It doesn’t matter if you’ve been hitting the track for years or are planning on going for your first jog someday soon, using running apps can make your cardio session more enjoyable and more efficient. There are tons of tools to assist in developing a more regular exercise routine or improving your pace so you can set a new personal record at next year’s Thanksgiving Turkey Trot. We found the 15 best running apps to best help you achieve your goals, no matter your fitness level. Now get ready to grab your kicks (and your phone) and let’s go.

THE BEST RUNNING APPS FOR BEGINNERS

For those who really have no idea where to start or are looking to make running a bigger part of their fitness routine, these four apps will set you up for success.

RELATED: How to Get Into Running, According to a Coach, a Marathoner and a Total Newbie

pacerbest running apps

1. Pacer

Price: Free

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
At its core, Pacer is a pedometer, keeping track of your steps throughout the day and, as the name suggests, your pace during workouts. It’s an excellent tool to gauge your base fitness level and get you moving more regularly, for longer periods of time or with a greater effort level. As you progress, you can also track runs using your phone’s GPS and join group challenges to keep you motivated. There are also a number of exercise plans at all levels, that can give your workout some structure and set up clear, achievable goals. You can also link your Pacer account to your Fitbit or MyFitnessPal accounts for a fuller picture of your overall health.

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Get Pacer for Android

couch to 5kbest running apps

2. Couch-to-5K

Price: $3

Compatible with: iOs and Android

What it does:
Exactly as the name suggests, this app is all about helping users shift from a nonactive lifestyle to an active one, with the goal of getting comfortable running (or run/walking) 5 kilometers, aka 3.1 miles, at a time. It guides users through three 30-minute workouts per week for nine weeks, ending in a 5K challenge. The app also keeps track of your pace, time and distance so you can track your progress from start to finish. The makers of Couch-to-5K, Active.com, also have separate training programs for the 10K and half marathon, if you’re ready to up the ante.

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interval timerbest running apps

3. Interval Timer

Price: Free

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
While more advanced runners might find this app useful for sprint training or tempo runs, it also makes a great tool for those who prefer a walk/run workout—aka a run that’s split into walking portions and jogging portions. Almost every beginner running program will include days where you might warmup by walking for five minutes, then repeat jogging for 30 seconds followed by one minute of walking before ending with a walking cooldown. The Interval Timer app keeps track of all that information—the repetitions, the variations in time, etc.—so you can focus on other more important things, like your form, breathing correctly or the pump up jams playing in the background.

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runcoachbest running apps

4. Runcoach

Price: Free, with the option of a $20 per month for a Gold membership

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
Runcoach provides all the basics of a good running app—GPS tracking your runs and gathering info on distance, speed, elevation and the like—but the real draw comes from its coaching services. The free version of the app allows users to enter in a goal, whether that’s an upcoming race or simply a time/distance/pace you’d like to achieve, along with the number of days per week you’re able to work out, your fitness level and a few other pieces of information, and voilà! You’re left with a customized training plan that can also be adjusted as you go along. The Gold membership, however, gives users access to real USA Track and Field certified coaches who can tailor your plan even further and answer questions about nutrition, injury and why certain workouts or exercises are helpful.

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THE BEST RUNNING APPS FOR INTERMEDIATE TO ADVANCED RUNNERS

There are a lot of options for those who already consider themselves regular runners but want to become more consistent, improve their race times or train for a new running challenge. Some provide the just essential basics while others allow you to dive deep into tons of data, numbers and stats. Whatever you prefer, one of these apps should fit the bill.

RELATED: New to Running? Here's Everything You Need for the First Few Miles (& Beyond)

stravabest running apps

5. Strava

Price: Free, with the option of a $15 per month Summit subscription

Compatible with: iOs and Android

What it does:
The free version of Strava is fantastic for tracking your runs (or walks or bike rides or hikes) and can pull information from Fitbit, Garmin, Polar and Samsung Gear devices, as well as the Apple Watch. You can check your splits, see changes in elevation and even compare your stats to previous runs or other runners to see how you compare. Users can connect with friends, join running clubs and compete in challenges to keep themselves motivated. Summit users gain access to more in-depth data, the ability to create and share routes, set custom goals and further analyze your training. Oh, and did we mention Strava counts professional runners like Jim Walmsley, Allie Kieffer and Gary Robbins as users? You know, just in case you want some extra motivation or are curious about what elite training looks like.

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nike run clubbest running apps

6. Nike+ Run Club

Price: Free

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
After Strava, Nike+ Run Club is the most popular running app currently available. There are two main reasons you might want to choose Nike+ Run Club (or NRC for short) over Strava: guided runs and free training programs. There are the usual running app features—the ability to keep track of personal records, join challenges and compete/connect with friends—but it’s the two aformentioned features that give NRC an edge. We find the guided runs to be most useful, since there’s advice on how to best run a 10K race, how to prepare for running in the rain or cold, sprint and tempo workouts as well as interviews with famous figures like Shalane Flanagan, Joan Benoit Samuelson, Sanya Richards Ross and Eliud Kipchoge. There’s even an entire group of runs lead by Andy Puddicombe of the mindfulness app Headspace. You can also set up a custom training program to prepare for just about any race distance from 5K to a full marathon. You can select how many days you’ll be able to train, your current fitness level and pace and whether or not you want to include cross training (which comes by way of the Nike+ Training Club, the NRC’s sister app).

