The Best Mobile Running Apps For Beginners - RunBuzz

The Best Mobile Running Apps For Beginners

mobile running app


When you’re just starting out as a runner, the amount of fitness trackers and timekeeping apps on the market can seem overwhelming. They’re designed to help motivate you, track your progress, and give your performance a little boost, but what if you simply can’t pick one? Or maybe you’ve been using the same running app for a while, but it just isn’t working for you anymore… where do you go from there? 

It’s hard to say which fitness trackers are worth your time and money until you try them, but that can be a tiring and expensive process. To help you out, we’ve broken down which running apps are the best for beginners, so you can spend less time in the app store and more time on the road!

Couch to 5K

iOS | Android


Ideal for: Brand new runners who need to start moving

If you aren’t currently logging any miles but would love to get yourself to that coveted 3.1 mile mark, this is a great app to start with. Each week, Couch to 5k will guide you through a series of three 30-minute workouts, designed to build your endurance and your confidence. If you follow the plan, by week nine you’ll be hitting 5k easily.


iOS | Android


Ideal for: Starting a regular exercise routine

Pacer is a great tool to motivate yourself to simply move more. It isn’t explicitly a runners’ app; Pacer runs in the background on your mobile device to track your daily activity, like steps taken and stairs climbed. In addition, you can track runs with GPS and join a social network of other users doing the same. If you decide to invest a little more, for $5/ month you’ll have access to Pacer’s premium version, which gives you access to video workouts and training plans.

DailyBurn Tracker

iOS | Android


Ideal for: Managing diet, fitness, and goals all in one place

DailyBurn Tracker has been featured on ABC, CBS, and in the New York Times as one of the most integrated health apps on the market. It seamlessly syncs data from your mobile device to your computer, which makes it even easier to track your stats. DailyBurn combines training plans with food and calorie tracking. It also offers tips on cooling down, what to eat for optimal recovery post-run and more.


iOS | Android


Ideal for: Runners motivated by positive reinforcement

Runtastic can track your activity whether you’re running, walking, hiking, or biking. The interface is user friendly, and designed to keep you informed of your progress, whether that’s miles per hour or calories burned. The feature that makes this app stand out from the rest is the cheering section, which allows your friends to track your progress in real time and show their support. You can even post pictures. Who knows, maybe it’ll inspire them to get off the couch themselves!

Map My Run

iOS | Android


Ideal for: Finding new routes to run

Map My Run has helps walkers, joggers, and runners on their journey to full-body fitness. Tracking your pace, distance, and caloric intake is easier with audio alerts for scheduled runs and stop times. Set a goal and, once you’ve reached it, the app will let you know. But the most exciting feature of this app is that you can log in online and create a route or discover pre-tracked routes in your area, along with running groups and related events. Once you’ve become more experienced, upgrade to the MVP package. Sign up through Facebook and share your progress with your friends!


iOS | Android


Ideal for: Overall health/ calorie counting

This app is great for tracking calories and activity, and its mobile interface is very user friendly. It’s easy to record meals on the go because the app has a library of over five million foods with nutrition information. MyFitnessPal helps you calculate your daily intake, optimal expenditure for your goals, and syncs to other trackers, like Garmin and Fitbit GPS watches, to keep track of the activity you log on those devices.


iOS | Android


Ideal for: Motivation to be more active

Like Pacer, Human runs in the background of your phone and tracks your movement all day. You’ll notice encouraging messages for you to hit your “Daily 30,” or an everyday goal of 30 minutes of exercise. But Human also allows a side-by-side comparison of your stats to other nearby users, which, for the more competitive among us, can really motivate you to get moving!


iOS | Android


Ideal for: Music lovers

RockMyRun has gotten a lot of press in recent years as one of the most seamless and intuitive music and running apps out there. Outlets like the Today show, Huffington Post, and Men’s Fitness consistently rank it as one of their favorites, and we highly recommend giving it a try! RockMyRun matches your pace with a huge library of songs to help keep you going, no matter what your pace is.


iOS | Android


Ideal for: Runners and cyclists who really love metrics

Strava is ideal for all levels, offering GPS route tracking and a social network of other runners and riders. But where this app really excels is a feature called segments that allows you to see how you stand against others running the same route. If you choose to subscribe to their premium version, you’ll get access to Beacon, a safety feature that allows three people to monitor your location while you’re out.

Let Us Know Which Apps You Love!

If you can’t live without one of these apps — or another that we missed — let us know! Drop by our Facebook page and tell us. Don’t forget to stick around for helpful tips, motivation, and more.

Happy running!


Additional Running Resources

Runner’s Toolkit – Get access to 30 days of free coaching tips by email and get your #1 running question personally answered by me, just for signing up. Plus get free access to our private Facebook community where other RunBuzz community members gather for support, camaraderie and general shenanigans.

Find out how you can support RunBuzz’s mission to bring quality running content (educational, inspirational, etc) to the running community. Did you know it takes approximately 8-10 hours of work to research, record, edit and release each podcast episode? Help support us in our mission to make every runner regardless of age, size and ability a better runner. Your support helps keep future RunBuzz podcast episodes ad-free and new episodes coming.


best running apps for beginners

Share RunBuzz running tips with your friends!

About the Author Steve Carmichael

Steve is a RRCA / USA Track and Field Certified Running Coach who has helped thousands of runners since 2010. He coaches online as well as locally in the Columbus, Ohio area. He is host of RunBuzz Running a top rated running podcast with 150+ episodes available for free on all major podcast apps. Steve resides in Lewis Center, Ohio with his wife, kids, and dog.

follow me on: