The 5 Best Running Apps that Track Distance and More

It’s 2018 and there are more effective fitness apps than ever out there – the problem just lies in choosing them.

Studies show that fitness devices encourage individuals to be more active and gain greater satisfaction from their workouts.

Another set of research shows that participants increased their overall workout time by 38 minutes from just using a fitness tracker.

Your smartphone’s built-in sensors makes it an excellent platform for a plethora of running apps that can track your distance traveled, speed and calories burnt – while mapping out your route.

To top it all off, they all come with their own unique features, which can be fun like playing music according to your speed or more functional, such as providing user-based training plans that will help you reach your goals.

Whether you’re a beginner level runner or have been hitting the road for many years now, we’re pretty sure there’s an app out there with functions that will help improve your running experience.

However, with so many options available, choosing an app that best suits you can be a tedious process.

So we downloaded them all, that way you don’t have to.

Keep reading to find out some of our favorite running apps that are suitable for all types of runners.

Strava

Strava is incredibly popular among runners and cyclists and is a great option for casual runners and advanced milers alike.

The app includes a comprehensive GPS tracking system that tracks all metrics and is compatible with a wide range of GPS devices.

Strava also sports a popular segments feature, which is an excellent motivational tool as it shows you how you are performing compared to other runners in the same area or route.

Going premium will give you access to a safety feature called Beacon, which allows three people from your contacts to know your running route.

This is especially useful for individuals who run on different paths and trails on the regular.

MapMyRun

This in-depth tracker by Under Armour allows you to choose from over 70 million routes so that you never get bored during your runs.

The tracker records distance, elevation, pace, calories burnt and much more.

MapMyRun is compatible with most wearable trackers and pairs well with the My Fitness Pal app, giving you a much cleaner picture of how your health and fitness looks.

Nike +Run Club

This app goes above and beyond just basic distance tracking. It includes numerous coaching and motivational features, along with the ability to share photos and running stats with a picture of your route.

Research suggests that cross training with different types of workouts between running days can help boost your cardiovascular health and reduce your risk of injury.

The Nike+ Run Club app contains audio-based workouts from some of the top Nike coaches to help keep your fitness in check.

Furthermore, you can integrate the app’s audio coaching into your Spotify app, so that you can hear your coach’s cues along with your playlist.

RockMyRun

We can’t think of anything worse than slow, dull music during a run.

According to a 2017 study published in the International Journal of Physiology, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, an upbeat playlist can shave a significant impact on your motivation and exercise time.

Another study showed that music significantly improved participants’ exercise experience by reducing their state-anxiety scores.

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably have gotten bored of your playlist many times.

Although this may sound harmless, it could make the difference between powering through grueling workouts and not feeling motivated enough to push forward.

This is why we love the RockMyRun app.

The app provides you with an excellent selection of workout music so that you can maintain your tempo and energy during your runs.

It automatically adjusts the tempo and rhythm to match your steps and enhance your running experience.

The app is also compatible with other running apps, such as Endomonodo.

Endomonodo

Endomonodo is one of the most stunning running apps with a clean, user-friendly interface that makes it incredibly easy to track and maintain a log of a large variety of activities.

For running, setting up a time, calorie goal and distance is a breeze. It also has a built-in audio coach for additional guidance.

Additionally, the app pairs with Apple Watch, Fitbit and other major fitness devices easily.

One of the most popular features of Endomonodo is its social connect, which allows you to send and receive audio files and pep talks from your friends, share your running and workout progress on social media and even race against somebody else’s personal best.

5 Bulletproof Training Tips for Your First Half Marathon

So you’ve run a few 5ks, and maybe even a 10K and now you’ve built up the confidence to challenge yourself further with a half marathon.

A half marathon is long enough to intensify your routine, but it’s not so long that you devote all your time to it.

Like with any type of competition, it helps to gather a few training tips to build a routine that is best for you.

Keep reading for some excellent techniques most marathon runners swear by.

Create a Foundation

Most new runners make the mistake of believing that a 12-14 week half marathon plan is going to be enough to take them to the finish line, even if they’re complete beginners.

A half marathon plan assumes that you already have a weekly mileage of at least 15 to 20 miles in your arsenal.

