RWW Recommends: Best App For Casual Runners

Search for running apps and you get hundreds of results. But many seem targeted at the hard-core runner logging 100+ miles per week. We ask: what app is best for newbie and weekend warrior-runners?

After I crossed the finish line in New York of my third and, ultimately, final marathon, I gave myself a few weeks off. A few weeks turned into a winter and the winter turned into two years of a start-and-stop (with mostly stop) training regimen. While my marathon running days are behind me, I was determined to get back in the habit of running three to five miles three to five days per week.

Like a lot of runners, I turned to tech for help. But I was soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of running apps. RunKeeper Pro is one of the best-known running apps, and it has all the bells and whistles any experienced runner wants. Get Running is a variation of the app I ultimately selected as my favorite, but I found the interface hard to read when sweat was dripping in my eyes. Fitnio struck me as not much more than a glorified pedometer.

All of these apps had their merits, but none met my needs for an easy-to-use running app that would get me on the road (or, more accurately, on the treadmill).

Our Recommendation: 10K Runner

Based on the popular Couch-to-5k and Couch-to-10k running plans, 10K Runner is designed to get you in shape to run a 10k race in 14 weeks with a commitment of three runs per week. It won’t get seasoned runners to personal records, but for people who have never run (or, like me, are trying to get back into running), the app offers an easy-to-follow, almost mindless training method. But remember to check with your doctor before starting any exercise program.

You pick a workout routine (they get incrementally tougher, so if the first few workouts are too easy, skip ahead.), hit "RUN NOW" and go. The training programs combine intervals of running and walking so that over 14 weeks you run more and walk less. A recorded voice (male or female) will tell you when to run and when to walk. Initially, plan on 25-minute workouts, three times per week, building up to a 60-minute run in week 14.

The voice will interrupt whatever song you’re listening to on iTunes, but keep in mind that running on busy streets with headphones is dangerous (we did our tests on a treadmill). 

One of the big complaints of the Couch-to-10k program is that, at least in the early going, runners have to spend a lot of time tracking their time to know when to switch from running to walking to running. 10K Runner's voice prompts take the clock-watching out of your workout, which makes the training that much less boring and, hopefully, makes the training easier to stick to.

Running shoes photo via Shutterstock