The 17 best running apps - Women's Running

The 17 best running apps

Author: Rachel Ifans

Read Time:   |  May 30, 2022

Whether you're a new runner or a seasoned pro, running apps can turbo-charge your training. Here's our pick of the best running apps

It’s funny to think back a couple of decades to when some of us started running. Tech was non-existent. If we made it three laps around the park with a hangover, we’d class it as a good run. We had no idea how far we’d actually run, of course, unless we drove the route afterwards keeping an eye on the mile-ometer on the dash. We had no idea of pace either; we were just happy if we got back in time for Brookside.

These days, our phones are our life-support machines. The deal-breaker for most of our running leggings can often come down to pocket position and size. And that means we can really rely on them to get us through every run, and tell us exactly how we did afterwards. The question is, how do we decide which apps to use, and which are just overloading us with unhelpful info?

As runners, we’d argue that a run tracker, a route mapper, a music app and a podcast app are the bare essentials. But there are so many other useful widgets out there. There are ones that guide you through your very first run. Some know your whereabouts down to the nearest three metres, while others track your menstrual cycle and energy levels. There are even those that log your food intake and those that offer home workouts and cross-training videos.

Read on for our pick of the best running apps, no matter where you are in your running journey. We’ve also shared our favourite wellbeing and cross-training apps for runners…

Best running apps for beginner runners

Couch to 5K best running app

One You Couch to 5K

Free | Android & iPhone

C25K is ubiquitous for a reason; it’s really good at what it does. The NHS-backed running app offers a nine-week programme which will, with the help of narrated runs, get you to the 5K finish line, whatever your level of fitness when you start out. It tells you when to run, when to walk, when to stop and when you should have a rest day or two.

Using the successful mix of running and walking, the app is known for the way it builds gradually on a three-runs-per-week basis. C25K is free and is about the best introduction to running you can get. Its strengths are in really understanding the limitations of the new runner and providing a plan that ingeniously suits everyone.

best running app

Start 2 Run with Jenni Falconer

Free | Android & iPhone

Although it’s called Start 2 Run, unlike Couch to 5K this app doesn’t stop after you’ve crossed your first finish line. In fact, this one could see you through from your first 5K to a (deep breath) full marathon. It’s got so many features. To give you an idea of its breadth, there are 25 training schedules to follow, six of which alone are for marathon wannabes. The app provides coaching and narration from TV personality and run addict Jenni Falconer, and the training is created by professional sports coaches from Energy Lab.

this mum runs best running app

This Mum Runs

Free | Android & iPhone

TMR is a force for good, having empowered over 100,000 women to exercise regularly since it was founded in 2015. Built by women for women, the TMR app – true to its community roots and non-competitive, simple approach to running – measures your progress in minutes rather than distance or speed. It promises to get you to 30 minutes of non-stop running with its Run30 programme and it gives you access to the huge TMR online community. You can book your local IRL runs from within the app and you’ll find loads of advice on running too.

Zombies, Run app

Zombies, Run!

Free & paid | Android & iPhone

If you’re still finding it hard to enjoy running, this is a great way to distract yourself. Zombies, Run! gives you a mission at the start of your run and keeps you updated through your headphones as you go. If zombies appear, you’ll be instructed to run. Not only is being chased by zombies a sure fire way to get your heartrate up, the game follows a great storyline which is sure to keep you entertained.

Best running apps for motivation

Forrest app best running app

Forrest

Free | iPhone

Fancy a bit of competition on your weekly runs? If so, Forrest could be a good addition to your app folder. It enables you to race against ghost racers – AKA virtual opponents – and encourages you to push yourself harder and faster. You can also race against yourself using a pre-recorded PB. Either way, you get an intuitive race screen which keeps you informed of your position through the race or you can lock your phone and listen to the audio prompts to stay focused on your goal.

adidas-runtastic-app-logo best running app

Adidas Runtastic

Free | Android, iPhone & Huawei

Runtastic combines the training plan element and the global community element of something like Strava, but it’s tailored to runners. The blog also contains loads of tips and tricks articles to motivate you to run – and rest! – to get maximum results.

Racefully best running app

Racefully

Free | Android & iPhone

Racefully is all about encouraging group fitness, whether it’s with colleagues, family or friends. It doesn’t even matter if your run tribe is dotted all over the world, this app can bring you all together. It’s a cunning combination of personal goals, community feels and a bit of healthy competition with old mates or colleagues. The app promises to adjust scores to accommodate details like hills climbed compared to flat runs to make comparisons as fair as possible. What could be better if your run buddy has moved to the other side of the country – Racefully will keep you connected.

