Best Apps For Beginning Runners

The best apps for beginning runners

Running is a great way to keep your body in shape, but it can be hard to know where to start. If you’ve never been a runner before and have no idea how to get started, these are the best apps for beginning runners.

  1. Runkeeper: This app is great for beginners because it tracks all of your runs and gives you helpful advice on how to improve your performance. The app has detailed maps that show where you ran and how fast you went, as well as other features that help you track progress and stay motivated throughout the week. Its easy-to-use interface makes it super simple to set goals and track progress towards those goals, so even if you’re new at running, this app will help get you started!
  2. Strava: Strava is another great option if you’re looking for an app that will help motivate you while running or cycling by competing against others in real time while they’re doing their own workouts at the same time (or just watching them). It’s also very useful because it tracks how many calories were burned during each session; this can be really motivating for some people who want proof that what they’re doing is actually helping them lose weight or build muscle mass rather
11 Best Running Apps for Beginners - Free Running Apps | Marie Claire

apps for beginner runners

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Best Running Apps
Track your distance, progress, and more
By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT Updated on February 28, 2022
Reviewed by John Honerkamp
Fact checked by Sean Blackburn
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned marathoner, finding the best running app to help you set goals, record metrics, and track your progress is key to sticking with a training program. Running apps track health and performance metrics like pace, distance, mileage, heart rate, and calories. They also come programmed with training runs and record running routes through GPS. More specifically, running apps give you a place to store information about your workouts, running and other fitness activities, and nutrition. Some apps are free to download and use, while others require a paid subscription to access premium features.

The best running apps consist of pre-programmed routes, virtual runs, audio coaches, support communities, social and competitive features, and personalized running plans. They also provide helpful data via charts and graphs so that you see your progress and make any necessary adjustments. Here are the best running apps to help you hit your stride.

Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Runkeeper

“If you’re also into biking or fitness walking, you can track those activities.”

Best Route Finding and Tracking: MapMyRun

“You can add your shoes to the app and the Gear Tracker will notify you when it’s time to get a new pair.”

Best for Beginners: C25K 5K Trainer

“It starts with a mix of running and walking, gradually building up your strength and stamina.”

Best Community App: Strava

“Allows you to compare times with other members of the Strava community or with your own group of friends.”

Best for Runners Who Want a Coach: Running by Daily Burn

“In-your-ear coaching for runners of all fitness levels.”

Best for Motivation: Charity Miles

“Helps you make your miles more meaningful and motivational by donating 25 cents for every mile you run to the charity of your choice.”

Best for Reaching Your Health Goals: MyFitnessPal

“You can chart your fitness and weight loss progress and connect with friends on the app.”

Best for Apple Watch: Nike+ Run Club

“You can connect to Apple Music or Spotify to access curated playlists that are specific for your runs.”

Best for Marathon Runners: Runtastic

“You can save all your routes and stats, so you can stay motivated.”

Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Runkeeper
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: Runkeeper is our pick for best overall because of its long-standing reputation as one of the best running apps for all fitness levels.

Strong running community and support

Appropriate for all running levels

Set goals and track progress

In-app challenges and virtual running groups

Need to upgrade for access to premium features

Tailored race-training plans only available with subscription

Continued use of GPS in background can decrease battery life

As one of the most popular and tried-and-true running apps out there, Runkeeper gets our top ranking for its wide array of features, accuracy, as well as ease of use. Whether you’re a beginner runner or an experienced marathoner, this app has something for everyone. You can use the GPS capability to track your distance, pace, and overall time, and mix up your running routine by following one of Runkeeper’s pre-created routes.

Runkeeper also lets you set goals and watch your progress to stay motivated. If you’re also into biking or fitness walking, you can track those activities. For runners training for races, Runkeeper offers personalized training routines, complete with helpful reminders to keep you on track. It also syncs with other apps and devices, such as Fitbit, as well as your Apple watch. All of these features are available free on iOS or Android.

Best Route Finding and Tracking: MapMyRun
Map My Run by Under Armour
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: MapMyRun is one of the most comprehensive running apps online. With features like audio coaching, route finding, easy-to-see maps, and data analysis, this running app is one you should try.

Real-time audio coaching

Find local running routes and routes in new cities

Ability to view time, distance, speed, and pace while running

Gear Tracker tells you when you need new shoes

Syncs with Under Armour Smart Shoes

Premium features require a subscription

GPS can be spotty if phone is not in the right place

MapMyRun is another running app that has stood the test of time. It first debuted as a way to measure running routes, but the latest version offers runners many more cool and helpful features. You can use it to track your runs and find running routes locally or in new cities, as well as get feedback on your stats so you can try to improve your performance.

If you’re one of those runners who never knows when to replace your running shoes, you can add your shoes to the app and the Gear Tracker will notify you when it’s time to get a new pair. You can also join the MapMyRun community to connect with other runners and stay motivated with fun challenges.

