People take up running for many reasons. Some like an active lifestyle. Others do it to lose weight and stay fit, while some might even do it because of encouragement from their friends. But regardless of why you want to run, using one of the best running apps will enhance your experience and help you achieve greater results.
Of course, there’s no shortage of opinions about the most effective running app, which is why some runners can get overwhelmed. The good news is that you can find an app with the best features, analytics, and interactivity to fit your fitness goals, lifestyle, and personality.
The Best Running Apps
One of the best and most popular running apps is Strava. This app is compatible with iOS and Android devices and is favored mainly due to its active social media platform. It’s a great app to share results, exchange training methods, and find like-minded fitness enthusiasts to keep you accountable.
But make no mistake. Strava isn’t a good app just because of its social media integration. Instead, the app has a solid analytical side that can help users create training plans, see heart rate data, check their calorie-burn rate, etc.
The app also does a stellar job of tracking pace, distance, time, and elevation, essential metrics for more advanced runners.
Using the app is simple enough. First, you have to create a Strava profile and then connect it to your fitness tracker or watch. And here’s why Strava is better than ever in 2022.
The app has a free and paid version. Initially, the Beacon safety feature was exclusive to the premium membership. Now all users can use Beacon and add safety contacts to their Strava profile.
Another essential feature is that the app is also offered to Apple Watch users. The dedicated iOS app improves data recording and eliminates the need to sync a health app with the user’s Strava profile.
- Massive social media integration
- Advanced metric tracking
- Beacon safety feature
- Knowledge library
- Custom training plans
- Many features are gated behind a paywall
- No dedicated app for Garmin and Fitbit trackers
NHS Couch to 5k
If you’re looking for a free app to help you start running, NHS Couch to 5K is one of the best running apps for 2022.
NHS Couch to 5K rose in popularity in 2020 during the pandemic. As entertainment options were scarce, many people turned to fitness. The app was perfectly positioned to capitalize on the new fitness movement and was precisely targeted at beginning runners.
Unlike other fitness apps that simply track metrics, NHS Couch to 5K is more like a coaching app. It takes users through a specific three-month program, helping them progress from zero experience to being able to run for as long as 30 minutes.
The app is highly interactive as users can select different personal trainers to get some encouragement during their runs. Furthermore, the app recommends a variety of run-walk intervals and eases users into running to help them avoid injury.
It’s easy to see the progression when using NHS Couch to 5K because the training milestones are small and achievable.
The two most notable features are its freemium membership model and beginner-friendly coaching approach. You’ll find no shortage of great tips, encouraging words, and experienced coaches.
- Free to use
- Intuitive interface
- Beginner-friendly programs
- Can choose coaches
- Limited metrics tracking
- No social community feature
If you’re a Garmin user, Garmin Connect is one of the best running apps to use with the company’s watches and fitness trackers.
Pairing off-brand apps and fitness trackers or watches can be challenging at times. But not so much if you’re sticking with the same brand. Garmin Connect is a free fitness app that works seamlessly with the brand’s devices.
It offers many dynamic workout routines to fit any personal performance goals. Furthermore, you can share workouts with friends, participate in challenges, and do many other things to stay motivated.
One of the app’s most notable highlights is its tracking tool. This is very advanced for a free-to-use app, but it unlocks the full potential of Garmin’s top-of-the-line fitness trackers.
If you want to know everything about your performance, the app helps track stress, sleep, respiration, hydration, blood oxygen levels, and various other metrics. So, it tells you how you run and gives you a rough estimate of your health and conditioning.
- Free to use
- Advanced activity tracking
- Superior fitness metrics
- Dynamic training plans
- Social interaction component
Limited compatibility with non-Garmin fitness trackers
Any user wanting to stay loyal to the Apple brand can use Apple Fitness+ for all their workouts.
The Apple Fitness+ app offers some of the best integrations you’ll ever see between fitness trackers and apps. At its core, this isn’t a running app. Instead, it’s a central hub for all activities like strength training, yoga, dance, HIIT, cycling, running, and everything else.
The app receives regular updates that introduce new classes, intensity levels, and tips for fitness enthusiasts of all levels.
In addition, it has seamless integration for playlists, photos, and coaching tips. It also does an excellent job of tracking essential metrics and displaying them on your preferred iOS device.
Runners can get a lot out of the app because it contains guided workout programs with helpful tips from experienced trainers.
And if you want a challenge, community leaderboards and shared workout routines will keep you occupied for a long time.
- Excellent iOS integration
- Compatible with many workout styles
- Guided running programs
- Live leaderboards
- Only for iOS trackers
- Paid membership required
Map My Run
Under Armour’s Map My Run is one of the best running apps for users that only care about running and nothing else.
If you don’t care about the bells and whistles of advanced fitness apps, Map My Run could be the right choice for you. The app is developed by sports equipment manufacturer Under Armour and revolves around a simple concept.
It’s designed to help users find local running routes based on their preferences. Many use it to locate less crowded routes or something that will give them a more challenging workout.
Though it’s just a running app, Map My Run features an advanced tracker that can record pace, calories, elevation, and other essential metrics.
As a new user, you’ll be able to browse through millions of routes discovered and shared by other users. You can do the same by creating custom routes and sharing them with the community.
Map My Run also has a safety feature with live location tracking, similar to Strava’s Beacon. However, that feature is gated behind a premium membership.