Anything less than this will overwhelm your body’s system, prevent it from adjusting to the new routine and even put you at risk for injury.

If you have a solid foundation, your half marathon training will only allow you to acclimatize to the demands of the race.

If you have a weak foundation, the training will cause your body to strengthen your base, while adjusting to the demands on your half marathon.

A training volume that is much higher than what you can withstand increases your risk of overuse injuries significantly.

Find a Training Regime Fit for Your Needs

The human body can adapt and improve at an effective rate – if you’re ready to make small changes along the way.

The key is to choose quality over quantity when it comes to workouts and going longer and stronger, from your current fitness level to the finish line.

Your first week of training should be similar to your current training regime.

Avoid jumping into a program that requires a huge leap in intensity, mileage and frequency as this will call for aches, pains, overuse injuries and a potential drop out.

Remember less is more when you’re getting started with a new training program.

Look for the Right Gear and Test it

Although running is one of the most accessible sports that can be performed anywhere, choosing the right footwear can make a massive difference to your running performance.

It helps to go to a specialty running shop that will assess your running form and help you find a shoe that best suits you.

Bear in mind that what works for one person may not necessarily work for you.

So even if a particular shoe comes with thousands of positive reviews online, it helps to make the extra effort to get the right footwear for your running style.

You’ll also want to test your running clothes, socks, headphones before the race day.

Trust us, socks that ride down or clothes with parts that scratch your body are the last things you’ll want to take care of right before the race.

As a rule, never race in clothing or gear that you’ve not tried before.

Fuel Properly

Avoid experimenting with caffeine, new energy drinks, breakfast foods or anything on your race day.

Have a solid meal plan ready. This should include 30 to 40 grams of carbs per hour of running.

Choose carbs from sources that are easy to digest as studies show they help enhance performance.

Whether this means adding more fruit or oatmeal, it’s important to understand that you know your body best.

Energy foods that work for your friend may not necessarily work for you.

Listen to Your Body

While committing to your plan is important for a successful half marathon, it’s more important to avoid injury.

Luckily most injuries can be addressed quickly and treated, if detected early.

Note that overuse injuries are more common than acute injuries in running.

Therefore, it is critical that you are honest with yourself if anything feels out of the ordinary.

It’s also important that you include plenty of rest between training days.

Studies show that athletes who rest for less than 2 days a week have 5.2 fold the risk of overuse injuries.

At the end of the day, you may miss a couple of workouts, but ultimately, it won’t ruin your chances of taking part in your race.

How to Get Back Into Running After a Long Break

Maintaining the same level of running year after year can be daunting, even for the most seasoned athletes.

We progress from training for marathons to fighting through windy winters, and later gear down as other interests top our priority lists.

Your hiatus may be a result of an injury, having a baby or running less because you just got bored. However, when you do return to running a race, you may face some issues.

For every week that you lose, it takes up to two weeks of practice to revive your original fitness level.

According to a study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, one major cause of fitness decline after a period of not training, also called detraining, is loss of blood volume.

Within the first 12-21 days of not training, individuals can lose about 500 millimeters of blood.

This is contrary to previous belief, where researchers thought that detraining resulted from the deterioration of the heart.

Newer researches show that the heart actually has less blood to pump to your muscles.

When you return to your training regime, your blood volume rises back, allowing your heart to pump more blood and deliver more oxygen to working muscles.

Furthermore, a higher blood volume means there is more fluid available in the body for sweating – the natural cooling mechanism of the body.

However, not all systems return to normal at the same rate.

For example, your skeletal system may not be able to withstand the same level of activity as it used to – especially as you age.

Luckily, retraining does not have to be tough. In fact, it’s much easier than running for the first time.

Whether you’re running again after a couple of weeks, or several months, the following tips will help you return to your earlier fitness levels, in a safe and effective manner.

Consider How Long You Haven’t Been Running

When you stop running, your body experiences a decline in blood volume and mitochondria – the powerhouses in our cells.

In addition, your lactate threshold plummets.

The longer you’ve been training, the faster you’ll be able to return to it after a break.

Therefore, generally people, who have been running regularly for 10 years and take a break for one year, will have a much easier time returning to their previous running routine, compared to someone who has been running for one year and has taken a break for another year.

This is mainly because the longer you run, the greater your foundation will be for your aerobic strength.

