6 of the best running for beginners apps

  • Post last modified:September 20, 2020
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There are lots of running for beginners apps on the market now that help you track your run, monitor your distance and pace and provide some motivation.

When you first get started as a runner, you don’t need to fork out on expensive running apps or sports watches. Simply download one of the following apps on your Apple or Android phone. and set off for your run.

Depending on your running goals, you may want a guided plan or simply a few tips on how to get started.

You may also be interested in my post on the best 5k to 10k running apps if you are looking to run your first 10k. 

Here are 6 of the best running for beginners apps. 

running for beginners apps

6 of the best running for beginners apps

Best for a training plan: Couch to 5k app

The Couch to 5k app from Public Health England is one of my favourite running for beginners apps when it comes to starting your running journey.

You may already be familiar with the Couch to 5k programme which is one of the UK’s most popular 5k training plans for beginner runners.

It takes you from a couch potato to running a 5k in just 9 weeks. This is the running app that I advise beginner runners in my running groups to use because of its simplicity.

The app is based on a 9-week training plan and includes a mix of walking and running.

It provides simple step-by-step instructions, complete with celebrity voice overs and prompts within the app. You can choose a celebrity ‘trainer’ who, once selected, guides you through each week.

You just start the app and the timer begins. It then gives you prompts when you are coming to the end of a running or walking block.

Cost: free

Where to download: You can download it from the Apple app store for free.

Best for the basics: MapMyRun

MapMyRun is one of the most popular running apps on the market.

Developed by Under Armour, it provides a simple tool for tracking your runs that is backed by a community of over 50 million runners.

The app allows you to track and map your runs and get feedback and stats to improve your performance.

Another cool feature is that it allows you to search for and share local running routes that other MapMyRun users have uploaded to the app.

Cost: free, upgrades available for premium features like stats and data analytics

Where to download: you can download it from the MapMyRun website


Best all-rounder: RunKeeper

RunKeeper is another popular running app used by over 50 million users worldwide.

Developed by Asics, the app allows you to track your runs and set goals depending on the distance you are working towards.

The app offers plans for a range of distances which you can follow. It also provides added motivation by allowing you to join challenges with other runners.

Cost: free, upgrades available for premium features like stats and data analytics

Where to download: you can download it from the RunKeeper website

Best for GPS: Strava

Strava is popular with runners and cyclists alike. Strava uses sophisticated GPS technology to track your run.

Moreover, their GPS technology is compatible with a whole range of devices, including FitBit and Garmin, so you can keep all your running stats in one place.

Strava also its own social network where you can share your runs and follow your friends’ races and workouts and give ‘kudos’ and leave comments on each other’s runs.

Cost: free

Where to download: you can download from the Strava website

running for beginners apps

Best for having fun: Zombies, Run!

If you find running a little boring or you’re struggling to find your mojo, then Zombies, Run! is the perfect app for you!

The app is based around an award-winning story about a zombie apocalypse. You venture out of your run and you are fed missions as you run.

With over 200 missions, you’ll never get bored. If you’re chased by zombies, you have to speed up. With over 1 million players worldwide, it’s one of the world’s biggest smartphone games ever!

Cost: £2.99

Where to download: you can download it from the Zombies, Run! website

Best for interval training: Interval Timer

This is an interval training app that I’ve used for a few months now to set and record my interval runs. It’s really basic but it does the job!

You set your timings for each interval (e.g. 1 or 2 minutes), followed by the rest/recovery period, then off you go!

The app plays a single beep once an interval finishes. You can download the premium feature to get additional prompts once an interval is coming to an end.

Cost: free

Where to download: you can download from the Apple app store under ‘Interval Timer’.

running for beginners apps



Caroline Geoghegan

Caroline Geoghegan (aka Run With Caroline) helps people become faster and stronger runners. She started her blog in 2018 to share her passion for running. Caroline is a UK Athletics qualified Run Leader and Run Coach and NASM qualified Personal Trainer.

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