There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline high of a good run. Completing mile after mile with the air on your face and the earth below your feet is a luxury like no other. But when paired with the lack of motivation, it looms like a dreadful presence. Enter: running apps.
Running apps are a beginner runner’s best friend. They’re essential tools for maximizing your workout and tracking your progress. Without them, you might feel lost and directionless, with little to no motivation to go on.
With millions of runners worldwide, running apps run rampant. To help you pick the right pocket trainer, we’ve rounded up the best apps for beginner runners you can download today. Most of these apps are completely free, so use them to your heart’s content!
- Cost: Free
- Premium $5/month
With over 50 million users worldwide, Strava is the “king” of running apps.
Designed for runners, swimmers, and riders, Strava turns exercise into a rewarding endeavor.
It’s especially suited for people who love the social and competition aspects of a sport, as it allows you to compare times with other members of the app.
Plus, it allows you to join groups and add friends to boost your motivation. It’s basically the social network for athletes!
We especially like Beacon, a safety feature that notifies up to three people where and when you’re running.
To quote the developers, Beacon is the upgraded “note on the fridge” for runners and athletes, but instead of a lonely sticky note, it gives three of your friends and/or family a unique URL that allows them to follow your activity in real-time.
Other noteworthy features include:
- Built-in tracking to analyze your performance
- Leaderboards, challenges, and competitions
- Achievement awards
- GPS tracking, heart rate monitor, and power meter
- Road and trail network
2. Nike Run Club
- Cost: Free
Targeted towards runners of all levels, the Nike Run Club app guides you on how to become a better athlete.
The app’s most prominent feature is its Run With Headspace audio guide.
Currently, Nike has 15 Headspace guided meditations you can access right now, most of which focus on strengthening the mind and bringing awareness to your body as you run.
These audio guides encourage and guide you through meditative runs, allowing you to achieve heightened focus by freeing you into the present moment.
Run With Headspace is far from the only feature the Nike Run Club has. It also comes with the following:
- Custom coaching plans
- GPS tracking
- Running journal
- Challenge screen
- “Track Your Shoe” function
- Connect with friends and join inner challenges
- Coached runs (with professional coaches)
- NTC integration
Indeed, there’s a lot more to the Nike Run Club app than what meets the eye. From its guided runs to its improvement reports, it’s quite literally designed to make you a better runner.
The best part is, it’s free. You heard that right; you don’t have to spend a single penny to download and use this app!
3. Peloton Digital
- Cost: $15/month
As one of the biggest names in the fitness world, it’s no wonder that the Peloton running app made it to our list. It’s one of the few apps that give you direct access to hundreds of certified coaches, all of whom share expert advice on nutrition, exercise, and health.
Peloton’s running programs are specially curated by Peloton’s instructors. Depending on the program you use, your instructor will ask you to increase or decrease your speed on your run.
If you subscribe to the premium app, you’ll get access to thousands of classes and workout music, instead of just the 100 available for free.
Although packed to the brim with features, the Peloton app is super clean.
Once you select one of the 11 workout genres available, you can further break down the search through its myriad of filters. Some of the filters include time, instructor, music genre, difficulty, and class type.
But that’s not all. The Peloton app regularly streams live classes across all genres, giving you the motivation to set aside the time for a workout.
These days, it’s extremely difficult to get access to board-certified personal trainers, on-demand classes, and a dedicated community in one place, but Peloton makes it work.
For just under $15 per month, we’d say that the monthly membership is more than worth the price. You’re basically hiring a personal running coach for an insanely affordable price.
4. Couch to 5K
- Cost: Free
Couch to 5K had our attention just from its name. We don’t judge a book by its cover, though—or in this case, an app by its name—so we decided to give it a whirl before to see what it’s all about. With over 5 million downloads, does it really live up to its name?
Spoiler alerts: yes, it does.
As the name suggests, Couch to 5K is intended for individuals with little to no running experience.
