Smartphones have become such an important part of our daily lives. Not only do they allow us to stay in communication with friends and family while on the go, but they help us organize our busy schedules, keep us informed about what’s happening in the world around us, and can even help us find the perfect place for lunch.
But did you know that your smartphone is also a great workout companion? In fact, if you’re not using your phone while exercising, chances are you’re not getting the most out of your efforts. Runners in particular will find these handy gadgets helpful, as they not only provide entertainment (music, podcasts, etc.) for those long runs, but they can also run a number of fantastic apps designed to keep you motivated and make your workouts more efficient too.
Here are a few of the apps that runners will want to have on their radars.
Need help setting goals, tracking your progress, and staying motivated? Runkeeper is just the app for you. Not only does it provide workout programs based on your specific fitness needs, it also offers personalized routines to help you get to where you want to be. The app allows you to build custom running routes and provides audio cues on your pace, distance, and time. The built-in Runkeeper DJ will even create custom playlists from your personal music collection to help keep you moving. On top of that, the app’s social elements add a bit of friendly competition too, allowing you to challenge friends and compare performances. (Available for iOS and Android)
There are a number of apps that use your smartphone’s GPS functionality to track the speed and distance of your workout, but Strava just might be the best one available today. Data can be pulled in from external sources as well, such as a GPS watch or a fitness tracker, and performance is measured and analyzed over time. The app even provides suggested running routes, city guides for when you’re on the road, and the ability to challenge your friends’ fastest times. Originally designed for runners, Strava also offers the same functionality for cyclists, making this a great option for those of us who do both activities. (Available for iOS and Android)
Looking for new running routes close to home or while visiting another city? Localeikki can definitely help. The app provides a wealth of data about new routes that are near your current location, allowing you to keep your normal routine fresh or giving you the opportunity to work in a run while you’re traveling too. Localeikki offers information about the type of surface you’ll be running on, the amount of traffic you can expect to encounter along the way, important features such as restrooms and parking lots, and the maximum distance the route will provide. (Available for iOS only)
Who says you can’t have a little fun while you’re out on a run? Certainly not the creators of this app, which drops you into the zombie apocalypse and challenges you to survive based on your performance on your real world runs. You’ll gather supplies, rescue other survivors, and build up your base over time as you make your way through a story that develops across more than 200 different missions. You’ll get progress reports broadcasted through your headphones, even as you listen to your favorite music or podcasts. Run too slowly and you’ll actually hear your undead pursuers closing in. Perform well and you’ll become the hero of the story. (Available for iOS and Android)
Here’s an app that will help you feel good about your workouts and not just for the usual reasons. Charity Miles keeps track of the distances that you run and donates 25 cents to charity for every mile that you log. You can even choose the charity you’d like your efforts to support before you ever set out, with a wide number of options available. Not a runner, but like to walk instead? The same offer applies. And cyclists can donate 10 cents a mile for their rides too. This is a great way to give back, even as you get healthier. (Available for iOS and Android)
All of these apps are easy to use, have plenty of features, and provide a great mix of fun and motivation. Best of all, they are all free, so you have nothing to lose by giving them a try. You may find they add a nice element to your existing workout routine and give you that extra spark to keep you running toward your goals.