You may have heard that running is good for mind and body... or maybe too many nights watching the Olympics has you dreaming of how it would feel to be in possession of a pair of envy-inducing leg muscles. Considering it's free, running is starting to sound pretty appealing already - here are the apps to help you make it happen (or take you to that next level). Ready, set, go!

Whether you’re a wannabe Mo Farah or a fair-weather runner, there are loads of useful apps to make clocking the miles a little easier and much more enjoyable.

And if you happen to be one of the lucky participants taking part in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon, well we hope you’ve been training (and not just being lazy and surfing Reddit every weekend).

From coaching to nutrition to motivation, we’ve rounded up some cool apps (and some weird wearables in a different article) that will make you want to keep running long after the marathon has come and gone. Check out our favourite running apps available on your iPhone or Android, to improve your performance, increase the mileage and even turn running into a game.

The apps to download now…

Zombies, Run! – iPhone, Android (free)

Ever dreamed of being an extra in The Walking Dead? Who hasn’t? Zombies, Run! – aka our current obsession – turns the tedium of training into the most fun of your life. And, most importantly, pushes you to go faster. Every so often, zombies start chasing you and you need to bolt to escape unscathed. Just keep your headphones in to hear your zombie mission. And don’t be surprised when you’ve been running nonstop for 60 minutes… when you could only manage 30 a week ago.
Run an Empire – iPhone (free)

If you like your exercise to come with a side of world domination, you’ll love this gamified running app. It’ll have you racing against friends, conquering local lands (by jogging or running around them), invading new lands and defending your territories. Strategy meets sprinting. Plus, you get to design your own shield, which is worth downloading it alone.

 

 

Charity Miles – iPhone, Android (free)

If you’re struggling with motivation, this is the app for you. With Charity Miles, every mile you run (or walk or cycle) makes a small amount of money for charity. You get to choose from a list of charities, and it’s the best incentive for getting your trainers on.

There are no details like steps, calories burned or speed, but distance is everything. You can basically take part in a fun run whenever you fancy it.

Bugmiles – iPhoneAndroid (free)

This is one of the most fun and sociable running apps around. With Bugmiles you can belong to a virtual running club. Log your miles and track your progress, and get instant feedback, support and motivation from thousands of fellow runners. The app gives you info on loads of organised events from fun runs and 5ks to marathons – and there’s a lifestyle section with articles and interviews.

On top of all this there’s nutrition advice, tips and tricks for getting the best out of your running, helpful guides to the best running gear, recipes and more. This is a really great app with everything you could possibly need for your running adventures.

Runkeeper – iPhone, Android (free)

This app is one of the most popular amongst runners, with more than 45 million members. It records your pace, distance, exercise time, calories burned and much more.

Crucially for those who have a long-term goal, you can track your workout history and measure your progress. There’s a ‘goal coach’ feature to help you reach your long-term aims and the Runkeeper DJ will provide your perfect playlist. You can be sure to stay on track with personalised routines that take into account life’s demands and adapt to your busy schedule.

MapMyRun – iPhone, Android (free)

As well as covering the usual metrics, this innovative app uses your phone’s GPS to track the course you run. This is great for reviewing and plotting your next route, adding variety to your workout.

Plus, sync the app to your social media platforms and let the world know which terrain you’ve tackled. With a number of useful additional features, such as a heart rate sensor, it’s well worth a look.

Couch to 5K – iPhone, Android (£2.99)

This app is a tried-and-tested favourite that can turn even the most committed couch potato into a runner. We like that it eases you into running with a gentle training programme that will have you capable of doing a 5k in just nine weeks.

TempoRun – iPhone (79p)

Want music on the move? In a nutshell, this is a music app for runners. It will analyse your music and automatically sort your songs by tempo (using a rating between one and 10) so that you can listen to the right tunes for your run.

Why is this useful? Experienced fitness fanatics will know that you don’t tend to run at a steady pace. And with the growing popularity of high-intensity workouts, you can listen to an appropriately-paced track at different points of your run. Get a high-octane, inspiring tune when you’re sprinting and a slow-paced sound when you’re jogging.

This iPhone app doesn’t distinguish between genres of music, but it is able to assess the number of beats in a song. And of course, like the other apps, you can also use this one to track the finer details of your running history, like your pace, time and distance.

Running Trainer – iPhone, Android (free)

If you like the sound of a PT guiding you through your run, then you’ll love this app, which gives you audio instructions and real-time updates. Good across a range of running levels, so you can build up from your 5 or 10k to a 1/2 or full marathon.

Runtastic – iPhone, Android (free)

This app does all the things you’d expect from a running app, but also includes the option to fill out an exercise diary, adding a welcome personal touch. Running apps are sometimes guilty of information overload, so the ability to configure your dashboard so that it only shows the bits and pieces you’re interested in is an added bonus.

Nike+ Running – iPhone, Android (free)

There are a couple of great aspects to what is arguably the king of running apps. Firstly, it works on a treadmill. So when you don’t fancy braving the unpredictable British weather, you can head to the gym and still accurately record your pace, time and distance. Secondly, you can load up a ‘power song’ of your choice to kick in when you’re flagging mid-run.

 

Main pic credit: Via Pexels/gratisography.com