When it comes to tech-ing up for runs, I tend to move through phases. While training for my first 1/2 marathon last summer, I obsessively tracked each mile on both a spreadsheet, and a myriad of apps. Once I finally crossed the finish line though, I took a welcomed hiatus from digital affirmation. For the next couple of months, I just ran until I felt like stopping, or took routes that I already knew were certain lengths.
While this type of unquantified running feels freeing in the aftermath of the race, I’ve now reinstated apps into my running routine. At times, we all need a time out from the digital coach yammering in our earbuds, but certain apps can be a useful (and downright entertaining) element to add to your training.
Whether you’re training for your first 5K, or an ultra marathon, equipping your phone with the proper apps is an essential way to invest in your success. And I’m not talking solely about tracking your runs (although there are some awesome apps that make this process a breeze). There are an abundance of apps that go beyond logging your miles, and aim to optimize each component of your run—from music to safety.
So before you lace up and take off, try downloading a couple of these apps to help fuel your run.
Runkeeper is an absolute essential for a runner’s toolkit. It’s carefully designed to act as both a tracking app and a running journal. After wrapping up your workout, Runkeeper prompts you to enter a small reflection, snap a pic, or download a map of your run to share on social media. Then, when you finally complete your race, you can look back at all of your hard work. Additional features include training plans, competitions, progress reports, motivating push notifications, and helpful cross-training tips. If you only have room for one running app on your phone, make it this one.
For many of nine-to-fivers early mornings and late nights are our ideal windows for squeezing in a run. But running without the comfort of sunlight can feel dangerous at times. That’s why Reach Mobile set out to design an app that would ensure your safety from the time you lace up, to the time you complete your cool down. Like “Find Friends” for iPhone, the app gives your loved ones access to your GPS location throughout your run, so that they can check in on you every once and a while. Plus, the SOS button will get the police to you ASAP.
Have you noticed that your feet tend to fall to the beat of the song playing? Our bodies love to sync to the pace of whatever we’re listening to, which means optimizing our playlist just became about much more than entertainment. Pace DJ will do the grunt work for you. You can create custom interval run playlists to match your goals for that day—whether you’re going for an easy jog or a hilly, fast course.
Map My Run
For micromanagers, Map My Run is an essential. Plan your route point by point ahead of time on the Map My Run website, then send it directly to your phone. Or, if you don’t feel like creating your own, try Map My Run’s search tool to find routes near you. Save the ones you like so that you can access them again and again.
Treadmill workouts can be arduous, but in the winter months, they become a necessary evil. This app allows you to buy beautiful e-routes from destinations all over the world, so that you can almost forget you’re running in place. Whether you want to take your run across a canyon, or through the streets of Paris, Treadmill Trails has your back.
Wouldn’t your miles mean a little bit more if you knew they were going towards a good cause (other than that bikini body)? Charity miles has partnered up with tons of charities, including Stand Up to Cancer, Girl Up, and DoSomething.org. Just pick the charity of your choice, then get running. Every mile you log will be one doing good.
Runner’s World Go
This app will elevate your running experience by placing invaluable content alongside your training plan. Read about cross-training while you take a post-run stretch, or quickly find the best cold weather gear for your long run. Another neat feature of this app is that it suggests what you should wear according to the weather in your area.
Ever wonder what your 5K time says about how fast you could crush a 10K? McRun will do those complex equations for you. And, as a bonus, this app will also turn your results into suggestions on how to pace yourself during training.
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