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13 Best Running Apps for Beginners (2020)

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Want to get into running? Then you’re in luck! Below we’ve listed all of the best running apps for beginners that you need to try out.

If you need help knowing where to start or you want some inspiration to get out there in the first place, there are tons of brilliant running apps for beginners out there.

Whether you want to get a little fitter or if you have a more specific goal in mind, like competing in a local 5k race or running a half marathon, we can guarantee that there’s an app on this list that can help turn that goal into a reality.

What are you waiting for? Check out our list below and try them out for yourself!

But before we get started, have you ever considered taking your fitness journey to the next level? Working in the fitness industry can be really rewarding and enjoyable, too. 

Enquire online for OriGym's Level 2 accredited Fitness Instructing qualification or donwload our free course prospectus and kick-start an exciting new career path.

Best Running Apps for Beginners (UK)

#1 Couch to 5k

Free running apps for beginners couch to 5k logo

Apple Rating: 4.8 stars

First up for the top running apps for beginners is the NHS approved Couch to 5K.

The clues in the name - this app will help you get off the couch and well on your way to running 5k. 

If you want to get in better shape but you’re stuck on knowing where to start, we’re here to tell you that the first thing you need to do is download Couch to 5k.

On this running for beginners app, you’ll find an easy to follow programme which lasts just over 9 weeks - if you prefer, you can always take a little longer. Although Couch to 5k is a ‘programme’ you can still completely do this at your own pace.

If you do choose to follow the programme exactly, you’ll do three 30 minute bursts of exercise each week, this covers walking, running, and resting. As the weeks go on, the programme builds up so that you do more and more exercise and the amount of rest time decreases. 

The app also includes plenty of support and motivation to get you through, with audio updates for instructions and words of encouragement, as well as a timer to show you how far into your workout you are. 

But don't worry, the app is compatible with music apps (is there anything worse than an app that stops your music from playing?) so you can still listen to your own playlists and the audio updates will play over the top of your favourite songs.

Overall, this app is a really good way to get into running. 

Even if you're an absolute beginner, used to leading a pretty inactive lifestyle, and never been on a run in your life, you can change all of that in just over 9 weeks with the help of Couch to 5k.

#2 Endomondo

Best running for beginners app endomondo logo

Apple Rating: 4 stars 

If getting more motivated is your main priority, then you should know that Endomondo is one of the best running coach apps for beginners.

A lot of people work well when they have something to work towards, which makes this target-setting app a brilliant way to get started on your fitness journey.

This app is brilliant because it allows you to set workout goals and weekly commitments. That can include targets for the amount of time you spend training, the distance you run, or the number of calories you want to burn.

The app will then help you stay motivated to reach those goals by giving you audio updates on how you’re doing and how long you have until you’ve reached your goals, telling you if you’ve smashed a new PB or giving you some extra encouragement if you slip below your usual standards. 

As an added (free!) extra, you can even sync the app with an apple watch, meaning you can leave your phone at home and concentrate on your training.

However, if you do prefer to take your phone out with you on a run then check out our product review of the best running armbands.

One thing that makes the Endomondo app stand out as one of the best running apps for complete beginners is that it pairs up with MyFitnessPal and Apples health app. 

That means that you don’t need to manually input your workouts into the likes of MyFitnessPal, instead the app automatically shares the data so that you can track your calories and see your nutritional info all in one place.

Finally, if you have a couple of friends beginning their fitness journey at the same time as you, or friends who already run who have inspired you to get started, this app also has a brilliant social network.

With the newsfeed feature, you can keep updated with your friends workouts and share pictures from your own runs. And, if you really want to, the app links to other social media platforms so that you can share your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Join 1000s of other Fitness and Health enthusiasts and get updates packed with career advice, nutrition tips, product reviews and more

#3 Pacer

Running training plan for beginners app pacer logo

Apple Rating: 4.9 stars 

If you’re new to running then finding a workout buddy is one of the best ways to boost your commitment and keep you motivated. 

