Garmin Forerunner 245 ShoesSource: Android Central

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 taking a look 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. Others are more simple — only tracking steps or basic movement. There's a place for all of these, and some of them work rather nicely with the best fitness apps.

The top 3 apps

More options

What are the best running apps for Android?

When searching the Play Store for a solid running app, there are a lot of 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.

Check out all of the best VPN services you can use in 2020

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 having to spend any more money is something that cannot be overlooked, and it helps that the NRC app is fantastic.

1. Strava

Strava App LifestyleSource: Andrew Martonik / Android Central

Strava is the all-in-one running app that you should at least try out. The app tracks not only your running workouts but also 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 a lot of 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.

Easy to understand

Strava

Great for everyone

Strava packs a mean punch for those getting into running or those just looking for a new app.

2. Runkeeper

The biggest benefit to Runkeeper is the number of features that you get without having to spend 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.

Get a lot for free

Runkeeper

Get the integrations you need

Runkeeper not only has a slew of features for free but also integrates with your fitness accessories and apps.

3. Nike Run Club

Nike Run Club Lifestyle AltSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

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 on a daily basis 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.

Surprisingly robust

Nike Run Club

Get everything you need to go the extra mile

From running to general workouts, NRC is a great companion to push your limits.

Other great options

Though they didn't quite make it into our top three, here are some other excellent fitness apps for you to try out.

Zombies, Run!

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 that can be 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.

Avoid the apocalypse

Zombies, Run!

Running away from zombies has never been easier

Zombies, Run! turns your boring old running workouts into thrilling stories.

Run with Map My Run

MapMyRun Summary LifestyleSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

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.

At home or outside

Run with Map My Run

Train like a pro

Map My Run features more than 600 activities to be tracked, along with real-time coaching and more.

Fitbit

Fitbit Versa 2 on top of OnePlus 7 ProSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

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 having to buy into FitBit's accessories line.

On your wrist

Fitbit

Use it anywhere

Despite not being designed specifically for workouts, Fitbit offers much more than you would think.

Adidas Running App by Runtastic

Runtastic Create Photo LifestyleSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

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.

Customize the dashboard

Adidas Running App by Runtastic

Challenge yourself and see the results

From challenges to live tracking, Runtastic will help you reach your goals and more.

Endomondo - Running & Walking

Endomondo Splash Screen LifestyleSource: Andrew Myrick / Android Central

Endomondo tracks all sorts of activities, including running and walking. You get audio feedback as you make your way through your route, or you can enter your workouts manually if you prefer. Once you're done, you can share your result — though be careful if you're starting and stopping from home. You also can track your heart rate through Bluetooth-enabled devices, as well as ANT+ heart-rate monitors. There are a slew of challenges built-in, so you're not just relying on yourself to push things.

There's a free version of the app available if you just want to try it out, or a monthly subscription will add a personal training plan, additional statistics, weather information, and remove advertisements.

Push your limits

Endomondo - Running & Walking

Make the most out of your workouts

Even without signing up for premium, Endomondo gives you all the run-tracking information you need.

Relive: Run, Ride, Hike & more

Relive App HeroSource: Android Central

Think of Relive as more of a companion app than one to give you a bunch of detailed information. 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 developer's also have plans to integrate more fitness apps in the future.

Create 3D Videos

Relive: Run, Ride, Hike & more

Tell a story

Relive makes it possible to share your running workouts in a way that's not possible otherwise.