Zoazi best running app

Zoazi

Free | Android & iPhone

As technology has hotted up, so has the selection of intelligent run apps out there. Zoazi is a run app that promises to help you run smarter by providing a training programme that’s designed for you. It does this by getting your feedback after each run and adjusting the plan to suit. You input your goals and your current running and the app will build a plan for you, plotting each run in a calendar – although you can mess with the schedule if something else pops up or if you fancy doing your long run mid-week rather than at the weekend. It’s also a nice log of your running to date.

Best running apps for race training

Byrd app

Byrd

Free | Android, iPhone & Web

“There’s an art to running but it’s underpinned by science”, so says a quote from the founders of this great little app. Byrd is just another run planner when all’s said and done, but it uses a clever mix of data, personal input, human curation and algorithms to create a plan that suits you and your lifestyle, and evolves with you as time goes on. It constantly asks you questions about your last run, your targets and how you feel so that it can advise intelligently on recovery and performance, and it builds in structured sessions of intervals, ladders, hills, progressions, thresholds and pyramids to help you achieve your goals.

Runcoach

Runcoach

Free with trial | Android & iPhone

The philosophy behind this online tool from the US is that you train at your current level of fitness to achieve your goals. It sounds a bit, um, tame, but as the founder Tom says, he tried training another way – by pushing himself crazy amounts – and he ended up with physical niggles and only modest improvements in his performance. It uses a patented algorithm that helps people train at a current level of fitness, gradually adding mileage and speed to reach goals, without risking the overtraining issues that sideline so many runners. On average, runners and walkers who train with Runcoach improve their race finish times by 7%; that sounds pretty good to us!

Nike+ Run Club

Nike+ Run Club

Free | Android & iPhone

A popular app that trains you up for distances from 5K to half marathon (not marathon). The app design is as sleek and stylish as you’d expect from Nike and you can dovetail your runs with workouts in the sister app, Nike Training Club. Your weekly schedule updates on a Sunday according to your performance the week before. This is a solid choice if you’re training over the distances it covers.

Best running apps for mapping

Komoot

Free or paid | Android & iPhone

This excellent app combines route planning and sat nav for runners. Sat nav, you say? Let’s have a think: how many times have you set off on a brand new route and either a) gone wrong immediately as you’re chatting away to your run buddy or b) had to stop every five seconds to look at your phone to check the route? Both scenarios are equally annoying when you just want to strike out in the great outdoors, but Komoot has the answer. It features turn-by-turn navigation as well as the ability to route plan and follow existing routes too. Tailored adventures can be searched by distance, duration and other factors. Honestly, a world awaits when you have Komoot in your pocket.

MapMyRun

Free or paid | Android & iPhone

This app is so fully featured it’s often used by pro athletes. Owned by Under Armour, MMR is muscly when it comes to data, but don’t let that put you off if you’re a beginner. It’s easy to use; you can get going in one tap or you can customise your dashboard first, setting basic audio updates like pace, distance and time of day, split times and so on. Choose to track runs by distance, speed, calories burned, elevation and view results in graphs and charts so you can compare to past runs on the same route. Set up a training plan and find support and motivation from other runners. If you’re a data diva, you could invest in the dinky UA HOVR trainers that use an embedded chip to give real-time data on fitness performance via the app.

Garmin Connect

Free | Android & iPhone

If you have a Garmin watch, it makes sense to use the app designed to work with it. Garmin Connect is a powerhouse; an engine that makes sense of all the data the watch is churning. And, my goodness, it’s powerful, so prepare yourself for holistic stats, including resting heart rate, training status, steps, sleep, intensity mins, respiration, stress level and calories. See? We did say holistic! As far as we know, it doesn’t monitor your thoughts, but that can only be a matter of time…

Strava

Free or paid | Android & iPhone

It’s so huge we probably don’t need to explain it. But we will, for the sake of completeness and because we like to do our jobs properly. Strava is an online global athlete community which lets you track your activities with GPS, log performance, join challenges, share photos and follow friends. We’ve only got room to share two of the niftiest features, namely Segments and Local Legends. When you complete an activity, the Segments (a bit like splits) that route covers are provided as part of the data breakdown. If you’ve been through those Segments before, you’ll see if you were faster or slower, and over time you’ll be in with with a chance of bagging Local Legend status; Strava’s way of celebrating consistent effort.

OS maps

£20 yearly subscription | Android & iPhone

This one’s a little bit different, and its power comes from its maps. It’s a great route planner for runners as well as cyclists and walkers, but the level of detail you get on the maps is what sets it apart. Think of it as one of those incredibly useful life apps you have your phone, alongside the torch, the compass and the banking app. Plan and save your own routes and follow pre-loaded ones all around the UK. There’s something so nice about knowing runners have climbed those stiles and run away from those bulls before you and survived to tell the tale (and save the route!). Excellent for trail runners, fell runners and people who like to run in new locations, while on holiday or on a work trip.