Upon launching the app, you’re given a nine-week long program that gradually builds intensity as weeks pass.
It starts off with 30-minute bursts of exercise per week, alternating between walking and running. By the end of week nine, you’re tasked to run 30 minutes straight with the 5K pace you’ve established in the training.
As it’s geared towards beginners, the C25K app is quite forgiving. It has a “fixed” training schedule, but you can easily adjust it to your liking.
What’s more, it features a 3D coach named Laura, who guides you all throughout the session. If Laura doesn’t cut it, you can also be coached by celebrities Sarah Millican, Michael Johnson, Jo Whiley, and Sanjeev Kohli.
The C25K app is designed by the NHS and is free to download and use.
5. Running by Daily Burn
- Cost: $14.95 per month
- Premium: Additional $5/ month
Running by Daily Burn offers in-your-ear coaching for runners of all experience levels, whether you’re a beginner or an athlete with hundreds of marathons under your belt.
Depending on your performance level, the app gives you a collection of guided runs to follow. The app will be there to pace you, giving you the occasional motivation to push on.
With guided warm-ups and stretches, this app makes running a joyous and safe experience. Plus, it allows you to stream your own playlist or play a curated one while you work out.
Running by Daily Burn is an extension of Daily Burn’s paid membership platform. Compared to the other options on this list, the subscription fee is quite extortionate, especially if you’re planning to only use the running function.
If you do decide to subscribe to the app, you’re given an array of programs to follow, including, but not limited to:
- Beginner bodyweight training
- Yoga fundamentals
- 10-minute tone
- Power cardio
- Summer abs challenge
- Barre harmony
6. Adidas Running
- Cost: Free
- Premium $9.99/month
Adidas Running, which was formerly called Runtastic, is a running app designed by the Adidas company itself.
As you might expect from a big-name sports company, this running app tracks all the major running metrics you can think of, including distance, speed, time, elevation, and calories burned.
If you connect it to a compatible fitness tracker, such as an Apple Watch or a Garmin Watch, the app gives you the option to record your heart rate.
Like the Nike Run Club application, Adidas Running has guided “Story Runs” to push you forward. The guided runs are narrated by professional coaches, trainers, and qualified members of the app’s community.
It also has daily, weekly, and monthly challenges to partake in.
The Adidas Running app is completely free to download and use, but it does have a paid subscription service that costs around $9.99 a month. The paid plan gives you access to deeper stats, targeted training plans, and premium Story Runs.
If you’re not convinced about the cost, don’t worry. The app gives you a 7-day free trial to test it out first.
- Cost: Free
- Premium $9.99/month
If you depend on progress records and reports on your runs, RunKeeper is the app for you. You’ll appreciate its myriad of challenges, exercise awards, and virtual groups, especially if you’re a challenge-motivated beginner.
RunKeeper prides itself on its simple, easy-to-use interface. It allows users to set measurable goals and track their progress along the way with a few clicks.
RunKeeper is free, but as with most apps on this list, it does have a premium option called RunKeeper Go.
For $9.99 a month, you can get personalized coaching plans based on your running ability, schedule, and overall goals. Furthermore, gives you a more in-depth look at your progress with additional stats.
Like Strava, RunKeeper has a live tracking feature, which allows your friends and/or family members to keep up with your progress.
- Cost: Free
- Premium: $3.99/month
RunGo is a voice-guided running application that gives you access to the world’s best running routes. It’s especially handy for runners who frequently travel to unfamiliar places.
RunGo is basically the best running travel companion you could ever hope for. Simply launch the app, browse through the hundreds of running routes available, and download the route which suits you best. This way, you won’t get lost even when your phone doesn’t carry a signal.
Best of all, it comes with advanced accessibility features that provide support for visually impaired runners.
Currently, RunGo has over 300,000 routes worldwide, most of which feature built-in audio and visual directions. It also tracks essential running stats like distance, time, splits, pace, and elevation.
