Grab your running gear and strap an iPhone to your arm – here are the best apps to help you take on a marathon

It’s never been easier to get in shape and train for a 5k, 10k, or even a marathon, thanks to the App Store. Plenty of running apps promise to turn you from couch potato into running god, but which is the best? Here’s our hand-picked selection of the App Store’s most impressive running apps, including our thoughts on the one you should load up on your iPhone ahead of your first run.

Runkeeper

A longtime favorite among experienced runners, Runkeeper is a free download that lets users track runs, set training plans, and participate in challenges. It’s a great all-round app because Runkeeper also supports a range of other activities, including walking, cycling, hiking, and skiing – though it’s best suited to tracking your runs. When tracking, Runkeeper plots your route on a map, all the while calculating your distance, pace and also providing an estimation of calories burned.

Runkeeper not only tacks your running stats – it also lets you input information after the run has been completed.

After completing a run, users can input notes about the experience, log the shoes they wore, and even tag friends. Challenges allow users to participate in team-based virtual running clubs to add an extra level of motivation and support. In short, if you’re looking for an all-round running app that’s perfect for both beginners and experienced runners, Runkeeper is undoubtedly worth checking out.

It’s a free download on the App Store.

Get Runkeeper

Nike Run Club

For an extra slice of motivational pie, consider Nike Run Club. This app isn’t as fully-featured when compared with Runkeeper, and the UI isn’t quite so slick and refined. The app only supports running (as its name suggests), although there is support for challenges and the app ships with a built-in running shop. The best thing about Nike Run Club, however, is its Guided Runs. These are available free in the app and can really help novice runners get up to speed.

Nike Run Club’s Guided Runs are definitely the app’s best feature.

You can choose Guided Runs – as well as the built-in “My Coach” mode, which delivers tailored and targeted runs – to help you prepare for a specific goal, like an upcoming race. It’s a far nicer experience than going it alone and is definitely worth a look for new runners just starting out.

Nike Run Club also a free download on the App Store. You’ll need a pair of earbuds or headphones to take advantage of Guided Runs.

Get Nike Run Club

Got an Apple Watch? Don’t forget the Workouts app

The Apple Watch’s built-in Workouts app is easily overlooked, but it’s perfect for runners. The watchOS app and accompanying iOS app tracks everything users might need to know about their run and plots the route on a map. Of course, your workouts will feed into your overall activity, tracked inside the separate Activity watchOS app, and will contribute to those precious activity rings.

The Workouts app is a great solution, but users need an Apple Watch in order to fire the app up.

If you own Apple’s ssmartwatch the chances are you won’t need to go elsewhere for a dedicated running app – Workouts will have you covered.

What are you waiting for?

The App Store might be full of running apps, but now you know our top picks. Runkeeper is an excellent all-round choice, but for some extra motivation, Nike Run Club could be the perfect solution. And finally, if you own an Apple Watch, consider using the built-in Workouts app – it’s a great option for owners of Apple’s wearable.