runner using a fitness tracking app in a city park

Running with Technology: The Best Apps for Tracking Your Progress

Fitness trackers have revolutionized the exercise world, offering a convenient way to get moving, stay motivated, connect with others, and access training programs. For runners, especially those training for a particular race, running apps have become as essential as a solid pair of running shoes. We spent time testing a large collection of running apps available right now and picked out the best performing ones. While some apps excel at tracking basic stats like distance and pace, others offer virtual coaching, training plans, social communities, or help you find new routes.

Key Takeaways

  • Running apps have become essential tools for runners, offering features from basic stat tracking to virtual coaching and social communities.
  • Strava is ideal for those who thrive on community support and competition with friends and colleagues.
  • Nike Run Club offers comprehensive training plans and coaching for runners of all levels.
  • MapMyRun is perfect for runners who love discovering new routes and mapping their runs.
  • Zombies, Run! adds a fun and motivational twist to running with its immersive game-based experience.

1. Strava

Strava is a fitness-tracking app that offers access to over 30 types of sports, making it perfect for anyone who loves to run, cycle, hike, swim, rock climb, snowboard, or even golf. If you’re looking for some competition, you’re in the right place. With Strava, you compete against yourself or others who have run, biked, or swum the same segments you have. The app uses the GPS from your phone or a connected device, such as a running watch or fitness tracker, to map where you go and how fast you go.


Strava is one of the longest-standing fitness apps and arguably the most popular one on the market for serious runners. It looks a lot different from its earliest versions in 2009, now offering some standout features that have made it one of the largest social networks for athletes available. There is both a free and paid version of Strava, both of which offer solid features, so let’s explore the difference.

Free vs. Paid Version

The free version offers sharable tracking across a variety of sports, routes, and monthly challenges, as well as Beacon, a safety feature that allows three designated contacts to monitor your location while you’re running. Subscription (£8.99 per month or £54.99 annually) opens up a bevy of route-creation tools, easy customization of your heart rate zone, and a dizzying array of metrics such as functional threshold power (FTP) as expressed in watts and work as expressed in kilojoules.

Social and Competitive Aspects

The saying goes: if it's not on Strava, it didn't happen. Which gives you some idea of how popular with cyclists and runners this app is. It’s partly an activity-based social media platform and partly an analytical tool. The app offers a leaderboard that’s populated by marathon winners and Olympians. It offers a bevy of route-creation tools, easy customization of your heart rate zone, and a dizzying array of metrics such as functional threshold power (FTP) as expressed in watts and work as expressed in kilojoules.


Strava is available on both iOS and Android platforms, making it accessible to a wide range of users. Whether you’re using your phone or a connected device like a running watch, Strava has you covered.

2. Nike Run Club


Nike Run Club (NRC) is a completely free running app that offers a plethora of features for runners of all levels. From tracking your runs to tuning into coached sessions, NRC has it all. The app stands out for its generous free content, especially when compared to other apps that hide similar features behind a paywall.

Key Features

  • Run Tracking: Track distance, pace, heart rate, and cadence.
  • Training Plans: Access training programs for various goals and distances.
  • Audio-Guided Runs: Get guidance for everything from getting started to speed sessions and long runs.
  • Mindful Runs: Enjoy guided mindful runs led by Headspace.

Social and Community Features

  • Running Challenges: Participate in challenges shared through social media to stay motivated.
  • Share Your Runs: Share your run details, complete with photos, stats, and stickers.
  • Audio Cheers: Listen to audio cheers sent by friends and encouragement from Nike's pro athletes.


The app pairs seamlessly with Garmin devices and Apple Watches, making it versatile for various users.

Bottom Line

Nike Run Club is perfect for beginner runners looking for a free, comprehensive running app. With access to running coaches and training programs, it's a great tool to help you achieve your running goals.

3. Runkeeper

Runkeeper is a perennial favorite among runners, using your phone's GPS to track your running, cycling, hiking, and other distance activities. It records your pace, distance, total exercise time, calories burned, and other useful metrics. You can also set your own goals and the app will help you stick to them with reminders and gamified challenges.


  • Track and plan your runs or any workout
  • Set and achieve personal goals
  • Participate in virtual running groups and challenges
  • Sync with other apps and services
  • Works with smartwatches and fitness devices like the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices

Motivation and Community

Runkeeper stokes your motivation with a series of challenges, virtual running groups, and rewards. You can share your run details complete with photos, stats, and stickers, and compare your progress with other runners.


Runkeeper works seamlessly with a variety of smartwatches and fitness devices such as the Apple Watch and Wear OS devices. Syncing your data across platforms ensures you have a comprehensive view of your fitness journey.

