They say the best things in life are free and many folk choose running to exercise for exactly that reason – so free running apps are bound to appeal to most runners.
But the app market is saturated with apps to aid all forms of exercise. So, we’ve picked our favourite five running apps from the many out there by focusing on what your running goals may be.
Here’s the rundown:
1. Best all-rounder – Runkeeper
If you’re new to running you may not have heard of Runkeeper but it is one of the most popular running apps because as well as coming gratis on every smartphone format, it ticks all the boxes for casual and committed runners alike.
Runkeeper links to your phone’s GPS to track your route, monitor your speed and keep an eye on your running regime. While you run it tells you how long you’ve been going, how far you’ve gone and your average speed at regular intervals, so it’s a great motivational tool.
You can set goals, record progress, link with Facebook friends and announce completion of runs via your phone to those you’ve friended or to your wider social media sphere.
And when you’re not running Runkeeper even occasionally sends you a polite reminder on regular run days to tell you that you usually take your trainers on the running track on that day at that time. It really is something for nothing.
2. Best for absolute beginners – Couch to 5K Runner
If you’re new to running taking those first steps can be daunting, especially if your level of fitness isn’t great. What this app does is take you from a standing start to a 5K run in an easy-to-follow eight-week programme.
To get the most from this app you need to ensure you’re able to commit half an hour, three times a week for an eight-week period. This can be outdoors, on a treadmill, or a mixture of the two.
The award-winning app claims to have coached 4.2million people successfully through its programme. It builds your stamina slowly by varying walking with jogging and running. To keep you motivated it awards you with badges, and everyone loves a badge.
The app will integrate with your smartphone’s GPS and allow you to play the music you have on your device, while the coach’s voice takes you through each session.
3. Best for Weight Loss – Running for Weight Loss
Running is a great calorie burner for all but if your specific goal is to lose weight you can harness the power of running to achieve this through this great app. It has a variety of programmes suited to all levels of fitness and frequencies of exercise.
All the app’s programmes take you through challenging interval training programmes to up your calorie consumption and build your stamina for more challenging workouts as you progress.
There’s a choice of coaches from ‘sweet and encouraging’ to ‘tough and military’ so you can get the style of encouragement that works for you. Your elected virtual personal trainer will guide you through the drills with a mixture of motivation and technique instruction.
As it’s flexible, the weight you lose will result from the effort you put in, but even adding this to your workout regime once a week should produce results within eight.
4. Best for training for a specific event – Running Plan
Whether it’s a charity 5K or a full-on marathon, having a firm training schedule will not only get you fit enough to complete the race it will also build your strength in order to reduce the risk of injury when you do. In addition, if your target is the time you want to finish within, a clear and properly calculated plan is far more likely to help you than regular, but unstructured, training.
Running Plan gets you to set your goals and then computes a training plan for you. It tracks you as you train and adapts the plan according to your performance. There are voice cues while you run to motivate you and on completion the detailed stats enable you to monitor your progress and see whether you’re on track to meet your target.
5. Best for post-run stretching – 5 min stretch for Runners
Never forget your run isn’t complete unless you’ve stretched, and with this easy running app you can lengthen your muscles and help maintain proper body alignment with a good stretch.
There are sequences for pre- and post-workout stretching which take into account how warm the body is and so adapt the types and ranges of movement accordingly. While it’s never been proven that stretching prevents injury or dispenses with DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), maintaining and developing muscle motion range is crucial for posture and can increase the explosive power of the muscles when you run.
So download and try out these 5 top free running apps and do let us know in the comments which ones you love and why!