Best Apps For Running Apple Watch

As Apple Watch becomes more and more popular, we can see the growth in the number of apps available.

The first version of Apple Watch was sold in 2015, and since then it has come a long way, becoming one of the most popular smartwatches on the market. While Apple Watch is not only a watch but a health tracker and an activity monitor, it is not surprising that there are so many fitness apps for this gadget.

Today we will introduce you to the best apps for running with Apple Watch. Enjoy!

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The Best running app for Apple Watch: Free/Paid - The maciOS

Best Apps For Running Apple Watch

With the right running app, your Apple Watch can be a great training partner – whether you’re just getting started with a couch to 5K program, or aiming to set a new PR for 2021.

While there’s nothing to stop you sticking with the built-in tracking options found in Watch OS to monitor and record your runs using Apple Workout, there’s a lot to be gained by turning to third party apps.

The problem is that there are so many running apps to choose from, and finding the one that’s right for you can be tricky. This is why we’ve rounded up the five best running apps that you can install on your Apple Watch. Whether you’re just starting out, a seasoned runner or just want to try something new, there’s something in this list for you.

As everyone’s needs are different, it is not really possible to rank running apps and point to one that is “the best”. So the list below includes best of the very best apps to help you with your running regime, but its presented in alphabetical order for the sake of simplicity.

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Adidas Running App by Runtastic

(Image credit: Runtastic)

  1. Adidas Running App by Runtastic
    Price: Free (plus in-app purchases)


  1. Adidas Running App by Runtastic
    Price: free (plus in-app purchases)

You might be familiar with the name Runtastic, which was this app’s original title before Adidas chose to throw its weight and expertise into the mix.

With Adidas Running App on your Apple Watch, you can track all of your runs and use the statistics to drive your forward as you strive for a better time. There are some neat touches such as Live Tracking which lets other people keep an eye on where you are (a reassuring safety feature if you’re running solo).

You can receive optional voice updates while you run, and your Apple Watch screen can keep you informed about your heart rate, speed, distance covered and more. To help keep you entertained, you can control music playback from within the app.

The free version of Adidas Running App is – as you might expect – sprinkled with ads, but these can be removed by upgrading to the Pro version. Overall, it’s a solid general-purpose running app that will serve you well regardless of your level of experience.


(Image credit: Zen Labs)

  1. C25K 5K Trainer
    Price: free (plus in-app purchases)

This is an Apple Watch running app with a very specific goal in mind: getting first-timers (or anyone who’s returning to running after a long break) up to speed and able to keep going for five kilometers.

The secret of the app’s success is that it is gentle, but not too gentle. With just three workouts per week, you should be able to tackle a 5K within eight weeks. The training program incorporates walking as well as running to help you build stamina and gradually work towards hitting your ultimate goal. You just need to commit 30 minutes a day and the program should work.

The free version of the app has a ceiling of 5K, but if you like the idea of taking things further, you can buy a Zen Unlimited Pass as an in-app purchase. This not only give you access to additional apps, but opens up more training programs including 10K, half marathon and full marathon.

There’s also a Pro version available, which includes extra feature such as calorie counting and distance tracking. While not essential for the basic 5K training plan, if you’re interested in taking your running further these might be enough to tempt you to upgrade.

Nike Run Club

(Image credit: Nike)

  1. Nike Run Club
    Price: free

Another running app for Apple Watch with a big name tied to it, Nike Run Club is stylish and, surprisingly, completely free to use.

Despite the lack of price tag, this is an app that is packed with features, including many that rivals charge a fee for. You’ll find not only GPS tracking to map your runs, but also custom coaching plans, audio guides and custom challenges. Nike Run Club has so many bases covered that it is suitable for all levels of ability.

The audio guides are a nice, hands-free approach to workouts, and you have the option of racing against yourself using the Match Your Last Race feature. Nike Run Club can be used for running outside, but it is also suitable for tracking indoor runs on a treadmill. If you are out on the road and have your phone with you, the app will track additional stats such as elevation, but the vast majority of options can be accessed using nothing more than your Apple Watch.

If you feel like getting competitive, you can participant in leader boards – something which can prove amazingly motivational in pushing yourself a little harder.


(Image credit: FitnessKeeper)

  1. Runkeeper GPS Running Tracker
    Price: free (plus in-app purchases)

A stalwart of the fitness arena, Runkeeper has been with us for quite some time now. Although not shouted about in the name or branding, the app is another than comes from a sportswear firm – in this case ASICS. Runkeeper is arguably more intuitive and easier to use than some other fitness apps, and it is another which is suitable for varying levels of ability and experience. As you’ll have guessed from the name, the app features GPS tracking so you can accurately record the routes you take.

There are various ways to use the app, ranging from simply tracking the exercises you do, as well as participating in app-based running groups. Pleasingly, this is a fitness app that you can use without the need to carry your iPhone with you. However you choose to use the app, however, what impresses is the level of customization that’s possible and the numbe4r of stats you can track.