4. MapMyRun

MapMyRun is a fitness tracking app developed by Under Armour that uses the built-in GPS of your mobile device to track your runs. As the name suggests, the app allows users to create a map of a given route they’d like to run, send it to your phone, and run. It will calculate how long the run is so you can plan ahead—a feature that is especially awesome if you are in a new place and not sure where to run. You can also search and filter through thousands of routes that have been created by other users.

Key Features

  • Tracks routes, distances, pace, and more using GPS.
  • Select from over 600 activities including running, cycling, and yoga.
  • Large community of athletes to connect with.
  • Premium features include live tracking and audio coaching.


MapMyRun offers a free version with basic features. For more advanced options, you can subscribe to the MVP version at $6 per month or $30 per year.

Why You'll Love It

If you love exploring new routes and need a reliable app to track your progress, MapMyRun is perfect for you. The app's map-building feature is especially useful for planning your runs in unfamiliar areas. Plus, the large community of users means you'll never run out of new routes to try.

5. Couch to 5K


Designed by expert trainers, Couch to 5K is a running app and program specifically geared towards novice runners. It’s a gradual training plan that encourages three runs a week over nine weeks. It begins with a mix of running and walking, which builds up over the course of the nine weeks transitioning to less walking and more running. Users can set their own goals, take breaks when necessary, and choose their own coach.

Training Plan

Starting running can be daunting, but the Couch to 5K app offers a dedicated eight-week plan to encourage new runners to the scene. With alternative walk/run intervals, the app gradually increases segments over eight weeks (or longer if desired), helping users train towards completing a 5k. A human voice coach is integrated into the plan to help guide you through the sessions.


  • Tips and progress awards
  • Selection of trainers to guide you on your runs, such as comedian Sarah Millican
  • Log feature that breaks down your activity, showing miles, a map of your run, and time spent jogging versus walking

Local Events

When you’re ready for the challenge, the Couch to 5K app will also recommend local 5K events in your area. True beginners may require more walking time and less running time, so we suggest you take it at your own pace until you’re ready to keep up with the app.

6. Peloton


Unless you’ve been living on a deserted island the past few years, you’ve heard of Peloton and its cult-like following. Although its reputation is often associated with the Peloton Bike, the Peloton app itself is a whole lot more, offering runners some attractive features. It is the mecca for just about any fitness class you could hope for. On it you will find thousands of live and on-demand classes, expert instructors, curated music, training programs, and personalized coaching.

Key Features

  • World-class workout classes
  • Variety of fitness routines
  • On-bike and off-bike workouts
  • Don't need a Peloton bike to sign up for the app

Why You'll Love It

While the name Peloton may be synonymous with expensive stationary bicycles, the company does offer a reasonably priced fitness class subscription service to anyone, with or without home equipment. The app has a ton of classes, from yoga to cardio to bodyweight strength and so on. Classes and instructors have the high energy and intensity Peloton is known for. Even if you pick a quick 10-minute yoga class, expect some upbeat music and someone yelling at you through a headset mic.

Best For

Good for: Folks who want the hype of a studio-style live class. Anyone who appreciates the guidance of an expert trainer through live or on-demand classes and wants a community-feel.

7. Apple Fitness+


Apple Fitness+ is a comprehensive fitness app that integrates seamlessly with your Apple devices. It offers 11 different types of training, meditations, and audio-guided workouts, including walks and runs. The app features a vast library of 4K ultra HD fitness videos, with new workouts added weekly to keep things fresh.

Key Features

  • Custom Plans: Create personalized workout plans based on your preferred days, class duration, trainers, music, and more.
  • Curated Playlists: Each workout comes with a specially curated playlist to keep you motivated.
  • Family Sharing: Up to five family members can use the app with Apple's Family Sharing.
  • Affordable Pricing: A free one-month trial is available, after which it costs $9.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

Pros and Cons


  • Seamless integration with Apple devices
  • Wide variety of workout types
  • High-quality video content


  • Not currently available
  • Less variety of classes compared to competitors
  • No customer reviews on workout quality yet

Best For

Apple Fitness+ is ideal for anyone who owns an Apple Watch and wants to track detailed running stats. It's also great for those who enjoy a variety of workout types and high-quality video content.

8. iFIT


The iFIT app is more than just a running app found on any old basic treadmill. It is an interactive, immersive training platform with thousands of live and on-demand classes led by world-class instructors. Classes take place all over the world, and with the amazing graphics provided, you can get your run in virtually anywhere you choose (thanks to the Google Maps integration).


