Top 10 iOS Apps for Runners
Written by Jim Desposito
Lots of people think about running, and some of those people actually do it. It’s not easy and, unfortunately, thinking about it doesn’t burn many calories or improve your muscle tone.
To really reap the benefits of running, and there are many, you have to get into a regime of working out that succeeds over the long haul. That is not a simple task, keeping up your motivation is hard, and running isn’t so easy either.
So how do you do it? As you might have suspected, apps to the rescue!
The apps we’re highlighting approach the challenge of running from different angles and do it in different ways, but they all have one thing in common; they do an excellent job of keeping you motivated and keeping you running.
No one app does it all and many of the apps have overlapping functionality.
Which one works best for you depends on what kind of running you do, where you’re starting from in your training and what you think will help you reach your goals.
Whatever you decide, there are a few points that you should be aware of:
1) GPS usage is a battery drain – a frequent warning included with these apps is “Please note that continued use of GPS running in the background can dramatically decrease battery life.” This doesn’t mean you should avoid the app, simply that you should be aware of this and plan accordingly.
2) Location Services – apps should offer the option of using Location Services only when the app is in use instead of only providing the option of “Always” or “Never”.
If you see an app that you like and it doesn’t have this flexibility, we encourage you to contact the developer and urge them update the app.
3) Subscriptions – just because an app is free to download, that doesn’t mean it’s free to use. Many of the apps require you to subscribe on a monthly or annual basis to get the best and most useful options.
Again, this doesn’t mean you should avoid the app, just be aware of what your annual cost is likely to be.
OK, with that out of the way, let’s get to the good stuff. Here are the Top 10 iOS Apps for Runners.
PS – We’re particular fans of the last app since it takes such an interesting and fun approach to motivating you.
RunKeeper – free, iPhone, Apple Watch
This app will let you track your run pace, measure workout distance, chart weight loss, reach your training goals and more.
This app has a lot to offer regardless of the level of training you’re at. So whether you’re just deciding to get off the couch for a 5k, biking every day, or deep into marathon training you can benefit from using RunKeeper.
One way to stay at it is to have an easy way to see your progress, and this app give you that. The feedback it provides over time is a great way to assess what’s working and what’s not.
Footpath Route Planner, free, iPhone, iPad
Footpath is a great app for easily setting up your running route.
This app takes an interesting approach that we like quite a bit. Instead of focusing on recording the run you’re doing, it’s purpose is to keep you running by helping you avoid the boredom that can come by running the same route over and over again.
The app makes it very easy to lay out your route by simply drawing it. Footpath automatically moves your lines to the roads and trials it knows. You can also just indicate two points and have it give you the route connecting the them.
And, as with many of the apps we like, it makes it very easy to share and keep your running buddies up to date on your progress.
Strava Running and Cycling, free, iPhone, Apple Watch
As the name says, Strava is an app that works well for both runners and cyclists, and is especially good for those actually competing.
This app is a combination of two apps that it previously offered, Strava for Running and Strava for Cycling. It let’s you track your runs or rides with GPS and does so quite accurately.
Besides mapping your route and tracking your pace, it also provides a wealth of other data, some that it estimates and some that it gets from various phone sensors such as: calories burned, elevation, average speed, max speed, and, if you wear a compatible monitor, your heart rate.
A feature of this app that we love and really sets it apart for competitive types is how it lets you join challenges and see how your running compares with your friends and your own best times.
Vima – GPS Run Tracker, free, iPhone, Apple Watch
Vima distinguishes itself by being a very effective GPS based tracking app for people who want to keep track of their running goals without all the frills.
If you’re looking for a very well-designed app that excels with it’s minimalist approach and simplicity, not to mention a very nice Apple Watch extension, Vima is for you.
You can easily keep track of your runs without a lot of distractions or unnecessary stuff getting in the way.
As with many of the better apps in this category Apple Watch integration is a huge plus.
While running you can just glance at your watch to see key data, such as distance run, current speed, how long you’ve been running and your current altitude to your Apple Watch.
In addition Vima goes further by letting you easily start, pause, resume, and save a run without ever getting your phone out of your pocket.
Runtastic Pro – $4.99, iPhone, Apple Watch
Runtastic Pro is an app that goes well beyond running to help you with other training activities as well.
On those days that you’re working out instead of running, for example,
Whether you’re running, working out in the gym or just out enjoying the day (and getting some good walking in) Runtastic is monitoring what you’re doing and reporting back to you about it. You’ll also appreciate how it lets you manage your running tunes right from your wrist. Quite handy.
We’re big fans of the new user interface and like how the app works so well with Apple Watch.
