Running is one of the most accessible, effective forms of exercise available to the average person. It’s easy to start running but hard to master. The right app can help you with that, especially if you wear an app on your wrist, like with the Apple Watch. 

Running apps can help you track your heart rate, your training plans, and some (like Strava) can even track and suggest your route. The Apple Watch is one of the best smartwatches for runners, and home to many of the best apps. These are the best running apps for Apple Watch.

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    8 Best Apple Watch Apps for Runners

    If you’re looking to improve your run times and keep better track of your fitness, start with the best Apple Watch running apps.

    1. Strava

    Strava is one of the original apps for runners. It tracks stats like distance ran, speed, calories burned, and more. Strava also links you with one of the best map networks available. You can enter your route or look up suggested routes from other runners in your area. Best of all, Strava is completely free with optional in-app purchases. 

    2. Nike Run Club

    Nike Run Club tracks run metrics like so many other apps, but it does more than just track your run data. It can provide you with guided runs of all different types, from easy runs for beginners to 10K training for experienced athletes. The Run Club app also has weekly and monthly challenges and leaderboards you can take part in to challenge yourself further. 

    3. Runtastic

    Runtastic is Adidas’ version of the Nike Run Club. It has built-in GPS, metric tracking, scoreboards, and more. You can take on Virtual Races to compete with others worldwide, but perhaps the most beneficial aspect of Runtastic is its compatibility with many other apps. It works with other running and fitness apps to sync all of your data without the need to track it individually between services.

    4. WorkOutDoors

    WorkOutDoors is one of the best Apple Watch running apps not because of the metric tracking – which it does – but because of the vector mapping. It’s one of the most customizable running apps available, with more than 300 metrics and graphs to choose from. You can store the maps on your Apple Watch for easy access when you have no signal or no access to your iPhone. 

    5. Runkeeper

    Any successful runner will tell you the key is routine. You build stamina and stride and become a better athlete. Runkeeper provides reminders to stick with it. In-app challenges and rewards show you how you’ve improved over time.

    Another prominent feature of Runkeeper is playing audio while you run. Every runner knows a great soundtrack can keep you moving when your energy wanes. Runkeeper works with Apple Music and Spotify to give you access to all your favorite tunes and podcasts.

    6. Couch to 5K

    Have you ever wanted to run a 5K, but you can’t possibly imagine running that much? Couch to 5K is an app designed from the ground up to provide you with a training program that will have you marathon-ready in just nine weeks. It provides you with a routine and a coach that will talk to you throughout the training. 

    Couch to 5K preserves your battery life by sending audio notifications while the screen is locked or you have another app in use. No access to a running trail outside? Couch to 5K also works with treadmills.

    7. iSmoothRun

    iSmoothRun allows you to set up audio notifications when you reach certain thresholds, like when your heart rate goes above a certain level or when you reach a specific step count. It also works with third-party smart sensors if you want to take your workout to the next level. You can set up ghost runs against your previous times, too, if you want to compete against yourself. 

    8. Map My Run

    Map My Run is one of the most popular fitness trackers and running apps. It takes data from your Apple Watch in real-time and connects with MyFitnessPal and other apps to help track your information. If you ever move on from an Apple Watch, Map My Run also works with other wearable devices like Garmin and Fitbit. 

    What to Look For In a Running App

    Running is an easy exercise to start, but it’s tough to master, especially if you have an improper form that leads to injuries. So when you search for a dedicated Apple workout app in the App Store, it helps to know what features to look for.

    The best running apps have coaching plans to help you determine the ideal approach for your training. These plans will help you maintain a steady schedule without burning yourself out or facing injury. 

    You should also be able to set specific fitness goals and customize the app to fit your needs. Many of these apps also work for other types of workouts like biking, which is perfect for athletes who like to work out in multiple ways. 

    These are iPhone apps that work with most Apple Watch series, including the Apple Watch SE. If it comes with a dedicated Watch face, even better. You’ll also want to make sure the run tracking app you choose works with Apple Health and receives regular updates with each iteration of WatchOS.