What 3 Words

Free | Android & iPhone

Because addresses don’t always point to specific locations, W3W is a must-have app. It has given every three square metres in the world a unique three-word address. The words are randomly assigned to each square so you can always be found if you get lost on a run. Meet you in Cake.Please.Now. on Saturday at 2pm?

Best running apps for strength & conditioning

Digme app

Digme

£8 – £25 per month | iPhone & website

Indoor-phin filled highs await you with Digme Fitness At Home workouts. The app offers over 80 live classes and on-demand workouts each week including cycle, HIIT, strength, yoga and breathwork. If you want to spin at home as part of your cross-training schedule, it’s worth checking out Digme because you can hire a bike through them for £39 per month and attend the motivational classes online. Saves the outlay on your own bike and you can return it to Digme if you need a break.

Classpass app

Classpass

£15 – £109 per month | Android & iPhone

A simple but well-thought-out concept. ClassPass’ mission is to make it easy to book an exercise class wherever you are in the world. (Or – whisper it –a beauty and spa appointment too, but, ahem, we’re not here for that. Focus focus). The bumph claims you can choose from over 30,000 gym classes and, in reality, you’re likely to find quite a few participating places in your location. Use credits to book classes and roll them over at the end of the month if need be.

MoveGB app

MoveGB

Prices depend on location | Android, iPhone & website

Similar to ClassPass, but more GB-centric, this app offers a mix at-home workouts and yoga, gathering fitness providers and instructors from all around the country into one place. The best part? Your membership credits can be used for both online classes and in-person local sessions, so you can move as and when you want. Sign up and try for £1.

The best running apps for women’s health & wellbeing

Fitrwoman

Free | Android & iPhone

This app will be of interest to most women runners. It’s an all-in-one period and training app that tracks your menstrual cycle so you know when to push harder, when to prioritise recovery and how to run and rest in each phase of your cycle. It also includes a lot of advice on nutrition to support hormone changes, energy levels and training programmes, and it explains why hormones affect our bodies when it comes to running.

Jennis

£9.99 | Android & iPhone

Jennis was founded by Dame Jessica Ennis-Hill, retired track and field athelete. It’s similar to FitrWoman in that it examines your hormone cycles to maximise performance, but this one takes things further by providing daily workouts suited to the four phases of your menstrual cycle. Workouts include strength, HIIT, yoga, runs and rest, depending on what your body needs at certain points during your cycle. Log your symptoms and spot patterns in your own monthly cycle; find your follicular phase and make hay while the sun shines.

MyFitnessPal app

MyFitnessPal

Free & paid | Android & iPhone

This app is more than just a really fancy food diary. It’s one of those all-encompassing apps that syncs your nutrition with your activity. It’s got a very advanced calorie counter and its huge engine holds info on a mind-boggling 11 million foods. If you want to track what you eat and match calories consumed with calories burnt, this is an easy way to do it.

Balance app

Balance

Free | Android & iPhone

Balance is a menopause app from Dr Louise Newson.  While it’s not about running per se, it’s about everything to do with menopause including how it can affect your mood, physical wellbeing and energy levels, all of which are related to running. The app holds a wealth of information about perimenopause and menopause and is a great tool for getting the knowledge you need.

Human app

Human

Free | iPhone

If stats, reports and graphs just add unwanted complexity to your already full life, how about you take a deep breath and opt for something simple? With Human, it’s all about just one aim; the Daily 30 is your goal to move 30 minutes or more every day. It tracks walks, runs and bike rides and it looks cool too; excellent photography and short, not-too-intrusive bursts of properly human language.

Fitbit app

Fitbit

Free & paid | Android & iPhone

Fitbit isn’t just another activity tracker. It has way more to offer women runners. Its female health tracking functionality lets you log information about your cycle like flow intensity, pains, discharge and mood and it builds up a picture and predicts when you’ll come on. There’s also lots to read written by experts in gynaecology and an active community of women.

Headspace app

Headspace

Free & paid | Android & iPhone

This app is everywhere; on your watch, on your telly, in the headlines… everywhere. It’s a mindfulness tool which is all about making meditation achievable. Makers claim that Headspace is proven to reduce stress by 14% in just 10 days. It claims to help you relax your mind in minutes, improve focus, and get the best sleep ever.

ZealMatch

Free | Android & iPhone

A dating app for runners? Well, it stands to reason… we’re all a little bit obsessed so why not hook up with someone who’s equally under the spell. All you have to do is sign up with Zeal, selecting your favourite sport as you do so. The app will then match you with someone with similar interests and then it’s up to the two of you to run into the sunset together. Or, if you’re not sure, at least you’ll be able to beat a hasty retreat if you have your trainers on!

Written by

Rachel Ifans

Rachel Ifans

Completed her first virtual half marathon this year and enjoyed it almost as much as the real thing

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