Let’s face it, running can – like most forms of exercise – get a bit boring. I know from my own experience that music can help take my mind off pounding the pavements for miles on end or running in the pouring rain. And it becomes even more fun when you have an app that overlays GPS information, including your route and the speed you are going.
It’s even possible to share your runs with your friends as well as set goals for your running in order to keep you motivated.
Here, we pick our top 5 running apps that you can download for your iPhone or Android smartphone.
Once you had to pay for this app, but Nike+ Running is now free to download on Android and iPhone. Like most running apps, it will track your run using your smartphone’s built in GPS and map the route on screen which you can then choose to share via Twitter, Facebook etc. with your running buddies. Usefully, the route is displayed on the screen in different colours for the fast and slow bits (green for fast, red for slow). Split times for each mile/kilometre are shown too, though on the iPhone version you will need to turn the phone round to landscape format to see them.
Other neat touches include motivational message from well known athletes (one of whom used to be Lance Armstrong, but isn’t any more) and a display showing activity each month which lets you see if you are running more, less, your average pace and calories burned over time. One of the new features is an option to tag each run with the ‘sneakers’ you ran with.
No other free app offers as much as Runkeeper for tracking all those vital running stats. The layout is simple to use with buttons for adding music playlists or routes that you have set up on runkeeper.com. Set your goals, start running and Runkeeper does the rest using GPS to track distance, time, splits, pacing and everything in between. You can even share your stats/bore your friends on social media with details of your runs. If you want even more information such as live tracking, training plans and advanced reports you can upgrade to Runkeeper Elite for a hefty £3.99 a month.
Map My Fitness’s run tracking app, the confusingly named Run with Map My Run (Android, iTunes), uses your phone’s GPS and other sensors to track and map your running course, time, speed and total distance travelled. The app displays real-time stats and your end-of-run totals. Useful extras include support for a variety of fitness trackers and heart rate sensors as well as Android Wear support. There’s even nutrition information so you can log all the food you eat and the number of calories consumed – a scary thought. A premium subscription (costing a whopping £3.99 a month or £20.99 a year) provides voice coaching and location sharing, as well as removing ads. The latest version (5.5) boasts a gear tracker so you can track your mileage on specific shoes. Although some users have complained that the GPS tracking isn’t very accurate we’e never experienced any problems.
Suitable for a number of sports – including running, biking and walking – the Runtastic app tracks distance, duration, speed, elevation change, calories burned and much more using GPS technology. Handy features include auto pause (the app stops timing if you stop for any reason), voice coaching and encouraging cheers. Although the basic app is free for iPhone and Android smart phone users, there’s no shortage of in app purchases available to buy as additional extras, ranging from weight loss help (99p) to training plans (£18.99). The latest version (5.2) calculates heart rate zones when you enter resting and maximum heart rate values.
Free your endorphins with the sports tracker described by the company as the ‘personal trainer in your pocket’. Endomondo is unusual in that it’s available on all smartphone platforms – including Windows and Blackberry. It’s also compatible with a wide range of sensors and monitors, ranging from Polar heart rate monitors to the Withings Body Scale (you can keep your weight and fitness graphs on Endomondo). Simply enter the sport you are taking part in – from kayaking through to cycling and walking – and Endomondo will help you make a plan for your exercises. You can schedule exercises and goals, complete with feedback from an audio coach. The basic version is free but a premium version will set you back £1.99 a month.