What better way to spend a sunny afternoon or a crisp winter evening than by strapping on your Nikes, threading your headphones under your t-shirt up to your ears, and going for a nice long run? It’s a fine feeling, and it’s made even better in the company of a good smartphone running app, which can help you track your runs, listen to music, and shower you with motivational words to get you going that extra mile.
But which one to pick? We’ve made your life easier by listing our favorite running apps right here for you.
Not all the apps in this list will be as silly as this one, I promise, but if you’re a gamer like me, and want to have some kind of narrative justification for your runs, then you need to check this one out. Zombies, Run! is an experience that immerses you in an audio-story set in a zombie-ridden post-apocalypse. Your jogs become life-and-death escapes from zombies, where you try to out-run the ravenous horde while picking up “items” like medication and fuel to help you survive. The Walking Dead? More like the Running Dead! Am I right?
Run with Map My Run
They could’ve just called it “Map My Run”, couldn’t they? Whatever the title, this app is a good one, uniting the running community by allowing people to upload their favorite running routes and share them with fellow joggers. Better still, you can compare your times on runs with other joggers, pushing you to make it onto the leaderboards among friends and other users around the world. Naturally, it syncs with Android Wear, Apple Watch, and other fitness trackers to give you accurate feedback on your progress.
Nike+ Run Club
Call us corporate groupies, but whenever Nike releases a fitness-related item, it never fails to impress. Like a great interactive journal of everything running-related, this app stores your running data, tracks your progress, and offers coaching plans based on your running level. Like Map My Run, it also has an element of friendly competition, letting you compare runs with friends and frienemies alike. As with most things Nike-related, it has its share of sports celebrities making appearances in motivational videos including Mo Farah, Allyson Fenix, and comedian Kevin Hart. (In fairness, the guy’s in great shape!)
One of the more no-nonsense running apps out there, Strava is a one-stop shop kind of running app, stripping away what some people may think of as the “frilly bits” in something like Nike Run Club. In Strava you track your runs, link up with friends to compete and even send each other messages of motivation and support (or jeering, as the case may be), and try to beat personal challenges set for you by the app. Of course, heart-rate tracking, GPS, Apple Watch and Android Wear functionality are all accounted for.
It’s rare to see two apps syncing like Ghostracer does with Strava, and on this evidence you wonder why it doesn’t happen more often. Ghostracer will be familiar to anyone who’s raced against ghosts in Mario Kart, as it uses data from Strava to put you in live-action competition with your past self. So as you’re running routes you’ve run before, it dynamically shows you how you’re doing compared to your own past runs, both on-screen and with regular audio updates. It’s a great way to stay on top of your game because there’s no better motivator than the fear of losing to yourself!
Running isn’t for everyone, but sometimes the incentive of setting personal targets, competing against friends, or running away from zombies is enough to get you into it. So if you’ve tried running without an app before, try it with one of these apps instead, and you may find yourself much more into it than you ever imagined you would be.