  • Interactive and immersive training: Thousands of live and on-demand classes.
  • Global classes: Run virtually anywhere with Google Maps integration.
  • Versatility: Works with iFIT-enabled cardio machines and as a stand-alone app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Multiple workout styles: Options for treadmill workouts, outdoor scenic runs, and more.


  • Versatile with machine-based and non-machine-based classes.
  • Expansive and inclusive platform.
  • Technology-forward approach.


  • Pricey for some users.
  • No true path for progression.

Bottom Line

iFIT offers fitness lovers versatility with machine-based classes and classes that do not require anything more than a towel or mat. Anyone looking for a home-exercise program will be hard-pressed to find a more technology-forward, expansive, and inclusive platform than iFIT.

9. Joggo

Joggo is a unique app that functions as a digital running coach, adjusting your plan based on your progress. To start, you’ll take a short quiz about your goals, needs, and lifestyle. Joggo will then create a personalized running program for you, whether your goal is to run a 5k or a full marathon. Your first run will be an assessment run, and afterwards, Joggo will place you at a specific level. Our tester, Nicole Davis, who is just getting back into running after having her third baby, landed at Advancing Jogger initially.

Best for Beginner Runners

Joggo is particularly great for beginner runners. It offers personalized running plans tailored to your fitness level and goals. The customized plan includes a strength training component, video-guided and equipment-free workouts, and meal plans created by certified nutritionists. Plus, it has a running tracker to monitor your progress.

Pros & Cons


  • Personalized run training program
  • Adapts every two weeks based on a progress test
  • Audio-guided encouragement
  • Treadmill running mode


  • Doesn’t sync to third-party apps or devices
  • Manual data entry required for some features

Price & Compatibility

Joggo is priced at $4.99 and is compatible with iPhone iOS 11.0 and up, and Android 8.0 and up. While it lacks some safety features, it does track essential metrics like pace and distance.

10. Zombies, Run!


If lacing up for a run sounds daunting, try adding a frisson of (extremely motivating) threat to your workout with Zombies, Run! The app puts you in the middle of a zombie apocalypse by providing a series of stories and missions for you to listen to as you run, mixed in with your own music. Follow the prompts to collect supplies, fortify your zombie-proof base, and save humanity – what’s better for increasing your pace than that?

Key Features

  • Combines the digital world, storytelling, and new technology to create a fitness game
  • Smartphone sensors create an immersive experience where users act as a character surviving a zombie apocalypse
  • Track progress with either a GPS tracker via Google Maps integration, a step-counter, or an estimated distance tracker
  • Stream your own music or podcast
  • 5K running plan available

Pros & Cons


  • Motivating
  • Can use your own audio
  • Affordable
  • Unique
  • Reportedly easy-to-use


  • VIP membership required for virtual races
  • Some reports of inaccuracy in tracking distances
  • No mention of any fitness metric tracking

Metrics Tracked

Zombies, Run! tracks distance, time, average pace, calories, and steps. Plus, the app also tracks your “supplies” collected and “zombie chases” escaped. If you want to use this app for outdoor running, you’ll have GPS tracking capabilities, too.


  • Apple Watch
  • Android
  • iOS


The app is free with in-app purchases. There is always a free trial period available.


In the end, the best running app for you really depends on what you need to stay motivated and track your progress. Whether you're looking for basic stats, virtual coaching, or a social community to keep you going, there's an app out there that fits the bill. We've tested a bunch of them, and each has its own unique features that can help you reach your running goals. So lace up those shoes, download an app, and hit the pavement. Happy running!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best apps for tracking basic running stats?

Some of the best apps for tracking basic running stats like distance and pace include Strava, Runkeeper, and MapMyRun.

Which apps offer virtual coaching and training plans?

Nike Run Club, Couch to 5K, and Peloton offer virtual coaching and training plans to help guide your running journey.

How can running apps help me find new routes?

Apps like MapMyRun and Strava have features that allow you to discover and create new running routes, making it easier to explore different areas.

Are there any running apps with a social community feature?

Yes, Strava is well-known for its strong social community feature, allowing you to follow friends, join group challenges, and stay motivated.

What should I consider when choosing a running app?

Consider what you want to use the app for, such as tracking stats, mapping runs, virtual coaching, or social features. Also, check the app's privacy policy regarding data storage and access.

Do any running apps offer interval training?

Yes, many running apps, including Nike Run Club and Runkeeper, offer interval training features to help you vary your workouts and improve performance.

Can running apps track my treadmill runs?

Yes, apps like iFIT and Peloton offer features specifically designed for tracking treadmill runs, including live workouts and data tracking.

Are there any running apps that make running fun?

Zombies, Run! is a unique app that turns running into a game, making your workouts more entertaining by immersing you in a story where you have to run from zombies.

Back to blog