MapMyRun is available on iOS and Android and is compatible with hundreds of other popular apps and devices, allowing you to sync your data with your Apple Watch, Garmin, Fitbit, and more.

Best for Beginners: C25K 5K Trainer
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: C25K features the popular walk/run method of training for 5K distances, which is designed for entry-level runners wanting to train for races.

Based on run/walk method of training

Audio coach alerts you when it’s time to run or walk

Run 3 times a week for 30 to 40 minutes

5K ready in 8 weeks

Not a good fit for intermediate to experienced runners

Need to pay attention to audio cues

Upgrade required for access to premium features like customized programs

New runners rave about how this popular app took them from couch potato to the finish line of a 5K race in just eight weeks. With pre-designed training plans, Couch to 5K guides you through three workouts each week and keeps track of your progress and routes.

Perfect for beginners, it starts with a mix of running and walking, gradually building up your strength and stamina so you learn how to get into a regular running habit. You’ll also get verbal feedback as you’re running, so you’ll stay motivated to stick with the training. C25K works on any iOS or Android device.

Best Community App: Strava
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: We chose Strava for its strong commitment to community, support, ability to compare times and runs with other members, and group challenges.

Good choice for competitive runners

Focuses on performance analytics

Highlights the social aspects of running

Some people worry about privacy with personal routes that are made public

Might be too competitive or advanced for entry-level runners

Need premium version to enjoy it fully

If you love the social and competition aspects of running, Strava is the app for you. It allows you to compare times with other members of the Strava community or with your own group of friends to boost your motivation. It also has a safety feature called Beacon, which allows up to 3 people to know where you are running (they don’t need to have the app or be Strava members, either).

You can use Strava to set up group challenges, such as fastest 5K or most miles in a set period of time, to keep each other going. You can use Strava on any iOS or Android device and Apple Watch.

Best for Runners Who Want a Coach: Running by Daily Burn
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: Running by Daily Burn is a great choice if you’re looking for a running coach. This app gives you access to personal coaching, customized training plans, and guided runs.

New runs, challenges, and training plans weekly for all levels

Guided treadmill runs or outdoor runs

Customized running plans

Track mileage, pace, and calories

Personal running coach

Only available on the Apple App Store

Requires additional fees to access certain programs

Daily Burn is known for its incredibly motivational coaching, and its new running app is no different. Running by Daily Burn offers in-your-ear coaching for runners of all fitness levels: Choose from tempo, distance, interval, outdoor, beginner, treadmill, and fun runs. You can also set time or distance to run on your own, and the app will pace you.

Before you start using Running by Daily Burn, the app will prompt you for your running goals (do you want to get faster, build endurance, crush your first race?) and ask how many workouts per week you can commit to. This gives the app a good idea of what type of runs to curate for you. Likewise, the app makes it easy to get up and go, with guided warm-ups to stretch out your muscles and prevent injury, and the ability to share your best runs with other athletes for a little bit of added competition.

Best for Motivation: Charity Miles
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: Charity Miles gives users a platform to donate money to a favorite charity and get healthy, at the same time.

Company donates money on your behalf to charities

Tracks several activities such as walking, running, dancing, and biking

Walking earns money towards your favorite charity

Not ideal for fitness tracking

Limited features compared to other apps

Interface is on the lower end of apps

Charity Miles helps you make your miles more meaningful and motivational by donating money for every mile you run to the charity of your choice. Just open up this free app, choose a charity and you’ll start raising money with each mile you run, bike, or walk.

You can also form teams with running friends to combine fundraising efforts. To stay motivated, Charity Miles prompts you with reminders to run and keep raising money. You can use Charity Miles on any iOS or Android device.

Best for Reaching Your Health Goals: MyFitnessPal
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: Reaching your health goals is easier with MyFitnessPal. This fitness app allows you to chart your training runs, weight loss progress, and connect with friends for support.

Tracks runs, food, calories, and other fitness activities

Very active online community

Customize goals and monitor progress with daily coaching

May underestimate calorie requirements

Requires premium subscription to access daily goal-setting features

If you’re hoping to lose some weight through running, the MyFitnessPal app can help you achieve your goals. It allows you to track all your calories and runs in one place and lets you know how many calories you have left based on your daily calorie goals.

You can chart your fitness and weight loss progress and connect with friends on the app, so you can hold each other accountable and maintain motivation. MyFitnessPal is available on iOS and Android and it syncs with other apps and devices including Fitbit, Strava, Runkeeper, and Runtastic.

Best for Apple Watch: Nike+ Run Club
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: Nike + Run Club app is an excellent choice for Apple Watch owners. Not only is it free to use, it also comes with guided runs, coaching, and personalized plans.