You’ll have more red blood cells to deliver oxygen to muscles, more mitochondria to produce energy and higher levels of metabolic enzymes, compared to someone who is new to working out.

Therefore, even if your fitness level drops following a break, it will not drop as low if you had just started running.

The following is a general breakdown of how high your maximum aerobic capacity will be according to your break period:

  • 2 week break: Loss of 5-7% of VO2Max
  • 2 month break: Loss of 20% of VO2Max
  • 3 month break: Loss of 25-30% of VO2Max

You’ll also lose conditioning in your tendons, ligaments, muscles and connective tissues.

While it is difficult to determine how much of it you will lose, a weakness in the musculoskeletal system is what puts many people at risk of injury after they return to running.

This is why it is critical that you start slow, reduce your speed and mileage and include plenty of rest between running days.

Cross Train to Boost Fitness

Cross training during days you’re not running is a great way to elevate your strength and endurance, without risking injury.

Some cross training activities that will help runners massively include swimming, cycling, yoga, aqua jogging, Pilates and strength training.

It helps to choose workouts that you love so that your training routine is more sustainable.

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences, resistance training between running days can increase your running economy, increase muscular strength of muscle groups involved in running and have a direct impact on distance covered.

Don’t Shy Away from Walking

We believe that the most effective way to return to running is slowing down your pace – even if it means taking regular walks.

But you don’t have to make it boring.

Be sure to include plenty of other challenging workouts such as strength training and mix it up with walking a few miles multiple times a week.

This will help you get some miles under your belt.

The reality is that if you don’t have a long running history, you may have to start from scratch with your training.

However, don’t let this demotivate you.

Being realistic with your goals and starting slow will help you get back into action faster than you did the first time, thanks to your muscle memory.

Train fora Short Race

After running for a few weeks following your break, try picking a race that you can train for.

It helps to start with something small like a 5K, before going for something more rigorous.

Signing up for a race will give you the motivation you’ll need to continue training.

Having a family member or friend tag along is a bonus, as it increases your motivation and the fun!

Takeaway

When workouts get tough, avoid giving yourself a hard time for taking a break.

Just be patient and listen to your body to understand when it is okay to amp your speed or mileage.

When you finish your runs, your goal should be feel like it was easy and that you can do more.

However, if you feel exhausted and don’t feel like doing it anymore, understand that you may have pushed too hard.

Increase your speed or mileage by 10 percent every week to slowly return to your original running routine without putting yourself at risk of an injury.

5 Awesome Ways to Sprint Faster

Sprinting is not just fast running. While the movement patterns of sprinting and running are somewhat similar, sprinting is a more dynamic and explosive form of running.

Furthermore, sprinting requires more muscle activation and power to cover the same distance.

Another important difference lies in foot strike. When you’re walking, jogging or running, chances are you’re landing with a heel strike.

As you run faster, you shift from a heel strike to a mid-foot or a forefoot landing.

Therefore, with sprinting, your speed is largely based on your technique.

The following are some tried and tested tips that will help enhance your technique and boost your sprinting speed.

Improve Your Strength

To increase your running speed, chances are you’ll have to be physically stronger. Furthermore, research also suggests that combining sprinting with resistance workouts can help increase your VO2max.

Sprinting involves explosive leg movements so leg strength is key to sprinting faster.

Your hamstrings, followed by your quads, are the most important muscles for improving your sprinting game.

Consider doing plyometric workouts such as box jumps for increasing your explosive strength, leg endurance and your push and strides.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, shows that participants who improved their squat strength, also significantly improved their short sprints.

The next most important muscles are the ones in your neck, shoulders and back as they are crucial for building momentum.

Strengthening these muscles will give your body the required drive to sprint at a fast pace, by simply pumping your arms more effectively.

Focusing on these muscles will also help improve your posture, which is essential for efficient sprinting.

Don’t Forget to Warm Up

The more grueling your workout, the more important it is to warm up your muscles.

Start by walking and then easy running for up to 10 minutes, along with dynamic exercises such as butt kickers, skipping and high knees.

This will help you “warm” your muscles, making them more flexible and less susceptible to an injury during your workout.

Focus on Your Posture

While sprinting, make sure your shoulders are relaxed and away from your ears, your torso is upright and your core is engaged for optimum efficiency.

