Fitness Technology

10 of the Best Running Apps for Everyone From Beginners to Marathoners

Rachel Lapidos

Rachel LapidosMarch 30, 2020

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The name of the game these days is to put one foot in front of the other—and that rings especially true for the best way to get in your cardio. Now that gyms are shut due to concerns surrounding COVID-19, health authorities have said that—if you’re not completely quarantined— getting your heart rate up on a socially distanced run or walk, is A-OK. One of the best ways to feel motivated to tally up the miles is by downloading one of the best running apps.

The running apps that we’ve rounded up bring you options galore: There are those that offer music-driven runs (and even sneakily increase the pace of the music to make you run faster), those that use artificial intelligence to coach you, those that let you choose your type and length of running workout, and the list goes on and on (and on). Whether you’re a running newbie or run marathons on the reg, there’s a running app for you—keep scrolling to see what’s out there.

The best running apps you can get

1. Peloton, $13/month

Peloton is probably known best for its at-home spin bike and corresponding classes, but the Peloton app has every different type of workout you could ask for—including running. Choose from either treadmill or outdoor runs to guide you. The treadmill runs give you the option of what length of run you’re looking for, whether you want to do a HIIT run, endurance run, or hills run, and you get to watch your trainer run along with you. Meanwhile, the Peloton outdoor options are audio only but also let you choose between interval runs or walk/run combos or HIIT, so that you can find whatever type of run you feel like doing that day. Try the app for free for 90 days.

2. STRAVA, free

Strava is a solid choice if you like to track your runs. You can literally map out the trail you’re looking to tackle, and it’ll keep track of not only your steps, but your pace, elevation, calories burned, and your performance compared to past runs. Even better: You can connect and share your runs with your friends, which gives you extra motivation. Besides running, the app also tracks your cycling rides and your swimming distances, too.

3. AAPTIV, $15/month

Aaptiv is an audio-based fitness app that offers a wide variety of workout modalities, from strength training to elliptical, rowing, yoga, and stretching workouts that range from seven minutes and up. The running is coached by certified personal trainers with background music pumping along to keep you putting one foot in front of another. There are classes for all different levels of runners, so you’re sure to find something if you’re a beginner or if you’re an ultra-marathoner looking to clock serious miles.

4. NIKE RUN CLUB, free

Nike collaborates with some of the top trainers out there, and the brand’s Run Club app brings you everything you’ll need to stay on top of your running game. There are challenges you can choose to take, coaching plans that help you to achieve your goals, GPS tracking so that you can monitor where you’ve run, and audio-guided running workouts. Pair it with your Apple Watch to clock your heart rate and have easy access to your stats. When you’re running, you’ll hear an uplifting soundtrack along with your coach (who could actually be Kevin Hart, BTW).

5. PACER, $10/month

If you’re avid about getting your 10,000 steps in, Pacer is the running app for you. It’s essentially a running coach plus pedometer in one, and tracks your distance, steps (of course), path, and heart rate, and stores all of the data so that you can look at charts to analyze your performance over time. If you’re an outdoor runner, it’ll even give you inspo for the best trails to run in your area. As far as running apps go, it’s pretty basic—but does the job if your main concern is tracking your activity.

6. COUCH TO 5K Run training, $3 total

Download this running app if you’re new to running or are just getting back into it. It’s a really easy interface that gives you a training program based on what you’re looking for, and works as a coach that motivates you during your workouts. You can listen to your own playlists through the in-app music player (which is a perk if you’re picky about your tunes), connect through the running community, and track your progress. It’ll generate graphs that show your running stats, too, so you can keep track of how your running game improves.

7. RUN WITH MEG, $40/month

Meghan Takacs is a New York City-based fitness trainer and running pro whose app brings you both treadmill and outdoor runs (ranging from HIIT to endurance options), plus strength training workouts to keep you sweating and motivated. Choose your running level, and from there, Takacs will customize your running program, acting as your in-ear personal trainer. With your treadmill runs, she’ll even give you exact run speeds and incline numbers so that you’re getting the best out of your workout.

8. ROCKMYRUN, $5/month

If you’re very particular about the music that you listen to when you work out, this app is totally music-driven—so it understands. It uses actual music technology to adjust the beat of your music to your BPM (beats per minute), so that your stride matches your tunes. It’s got DJ-curated music to inspire you to run faster/better/harder. And it does the basics on top of that, like track your run duration, speed, distance, and your heart rate.

9. THE RUN EXPERIENCE, free

For an app that’s free, The Run Experience has a lot to offer. All of the training comes from instructors in San Francisco, who bring you workouts (and corresponding videos and articles) that get you to reach your PR. You can choose interactive workouts so that you can train with the community, or opt for running workouts based on duration, fitness goal, and other criteria. Besides tracking and coaching you through your runs, the app offers different workouts that you can do, along with tips on things like how to prevent injury when running.

10. VI, $10/month

Vi is an app that gives you artificial intelligence as your coach, who gives you running workouts based on your level and your goals. Your A.I. friend will be in charge of the runs that you go on, giving you speed adjustments and words of motivation as you sweat. You can also opt in to community races as an added dose of virtual motivation. Watch what it’s like to have an A.I. running coach, below.

Also useful: How to avoid running injuries (you’re welcome). And this is how interval running can be the key to getting stronger/better/faster.

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