Running and cycling are great for your health—they get you outdoors, help you burn calories, and improve your cardiovascular function. But the best part about both of these activities is that they don’t cost any money. You can just grab your shoes and hit the road, or hop on your bike, and off you go!
But if you want to add some excitement to your run or ride, there are tons of apps out there that will help with everything from mapping out long-distance routes to tracking your progress. You can even start a virtual race with friends across the country. We’ve created this list to highlight some of our favorite apps for runners and cyclists at any level.
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Best Apps For Running And Cycling
Technology is everywhere… amateur or professional, cyclist or runner, everyone is using their smart phone or watch to its full potential. And nowhere is this more evident than in our love of fitness apps – whether it is to find a route, monitor progress or motivate, there are hundreds of exercise-related apps on the market that can help you achieve your goal, no matter what that is. If you’re an app novice or looking for something a bit different, there’s – as the advert goes – an app for that. Here are a few of our favourites…
Cyclist checks his smart phone app for details of his cycle ride
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Strava for Runners
Map My Run
Nike+ Run Club
RockMyRun – The Running Music App
Strava For Cyclists
Bike Doctor App
Fill That Hole App
Running outside is very different from running on the treadmill and one of the main reasons for that is because without a treadmill it’s not that easy to monitor your training programme, distance, progress etc. That’s where running apps come into their own. They can track every footfall, every route, leaving you to simply appreciate the great outdoors.Strava cycling and running tracker app
Strava For Runners
Strava is for anyone striving for better, whether it’s improving their own PB or racing against others and many marathon runners and triathletes use it, often in conjunction with other apps.
Through Strava you can map, plan, compete, analyse and challenge yourself in every part of your training. You can ask coaches questions via its message board, take part in Strava community challenges, or compare other members’ achievements to your own. It is particularly good for triathletes because it applies to cycling, running and swimming. It is dubbed the social media network for athletes, for good reason.
Strava mobile app screenshotsOne of its coolest features is the Beacon which shares your location with whomever you decide – meaning it is safer to go for a long run or out for a ride alone. As the app claims to have the world’s largest route and trail resource, this Beacon could be handy. The one downside is that Strava doesn’t link directly to your music, hence why a lot of people use other running apps as well.
How much? Strava is free to sign up to for the basic membership.
Map My Run
This app does what it says on the tin and is probably the best route planner of all the running apps. If you have run five kilometres and want to go a little further, or even a lot further, you can easily see routes that other runners have taken to do this. It is very easy to use, but has quite a few ads popping up on it, which can be a bit irritating. It has also teamed up with MyFitnessPal to help you keep track of your nutrition during training.
How much? Map my run is a free to sign up to and also has a Map my Ride or Map my Hike link.
Get Map My Run
Nike+ Run Club
Nike Run Club App
Nike Run AppThis app is for the ‘It Runner’. Often something uber-cool isn’t always that functional, but that is definitely not the case with Nike+ Run Club. It maps routes, has easy to use training plans, syncs your music, or shares running playlists from other Nike generation runners, using Spotify or Apple Music. It also very is interactive, allowing you to use social media so that you can let everyone know where and how far you have run, plus it has a fab running community.
How much? It’s free to join.
Get Nike+ Run Club
RockMyRun – The Running Music App
This app features thousands of playlists designed by professional DJs specifically to run to that automatically adjust the beats per minute (BPM) of the music to match your cadence, or heart rate. It also has GPS tracking and route planning, but, ultimately, it is all about the music – it would be a great app to combine with Strava and does link to it.
How much? It’s free for basic membership.
Get RockMyRun – the running music app
If you are the type of person that likes to make a difference, then Charity Miles might be for you. Every mile that you run, you raise money for charity. Free to sign up and easy to use… surely it’s a must?
Get Charity Miles
Female runner checks her PB using a mobile app
The basis behind most cycling apps is GPS, so you need to work out if you want one that has all the extras, such as recording your pace, monitoring progress, or even filling in pot holes, or if you simply just want to know how to get from A to B. Here’s our top five:
Strava For Cyclists
This has to appear on both our cycling and running app lists as it is so popular. And with good reason. Like its runners, Strava users are striving for their best. It tracks routes, times, segment times, and its leaderboard is really popular for cyclists – you can even compare yourself to some of the pros. Its route finding technology is the best you can get and, as with running, the Beacon is a brilliant added bonus.
How much? Free membership (premium service available at a cost)
Close up of cyclist using tracking app
This app strips back all of the extras and is most useful for anyone that cycles for transport as well as exercise – It is all about the route. All routes are mapped out for you and you can get detailed information about any journey, such as elevation, surface, distance and speed. It is also big on bike sharing, with more than 390 bike share cities around the globe, CycleMap can help you locate the nearest bike share station and provide you with real-time information. CycleMap is also a font of all knowledge on things that help you along your way, such as rest areas, scenic views, water stations, bike shops etc, so leave the planning to the app.
How much? Membership is free (premium service is available at a cost).
Viewranger augmented reality appThis is s an excellent GPS route-finding app, particularly for anyone wanting to go off the beaten track. It provides routes published by popular outdoor brands, official tourism bodies, national parks, travel writers and millions of outdoor experts around the world. ViewRanger focuses, as the name suggests, on the great outdoors. It provides free digital maps that cover the whole world, and partners with official mapping agencies to offer premium topographic maps for 23 countries, including the UK, most of Europe, US, Canada and New Zealand.