- Running-focused app
- Extensive route library
- Comprehensive tracker
- Android and iOS compatible
- Location tracking isn’t free
- Additional features gated behind a paid subscription
Nike Run Club
If you value a combination of social networking, coaching, and audio integration, Nike Run Club is one of the best running apps.
Nike Run Club is one of the most comprehensive running apps available for Android and iOS devices. That’s somewhat surprising given the app’s freemium model. But the app’s generosity in coaching, tips, and social networking has amassed many loyal users.
One of the standout features is its networking capabilities. You can connect with other runners, exchange routes and programs, and get together to motivate each other.
Additionally, if you’re a beginner, the coached runs available on the app will help you run more efficiently and improve your conditioning.
If you struggle to stay motivated, encouragement from coaches can help. But, if that’s not enough, the ability to play your favorite music while you run can make a difference.
Of course, the generosity doesn’t stop there. The app is advanced as it tracks many metrics, including mile splits, cadence, and others. And you can always compare yourself to your friends to find out who’s the better runner.
- Highly interactive
- A massive number of free features and content
- Built-in music player
- Social networking
Not the most advanced fitness tracker
If you’re looking for a fresh approach to running apps, Stride might win by a landslide despite being the newcomer.
Stride is available on Android and iOS devices, meaning anyone can use it. However, it made a bold move by entering the market with a paid subscription.
Still, you can try it out with the one-week trial.
But what makes Stride one of the best running apps? First, its approach to user interaction and engagement is unique.
Stride essentially uses game theory to keep runners engaged, motivated, and committed to improving their performance. It does this by introducing gamification and enabling users to compete locally amongst each other.
All runs and walks are tracked via the phone’s GPS. The more distance you cover, the more of the local territory you control.
This can result in interesting competitions between speed runners, marathoners, and endurance runners.
Unfortunately, Stride doesn’t yet have a dedicated training program. But if you’re already in a running club and know what you’re doing, it can be enjoyable to use, especially on days you’re particularly lazy.
It can also be a cool app to ease someone into the running lifestyle by not flooding them with too much information and strict training routines.
- Uses gamification for motivation
- Accurate live tracking
- Free trial
- Rewards system
- Limited metric tracking features
- No training plans
RunKeeper is a well-known running app and a long-time favorite for runners of all experience levels.
Many runners use the app’s free version. That’s because Runkeeper enables tracking metrics like time, mileage, distance, and other vital stats that help monitor performance and progression.
But with a RunKeeper GO subscription, users can benefit from customized training plans, more in-depth metrics tracking, and performance insights.
The app also has an extensive library of guided workouts. And to stay in line with current trends, it offers social networking in the form of virtual running groups.
Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced runner, RunKeeper can help you on your journey to maintain a healthy lifestyle and be a better runner.
However, as you progress, you’ll find that a subscription might be necessary to access more demanding challenges, gain more insight, and optimize your training programs to improve your performance.
- Highly interactive
- Advanced metric tracking
- Training insights
- Seamless compatibility with popular fitness trackers
The free version falls short after a while
While Peloton might be going through a rough patch regarding its equipment, the Peloton app remains one of the best running apps for 2022.
Anyone who bought a Peloton treadmill has probably used the Peloton app. It was designed to assist everyone from beginners to pros and help them get the most out of the Peloton treads.
However, you don’t need a Peloton treadmill to use the app. The free trial will give you an excellent overview of what the app offers, and what it provides is much more than other treadmill running programs.
But here’s the best part. The Peloton app has on-demand classes and live coaching sessions, making the interactivity off the charts. Moreover, many classes are themed for people who want to practice specific running styles, interval training, or need extra engagement.
If you’re not the outdoorsy type, the Peloton app is an excellent choice for many of your indoor training routines.
- Live and on-demand classes
- Not exclusive to Peloton equipment
- Interactive and motivating
- Themed runs
This app rebranded from Runtastic to Adidas Running but still retained well over 100 million loyal global users, for a good reason.
If you’re committed to making running your primary activity, but you’re just a beginner, Adidas Running can take you from zero to “pro.”
The app’s free version has extensive tracking features compatible with various running styles and intensity levels. It also offers virtual races, challenges, and social networking features to motivate users.
Another notable highlight is cross-platform compatibility. Apple Watches, Garmin Watches, Android devices, and everything else in between will support Adidas Running. In addition, you can sync this app with Garmin Connect, Zwift, and others to directly compare their tracking abilities or compensate for missing features.
After you reach new performance heights, Adidas Running can help you go to the next level. The paid membership unlocks a plethora of personalized plans, weight loss programs, and even marathon-specific training regimens.
- Unlimited potential for every user
- Social networking
- Free tracking
- Challenges and virtual races
Expensive paid membership
Select the App That’s Right for You
Every runner has different needs and goals, but there’s an app for everyone. Adidas Running is easily one of the best apps if you want a bit of everything without paying for the service.
It satisfies social networking needs, offers advanced tracking, works with most fitness trackers, and has many ways to keep you motivated. And if you want more, the paid subscription will unlock more advanced challenges and training programs.
The NHS Couch to 5K app deserves applause for making it easy for beginners to pick up the sport and learn it without committing hard cash to the experience.
Remember to always go with what suits you in the present. None of these running apps requires a lifetime commitment, and you can always try something new.