Not sticking to even one of these posture changes will either cause you to tire prematurely, or not run at a speed you want to.

Increase Your Breathing Speed

Most runners fail to sprint fast because they feel tired as a result of low oxygen capacity – in other words, they are just not able to breathe fast enough.

Your body produces energy in your muscles via oxygen and blood.

It is important to remember that with explosive sprinting, it is also important to be able to breathe explosively. This is something most people do not focus on.

To improve your breathing rate, spend a few minutes each day just breathing fast. Include 30 seconds of quick breathing per set and work your sets up to one minute.

Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Create a rhythm and avoid holding your breath.

This exercise allows your body to acclimatize to the high oxygen intake that comes with fast breathing.

Work your Core

According to a 2009 study lead by the Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences in Barry University, Miami Shores, Florida, a stronger core allows runners to run more explosively and thus, run much faster.

Just 15 minutes of core workout, paying special attention to your lower abs is enough to help you increase your sprinting rate.

Conclusion

Be sure to include plenty of rest and recovery days between workouts to improve your muscle strength.

Not resting enough deters your muscles’ recovery, thereby preventing you from optimizing your workouts.

It’s wiser to follow tough exercise days with a rest day and include low impact workouts, such as cycling and swimming into your fitness routine.

5 Effective Ways to Become a Morning Runner

Not only does running in the morning make you feel like you’ve added an extra couple of hours to your day, it also gives you a rush of energy and makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something first thing in the morning.

It’s easier to fit morning runs to your schedule and waking up early also means you’ll keep your habits consistent.

Furthermore, since most races start in the morning, it’s probably best to train in the a.m. every day.

Working out early in the morning may seem challenging in the beginning but we have a few tips that can make your journey much easier.

Head to Bed Early

A morning running habit does is not built itself automatically. It requires proper planning the night before.

You may feel like it’s harmless to watch some late night TV and just skimp on your sleep, but sleep is critical for a proper morning run.

Studies show that you need sufficient sleep for recovery and to maintain muscle mass.

Be sure to shut off all screens at least one hour before bedtime.

According to one study, the blue light emitted from cell phones, TVs, laptops and other flashing screens may suppress melatonin levels in the body.

Melatonin is the sleep hormone that is influenced by light and dark.

A Harvard study also indicates that exposure to blue light may even contribute to obesity and type-2 diabetes.

It’s also important that you have a high protein lunch 4 hours before bedtime.

High protein sources encourage muscle recovery during your sleep and keep you fuller for longer.

Research shows that having late night snacks stimulates the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin, which not only makes you crave for more food, but also affects your natural circadian rhythm.

Make sure you give yourself enough time to get seven to eight hours of sleep.

After completing a couple of morning runs, you’ll notice that your body will tire earlier than usual, making it easier for you to get to bed on time.

Sleep in Your Running Clothes

Since you’re already waking up an hour or two early, you want to make sure you make full use of it.

If you’re guilty of spending too much time in the mornings choosing your workout clothes – this trick is especially for you.

Alternatively, you can lay out your running clothes the night before so that you nix this step completely when you wake up.

Tag Along with a Friend

Having a workout buddy or a running app keeps you accountable.

Take this a step further by asking your workout buddy, instructor or trainer to leave you a tweet about seeing you in the morning for your run.

With this step, you know the whole internet is holding you to your workout.

Take Your Alarm Off Your Nightstand

And put it somewhere way across the room so that you have to get up and walk to it to shut it off.

Be sure to turn up the volume all the way high as well.

When you get out of bed to turn the alarm off, it’s much easier to separate yourself from your bed early in the morning.

Remember that becoming a morning runner means you cannot let excuses and obstacles hold you back – you have to cut the two completely.

Place the alarm next to your running clothes, just so it acts as a reminder to why you’re waking up early.

As a bonus, try setting your alarm to a truly unpleasant ringtone.

Have a Set Training Plan Ready

If you’re training for a race and have a set training schedule, it’s much harder to call off your morning runs.

According to one study, having an action plan can help strengthen your intention to build a habit – which in this case is running in the morning.

Signing up for a race gives you a goal to work towards.

You’ll think about how much progress you have to make before you run your race and realize you need to wake up.