Try These Apps & You Might Actually Like Running

Photographed by Sam Nodelman.
Running can be a pretty low-key sport. You find some sneakers, a good sports bra, a lit playlist, and just trot along. But once you realize that some accessories can actually make running less miserable (i.e. workout earbuds, an arm band for your phone, cushier socks), it's easy to find yourself knee-deep in a bunch of gear that you don't need. One free (or relatively cheap) tool that's probably worth it? A running app.
While some serious runners don't like to run with their phone at all, when you're first starting out, apps can provide helpful feedback about your running. For most people, running is not about the stats or splits, and you definitely don't have to become obsessive about the data in order to be a runner. But if you usually just run without a planned route, you might realize you were going way too fast, or that your regular running loop is actually very steep and you should scale back. All these numbers might not mean much to anyone else, but they can really inform your next run.
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Who knows? Maybe tracking your run on these apps will make it feel less boring — but no promises there. Here are the apps that you might want to download before your next run.
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RunGo

How it helps: You could walk out your door and start running, but it's better to have a plan. RunGo has set running routes based on your city, and will provide audio and visual turn-by-turn navigation. You can also make your own course and share them with other users, plus try out actual race routes in popular cities, like Bay To Breakers in San Francisco.

Free, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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Couch to 5K - Running App and Training Coach

How it helps: There are four "virtual trainers" on this app with distinct personalities (e.g. "Sergeant Block" or a "no-nonsense cheerleader") that will coach you through a 5K training plan. The plans are designed to get you ready for race day in nine weeks, even if you're "not a runner." All you have to do is run-walk for 30 minutes, three times a week, at the set pace described for your level.

$2.99, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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Photo courtesy of Map My Run.
Map My Run

How it helps: If you usually jog a very specific route around the park, but never know exactly how far it is, you can track the distance on Map My Run, and save it for later. This app does way more than just mapping, and it'll give you audio feedback through your headphones that tells you how far you've run and your pace.

Free, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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Photo courtesy of Runkeeper.
Runkeeper

How it helps: Say you signed up for a 5K and totally forgot about the whole training thing. You can enter in all your info (i.e. your level, how often you plan to run, and when the race is) on Runkeeper, and it'll produce a training plan that works for you — and will still get you to your goal.

Free, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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Photo courtesy of Spotify.
Spotify

How it helps: You probably already have a stellar running playlist on Spotify, but if you use the "Running" feature, it'll adjust the tempo of your music to match your footsteps. That small tweak can take you from slogging through a stupid run to feeling like you run shit.

Free, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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Photo courtesy of Runtastic.
Runtastic

How it helps: This app has a more detailed approach to tracking, and will measure the elevation gain and loss throughout your workout, in addition to the miles and time. You can set goals for the whole year, and even track how many miles you've run in a certain pair of sneakers (so you can get a new pair when they're beat).

Free to download, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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Photo courtesy of Strava.
Strava

How it helps: Running with a buddy is wonderful, but convincing your friends to go running is tough. On Strava, you can find local running clubs to join, or just use it as a social media platform to post photos from your run or share your training progress.

Free, available at iTunes or Google Play.
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