After your run, you can save your time on the RunGo Logbook to compare and check training progress at a later date.
If you choose to subscribe to RunGo Premium for an extra $3.99 a month (or $29.99 a year), you get access to guided tours created by local runners. These guided tours route you through safe and scenic locations, and mention notable points of interest on your run.
- Cost: Free
- Premium $5.99/month
Developed in 2005, MapMyRun has since become a veteran of the online running space. It’s part of the ever-famous MapMyFitness brand. It has gone through multiple updates since its inception, but the one thing that has never changed is its top-tier functionality.
With over 20 million users, MapMyRun is the go-to running app for many. It logs all the running statistics you can think of, including pace, duration, distance, and calories burned.
Additionally, it’s compatible with Apple Watch and most wearable tech, including UA Record Equipped shoes. This not only provides you with easy-to-access infographics but also allows you to meticulously track your day-to-day progress.
As with most of MapMyFitness’ sister applications, MapMyRun is powered by state-of-the-art GPS filtering technology to avoid overestimations and GPS errors in the middle of the run.
It also has a voice feedback feature, which informs you of basic audio updates like distance, pace, weather, and time of day.
10. Zombies, Run!
- Cost: Free
No, we didn’t accidentally add a mobile game to this list, even if Zombies, Run! is, indeed, advertised as a mobile game.
The Zombies, Run! app is a mission-oriented app with one goal in mind: escape from zombies chasing after you.
In this world, you’re one of the few remaining survivors of the zombie epidemic. Through a session of missions, you’re tasked to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend your home.
You’re probably scratching your head right now. How is this a running app? Well, here’s how it works.
With your AirPods in your ears, pick a mission and let it play.
As the narrator talks you through the mission, start walking, jogging, or running.
After you pass a certain mileage, you’ll hear the narrator say, “collected a bottle of water,” or “collected a medkit.”
Then, seemingly at random, you’ll hear the voice say, “Warning: Zombies [X] Meters.” The music picks up and groans of zombies are heard in the distance. This is where you run.
As you’re trying to escape from the zombies, you’ll beat your PB even without realizing it. Because if you’re too slow, the zombies will steal your stuff and probably turn you into a zombie yourself.
Zombies, Run! is an interactive running that’s perfect for individuals who find cardio monotonous. With this, you get to enjoy a story and work on your physique at the same time.
11. Google Fit
- Cost: Free
As a billion-dollar company, Google has everything for everyone. A map for travelers, a workspace for business owners, and a powerful fitness application for runners.
Google Fit is a simple, clean, fitness app for runners of all expert levels. Although it’s yet to include training programs, it records every fitness statistic you can think of, including calories burned, elevation, distance, and steps.
It also has Move Minutes, Heart Points, and heart rate data which can be recorded by placing your finger on your phone camera’s sensor.
The application is divided into four sections: Home, Journal, Browse, and Profile.
As you might expect, the Home screen shows an overview of your current day’s activities and metrics. It also lists instructional videos from YouTube and health recommendations from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Journal records your weekly progress, while the Browse page houses in-depth metrics and measurements.
The Profile section lists your basic information, which you can import from phone to phone with your email.
- Cost: Free
- Premium: $9.99/month
We’d be remiss if we didn’t at least mention Pacer, the ultimate workout buddy for runners!
Pacer started off as a step counting app, but as more and more people used the app, it evolved into a fitness beast (in a good way). Today, it acts as a daily tracker and a health coach, meticulously recording your progress from start to finish.
It has everything you need to set up a fitness plan and even recommends the best plan suited as per your physical health. You can partake in some pretty cool games and challenges, too, and win rewards along the way.
Also, we’re absolutely in love with the interface. It’s clean, crisp, and easy to understand. You can view your progress on plotted charts, giving you a visual representation of your progress and fitness levels.
With an average rating of 4.7 on the Android Play Store and 4.9 on the iOS App Store, you can’t go wrong with this one. It has over 10 million downloads, so the ratings are overwhelmingly good.
