These days, there’s an app for everything. There are apps to help you be more productive, apps that teach you how to cook, apps that you can use to track your health metrics, apps to help you sleep, apps to log your food intake, and so on.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are dozens of running apps for your phone, iPad, or other tablets. Running apps span the gamut from providing training plans or specific workouts to follow, tracking your course and run metrics en route, to offering live or on-demand treadmill runs with top fitness trainers.
There are even running apps that provide virtual reality escapism, allowing you to envision yourself running along the rim of the Grand Canyon or the streets of Paris or Tokyo while you lope along on the treadmill in your living room.
The best running apps offer some way to make your running more enjoyable, informed, or effective. Apps for runners are often a motivational tool that can be used to keep you accountable and eager to hit the road, track, or treadmill even when you’re tired from a long day or there’s a downpour, heatwave, or winter wind.
We’ve evaluated the wide range of apps for runners, test-driven them to assess their features and ease of use, assessed their value, and chosen the best running apps of 2022.
Whether you’re a beginner runner or an experienced runner chasing a BQ time, keep reading for the best running apps to keep you motivated, consistent, and precise in your training.
#1: Best Running App Overall: Strava
Strava is a workout tracker, route planner, running log, and social network running app all in one. It’s one of the most popular running apps given its versatility, functionality, and value.
It’s a good running app for competitive runners and beginners alike. You can use GPS to track and record your entire run so that you get data such as your instantaneous and average pace, distance, and time.
Strava also keeps track of your personal bests, and lets you know when you achieve new records.
There are also community records and a leaderboard, so you can compete virtually with other runners in your local area to run the fastest splits for various marked segments on your favorite running routes.
As a social network, Strava allows you to follow any of your contacts or friends, and search for other runners. It syncs to your Facebook account to easily find friends to follow, and once you follow one another, you can view one another’s activities and give virtual kudos.
The Premium version has additional features like a safety option for any three of your contacts to know exactly where you are on your run.
#2: Best Running App for Making a Difference: Charity Miles
Sometimes, it’s helpful to harness the power of running technology on days your motivation to get out the door is sorely lacking. Charity Miles makes your running greater than just a health benefit for your body and mind.
This running app converts your running miles and exercise minutes into real money donated to charities of your choosing.
Knowing you’re doing something good for others and contributing to causes that mean something to you is an empowering and gratifying way to give back while giving to yourself.
Charity Miles also syncs with Strava and Apple Health to consolidate your fitness data in one place.
#3: Best Running App for Treadmill Workouts: Peloton
These days, there are quite a few running apps for working out on a treadmill. The best treadmill apps usually provide some sort of immersive, virtual running route to transport you to somewhere across the country or world and distract you from staring endlessly at the console on the machine.
Other treadmill running apps have structured workouts to follow. The Peloton app falls in this latter category. The treadmill classes are excellent for runners who need extra guidance and want a “coach” to tell them what to do.
As a bonus, the app has tons of other live and on-demand fitness classes, for workouts ranging from strength training to indoor cycling, boxing to yoga.
#4: Best Running App for Treadmill Distraction: Zwift
Treadmill runners who want to be teleported to the Boston Marathon course, the Swiss alps, or the streets of Berlin will love the Zwift app. This is one of the best treadmill apps that allows you to gamify your indoor run, compete against others, and travel virtually around the world.
Although the app is primarily designed for indoor cycling, the run option is a fun way to capitalize on the power of escapism and transform a dull treadmill console into a chance to virtually live out your global running dreams.
#5: Best Running App for Beginners: C25k 5k Trainer
One of the best running apps for beginners is the C25k 5k Trainer, which takes the now wildly popular Couch to 5k intro to running program digital so that you can follow along with the touch of a finger.
Couch to 5k progresses anyone from a sedentary lifestyle into a runner capable of finishing a 5k in just nine weeks through three 30-minute walk/run workouts per week. Even if you’ve never run a step in your life, Couch to 5k can be a viable training program for you.
There are actually dozens of Couch to 5k running apps, but this is our favorite one. The running app not only lays out every workout you need to do, but it also tracks your running data, such as time and distance, and you’ll get audio coaching and support from your virtual coach while you run.
If you’re coming back from an injury or prolonged break from running, or brand new to the sport, this running app can make the hurdle of getting going more approachable.
#6: Best Running App for Game Lovers: Zombies, Run!
Zombies, Run! debuted over a decade ago at this point, is still one of the most engaging and motivating running apps for many runners, especially if you like the gamification of exercise.
This running app offers a series of audio stories to play during your runs that set you on a mission to outrun a zombie apocalypse.
There are audio prompts while you run that tell you to pick up the pace or collect certain supplies to fortify your base against impending doom.
You can play your own music through the app and then respond to the stories as they cut in, making this a nice running app for people who like to run to their own music.
If you want to star in your own video game and turn your run into an exciting adventure, this is the running app to try.
#7: Best Running App for Apple Watch: Nike Run Club
If you want the best running app for the Apple Watch specifically, we recommend the Nike Run Club app. Although this popular running app also works with iPhone and Android, there’s a specific version for the Apple Watch to easily sync with all of your running data.
We like the “running coach” features of Nike Run Club in the paid version. There are numerous detailed training plans based on various goals, as well as audio-guided runs you can listen to as you work your way through intervals, structured workouts, or regular training runs.
You can also play your music and Spotify playlists through the app, look back at your entire workout history in the training log, and connect with other friends.
#8: Best Running App for Finding Routes: MapMyRun
When you are traveling and not sure where to run, or simply need to shake up your usual local routes, you can use a running app like MapMyRun to find running routes based on location and distance.
This running app has an impressive library of over 70 million running routes around the world generated by other users. You can also create and track your own routes, and the app will use GPS to record your distance, elevation, pace, time, calories burned, and more.
The free version has plenty of features, but there’s also a paid version with detailed training plans.
Now that this long-running app has been taken over by Under Armour, it also syncs with Under Armour smart shoes (yeah, that’s actually a thing!).
#9: Best Running App for Safety: Road ID
Road ID is well known in the running community as a company behind the engraved bracelets that can be worn on your shoelaces to inform first responders of your identity and medical conditions should you run into problems on a run.
They also have a running app that extends these safety features by allowing your loved ones to see your real-time location while running.
The app can send designated contacts an SOS text message with your GPS coordinates and location if you don’t cancel out the app’s alert if you stop moving for more than five minutes.
This running app can give your loved ones peace of mind while you train, especially if you run alone or run in the dark.
Ready to give one of the best running apps a try? If you would like to join our very own Marathon Handbook Strava Running Club, click here!