The basic version of the app is free, but if you’re happy to pay then a premium subscription will open up additional features such as race plans that are customized to your needs, and more tailored fitness plans.


(Image credit: Strava)

  1. Strava
    Price: free

Unlike some of the other running apps for Apple Watch covered here, Strava can be used to track not only running, but also swimming and cycling, so if you’re a triathlete, this could be the one for you. If you’re a multi-disciplinarian, however, you’ll need to pay for a subscription to track other activities.

Where Strava really shines is when it comes to its community elements – the option of pitting yourself against other app users is a great motivator, and much cheaper than getting a personal trainer. The app gives you the option of competing in regular challenges, battling to complete portions of road or trail (known as segments) and sharing not only your results but also your photos with the community.

There’s also a handy safety feature in the form of Beacon. This lets you share your location with friends and family so if you are concerned about heading off on your own, you can rest assured that someone will always know where you are.

Fans of the app praise its simple, uncluttered layout, but some may feel that it is a little too minimalist. Strava’s stats may not be quite as customizable as those of some other apps, but it still manages to cover everything you need, and it can synchronize with a huge range of apps and devices.

The best running watches you can buy today
Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson
Sofia Wyciślik-Wilson

Staff writer
Sofia is a tech journalist who’s been writing about software, hardware and the web for nearly 20 years – but still looks as youthful as ever! After years writing for magazines, her life moved online and remains fuelled by technology, music and nature.

Having written for websites and magazine since 2000, producing a wide range of reviews, guides, tutorials, brochures, newsletters and more, she continues to write for diverse audiences, from computing newbies to advanced users and business clients. Always willing to try something new, she loves sharing new discoveries with others.

Sofia lives and breathes Windows, Android, iOS, macOS and just about anything with a power button, but her particular areas of interest include security, tweaking and privacy.

running with apple watch without phone

If your watch is connected to Wi-Fi or cellular
When your iPhone is off or out of range, your Apple Watch can use a Wi-Fi network to send and receive data. Your watch can also connect to a cellular network if it’s a cellular model. And if you’ve set up an Apple Watch for a family member, they can use a cellular or Wi-Fi connection with their watch.

When your Apple Watch is connected to Wi-Fi, the Wi-Fi icon appears in Control Center. When it’s connected to cellular, the cellular icon appears. Learn how to set up cellular.

A Wi-Fi or cellular connection lets your Apple Watch do the following things, even if your iPhone isn’t with you.1


Use Siri to get directions, send iMessages, and more.

Messages app

Send and receive messages.1

Phone app

Make and answer phone calls.2

Weather app

Check the weather.

Stocks app

Track your stocks.

Home app

Control your home.

Find your friends.1

Set reminders.

Podcasts app

Listen to podcasts.3

Walkie-Talkie app

Use Walkie-Talkie.

Music app

Stream music.3

Radio app

Listen to the radio.3

Maps app

Find your way with Maps.

If you can’t connect to Wi-Fi, cellular, or your iPhone
When your Apple Watch is disconnected—for example, if you’re hiking in an area without Wi-Fi or cellular signal, or your iPhone is off—you can still do these things.

Workout app

Track your workouts.4

Clock, Alarm, Timer, and Stopwatch apps

See the time and use the Alarm, Timer, and Stopwatch apps.

Activity app

Track your activity goals.

Photos app

Display photos from synced photo albums.

Play music, podcasts, or audiobooks that you’ve synced to your watch.

Wallet app

Make purchases with Apple Pay.

Check your heart rate.

Breathe app

Relax and breathe mindfully.

Record thoughts and ideas.

Get your bearings with Compass.5

Protect your hearing.

Track your menstrual cycle.

Track your sleep.

Measure your blood oxygen level with the Blood Oxygen app.

Take an ECG with the ECG app.

Not all features are available on all Apple Watch models. Also, not all features are available in all countries or regions.

  1. To receive SMS, MMS, or push notifications from third-party apps on your cellular Apple Watch, your paired iPhone must be powered on and connected to Wi-Fi or cellular, but it doesn’t need to be nearby. You also need to be signed in to iMessage on your iPhone.
  2. If you’re on Wi-Fi and want to call a phone number, make sure that Wi-Fi calling is turned on for your Apple Watch. Otherwise, try making a FaceTime audio call.
  3. Streaming music and podcasts is available on Apple Watch Series 3 and later and Apple Watch SE.
  4. For GPS accuracy when you walk, run, or cycle outdoors, select the appropriate Workout and bring your iPhone. For GPS accuracy, you can also calibrate your Apple Watch. Apple Watch Series 2 and later and Apple Watch SE have built-in GPS that allows you to get more accurate distance and speed information during an outdoor workout without your paired iPhone.


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