The 7 best free running apps

Running is a great way to get fit, shed a few pounds and get some fresh air, but sometimes you just need a bit of support and encouragement. We've found 7 great free apps that'll keep you running when the going gets tough.

1. Best app for support as you run

Endomondo appLike a (very small) personal trainer in your pocket, the Endomondo Running and Walking app has been designed to be a fun, friendly and motivational buddy to run with. You become part of a global fitness community, where you can follow friends, send and receive real-time pep talks from them; take and tag pictures; as well as set challenges or compete against each other.  You can link up with Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to share your workouts.

On a more practical level, Endomondo tracks your running (and over 40 other forms of exercise), provides audio ‘coach’ feedback, tracks your workout history and connects to your heart-rate monitor.  It uses GPS to tell you how far you’ve run, as well as exactly where you’ve run, which adds to that feeling of achievement. 

2. Best running app for raising money for charity

Charity Miles appIf you need a little motivation to keep you on (the running) track, Charity Miles helps you by helping others. In a nutshell, you run, they give money to charity.  So far 100,000 runners have totted up enough miles to run to the moon and back three times, while earning $350,000 (about £239,000) for charities.

It’s all pretty simple, you just sign up, and for every mile you run, 25c (approximately 17p) is automatically donated to your chosen charity. Cycling a mile earns you 10c (7p). There are 20 affiliated charities (not the BHF at present). Most of the charities are US-based, although a number work internationally, such the Ironman Foundation, Nature Conservancy and the World Food Programme. Donations are funded by corporate partners. 

3. Best app for looking sleek and chic – your app that is

Human co appThe new breed of Smart Phone is just as much an accessory as a designer handbag. So you might want a running app that is equally as sleek and chic. You don’t need to look further than Human: Activity Tracker app. The minimalist design features a black screen and stylish fonts, combined with images of stunning cityscapes and landscapes. It’s got a pretty good blog too. 

The app has been kept simple and the goal is simply to move 30 minutes each day – the “Daily 30”.  It tracks location, speed, acceleration and calories. If you tap on an activity, you will see a map, along with the duration, distance and average speed. Its founder Renato Valdes Olmos based the app on his own experience of getting healthy. He reduced his weight from 320lbs to 176lbs by making small and simple life changes, such as walking instead of taking the car, cycling or taking the stairs.

4. Best app for music while you run

Rock my run appSpin a mini gig in your headphones with ‘Rock My Run’. Whether it’s thrash metal that gets your legs pumping, or something more melodic, they’ve got it all – whatever rocks your world. The app provides playlists from top DJs, and you can select how many beats-per-minute for any genre you like, from old-school rock to country music, via pop, hip-hop and power-ballads.

The mixes vary in length, from 10–15 minute warm-ups to playlists for 60 minutes or longer. There are hundreds of mixes to choose from. RockMyRun is a’ ‘freemium’ app - free if you’re happy with mixes that are 45 minutes long or shorter, otherwise you can pay for the premium version.

5. Best app for making running fun

Zombies, run! appThe Zombies, Run! has been played by over a million runners, making it the biggest smartphone fitness game - ever. You have to gather supplies, rescue survivors and defend your home to ensure the future of humanity. 

You can play anywhere in the world, and it doesn’t matter if you walk, jog or run. You’ll hear your mission and music through your headphones, and if you’re chased by zombies, you’ll have to speed up, so it’s like interval training.  Runners’ reviews are effusive. One said: “Just finished Season 2 of Zombies, Run! That makes 470km in total. I can’t believe it.” Another said: “Obsessed with Zombie Run, one month in and 10 pounds down. Yessss!”

6. Best classic running app

Runtastic appA firm favourite among runners, Runtastic scored an average rating of 4.5 out of five 5 in customer ratings, left by a whopping half a million people. The app uses GPS to map and track fitness activities, such as running, jogging, biking, walking, hiking and many more. And it records duration, distance, elevation change, and calories burned. The Runtastic school of apps comprises around 20 apps (some free, some not), covering other activities such as push ups and a “butt trainer”.  

7. Best app for marathon training

Marathon running appThe thought of running a marathon – even a half marathon – might sound daunting, but Marathon and Half-Marathon Trainer helps you to gradually increase your fitness levels. It includes three ready-made training plans for three or four months, with four workout days a week. However, you can edit these to suit your requirements.

Features include a GPS running map, audio instructions, detailed running statistic, calorie counter, and detailed tips on running, nutrition and lifestyle. It also includes easy access to audio books, podcasts and “the best running music”, which adjusts to your running speed.

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