I finally tried Time to Run on Apple Fitness Plus — and it surprised me

Time to Run on Apple Watch Ultra
(Image credit: Future)

I am not a runner, and I’ll never pretend otherwise. But to maintain a well-rounded workout routine, I jog on a track or treadmill at least once every other week. While I feel great afterwards, I’ve always considered the actual act of jogging absolutely miserable — though I might’ve just found my answer to make running suck less. 

Time to Run on Apple Fitness Plus isn’t a new program. In fact, it’s been out for about a year. But I only had an excuse to try it when I replaced my iPhone with the Apple Watch Ultra, and couldn’t watch reality TV on my smartphone while I jogged on my gym’s treadmill like I usually do. Anything to pass the time, right?

I’ll admit, I was apprehensive about Time to Run. I worried my lack of running discipline would be demoralizing, knowing the expertise of Apple Fitness Plus coaches from the platform’s other modalities. Yet after lacing up for (and successfully completing) a 30-minute journey through Savannah, Georgia, I’m no longer intimidated by Time to Run. In fact, it might’ve changed how I feel about the best running apps and running, in general.

Perfect for travel-lovers and history buffs

I chose my first Time to Run workout based on the destination. I visited Savannah earlier in the year, and took a walking tour of the city while I was there. Eager to retrace what I consider one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been to from a history-perspective, I popped in my AirPods Pro 2 and launched Time to Run episode 40 with Cory in Georgia’s charming city. 

Each Time To Run workout takes on a popular running route in a notable location, turning the workout into an audio tour of cities and parks all around the globe. What’s more, visuals appear incrementally, revealing landmarks in the running destinations. On the large 49mm screen of my Apple Watch Ultra, I could follow along with Cory’s “stops,” recognizing some places in Savannah but also learning about new ones.

As someone who loves travel and history, I definitely appreciate the edutainment element of Time to Run. While I can use it to explore new places for free (excluding the $9.99/month membership fee of Apple Fitness Plus,) I’m interested in trying a Time to Run workout that corresponds with a location I’m actually visiting. I’d do my best to follow and stay on pace with the route, and see what the coach describes with my own eyes.

The music kept me motivated

The Time to Run coaches aren’t just tour guides — they’re DJs, too. Like other Apple Fitness Plus workouts, Time to Run workouts feature curated soundtracks that often tell a story or follow a theme. For example, during the Savannah route, I jogged to a progression of hip-hop beats. It started with 90s and early 2000s classics like Mo Money Mo Problems and Gravel Pit, then transitioned to modern hits like Tap In and Body. 

This playlist demonstrated the mix of old and new in Savannah. So, not only did the beats give me a pace to track for the run, but they played into the narration. The harmony resulted in me listening to each song’s lyrics more closely than I normally would. It also made the time pass more quickly through pushes. 

One of Apple Fitness Plus’s perks is that all workout playlists can be opened and saved in Apple Music. Since my workout featured a few songs I hadn’t heard before but enjoyed, I found them easily in the Apple Music app post-run.

No pressure for beginners

To my surprise, the Time to Run workout wasn't as intimidating as I expected. The coach laid out the goals and progression of the session right at the beginning, giving a clear outline of what was about to go down. This let me know there wouldn't be any random challenges I wasn't prepared for.

The coach also didn't quantify distance or pace which, as a novice runner, meant I could go at a comfortable rhythm without feeling like I'm falling behind. Sure, the workout suggested pushes, but those are relevant to the speeds I'm able to sustain. I'm not the kind who likes competition when I exercise, I enjoy more of the 1-on-1 vibe that Time to Run on Apple Fitness Plus delivers.

If you have an Apple Watch and Apple Fitness Plus subscription, I recommending giving Time to Run a try, even if you despise running and jogging. I'm the last person who thought I'd find a way to marginally enjoy it, yet Time to Run strikes a balance of motivation and entertainment I haven't experienced with other running programs. I might not be training for a half marathon, but it's a good foundation for a beginner's running plan

And at the very least, it's an efficient way to close my Apple Watch rings.

Kate Kozuch

Kate Kozuch is the managing editor of social and video at Tom’s Guide. She covers smartwatches, TVs and audio devices, too. Kate appears on Fox News to talk tech trends and runs the Tom's Guide TikTok account, which you should be following. When she’s not filming tech videos, you can find her taking up a new sport, mastering the NYT Crossword or channeling her inner celebrity chef. 

  • czei
    That particular run must be special-- I listened to several others and there was no history content at all, just perhaps a snapshot of a building encountered on the run.

    I'm a casual runner, maybe 1-2 times a week for 30 minutes, and I found Apple Fitness Plus Time to Run to be excruciating: just a random collection of songs I couldn't stand and couldn't skip punctuated by upbeat "motivational" personalities. Yikes! At first I thought the app must be malfunctioning or I was using it wrong, as Apple certainly wouldn't have released an app that was just a 30 minute music playlist from random people. And its $9.95 a month!

    On the plus side the new Apple Watch feature that lets you compare the progress on your current run with your previous run in real time is awesome.