Whether you're new to running or training for a marathon, these totally free running apps will be a training godsend.
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Runkeeper, powered by Asics, is one of the most popular and efficient free running apps out there. It's a feature-rich app that enables GPS tracking, distance, speed monitoring, caloric output, and activity history, and even lets you cue up your favorite playlist from iTunes or Spotify. You can use it just as a run tracker or for multiple other sports, including cycling, hiking, skiing, and swimming. You can even use the app to follow along with a training plan and participate in virtual races. Bonus: The app can sync up your fitness trackers (like a Garmin or Fitbit) or you can load the app onto your Apple Watch and leave your phone at home.
Upgrade to premium to take advantage of race-training plans from the ASICS Institute of Sport Science, more detailed progress insights (like side-by-side workout comparisons and weather data), prescribed workouts, and live run tracking. (P.S. these other apps can also help you train for a specific race.)
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Under Armour's MapMyRun makes running fun and easy by turning your device into a social training partner while using your phone's GPS to track your distance and route (or use 400+ devices that can connect directly to the app). Add your current pair of sneaks to the app's Gear Tracker, too, and you can more easily keep track of how many miles you've logged with those shoes. (FYI, this is how often you should replace your running sneakers.) You can easily connect to friends and family (and the other millions of MapMyRun users) via Facebook and Twitter as well as join challenging competitions on MapMyRun’s homepage. Prizes are given away (!!) for certain challenges so it’s good to consistently check their website. (This added incentive makes it a great running-for-weight-loss app because it'll help keep you accountable.)
One cool feature that most running apps don't offer: If you head over to the MapMyRun webpage on your desktop to trace out a route to help plan your next run.
Nike+ Run Club
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The Nike+ Run Club app is just as ~cool~ as the brand's hottest running sneakers. The free running app packs all the usual features (GPS tracking, stats, community sharing, leaderboards, challenges, etc.) but offer some sweet add-ons that you can't get anywhere else. For one, the app offers guided audio runs that can take you on a speed workout, tell you a story, or even guide you through mindful running with the help of meditation app Headspace. You get kudos and motivational quotes from Nike's top trainers right in your ear, and can even get mid-run cheers from friends on the app.
Crushed your latest training run? Nike's app makes run sharing almost as visual as Instagram: Snap a photo before, during, or after your run, then add stickers with your run route or stats, graphics, and—obv—the "Just Do It" tagline.
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Strava—the Swedish word for “strive”—has become a haven for runners, bikers, swimmers, and triathletes alike. In the free version, you can track your runs with your phone GPS, and get stats on your distance, pace, elevation, and calories burned, then share them (plus your route map and photos) with your Strava community (via a feed like Facebook). Upgrade to premium to unlock features like customizable training and workout plans; the ability to set your own distance, time, or segment goals; live feedback during runs on your current speed and distance; and advanced run analysis and performance metrics.
If you're hyper-competitive, this may be the best run tracker for you. With both the free and premium versions, you can battle your friends and the rest of the Strava population for crowns—the top spot on the Strava leaderboard for a particular segment (a stretch of road or trail, for example). In it for the camaraderie? Join one of Strava's clubs and connect with runners either virtually or IRL. (FYI, here's whether it's actually good to be competitive about your workout.)
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Runtastic has everything you need in a run tracker—real-time GPS tracking, goal setting, a training diary, shoe tracking, an integrated music player, and sharing—plus an extra motivational boost. Get feedback and encouragement from a real voice coach, live tracking, and live messages and cheers from your friends. (Running a race with a friend? Here are tips for training together.) To use this running app for weight loss motivation, sync the app to your Apple Watch (gotta complete those activity rings!), Garmin wristband, and even your Garmin Edge bike computer to log rides too.
Endomondo Sports Tracker
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Whether your training for a marathon or a triathlon, Endomondo lets you personalize your workout by setting a specific goal—even if it's beating a friend’s personal best by connecting via Facebook or your contact list. It doesn't stop at outdoor runs, though; Endomondo tracks 60+ different sports, and also allows you to log your indoor workouts or cross-training sessions so you can keep your full training journal all in one place. You can even pair Endomondo with a heart rate monitor for more accurate workout stats. (That's what makes this one of the best free weight loss apps too.)
Cool tech bonus: Connect Endomondo with the Relive app and create 3D videos of your workouts that you can share with your friends.
Weight Loss Running
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If you're looking for an app that's zeros in on running for weight loss, this is your new BFF. Weight Loss Running by Verv is a run tracker and a meal plan in one. It offers a variety of eight-week plans (depending on your goals) with three workouts per week—mainly calorie-burning interval running workouts that include running, walking, and sprint intervals. It will guide you on the interval runs (with music!) but doesn't track your runs with a GPS, so you can sync the app with Apple Health, Fitbit, Runkeeper, and MapMyRun to get the best of both worlds. The nutrition section offers meal plans with healthy recipes, plus a water tracker to be sure you're staying hydrated.
Get it on iOS (for iPhone and the Apple Watch) or in the Google Play store, and consider upgrading to premium (a lifetime subscription is just $60) for more perks. It'll be worth it: The 57K reviews, with an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars, don't lie.
Photo: Weight Loss Running