A GOOD pair of trainers might be a runner’s best friend, but we reckon a smartphone follows closely behind.
Assemble the right apps and podcasts and your phone can double up as the ultimate running buddy, helping you smash those PBs and keep on track for the next big challenge.
Whether you’re looking for the right tunes to soundtrack a jog, a smart coach to push you the distance, or a podcast to help the miles fly by, here are eight of the best digital tools to keep under your belt next time you hit the road or trails...
1. Couch to 5K
Running is simple and free to do — but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy at the start. If you’re not sure how to get past that initial wheezing-after-a-minute stage, the popular Couch to 5K app is designed to get you off the settee and running a breezy 5km within just nine weeks.
Following a schedule of three runs per week with a rest day in between, this intuitive app has motivational virtual coaches that give runners prompts of when to run and when to walk — so you can slowly build up your endurance from scratch. It also displays a handy countdown timer, so you can see how long you’ve got left before you can reward yourself with that post-workout coffee. Find it at nhs.uk.
2. Well Far: The Running Podcast
Amy Lane’s motivational podcast is the perfect way to fire up your appetite for hitting the pavement ahead of a Sunday long run.
Lane, Women’s Health digital editor, who is currently training for the Paris Marathon, chews through all of the weighty run chat — from lacing on the right pair of shoes (it’s really not as simple as picking the one’s with the nicest colours), to the joy of finding your running tribe. She’s joined by a regular rotation of expert guests, like Dina Asher-Smith, Alice Liveing and Katie Piper. Download from iTunes.
If you’ve got a competitive streak, pit yourself against Strava’s millions of worldwide members. The app uses GPS technology to track your runs, measuring your running speed, distance travelled, and course and displaying all of your metrics in an easy-to-digest format which you can then share.
A big draw is its ‘segments’ feature, which allows you to name sections of pavement, turn them into a racecourse, and see how you rank in comparison to others in your local area. Game on. Find it at strava.com.
There’s nothing worse than running to a bunch of songs that are completely out of sync with your pace. This handy app clocks your stride and matches songs that stay in time with the rhythm of your feet, making the miles more effortless. If you’re plan is to reach a quicker pace, you can also set your desired tempo and use the music to push you that little bit faster. Find it at run.weav.io.
5. Charity Miles
Add an element of philanthropy to your workout by logging everything with Charity Miles, an app that lets you convert your weekly jog into fundraising efforts for worthy causes. Once you’ve signed up, every mile you run donates approximately 17p from a corporate partner to your chosen affiliated charity, of which there are currently about 30. Run good, do good. Find it at charitymiles.org.
6. Zombies, Run!
If the thought of improving your heart health isn’t enough to get you out on a run, the idea of having to scarper from blood-hungry zombies might just do it. Interactive app Zombies, Run! gameifies your run with a creepy audiobook that’s designed to get your heart racing and legs moving away from the undead apocalypse. By building your mileage in the real world, you can collect medicine, ammo and batteries, all of which can all protect you in your efforts against the enemy. Find it at zombiesrungame.com.
Staying safe on your run is really important, but it isn’t always easy to let others know if you get lost or hurt.
If you regularly jog solo, this app pairs with a wearable band that can let someone else know if you ever encounter any danger.
Sharing a digital breadcrumb of your route, the app responds to inactivity — if you stop moving for five minutes, and don’t answer an alert within one minute, it’ll send an S.O.S. message to your emergency contacts, letting them know exactly where you are. Find it at roadid.com.
8. Marathon Talk
You might think being a good runner is just about clocking miles, but it also depends on strategy. Marathon Talk is a weekly podcast dedicated to running advice and training tips from different experts in the field.
Athletes Martin Yelling and Tom Williams discuss everything from nutrition to pacing, arming your with all the advice and inspiration you need to complete your next 26.2 miles. Find it at marathontalk.com.