Quick glance pace, location, distance, elevation, heart rate, and mile splits

Guided runs with Headspace

Audio runs with Nike coaches

Coaching and personalized plans

Only for Apple Watch

Users report GPS can be spotty

One of the most popular running apps in the App Store for iPhone and Apple Watch, Nike+ Run Club is a fantastic, all-in-one app. This free app offers GPS tracking, audio-guided workouts, weekly and monthly distance challenges to keep you motivated, and personalized coaching plans.

You can connect to Apple Music or Spotify to access curated playlists that are specific for your runs. If you’re a social runner, you’ll love the opportunities to compete with friends and cheer each other on during runs. Nike+ Run Club is perfect for runners with Apple Watches who want stats and feedback during their runs, but don’t want to carry a smartphone. It’s also available for Android devices.

Best for Marathon Runners: Runtastic
Sign Up Now
Why We Chose It: Runtastic is a great tool for marathon runners who need one place to save running routes, training runs, stats, and pre-race information.

One place to save all your running routes and stats

Post stats to Twitter or Facebook from the app to share with global community

Track and log over 120 activities

Certain race and training features requires premium subscription

Voice alerts not as loud as other apps

Reach your goals in your next marathon with this app that tracks all your runs and offers training plans for marathons and other races. You can save all your routes and stats, so you can stay motivated by trying to beat your personal records.

Once you’ve finished your run, post your stats to Facebook or Twitter right from the app. This app can be used on iOS and Android devices and syncs with other apps such as MyFitnessPal as well as Garmin devices.

Final Verdict
Whether you’re new to running or training for a marathon, finding the right running app can help you stay focused and on track to meet your goals. A great app to start with is Runkeeper. It’s comprehensive, appropriate for all running levels, easy to use, and it provides you with all the tools you’ll need to get started. Plus, it comes with tons of helpful tips for sticking to your training plan or race schedule. If you’re looking for an app that offers running classes and coaching, consider Running by Daily Burn. But if it’s support, structured training plans, and encouragement that you need, then check out C25K.

Running Apps vs Walking Apps
Running apps and walking apps are similar in form and function, but they often differ in the content, training plans, and support. Both apps are designed to track metrics like miles, pace, distance, and time, but running apps often come programmed with training plans for specific races such as a 5K or marathon. They also feature longer running routes and trails that support a faster pace. and workouts. Some have extra tools like calorie counters and heart rate tracking capabilities. The main difference between a running app and a walking app is likely the programmed workouts. With a walking app, the workouts will be slower in pace and often shorter in the distance. They also focus on beginners or people new to exercise more than running apps.

Frequently Asked Questions
Are Running Apps Good for Beginner Runners?
Whether you’re brand-new to running or you’ve taken a long break from it and want to ease your way back, there’s a running app that’s suitable for you. Many of them are very user-friendly and have training programs and workouts that are designed for beginners.

Can Running Help Me Lose Weight?
Running is one of the best forms of exercise for weight loss, as it burns a lot of calories and is very affordable and accessible.1 The more you run, the more calories you’ll burn, so if you maintain a regular running habit, you’ll see better results. To help stay motivated, you can follow a plan, such as a 5K training program for beginners.

You’ll also want to avoid a common mistake that many runners make, which is assuming that running gives you a license to eat anything you want. The basic rule of weight loss is that you must burn (through life functions and exercise) more calories than you take in. The most effective approach is to follow a proper running program and a healthy, calorie-appropriate nutrition plan if you’re trying to lose weight.

Can a Running App Replace Your Gym Membership?
If you use the gym primarily to run on the treadmill, you may find that using a running app to track your running stats and keep you motivated to run is a sufficient substitute. However, if you like to use other equipment and amenities at the gym and enjoy the face-to-face interaction with instructors and other gym members, you might regret giving up your membership.

In many cases, it works best to keep your gym membership and use a running app as a tool to supplement your training and help you reach your running-related goals.

How Much Do Running Apps Cost?
Most running apps are free to download, but they may include just the basic features. You can make an in-app purchase to access a premium version with more functionality and no ads. Other running apps charge a one-time download cost, usually in the range of $2 to $5.

Some running apps also offer a monthly or yearly membership. Members get access to more robust and advanced features such as personalized training plans and in-depth data analysis. They’re available for a monthly or yearly subscription, which can range from approximately $3 to $20 per month.

We looked at nine different apps from reputable companies to curate this list of best running apps. To start, we compared the free version of each app to the premium or paid subscription option. In order to make our list, the free version needed to provide enough features to make the app helpful and worth using or they needed to offer a free trial so users can decide if the upgrade is worth the price. We also took stock of the training tools each app provided and only selected running apps that offered tracking features, running routes, graphs and charts, and stats. Bonus points were given to apps that focus on community support, challenges, and ways to connect virtually with friends.

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