Winter makes us all a bit more sluggish and reluctant to leave our warm homes to face the great outdoors. But it’s time to come out of hibernation now and switch the treadmill for the track.
We’ve tested some of the top running apps available across a range of smartphone operating systems, from the simple but effective RunKeeper to community-focussed Strava.
And for those who really struggle for motivation to get out and push hard, perhaps the mock-apocalyptic Zombies, Run! app will succeed in getting you up off the sofa.
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6 best running apps
6 best running apps
RunKeeper’s simple and easy to navigate interface mark it as a good running app – and even old school runners should have no trouble picking it up. With an impressive 28 million users, it seems we’re not the only ones who think RunKeeper combines usability with functionality. As well as comprehensive details of each run, personal records for distance, calories, duration, pace and elevation are stored, and training plans from professional coaches are available for an additional cost. Free on iOS and Android, runkeeper.com
Many of Strava’s key features draw on information from the running community, so there’s a social feel to it. Users can challenge themselves in monthly competitions against each other – for example, run 10km in March as fast as you can – which will sometimes lead to rewards such as a month’s free Strava Premium membership. The app also allows runners to share and view popular routes in any location; a handy feature for those who often find themselves in new places. The latest update also incorporates cycling support and an activity feed so you can see information about your friends’ runs and rides. Free on iOS and Android, strava.com
MapMyRun’s route planning feature allows you to easily work out a run before you set off – useful for those sticking to a training plan or if you’re not familiar with the area. The app also offers site integration, so activities recorded on your phone are synced automatically to your online profile. It’s compatible with the company’s other fitness apps – MapMyRide, MapMyFitness and MapMyWalk – and shows data about friends’ activities. It also can track your diet and weight. Free on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry (limited support), mapmyrun.com
4/6 Zombies, Run!
If traditional running apps don’t inspire you, this might be the one for you. The premise of this game-come-fitness app is simple: you run as part of a storyline in which humans are fighting for survival against an invasion of zombies. Choose a mission and then start running. You’ll get voice prompts indicating the proximity of zombies and therefore the need to speed up to get away. You’ll also collect virtual items as you run, which can be allocated to different areas of your base, to defend it from attack. All-in-all a rather odd yet enjoyable running experience – though admittedly not for everyone. £2.49-£2.99 on iOS and Android, zombiesrungame.com
Runtastic 5.0, released just yesterday, has a completely new aesthetic and includes an innovative new hydration suggestion feature, which takes into account information such as activity details and personal stats to recommend how much water the athlete should drink. Live tracking and cheering is now included in the free app, and existing features, such as colour coded routes indicating changes in pace and elevation, have been improved. Free on iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry, runtastic.com
6/6 Nike+ Running
Nike+ Running’s standout feature is the option to initiate friendly competitions between you and your training partners by setting a distance goal and racing towards it. The app has a bold design and is packed with features to help runners achieve their goals. The tracking screen is clear and uncluttered, meaning you can easily see your progress at a glance, and friends can send you cheers to encourage you mid-run. Free on iOS and Android, nike.com
If you’re a fairly capable runner, Strava is a good choice on account of the monthly challenges, which encourage you to run certain distances as fast as you can and compete on a leaderboard with other users from around the world.
Runtastic is a useful companion to have if you’re planning to participate in any races, as it’s easy for friends to send you motivational messages that you’ll hear while you run – often the catalyst for a burst of speed.
For people who want to add another dimension to their running, Zombies, Run! fits the bill, immersing you in a story where it’s your job to save the world. Although an unusual concept, and unlikely to be the app of choice for people who take their training very seriously, it’s a fun and well-executed option.
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