Plus, it’s free! There are some premium features, of course, but the core functions are completely free to use.
13. Charity Miles
- Cost: Free
Motivation is the life force of runners. Without the right motivation, running turns into an arduous task. Enter Charity Miles, the app that donates 25¢ to charity for every mile you complete.
With Charity Miles, you’re turning your daily jogs into a fundraiser. In fact, the company has already donated over $2.7 million to 50 world-class charities, all thanks to runners such as yourself. If that’s not a great motivation to go on, we don’t know what is!
Here’s how it works. First, launch the app and choose the charity you want to support. Then, start running, walking, dancing, or biking. For every mile you cross, the company automatically donates to the charity of your choice. This way, every mile matters.
- Cost: Free
- Premium: $19.95/month
Developed in 2002, Runcoach is among the oldest apps on this list, but it’s in no way inferior. In fact, Runcoach is one of the best running apps ever created, especially for beginners.
The app uses an adaptive algorithm based on your previous workouts to carefully measure your progress and adjust the goals to match your level. This means you can create a customized workout schedule depending on your current fitness level.
Runcoach also allows you to reach out to USATF-certified coaches for advice on training, injuries, nutrition, and more. Said coaches can be contacted on the app directly, where they’ll have access to your running stats.
Personalized coaching is a premium feature, though, so you’ll have to pay a monthly fee of $19.95 a month to access them. Still, $19.95 is an amazing price for a whole month of coaching.
- Cost: $5.99/month
iSmoothRun is a running application that tracks your distance, time, steps, pace, elevation, weather, and even the location you started on. It supports multiple running programs, including run/walk training, tempo runs, and interval workouts.
On top of that, it tracks your shoe mileage to let you know when it’s time to change them.
iSmoothRun is compatible with most devices, including Apple Watch and Samsung Active. Some even say it’s a crucial addition to the Apple Watch.
Unfortunately, the iSmoothRun isn’t free. It has a $5.99 monthly subscription fee, but you do get a lot for what you pay for.
Apart from the basic stuff, you also get advanced options such as your cadence, stride rate, and how far behind a ghost racer you are. It also displays your heart rate.
- Cost: Free
Human is a non-intrusive running app that works in the background, dutifully keeping track of your walks, jogs, runs, and overall movement through the day.
Here’s the kicker, though: instead of focusing on steps, it records your active minutes.
When you launch the app, you’re given a certain number of minutes to “consume.” The counter is adjustable, of course, but it usually starts with 30 minutes.
It occasionally sends you push notifications to encourage you to complete your Daily 30. When you do, you’re given a nice “congratulations!” message.
Human is one of the fitness apps that use passive location tracking. If you tap on the minute counter on the screen, it reveals an activity timeline with the average speed you’ve taken, as well as the distance and duration of your activities.
It also shows you a map of where you were most active. You don’t even have to launch the app; it runs 24/7 without consuming much of your battery.
- Cost: Free
- Premium: $7.99
TrainAsOne not only creates the best training plan per your fitness level; it also helps you meet your goals. It’s extremely beginner-friendly, too!
In the app, you’re asked to run at your “very easy,” and eventually your “easy” pace for a certain period of time. Once the integrated A.I. has a feel for your measurements, it automatically calculates your “conversational” pace and VRE (Velocity of Running Economy).
The app also guides you through a 30-minute workout, again depending on your past performance.
TrainAsOne gives you an array of workout programs to choose from, including economy runs, progression runs, repetition runs, interval runs, and many others. If you haven’t a clue what these runs are, don’t worry—the application will guide you through them!
Final Thoughts On The 17 Best Apps for Beginner Runners
There you have it, our top 17 running apps for beginner runners!
Most of the mentioned apps are completely free to use, but they do offer additional premium services to get the most out of your miles.
If you’re fully content with the basic services, you’ll likely love the premium services, too.