For many of us, running is hard work. Maybe it's a motivation thing, or perhaps it's a physical thing. Whatever the reason, the simple fact is that running is exercise, and exercise can be a real pain.
We're looking at some of the best running apps for Android, and we've got a few different kinds of apps here. Some are more of the hard-core variety, for folks used to exercise who may be looking to increase and improve the way they do things. The best part about most of these apps is that they can integrate with the best fitness trackers, so you can have all of your workout information in one place. Others are more simple — only tracking steps or basic movement. There's a place for all of these, and some work rather nicely with the best fitness apps.
What are the best running apps for Android?
When searching the Play Store for a solid running app, there are many options to consider. The app must provide detailed tracking, potential premium features, and the ability to sync with your fitness trackers or health apps. Strava fits the bill in all three of these categories by offering a great all-in-one run-tracking application.
If you've tried Strava before and weren't too pleased, then RunKeeper is another fantastic app for tracking your runs and other workouts, all in a neat and simplified interface.
Nike Run Club is the obvious pick in the top three, and that's not just because it's free. Taking a look at everything you get without spending any more money is something that cannot be overlooked, and it helps that the NRC app is fantastic.
Strava is the all-in-one running app that you should at least try out. The app tracks your running workouts, bike rides, and swimming while showing you new places to explore.
The app itself will record your routes while tracking various pieces of information and then presenting the analyzed info in an easy-to-understand format. There are monthly challenges so that you can compete with your friends.
While there are many features available for free, the power of Strava comes with the Strava subscription. This will give you customizable training plans, a route maker, and the ability to provide live feedback.
The biggest benefit to Runkeeper is the number of features you get without spending a dime. With features like route creating, training plans, challenges, and audio cues, Runkeeper is a great all-in-one app to track your runs and other workouts.
With Challenges, you'll be able to get your friends on board to push each other to your limits. And there are rewards and achievements to strive for to add some fuel to the motivation. For those who don't want to get friends on board at the start, you can easily share your progress and activities to whatever social media platform you wish.
When it comes to finding a good running app, you'll want one with some integration with your existing products and services. Runkeeper is up to the task, with integration with Bluetooth devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, along with being partnered with popular apps like Spotify and MyFitnessPal.
3. Nike Run Club
What more can you say when you find an app that is entirely free to use? Nike Run Club is used by thousands of people daily to track their runs while on a quest to meet their goals.
The app provides real-time feedback and audio cues to help motivate you throughout the run. Then, once you're back at home, you can sit back and review all of the details about your run, including pace, elevation, calories burned, and more.
NRC also makes it possible for you to create custom workout plans so that you move at your pace. You'll get workout and heart-rate data syncing with Google Fit, and your friends can even support you with in-run audio cheers.
Other great options
Though they didn't quite make it into our top three, here are some other excellent running apps for you to try out.
Running sucks. (At least if you're normal, it should suck.) This app makes it fun. Immersive and alternate reality games are nothing new, but Zombies, Run! brings these ideas into the fitness space. You're running. Zombies are chasing. There are plenty of stories to keep you entertained, so it keeps things fun. Want interval training? It can do that, too. If you're more of a walker than a runner, the app can handle that, too. (Just make sure you walk faster than the zombies shuffle.)
With more than 200 missions customized for walking or running, Zombies, Run! is sure never to get old. The app even provides free cloud backups for your runs, so you can access them even if you get a new smartphone.
Map My Run by Under Armour
Whether you are just getting started or are a veteran, Map My Run is a great companion. The app was acquired by Under Armour a few years ago and brings all the popular features you would expect, including custom workout routines, training plans, and real-time audio coaching. You'll even find "Healthy At Home Challenges" for those who can't get out of the house but need to keep working out.
There is deep integration with MyFitnessPal, being able to view your calorie intake and burn. Plus, this will sync with many popular fitness trackers and apps such as Google Fit, Garmin, Fitbit, and more.
If you're using a FitBit to count your steps, there's a good chance you're using the FitBit app. It's not a traditional running/walking app in the sense that it helps guide your exercise. The Fitbit app is more about counting than it is tracking, we suppose.
But it does a great job with pure distance and calories burned, and it'll separate active minutes from the minutes in which you're just milling around. The app is free, and some phones can take advantage of it without buying into FitBit's accessories line.
Adidas Running App - Your Sports & Run Tracker
Runstastic is another longstanding and excellent way to keep up with your workouts. It's got a free trial, but if you're anything like us, you'll quickly pony up for the Pro version. You get all the standard features — mapping of your route, a calendar for long-term goals, and all sorts of social sharing. Plus, you can manually add activities.
Runtastic Pro adds a voice coach, route search, audible cheering, heart-rate monitoring, interval workouts, and weather information. It also sports one of our favorite features; the ability to auto-pause the tracking should you stop for some reason. Not that you should stop, but sometimes we all stop. It happens.
C25K - 5K Running Trainer
One of the biggest hurdles for those who want to start running is finding a workout plan that works for you. C25K helps alleviate that pressure, as the app is designed for first-timers who want to go from couch potato to running a 5K for the first time. After setting everything up, you'll just need to run for 30 minutes a day, three days a week, for eight weeks.
Part of the reason why the app is our top pick for best couch to 5K apps is because of its integration with some of the best fitness trackers, including the best Fitbit. Although C25K has plenty of features available for free, the Zen Unlimited Pass unlocks even more, including curated music playlists, along with additional health tracking metrics.
Relive: Run, Ride, Hike & more
Think of Relive as more of a companion app than one to give you a bunch of detailed information. For example, if you enjoy running some trails while stopping to take pictures and admire nature, then you'll want to use Relive. The app allows you to take pictures, create stories, and then share them with your friends.
These stories aren't just digital picture books, as you can actually see your route in a 3D landscape. Then, your photos will appear along the trail, and you can share them with your friends. Plus, you can sync Relive with other workout apps such as Garmin Connect, Polar, and more. The developers also have plans to integrate more fitness apps in the future.