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 help you progress to your first 5K. Others help you find local running groups or cool routes nearby. Some help out folks simply looking to exercise and get healthy, while others are specifically for serious runners wanting to improve their PRs.
The best part about most of these apps is that they can integrate with the best running watches and 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?
Why you can trust Android Central Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
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 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 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. It's available for $11.99 per month or $6.66 per month when you choose the annual option.
Whether you choose the free or paid version, Strava is easily the best running app for Android.
Great for everyone
Strava packs a mean punch for those getting into running or those just looking for a new app.
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.
A paid subscription is available with Runkeeper Go, which costs $39.99 per year. You'll receive advanced insights, customized training plans, and more.
Get the integrations you need
Runkeeper not only has a slew of features for free but also integrates with your fitness accessories and apps.
Nike Run Club
What more can you say when you find an app that is entirely free to use? For example, thousands of people use Nike Run Club 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.
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 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. A subscription for all your zombie-fleeing sprints will set you back $39.99/year or $5.99/month.
Running away from zombies has never been easier
Zombies, Run! turns your boring old running workouts into thrilling stories.
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. You can upgrade to MVP to unlock more features such as live tracking, mobile coaching, and advanced maps. The MVP subscription costs $29.99 per year or $5.99 per month — significantly less than its rivals
Train like a pro
Map My Run features more than 600 activities to be tracked, along with real-time coaching 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 that its greater focus is on your overall health. If you look at the Fitbit Today view in the app, you'll see tracked exercises and mileage, but also options to log your food, water, weight, and other data.
To get the most out of it, you'll want to invest in a Fitbit Premium subscription, which is $79.99 annually or $9.99 monthly. That gets you health reports, guided workout programs, a Daily Readiness Score to help you know if your body is ready for a tough run, stress and sleep data, and other useful perks. But it's also an app you can use for free, with or without an actual Fitbit tracker, to test and see if you like its all-around approach.
Use it anywhere
Despite not being designed specifically for workouts, Fitbit offers much more than you would think.
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 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.
A premium membership gets you more features, including a weekly fitness report, advanced stats, and personal training plans. The subscription costs $49.99 per year or $9.99 per month.
Challenge yourself and see the results
From challenges to live tracking, Runtastic will help you reach your goals and more.
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. 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.
Off the couch and hit the pavement
C25K offers everything you'll need if you want to get into the habit of running, but need a little bit of guidance.
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 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.
Relive Plus costs $6.99 per month and offers additional features, including improved video quality, interactive routes, the ability to control video speed, and more.
Tell a story
Relive makes it possible to share your running workouts in a way that's not possible otherwise.
We've tried to focus on the best running apps that aren't strictly tied to a specific device or brand (though Fitbit skirts that line). But we'll close out our guide with Garmin Connect, the tie-in app for the best Garmin watches.
While this app isn't especially user-friendly, it gives you a metric ton of metric data that guides you towards a faster time. The app gives you core essentials like a Body Battery score, Intensity Minutes, Pulse Ox, steps/floors, sleep, respiration, challenges, and Garmin Coach — which lets you choose a workout regimen and have it appear on your watch's calendar, then have your watch vibrate when you're running too fast or slow for your goals.
With the newest watches, you'll also get tools like Training Readiness, maps, running form analysis, Strava Live Segments (if you link your account), and so on, which all appear in Connect. Basically, Garmin Connect is just a hub to store all of your data; but it's free once you purchase a Garmin watch, and you can also export your Garmin data to other running apps like Strava if you prefer.
Serious metrics for dedicated runners
If you can afford a Garmin watch, then you can use the apps above, but you'll get plenty of useful tools in the Connect app too.
Sign up for Black Friday email alerts!
Get the hottest deals available in your inbox plus news, reviews, opinion, analysis and more from the Android Central team.
Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.