Until recently, I’d never used a running app. After all, I’d thought, why do you need anything more than a heartbeat and quality pair of running shoes? But that changed when I downloaded my first running app called RunRaegis, a safety app designed for solo runners.
At first, it was just about safety, but soon the app’s other features drew me in. Whether I was off on a social run with a friend on a Wednesday evening, or out on a solo long-haul on Sunday morning, the app let me see trends in my performance. Not just during a session, but over time.
Since downloading that first app months ago, I’ve tried two dozen others. I’ve discovered that no matter what kind of runner you are, there’s a running app for you. Some running watches will even sync up with your apps to make tracking simple. Here are some great apps for runners to try depending on what you’re looking for:
If you: want to connect and compete
Used by runners (and cyclists) to track progress and performance, Strava throws in a social element and lets you compete with members of your local running community. If you don’t feel like competing, you can still share photos, stories and motivation with other users, and you can join virtual run clubs, like the MEC Strava Run Club. Strava also gives you an analysis of your speed, pace and distance, and compares these with your past runs, so whether you’re doing speed work or training for a race, you can track your ongoing progress.
If you: want to run for a cause
Just when you thought you couldn’t feel better about getting off the couch and hitting the trails, Charity Miles makes it even sweeter. This app records your distance and donates up to $0.25 to charity for each mile (that’s 1.6km) crushed on your run. Charity Miles partners with more than thirty world-class charities and has earned over $2 million for charities to date. So each time you head out to meet your run crew, you get an added boost knowing that you’re doing a good deed along the way.
If you: want to run safer
Nothing’s safer than having a run buddy or running group. But sometimes you might find yourself with a solo run planned or want some alone time, which is why this app made the list. RunRaegis does more than whip your butt into shape: it can actually help save it. In addition to managing and tracking your run, it’s equipped with features to help you in an emergency. Simply tap the panic button to activate strobes, a warning message and sirens. You can also set up alerts that will notify friends and family if you’re not back by a specified time period.
If you: need a run schedule
Fifty million runners depend on Runkeeper to keep them on track. Whether you’re a beginner or are toenails deep training for a marathon, this app is designed to keep you motivated with detailed performance intel, inspiring challenges and community sharing and support. One benefit of the app is that it’s really user-friendly – while it has multiple features, all you need to do is launch and click the start button to get going. If you’ve let your routine slide, the app gently reminds you that it’s time to get running again.
If you: want to run year-round
Runcast is an app made for weather-conscious runners who want to know how to dress for a run. In addition to tracking your jaunts, Runcast keeps you up-to-date on the weather forecast so that no matter where in Canada you’re running you’ll never be caught in the rain again – unless you want to be.
If you: want a whole run community
EverybodyRun by Ciele is more than just a training guide – it’s a fun, new resource for all things running-relevant in your city. The app helps you to find running events, coaches, run shops, the best local spots to refuel post-run and more. All the information is curated by fellow runners, so you know you can trust the recommendations. If you’re looking to meet some new running pals, this app also allows you to join and create events in your city.
So try one or try them all. It doesn’t matter if you’re a competitive runner, a running rookie or you’re training for your first MEC running race, these apps will help you stay connected with every kilometre you tick off.
Photo credits: Halfpoint, Shutterstock Inc.