Unfortunately, finding a friend to join you on a new fitness journey isn’t always as easy as you’d like. So, what then? Fortunately, you’ve found this blog post.

If you don’t have a running buddy, don’t sweat it, the Pacer app can take that place - and no offence to any of our friends, but it’s a lot more useful!

This app acts as your running buddy and a health coach all in one, it can set tons of fun challenges but also tracks key data, such as your pace per mile or how your weight loss journey correlates to how.

One of our favourite things is that it connects you with hundreds of real-life runners within the pacer community. In that community, there’s an endless number of other runners with similar goals who share their support and act as a real source of motivation.

If you are lucky enough to have a group of friends that are also getting involved with your new fitness regime, then there’s a really fun feature on this app that allows you to create walking groups in which you can compare your daily steps with those of your friends and family.

#4 Zombies, Run!

Best running app for beginners zombies run logo

Apple Rating: 4.8 stars

There was no way we could answer ‘what are the best running apps for beginners’ without talking about this one.

If you’re after an app that gives you an incentive to pick up the pace, you can’t get better than Zombies, Run!

As well as having an 8 week programme similar to that of Couch to 5k, this app has a unique story line based on running from zombies and collecting survival supplies. 

All you have to do is put your headphones on and then the app will give you audio instructions on when to walk, jog, run, and do your stretches. 

But honestly, the instructions aren’t entirely necessary because once you hear the zombies getting closer to you instinct kicks in and you’ll be beating your PB pace without even realising it.

For us, this one had to make our list purely because it’s so creative and completely different to any of the others that we tried out. 

A lot of people find cardio very monotonous, especially if you’re restricted to boring routes or running in the gym. If this is you, then Zombies, run! is a game changer.

It’s definitely one of the best running apps for beginners for treadmill workouts as we know from experience that these can get really repetitive.

Not only is this a good programme to get you started, it’s really entertaining, too. Plus, in the event that a zombie apocalypse does actually happen you’ll be well prepared. 

If you think it would be fun to give this app a go when it's dark outside, ensure that your safety is your number one priority so check out our top tips for running at night first.

#5 Map My Run

Best running app for beginners UK map my run logo

Apple Rating: 4.7 stars

Next up is Map My Run, one of the best running apps for beginners who want to workout but don’t know where to start with finding a good route.

Using the routes feature, you can find new running routes near you, plus you can save your favourite paths or add in a route of your own to share with others.

The app pairs up with most wearable fitness trackers, and if you’re really investing in this new hobby, you can even sync the app with a pair of Under Armour connected shoes. 

This would allow you to access premium features, such as tracking your mileage more accurately and getting notified when you need a new pair of trainers or to switch something up to avoid injury.

The main purpose of the app is to make running easier for you, so it collects the right data to help you get better and gives you visual, haptic, and audio updates on your progress to give you that push when you need it most.

By downloading this free app you’ll be able to join Under Armour's community of runners which is made up of more than 60 million people worldwide. 

All of those people are working towards their very own health and fitness goals just like you, so if you’re yet to find a running buddy then this app can make up for that!

By upgrading to the apps premium version, you can receive a full training plan which is personal to you. That comes complete with a schedule and specific coaching tips depending on what your goals are.

Although we’d say the premium upgrade makes this one of the best running coach apps for beginners, you can get some pretty similar features from some of the free apps that we’ve listed. 

For that reason, keep reading and check out some of the others in this list before you put your hand in your pocket.

#6 Strava

Best running apps that work offline strava logo

Apple Rating: 4.8 stars

Seeing as this is one of the most highly rated and probably the most popular apps on this list, we can definielty say that Strava is up there as maybe the best running for beginners app there is. 

It allows you to track your fitness journey by recording your runs and mapping your routes with in-depth GPS tracking.

So although it’s typically thought to be an app for more advanced runners, it’s still really useful for beginners.

One feature that is unique to this app is their ‘segments feature’, where you can compare your stats to other runners on similar routes. We can all benefit from a bit of healthy competition so this is a brilliant way to get motivated. 

