K app does exactly what its name suggests: it turns you from sedentary couch potato into a runner. It guides you through three 30-minute workouts per week to get you ready for a 3.1 mile race in just nine weeks. Along the way, it gives you support from various trainers, displays a countdown timer so you can see how long you’ve got left and connects you to likeminded people through community forums.

Free on iOS and Android


Best beginner running apps: Pacer

Pacer running app

Best for: Starting a regular running routine

This app is centred on step-counting but it’s a great launching point into developing a running habit, too. Like Human, Pacer works in the background, logging your steps as you move around during the day to give you a picture of your activity level. Unlike Human, you can also track runs with GPS and join group challenges, and if you opt for the Premium version (£3.49 per month), you can access training plans with video workouts.

Free on iOS and Android

Related: The best running watches for beginners 


Best advanced running apps: Strava

Strava

Best for: Tracking runs and rides with a strong social element

Wildly popular among cyclists and runners, Strava is a great choice for casual milers and pros alike. It offers in-depth GPS tracking, works with a variety of GPS devices, and tracks all kinds of metrics (especially if you opt for a Premium membership at £5.99 per month). It’s also known for its popular segments feature, which shows how you stack up against other runners on the same route. Premium users also get access to Beacon, a safety option that allows three designated contacts to monitor your location while you’re out running.

Free on iOS and Android


Best advanced running apps: MapMyRun

MapMyRun running app

Best for: Finding new routes to run

Not sure where to run? Choose from one of more than 70 million routes on MapMyRun, Under Armour’s comprehensive tracker that records distance, pace, elevation, calories burned, and more. It integrates with a variety of major wearable trackers, as well as the My Fitness Pal app, so you can sync your diet and exercise info together for a clearer picture of your health.

Free on iOS and Android


Best advanced running apps: Nike+ Run Club

Nike+ running app

Best for: Run tracking, photo sharing and audio coaching

Engineered specifically for runners, the Nike+ Run Club app goes beyond basic tracking with several motivation and coaching features, such as end-of-run cheers from top athletes, built-in photo sharing that overlays your run stats with a photo from your route, and audio-based workouts from top Nike coaches to help guide you along the way. Plus, the audio-coached runs feature a Spotify integration so you can lay the coach’s cues over your favourite playlist—the best of both worlds. Latest updates include the integration of coached runs with the likes of Sir Mo Farah, and the option to listen to a mindfulness session from people behind Headspace whilst running.

Free on iOS and Andorid

Related: Nike teams up with headspace app to offer runners the chance to meditate as they run 


Best advanced running apps: Runzi

Runzi app

Best for: Tracking cadence on an 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.

Free on Android


Best advanced running apps: iSmoothRun

iSmoothRun app

Best for: Training with multiple tracking services

If you’re one of those runners who tracks just about everything, this is the app for you. In addition to showing you information about your run—basics such as distance and time, but also steps, weather, and the name of the road you started on—the iSmoothRun app supports run/walk and interval workouts, syncs with a variety of devices, tracks shoe mileage, and can also send workout data to other training logs. 

£4.99 on iOS 


Best running apps for motivation: Sylo

Sylo running app

Best for: Getting all your tunes in one place

If you like to dig around on SoundCloud, YouTube, and Spotify for your music, check out Sylo—it’s an app that lets you stream from all three services in one place, so you don’t have to switch between apps to listen to your tunes. Connect your Spotify premium and SoundCloud Go accounts to download music for offline listening as well.

£1.99 on iOS 


Best running apps for motivation: Runkeeper

Runkeeper app

Best for: Setting goals and reaching them

Whether it’s a 10K or a marathon you’re training for, Runkeeper is an app designed to help you reach that goal. Track workouts using GPS, set a race, weight or pace goal and use the coach functions to reach it, or follow one of the apps personalised training plans to just get fitter.

Free on iOS and Android


Best running apps for motivation: Runtastic

runtastic app

Best for: Keeping your mind occupied while running

Runtastic is a full-fledged run tracker, but it also stands out for its unique “Story Running” feature. Download stories the app to listen to podcast-style tracks as you run. Each story is roughly 35 to 40 minutes long—just about the same duration as your typical daily workout.

Free on iOS and Android


Best running apps for motivation: Racefully

Racefully running app

Best for: Virtual running on an iPhone

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.

Free on iOS 


Best running apps for motivation: Charity Miles

charity miles app

Best for: Running for a cause

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.

Free on iOS and Andriod


Best running apps for motivation: Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run! app

Best for: Turning your run into a video game

If lacing up for a run sounds daunting, try adding a little primal fear to your routine with Zombies, Run! This app puts you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse by providing a series audio stories and missions for you to listen to as you run, mixed in with your own music. There’s also a specific 5K version of the app for beginners. Follow the audio prompts to collect supplies, fortify your zombie-proof base, and save humanity—what’s better motivation than that?

Free on iOS and Android.


Best running apps for motivation: Ghostracer

Ghostracer running app

Best for: Racing against a ghost partner on your 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.

Free on Android


Best running apps for safety: RoadID

RoadID app

Best for: Automatically getting help in case of an accident

Road ID is better known for its bracelets that identify you to first responders after an accident (if it unfortunately happens). But the company also has a handy app that lets you share your location with friends and family, and it sends them an SOS message with your location if you stop moving for five minutes and don’t respond to the app’s alert. Better yet, your contacts don’t even need the RoadID app to use it—they get alerts via text or email.

Free on iOS and Android.


Best running apps for safety: Companion

Companion app

Best for: Instantly letting family and friends who if you’re unsafe

Similar to RoadID, Companion allows you to pick contacts to share your location with while out running (or doing anything else). Select who you want to monitor you, and they can see your location in real time, either in the app or via text. It comes with built in “Safety Triggers” to detect falls or when you veer off course, and it will notify your contacts if you don’t respond to the alert prompts. You can also adjust your destination and timing as you run, and immediately call 999 if there’s an emergency.

Free on iOS

A version of this article appeared on Runnersworld.com.