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map my runbest running apps

7. Map My Run

Price: Free, with the option of a $6 per month Premium MVP subscription

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
MapMyRun is best for neighborhood or trail runners who are often on the hunt for new routes. You can use the app to track a run in the moment (gathering numbers on pace, distance, elevation and average calories burned) or go back and manually enter your path to retroactively determine just how far you went. It can also pull data from a variety of activity trackers like Garmin, Fitbit, Android Wear, Google Fit and Suunto, among others. With the Premium MVP subscription, runners can share their location with friends and family in real time (a fantastic safety feature), access personalized training plans and dive into training analysis. You can also sync your running account with MapMyRide for cycling or MyFitnessPal for food tracking.

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runkeeperbest running apps

8. Runkeeper

Price: Free, with option for a $40 per year Runkeeper Go premium membership

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
Runkeeper is very similar to Nike+ Run Club, with a minimalist, easy to use interface and a limited number of recorded stats (pace, distance, calories burned, etc.). It also has one-off suggested workouts (although there are fewer options than with the NRC app) and training plans available, as well as the ability to set goals or join challenges. But the real difference here is the ability to see and explore popular running routes near you or set your own routes. You also get more with the Runkeeper Go upgrade, which provides you with the tools to better analyze your run data or sign up for a personalized training program.

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pelotonbest running apps

9. Peloton

Price: $13 per month subscription after a free 30-day trial

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
You might associate Peloton solely with its at-home stationary bikes, but the fitness company also made a smart treadmill, the Peloton Tread and, more importantly, created the Peloton app. You don’t need to own any of the brand’s equipment to utilize the app (although access does come included in the Peloton All-Access membership). In addition to guided outdoor runs and sprint sessions, the app offers strength-building, yoga, stretching, meditation, bootcamp and cycling classes (both live and pre-recorded) available for streaming on your phone or TV. As is true with all Peloton products, the difference here comes from the Peloton instructors who are there to motivate and guide you through each and every workout. For outdoor runs, this means outlining the structure of the run, including the warmup, intervals or changes in pace and an easy cooldown, and offering words of wisdom and encouragement. Each workout also comes with a preset playlist that matches the energy of the song to the effort of the moment. We recommend Peloton for those who prefer group runs or pre-planned, highly-structured workouts over flexible, free-form jogging sessions.

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adidas running runtasticbest running apps

10. Adidas Running

Price: Free, with the option of a $50 per year Premium subscription

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
Formerly known as Runtastic, Adidas Running collects lots of information, but will only show you exactly what you want to see. So, if you want to know all about how long you were able to maintain a certain pace, but don’t care so much about the actual distance covered you can configure the dashboard as you’d like. Similar to many apps on this list, Adidas Running offers weekly and monthly challenges and makes it easy to connect and compete with other runners. But one of the great things about this app is that it also has cross training built right in so you can get a more well-rounded fitness experience all within a single app. Premium users gain access to more training plans, tailored just for you, and individualized stats and analysis.

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pumatracbest running apps

11. Pumatrac

Price: Free

Compatible with: iOs and Android

What it does:
In terms of actual run stats, Pumatrac keeps things simple, collecting information on your pace, elevation, distance and time, but little else. However, it also tracks details like the weather and what time of day or days of the week you head out for a run. It even makes note of what playlist you were listening to so you can glean fascinating information about your best runs versus your most challenging training days with the help of a run score which notes the quality of your runs (albeit with room for interpretation).

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rock my runbest running apps

12. Rock My Run

Price: $7.99 per month of $79.99 annually after a 7-day free trial

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
Best for audiophiles and those who want to work on their pacing, RockMyRun can help boost your runs and make them even more effective. Choose from a variety of playlists and music stations and the app will match the beat to your pace, making it easier for you to maintain a specific number of steps or beats per minute. There are tons of genres to choose like hip-hop, rock, country, reggae and pop. The app can also work in conjunction with some of the other apps on this list, including Strava and MapMyRun.

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THE BEST APPS FOR SAFETY

As much as we wish it weren’t so, the reality is that running alone comes with risks, especially for women and BIPOC. If you plan to run in the early morning or late at night (or really any time when it’s dark), along a less populous trail or if you simply want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep yourself safe, these three apps are a great place to start.

road idbest running apps

13. RoadID

Price: Free

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
Family and friends can follow your running route in real time to ensure you don’t suddenly veer off course or stop moving all together. In fact, if you’ve stopped for more than five minutes and haven’t responded to RoadID’s check-in prompt, the app will automatically notify your emergency contacts. You can also set up a custom lock screen with relevant information for First Responders—like any relevant allergies or illnesses, your blood type, next of kin—in case of an accident

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kitestringbest running apps

14. Kitestring

Price: Three trips per month and one emergency contact for free, or unlimited trips and emergency contacts for $3 per month

Compatible with: Any SMS capable device

What it does:
Our favorite thing about Kitestring is that neither you nor your emergency contact need to have a smart phone in order to use it. You don’t even need to download anything. Simply head over to Kitestring’s website to sign up, then send a text indicating how long you want the program to wait before checking in, let’s say 30 minutes into your late night or early morning jog. After half an hour Kitestring will send you a text to check in. If you don’t reply with either the word OK or your check-in password, Kitestring will send a message to your designated emergency contacts. You can also preset emergency and duress codes that can trigger an emergency response at any time.

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bsafebest running apps

15. bSafe

Price: Free

Compatible with: iOS and Android

What it does:
There are multiple ways to use the bSafe app depending on what you want or need. There’s the timer alarm, which works similarly to Kitestring in that you must check in after a set amount of time or the app will trigger your emergency contacts. You can share your location with contacts, set up a fake phone call or have preset guardians follow your movement in real time. You can also live stream or record video with the press of a button. Even better, you can use voice activation to set any of the above options in motion just in case you’re unable to physically press SOS.

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RELATED: Should I Wear a Mask While Running? Plus 5 Tips for Exercising Outside During a Pandemic

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