It covers all the basics such as calories burned, distance traveled, time spent in the activity, average temperature based on your location, the route covered (plotted on a map using GPS) and has a slick new interface for making everything easily accessible.
You can opt for live tracking of what you’re doing and even add additional details when you’re done. There’s a lot to this fine app.
Runmeter – GPS Pedometer, free, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch
Are you a fool for data? Do you want to know everything there is to know about your run? If you consider yourself a data nerd, this app may be just the ticket.
Runmeter is a powerful fitness computer and loves to show off what it can do using maps, graphs, splits, intervals, laps, announcements, zones, training plans and more.
It provides you with a very nice integration of the Apple Watch and does so with some terrific alternate displays, some more functional and others just more visually appealing.
It sports a clean easy-to-use interface that makes sure you can get at all the data your thirsting for. We’ve happy to say that while it collects a wealth of data about what you’re doing, it also gives you the options to manage what data you share and what you don’t.
As with many of these fine apps, Runmeter provides a free version, that may be all you need, but goes the extra mile (get it?) for those who opt for their Elite plan to access a host of advanced features. If you’re planning on using this app on a regular basis the Elite plan, at under $5 per year, is the way to go.
Run 5k (GPS & Pedometer), $1.99, iPhone, Apple Watch
If you are looking to get off the couch and start on a healthier lifestyle that includes running, this app will be a good fit for you.
Whether you plan to run indoors, outdoors or a combination of the two, Couch to 5K will keep track of the distance you run. For outdoor running it uses the built-in GPS and for when you’re on the treadmill is uses the pedometer that is part of the iPhone 5s, 6, and 6 Plus.
It does a very nice job of extending its usefulness to the Apple Watch providing key information and functionality in a well-designed and attractive layout.
We especially like how the developers have really focused on the newbie by including features that while arguably useful for any runner, are very important to anyone just starting out. These include voice coaching, easy viewing and full details on the run including a map of the route
It also lets you easily track your progress over time which should also help in the motivation department.
Even though this app is $1.99 for the download, you can check it out during two weeks of the running plan and then, if you think it’s a fit, you can unlock the full plan with one simple in-app purchase.
Spring – Workout Music, free, iPhone, Apple Watch
If you find it’s easier to be active while listening to music, this app is worth checking out.
It goes well beyond just playing tunes on a iPod or iPhone and provides a very interesting and enjoyable workout experience via the 35,000+ handpicked songs in its library.
Using its Apple Watch extension, with just this one app you can control your music, view distance, pace, and time with directly from your wrist.
By synchronizing your movement to music you may very well find that you’re running or walking faster and further with the same effort than what you did without it. You’re probably already working out to your own playlist but with Spring varying the beat of the music to the intensity of your activity, you’ll experience it in a whole new way.
Let’s face it, running or working out is tiring (duh!) and can also get boring. Spring will provide you with that extra push to help you reach your goal.
Runopia, free, iPhone
This app is a relative new comer and approaches running from a much more social point of view.
The focus of Runopia is to connect you with other runners in the physical world. By hooking you up with runs, groups, and even coaches in your area it helps people motivate, engage and inspire each other.
Runopia doesn’t try to boil the ocean, it has carved out its niche and does it very well. It’s a simple app that will help you get involved with the running community nearby. Be it casual jobs or Olympic level training, you can use this app to find your running mates.
What’s really cool about this app is that not only can you find planned run in your area just about any day of the week, but you can easily take it up a notch by setting up your own runs and managing who can join in.
Zombies, Run!, free, iPhone
We love this app! It takes a totally unique and creative approach to motivating you and is more fun to use than you can imagine.
Do you play zombie games? Are you a fan of The Walking Dead or the grandpappy of the genre, Night of the Living Dead? Well what if those menacing zombies could do more than just shuffle their feet, what if they could run as fast as you can?
It’s a fascinating premise and while a bit spooky, when you use this app we guarantee it’s the most fun you’ll ever have working out.
You won’t just hear the sound of an approaching mob or loud footsteps, you’ll hear guttural breaths, rattling groans and other sound effects that, once you stop laughing, will make you run, run, run!
We applaud the developers and the co-creator, award-winning novelist Naomi Alderman, for the premise, execution, and overall quality of this masterpiece.
Start your own zombie adventure, that includes playing songs from your own playlist and actually working your way though an immersive game, and live to talk about it. And by the way, if you don’t include Michael Jackson’s Thriller in your playlist we’ll be very disappointed.
Top 10 iPhone Apps for Runners Published by TheiPhoneAppReview.com