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11 Best Mobile Apps to Run Faster and Smarter

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Gone are the days of just lacing up sneakers and running the road. With today’s  mobile apps, anyone can get a challenge  each time they hit the pavement. Whether it’s a built-in GPS tracker, getting encouragement from friends, or running away from a horde of zombies, these 11 running apps have it all. Running has never been this easy — or this fun. 

Best Running Apps

CardioTrainer

This app lets users track workouts, set up weekly schedules to stay on target, and even see how they stack against other users around the world. CardioTrainer’s got the standard stuff down but its best — and most fun — feature is Move Your Bot. Each time runners workout with the app, they earn “energy points” that they can use to play sports games within the app. The more fit users get, the higher their chances are of winning. Plus, who can resist a cute moving bot with health on the mind?
Details: Cost: free. Available for Android.

Couch to 5k

Designed to get novice runners off the couch and running a 5k in just over two months, this is a perfect app to kickstart your racing goals. Beginners can choose from three different coaches to guide them through runs, play their own music in the background, and log their runs into Active.com’s robust community to get feedback from other runners. Bonus: Once users are ready to tackle a 5k, Active.com provides a discount to register for a race in their area.
Details: Cost: $1.99. Available for iOS and Android.

Fooducate

Fooducate

After logging all those miles, we definitely want to refuel with some healthy food. But with all the choices at the grocery store, how do we figure out what cereal will help us recharge best or if that low-fat soup is all it’s cracked up to be? This app, from the folks behind Fooducate.com, makes it simple. Users scan the barcode on a grocery product, then the app assigns it a letter grade and points out key things about the product, like whether it’s a good source of Vitamin C or if it has harmful ingredients. If a favorite snack gets a failing grade, don’t worry; the app will suggest similar, healthier alternatives.
Details: Cost: free. Available for iOS and Android.

Ghost Race

Looking for an extra push to help reach a specific running goal? Pick a distance or pace you’d like to beat and then start training against your own worst enemy — yourself. This app lets users compare day-to-day performances and get audio cues alerting them of their (relative) progress. It’s a not-so-spooky way to break a tough PR.
Details: Cost: $0.99. Available for iOS (There’s also a free version with fewer features.)

iSmoothRun

For the serious runner, this app has got it all. The app’s GPS will track where a user is running and accommodate traffic light stops or even switching to a treadmill indoors. It’ll also monitor heart rate, cadence (you know, how many steps we take a minute), and allow users to create interval workouts with audio cues. All that data is stored right in the phone, so no need to upload to another program or sync to a computer. Bonus: this app is good for other cardio-boosting activities like hiking or biking.
Details: Cost: $4.99. Available for iOS.

MapMyRUN+ GPS Running

An extension of the popular website mapmyrun.com, this app provides feedback as users run, logging workouts, and integrating with social profiles such as Facebook and Twitter (who doesn’t want to brag about their progress to friends?) But the real star of the app is its integration to the MapMyRun website. There, users can log food intake, keep a daily progress journal, check out running routes others have created in the area, and tap into the ever-growing community to make new running buddies or share tips and tricks.
Details: Cost: $2.99. Available for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry. (There’s also a free version with fewer features.)

Nike+ Running

Nike+ Running

As expected from the brand, users get all the standard workout tracking and nikeplus.com integration to add to their runs. For a free app, though, it’s loaded with all sorts of extra bells and whistles that make it stand out from the crowd — without requiring additional Nike equipment. Users can post their upcoming runs on Facebook and get cheers in their headphones each time a friend Likes or comments on their status. For runners feeling sluggish, try activating Nike’s “powersong” to help push through tough spells or even get inspirational words from one of Nike’s athletes. Users can also earn badges and unlock extra features whenever they break a record or reach a running milestone.
Details: Cost: free. Available for iOS and Android.

RunKeeper

RunKeeper's a popular app among the running community for a reason. Along with inputting user stats on the website to track progress, runners can also find routes, add activities like strength training to get a fitness report, and even start a training plan to prepare for races with other community users. It's a great option for those who want minimal fuss and maximum results.
Details: Cost: free. Available for iOS and Android.

runtastic

This handy little app comes loaded with features to help measure running progress, including speed, elevation, and calories burned. Runtastic makes it easy to analyze just how effective workouts are. Hands down, though, the best part of the app is its “live cheering” option. For users running a race or just doing an intense training run, friends can check out their progress in real time and send motivating cheers. Who doesn’t want their own fan club?
Details: Cost: $5.99. Available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and bada. (There’s also a free version with fewer features.)

Upbeat Workouts for Runners

You’re finally hitting your stride. You’re jamming to tunes and feel like you can run for hours — and then that embarrassing love song you downloaded oh-so-long ago assaults your ears. With Upbeat Workouts for Runners, that won’t happen anymore. The app automatically matches the pace of your running strides to the beats per minute of your song library. Whether you want to get pumped up or wind down, Upbeat Workouts can provide the right soundtrack.
Details: Cost: $2.99. Available for iOS.

Zombies, Run!

Zombies, Run!

If you’re looking to beat boredom while running, this is the ultimate download. Not just a running app but an all-out adventure, Zombies, Run! provides users with more than 30 different missions controlled, in part, by their relative pace (thanks GPS!). These missions are interspersed with songs from the users’ playlist as they walk, jog, or run away from impending zombie doom. Along the way, runners collect supplies to save the rest of the world from the apocalypse. At $7.99, it’s a bit pricey, but an unconventional, fun way to turn a routine run into a gaming experience. Just beware: Runners can look a bit silly at times as they pick up speed to evade the zombies breathing in their ear.
Details: Cost: $7.99. Available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.

Which mobile apps have you used to help you run? Did we miss any? Share your favorites in the comments below or tweet Kissairis at @Kissie326.

Photo by cuegalos

I started running after college, and I haven't looked back since. When I’m not training for a marathon, you can find me planning my next trip,... Read More »