But, for us the best part of this app is that premium users of ‘Strava Summit’ get access to improved safety features via Beacon. Beacon allows you to designate 3 contacts who can access your location information whilst you’re out on a run.

If you run alone or on potentially dangerous routes, having access to Beacon can provide reassurance that if anything were to happen, your closest friends or family would be able to find you.

#7 Human

Running for beginners app human logo

Apple Rating: 4.1 stars

Although the features of this app aren’t quite up to scratch with some of the others on our list, it has a simple interface and it’s really to use. It’s not the most advanced, but it does the job and for that reason we still rate it as one of the best running apps for beginners. 

Instead of tracking steps, the Human app counts the minutes. This makes it much easier to reach the recommended daily activity level of 30 minutes which is especially useful if your goal is to get more active.

It counts every minute that you spend walking, running, or cycling, and notifies you when you reach your ‘#DAILY30’ or it sends you a motivational post if it's getting towards the end of the day and you haven’t reached your goal yet.

One important thing to note is that although it runs in the background of your phone, the app has been optimised so that it doesn’t drain your battery life like a lot of similar apps. 

You can use your phone and listen to music as normal without any interuptions. 

Wondering why being able listen to our favourite songs without interuptions is so important to us? Read about the pros of running with music to learn more about whether music can imporve your performance.

#8 Runcoach

Best beginners running app runcoach logo

Apple Rating: 3.3 stars

If the name hasn’t already given it away, Runcoach is up there with the best running coach apps for beginners.

You can use this app to get in contact with real certified coaches who share their advice on all things nutrition, injuries, and exercising. 

The app allows you to create a customised workout schedule which considers your current fitness level and allows you to input your free time so that the plan fits around work and any other commitments that you might have.

Once your fitness starts to improve, you can update your training plan to account for that. Or if for whatever reason you skip a workout one day, you can input that into the app and tweak your schedule to make up for it.

Not convinced that Runcoach is one of the best running apps for beginners? Well, the stats speak for themselves.

According to the brains behind Runcoach, 25% of all of their users reach a higher level of fitness within six months of starting to use the app. They also claim that on average, their users improve their race time by 7%.

So, whether you want to get a little fitter or you have a specific goal such as improving your pace, downloading Runcoach is a good place to start.

#9 RunGo

Best running apps for beginners treadmill rungo logo

Apple Rating: 4.7 stars

RunGo is another one of the best free running apps for beginners, but what’s the best thing about it?

For us, this is the best app out there for finding routes to run. 

The app takes all the stress out of finding a new route or worrying about getting lost, giving you turn by turn voice directions so that you can enjoy your run without having to think about where you’re going.

Whether you’re looking for a new route or you’re in a new area and not really sure where to get started, then all you need to do is open up this app and select one of the thousands of routes available.

If you have a job which involves travelling a lot, then this is definitely the best beginners running app to download. It will allow you to commit to your new running hobby even when you’re away from home.

Plus, you don’t need to download a seperate app to track your stats, because RunGo also keeps a record of your time, space, distance, and elevation.

Out on a running adventure? Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, compare the best running backpacks to find one that will fit all of your running essentials. 

#10 ROAD iD

Best running apps for beginners road id logo

Apple Rating: 3.8 stars

This ones slightly different to the other apps in the list, and even though it’s not exactly a running for beginners app, it’s still a good one to download.

ROAD iD was designed specifically to keep people safe when they’re out and about. 

The app lets your friends and family track your whereabouts and it sends SOS notifications to your designated contacts if it tracks that you’ve stopped moving and you don’t respond to the alert prompt  on the app.

You can also create a customised lock screen which shows details of up to 3 emergency contacts and important information about yourself, like your name and hometown, plus any important health information such as any medical conditions, allergies, and your blood type.

Obviously it’s made our list for being one of the best running apps for beginners, but you can also use it when you’re out cycling, walking your dog, or it’s a good idea to download it onto your child's phone in case of emergency.  

