“It's hard to find a smartphone-toting runner who hasn't at least heard of RunKeeper, let alone used it,” says Time. With more than 25 million users RunKeeper is among the most popular of all the free running apps out there. Whether you’re a veteran runner or just jumping on board the exercise bandwagon, whatever fitness tracking tools you need, Runkeeper has them. And the creators are constantly adding updates. Two new 5S features not commonly found in your average app include Pocket Detection, which works like a pedometer to track your daily movement, and a stride rate chart feature that lets users see how their stride rates change when running or walking.
With Charity Miles, your fitness can make a difference. Like, literally make a positive difference in the world, because for every mile that you track while running or walking using Charity Miles, 25 cents is donated to a charity of your choice. (10 cents is donated for every mile biked.) Exercisers can choose from over 20 different charities including the ASPCA, Autism Speaks, Habitat for Humanity, and the Ironman Foundation. Plus, not only does the app help to raise money, but awareness too. When you’re finished with your workout you can share your good deed with followers and friends on Twitter and Facebook. As of recent, selecting the World Food Programme (a Charity Miles partner) as your chosen charity is one way runners can help those affected by the typhoon in the Philippines.
Specifically geared towards newbie runners with sights set on finishing their first 5K race, the 5K Runner app calls itself “your personal coach to 5K.” It promises to help beginners lose weight and get in shape in eight weeks’ time using a “walk-run-walk” routine designed to steadily build strength and endurance. It tracks and logs workouts, includes real-time audio feedback and coaching, and social sharing capabilities complete with badges and awards for unlocked achievements. The free version only includes the first four workouts, but with so many rave reviews it seems the full version would be $2.99 well spent.
5K Runner on iTunes
Yog is all about running with friends, even if your best running buds happen to live halfway around the world. This one-of-a-kind running app allows up to 20 runners to workout together virtually by projecting an on-screen route visualization that shows where you are in comparison to all the other runners who joined the route. It works like this: Set a date and time for your run (plan accordingly for different time zones!) and then invite your friends. You can even leave your run open to other “Yoggers” and make new friends (well, virtually at least). Pre-run reminders will help keep you motivated and when it’s time to run, just open the app, click “Join,” and then race away. As you run (in addition to the on-screen visualization) real-time audio queues will notify you of your place in comparison to your competition. One reviewer wrote “Running with friends is really motivating and a whole lot of fun. [There’s] nothing like beating a friend across the country in a race."
Setting specific pace goals is a key component to any successful training plan, and Cruise Control will help you meet yours using the music in your iTunes library. The app takes your tunes and adjusts their speeds based on your target pace. There are four different ways to use the app. “Free Run Mode” simply sets each song to match your pace, or you can set a goal pace and the app will play songs at a pacific tempo to help you reach it. You can also use the app to train within target heart rate zones or based on a set cadence. Like all the best running apps, Cruise Control also tracks your time, pace, and distance and allows you to share your hard work on Facebook and Twitter when you’re finished.
The two most important things a runner wants to know when they finish their workout are how far and how fast they ran. MapMyRun easily records all of that information and more. Aside from using your phone’s GPS capabilities to track your route and pace, MapMyRun offers the ability to pre-plan routes, choose from pre-established courses, and review elevation profiles. Plus, it provides real-time updates about your distance and pace while you work out, and when you’re finished you can brag about your run with friends on Facebook and Twitter. Even more motivational is the app’s local “course competitions.” If you run a previously saved route faster than another local MapMyRun user you’ll improve your rank and receive “leaderboard achievements.” And don’t be fooled by the app’s name, it also offers the option to track other types of exercise like cycling and walking.
Despite being one of the lesser-known apps among the running community, Gipis happens to be pretty highly rated. The app creates personalized training plans based on your goals and personal stats. It’s so specific that it even has users input data pertaining to their body-type and build. The plans are adjustable and customizable and as you continue to progress your plan will adapt with your increased athletic ability. On top of telling you exactly what to do in order to reach your goal, the app also offers motivation in the form of badges for accomplishments like completing your first 5K or half-marathon. One reviewer wrote, “…workouts are not so challenging that you are easily discouraged, but hard enough that you are working and seeing results.”
For the gadget-loving, data-crunching health fanatic, iRunner (which is part of the DigiFit family of apps) offers everything and more. In addition to tracking your distance, time, speed, pace and splits for almost any activity under the sun, it provides feedback in the form of all different types of charts; integration with other apps like MyFitnessPal and FitBit; weight, blood pressure, and sleep tracking; the ability to sync your data with other devices; and compatibility with accessories like heart rate monitors and food pods. In fact, the app is so comprehensive that it’s been dubbed the “dashboard for healthy living.”
iRunner on iTunes
Sleek and simple, Running Pace is the perfect app for minimalist runners. You know, the types that refuse to run with music and think that gadgets are mostly a waste of time. This app has no real-time pace updates, special coaching features, or social sharing capabilities, but that doesn’t mean it’s not download-worthy. Runners are raving about this app because it’s so simple. Its main purpose is to calculate your pace. All you need to do is enter your distance and time, then let the app do the math. After you enter your info, the display shows your pace, speed, and splits. One reviewer wrote that they especially love Running Pace because it offers the option to enter up to three decimal places, which makes it possible to calculate quarter-miles splits.
Running Pace on iTunes
To track shoe mileage, some runners write the date of their shoes’ first use inside the sneaker’s tongue, some use a good old fashioned pen and paper, and others just wing it. But all the cool runners who have iPhones are downloading the Shoedometer app, which allows runners to track the distance (in either miles or kilometers) accumulated for multiple pairs of shoes. It depends on a few different factors (like what type of training you do, your running form, and body weight), but common consensus says sneakers should be replaced every 250-500 miles. The Shoedometer app turns yellow to warn you when you’re shoes are almost ready for an upgrade and red when it’s definitely time to trade in your kicks. One other awesome feature: The option to enter your miles manually or download data from Garmin Connect and Nike+ devices.
Runtastic is similar to apps like MapMyRun and Runkeeper in that it provides route mapping via GPS and post-workout feedback about distance, time, and pace. But what sets it apart from the ordinary are features like the ability to receive virtual messages and cheers from friends while you run, monthly metric recaps (including total distance, number of workouts, and calories burned), and the Runtastic online community, which offers further data analysis with support and coaching from other users. The New York Times also gave praise to the app’s interface noting that it offers a few qualities that its competitors don’t. “[It has] everything I need and [it] keeps getting better with new features. [I] love being able to add other ad hoc activities,” raved one reviewer.
Even though it doesn’t do nearly as much as all the other apps on this list, Mile Post might just be the most motivational of them all. Each day, it updates with a new inspirational, running-related quote. So, if you happen to find endless amounts of data and statistics incredibly un-motivating, simply give this elementary application a download and let the inspiring words of others help get your butt up and running.
MilePost on iTunes