How much? Membership is free.
Get ViewRanger App
Bike Doctor App
Firstly, you are unlikely to carry a manual around with you whilst cycling, secondly, we are yet to find a good one, so BikeDoctor could be the answer to all of our bike’s maintenance needs when we actually need it – on the go! It has detailed instructions and pictures of each part of the bike and how you fix it – even if you are a complete beginner.
How much? We think it is well worth the £4.99 fee.
Bike Doctor AppScreenshot from Bike Doctor App
Get Bike Doctor App
Fill That Hole App
Unlike any other app, this one doesn’t show you where you’ve been or compare your results to other riders. Instead, it tells you where the worst pot holes are. It is highly functional and should lead to action from local councils. A quirky one, but it works. Pot holes are being filled as a result of this app!
best running apps for beginners
Becoming a runner isn’t easy. These intuitive running apps for beginners make it simpler (and more motivating) to get your daily mileage in, even if the only mile you’ve ever run was in high school P.E. Basic features like distance, heart rate, and calorie tracking make your workout more tangible, so you can see how hard you’ve worked, and features like curated playlists and mindfulness runs allow you to customize how you want to run. Don’t worry if you feel like you’d need a personal trainer to get you off the couch—some of these apps even have audio coaches that tell you exactly what to do while you’re getting your sweat on.
- Nike Run Club
If a guided run with a focus on mindfulness sounds intriguing, try Nike Run Club’s “Run With Headspace” feature. The guided headspace workout has some similarities to meditation apps—the audio guide motivates runners to take in their surroundings and set intentions for each run. All the usual features of Nike Run Club can be used on the guided runs, including pace, distance, elevation mile split and heart rate tracking, plus access to custom Apple Music playlists. If a mindfulness-based guided run isn’t your thing, you can choose from speed runs, distance runs, or audio guided runs with professional athletes and trainers, too.
This Asics-developed running app uses audio cues and tons of virtual challenges to motivate users. You can find running groups, both virtual and in-person, and conquer time and distance trials. The app uses your smartphone’s GPS to track running distance and show stats like average pace and calories, plus it lets you compare your stats over the current month and the last month. You can also upgrade to premium for more insights on running progress and access to Ascics’ training plans.
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Human tracks your activity all day and inspires you to move more with cues to get you to a minimum 30-minute activity goal per day. Basically, it’s great for beginner runners looking for motivation to start. You can see how your activity matches up with people around you in your city and all over the world, with real-time rankings in over 900 cities around the world. Get competitive with the the local leaderboard, or just use it as a benchmark for daily movement.
MapMyRun is one of the most popular and widely downloaded running apps, both for the number of running routes it offers in different cities and the community it boasts. It’s easy to connect with friends through the app, where you can create and compete in challenges against each other (or participate in community challenges for chances to win prizes and running gear). Finding new running trails and routes is easy—there are options in every state and in 15 different countries. If you know where you want to go already, you can create your own course before you take off.
Endomondo is an in-app running coach that provides emerging runners with run tracking and audio feedback. The app syncs up with its website, where you can find your full workout history and analyze your activity. The Endomondo community is all about positive reinforcement for success so that you can connect with your friends and build an uplifting community.
Runcoach is the app that learns more about you the more you use it. First, you’ll set a goal and input background information (including recent mileage times), and then you can let the adaptive algorithm customize to you more with each run. When you reach a new level of fitness or change up your goals, the app adapts your running program to match. Have questions? You can contact the USATF-certified coaches about anything regarding running, including about injuries or nutrition.
- Weav Run
Need some musical motivation? The Weav Run app adapts and remixes your music to match the rhythm of your pace, so you’ll always be running on-beat. The beat/stride match-up optimizes steps per minute, which helps prevent joint pain, injuries and makes you run faster and more efficiently. Plus, the upbeat music is designed to flood your brain with endorphins, making you feel more motivated.
Couch to 5k is designed specifically for first-time runners who prefer to spend most of their time on the couch. At first, you’ll alternate walking and running until you build the strength and endurance to run without stopping. The eight-week plan features three workouts per week, and each session has an accompanying motivational audio coach that tells you when to walk or run.
- Charity Miles
If you need an incentive to start running, try Charity Miles, which donates to a nonprofit selected by you for every mile you move. Just download the free app, choose your charity from one of the 42 selected charities, and get running. Create teams with your friends to share goals and accomplishments, and get competitive with the leaderboard feature to see who’s raised the most money.
- Peloton Digital
Get the motivation and excitement of instructor-led classes with Peloton Digital’s monthly membership. It features running-focused classes for any type of workout, from a treadmill in the gym to outdoors on the trails. Choose from live or on-demand courses, and filter classes by type, instructor and length of run. Plus, with the monthly subscription, you get access to cycling classes, yoga, strength training and more—up to 20 different classes per day.
Looking for a cheap personal trainer? Try Aaptive, the personal audio trainer that guides your runs. Start with a short survey thats asks you about goals and your preferred workout time and type, and then customizes your workouts based on your answers. You can choose workouts based on time, trainer, and music type. The app has over 2,500 workouts, including guided runs.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.