A smartphone's built-in sensors make it a great platform for a variety of running apps that can track your speed, distance traveled and calories burned while even mapping your route. (Check to make sure where that data's stored if you're concerned about privacy, though.) Things get even better when you pair that app with a run tracker or smartwatch. From high-end exercise apps with dedicated training plans to fun, gamified tools, hit the trail and work on your fitness goals with the best running apps for Android and iOS devices. (Image Credits: Kikostock/Shutterstock)
A perennial favorite among runners, Runkeeper (Android, iOS) uses your phone's GPS to track your running, cycling, hiking and other distance activities. The app records your pace, distance, total exercise time, calories burned and other useful metrics, and also comes with a variety of training plans, complete with reminders and gamified challenges. Users can go freeform or download and follow popular running routes. You can measure your progress and workout history, as well as sync with numerous other apps and services and receive detailed reports of your tracked activity. The app also works with a variety of smartwatches and fitness devices such as the Apple Watch and Android Wear devices.
In addition to being a top-notch running tracker, Strava Running and Cycling (Android, iOS) adds some pretty neat competitive and gamified features to the usual run-tracking recipe. The app records your running speed, distance traveled, time and course taken for both useful metrics and tracking, but combines all that with leaderboards, achievements and challenges as you race against your friends. Strava supports a variety of running trackers in addition to Android Wear and Apple Watch. (Just make sure you opt out of the location tracking features if you happen to be around restricted areas.)
Another app for runners with a competitive streak, RaceRunner (Android, iOS) lets users participate in real-time virtual races with other runners worldwide. The app signals the start time, records your progress and reports your place in the pack as you keep running. You can wait for virtual races to start up or create your own custom race and invite friends to join. You can track your progress with global leaderboards, or take things easy with a free running mode that's more like a traditional run tracker logging your stats. An offline mode also lets you participate in time-trial style runs without mobile connectivity.
Pacer (Android, iOS) is an all-in-one pedometer and fitness tracker that takes advantage of your phone's built-in sensors to track your steps, walking and running times, and route in a low-fuss interface designed to just work in the background. Users can track their activity history and trends, view their routes, create custom fitness goals, and participate in challenges and motivational groups to add a social aspect to exercise. The app also plays well with other fitness hubs like Apple Health, MyFitnessPal, and Fitbit, allowing you to sync your data from Pacer to other fitness apps. All of this comes in a free package, though premium subscribers get additional features like guided workouts and weight loss plans.
Run with Map My Run (Android, iOS) is Map My Fitness's own take on the run-tracking app, taking advantage of your phone's GPS and other sensors to track and map your running course, time, speed and total distance traveled. The app displays both your real-time stats and your end-of-run totals. Useful extras include support for a variety of fitness trackers and heart rate sensors, Android Wear support and nutrition tracking. A premium subscription provides voice coaching and location sharing and removes ads.
Runtastic (Android, iOS) uses GPS to track and map your exercise, monitoring time, speed and distance and plots your route in real-time. A personal exercise diary keeps track of your running metrics, and you can view routes in a Google Earth-style view. A configurable dashboard, detailed graphs of your exercise information, progress sharing over social networks and numerous training plans round out this neat exercise app.
iSmoothRun Pro is an extremely feature-packed running tracker app that works fantastically well on its own, or in combination with a variety of wearable devices and fitness apps and services. iSmoothRun Pro uses GPS and the iPhone's motion sensors, effortlessly switching between the two as needed, while tracking your run time, cadence and more. Users can log and display a variety of running metrics, such as speed, distance, time and intervals. You can export data to a variety of formats and fitness services.