This app won't teach you how to run or give you any real motivation, but it’s still a must have! If there’s only one thing that you take from reading here let it be to download this app alongside any of the others in our list.

#11 Runkeeper

Top running apps for beginners runkeeper logo

Apple Rating: 4.8 stars

Runkeeper is another one of our favourite free running apps for beginners that you can download in the UK. Specifically, it’s really handy for goal-setting and GPS tracking.

Whether your goal is to get fitter, faster, or to be able to run further, this app will help you to reach those targets and it will allow you to measure your progress throughout. 

The audio isn’t quite as advanced as some of the other free running apps for beginners in this list, but you can still choose the stats that you want to hear whilst you're running. That could be updates on your pace, distance, or the time that you’ve been running for. 

One thing to make up for the lack of advanced tech that’s gone into creating this app, is that this is one of the best running apps that work offline. So if you don’t have data or access to free wifi, you can still use the app and upload your data once you’ve got a connection.

In their own words ‘routines lead to progress’ - and we agree! That’s why their app is designed so that you can create a plan that you’ll stick to. 

Getting into your running gear and out of the house is one of the biggest challenges that you’ll face when you first start running, but consistency is key and downloading this app will help you to maintain that consistency.

One of the most motivating parts of any exercise journey is progress! Sometimes it can be hard to recognise your own progress when it happens gradually, which is why we love that the Runkeeper app is paired up with their website.

This allows you to see your full statistics and keep an eye on how your progress compares to your goals - keeping you on track and providing an additional boost of motivation.

 

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#12 Nike+ Run Club

Best running apps for complete beginners nike run club logo

Apple Rating: 3.8 stars 

If you’re the type of person who thrives when underpressure and works well in a goal-oriented setting, then Nike+ Run Club is the running app for beginners that you need to download.

That’s because one thing which is unique to this app is the ability to create motivating challenges, for example by setting yourself a target distance to reach over a weekly or monthly period.

What’s even more motivating is that you can share those challenges with your friends, and if they use the app too, you can compare each others progress on the distance leaderboard. 

If you’re looking for a running training plan for beginners app, then Nike+ Run Club is the audio coach that you need. The app comes complete with the capabilities to set up customised training plans based on your personal goal. 

Whether that goal is to get a little fitter or get in good enough shape to run a specific race, this app can produce an effective training plan which adapts to your personal needs. 

Once you really get into your running, having a decent pair of shoes is essential. But don't sweat it, you can find the best cross-country running shoes on our blog.

#13 Runtastic 

Best running coach apps for beginners runtastic logo

Apple Rating: 4.7 stars 

Seeing as you’re searching something along the lines of ‘what are the best running apps for beginners’, we couldn’t complete our list without talking about Runtastic. 

Runtastic is a brilliant distance tracker, but this app is also so much more than that. 

We found the app really simple to use and navigate, and we loved how easy it is to compare your current stats like pace, distance, and run duration, to your averages. 

This app really makes it as easy as possible to get real time updates on how you weigh up compared to your average run.

Whilst a lot of the other apps in the list pair up with health apps like MyFitnessPal, that’s not necessary in this case. Runtastic acts as a running for beginners weight loss app itself by tracking your calories burned. 

One awesome feature is that the app offers 6 goal-based training plans, based on different exercise outcomes like starting out as a runner, weight loss, or getting ready to race.

However, these training plans are only available as part of the premium membership which will come with a monthly fee.

One thing we will say is that there are a lot of free running apps for beginners with similar capabilities, so it’s understandable if you’re a little reluctant to pay the extra!

Before You Go!

We hope that this helped you find the best running app for beginners to help you to achieve your exercise goals.

So,what are you waiting for? Nobody ever got better at running by reading about it, go ahead and download your favourite app and let us know what you think!

If you’re thinking of kick-starting a new career, then why not consider a job related to your new hobby?

To get a headstart with a career in the fitness industry, why not enquire for our online personal training certification here. 

Alternatively, download our fitness course prospectus for more information on the range of courses and qualifications that we offer.

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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