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10 Best Running Apps for Apple Watch in 2022
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10 Best Running Apps for Apple Watch in 2022

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 18
66 Views
10 min

Tracking your runs effectively is crucial to reaching your running and weight loss goals. Apple Watch running apps make that easy while providing a few other useful features.

best running app for apple watch
KANUT PHOTO / Shutterstock.com

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Taking your phone with you on runs isn’t always convenient. Even a cell phone armband can feel awkward. That’s where the Apple Watch comes in.

Whether you have the Apple Watch SE, Series 3, or Series 7, your watch can be the perfect running companion. Apple Watch apps for runners come as extensions of iOS running apps.

They provide tracking features for distance, pace, and calories and make these easy to follow during a run. Some apps offer additional features like audio coaching, challenges, and leaderboards. 

Apple Watch running apps may have similar features. But how well these are designed and implemented counts. 

So, what are the best running apps you can use across your Apple Watch series?

Joggo
Strava
Runtastic
Nike Run Club
Runkeeper
Apple Workout
MapMyRun
Couch to 5K
RunGo
iSmoothRun
4.7
4.4
4.2
4.2
4.2
4.3
4.2
3.9
4.0
4.0

Accurate tracking for all runs

Multiple run modes

Personalized running plansIntuitive design

Seamless syncing

Effective tracking across metrics

Performance insights

Neat interface

Very active community

Excellent integration with other fitness apps

Easy tracking across many  activities

Timed challenges and virtual races

Motivating audio coaching

Guided runsRoute visualization

Weekly and monthly challenges

Good for basic workouts

Shows splits

Apple Music and Spotify integration

Fluid experience

Can detect exercise

Screen customizations

Intuitive heart rate metrics

Live tracking safety feature

Convenient route mapping

Quick start for beginners

Features warm-ups and cool-downs

Proven couch to 5K training plan

Over 600,000 existing routes

Audio and haptic notifications guide runs

Works well offline 

Interval training support

Easy to switch between run modes

Extensive sensor support

Only the first run is free

Trail run quality varies by region

Occasional connection issues

Free version has limited features

Feels slow at times

Navigation not always intuitive

Need to upgrade to paid plan for all features

Limited syncing options

Occasional glitches

Audio cues not very motivating

Lacks detailed run history

For all features, you need a paid subscription

Limited features

Not advanced enough for experienced runners

Can drain battery

Bugs and glitches

Drab interface

Limited run stats

Requires continuous subscription

Basic interface

Voice notifications can become annoying

Free version has limited features

Possible sync issues and glitches

Unappealing interface

Limited free version

Brand
Joggo
Strava
Runtastic
Nike Run Club
Runkeeper
Apple Workout
MapMyRun
Couch to 5K
RunGo
iSmoothRun
Rating
4.7
4.4
4.2
4.2
4.2
4.3
4.2
3.9
4.0
4.0
Pros

Accurate tracking for all runs

Multiple run modes

Personalized running plansIntuitive design

Seamless syncing

Effective tracking across metrics

Performance insights

Neat interface

Very active community

Excellent integration with other fitness apps

Easy tracking across many  activities

Timed challenges and virtual races

Motivating audio coaching

Guided runsRoute visualization

Weekly and monthly challenges

Good for basic workouts

Shows splits

Apple Music and Spotify integration

Fluid experience

Can detect exercise

Screen customizations

Intuitive heart rate metrics

Live tracking safety feature

Convenient route mapping

Quick start for beginners

Features warm-ups and cool-downs

Proven couch to 5K training plan

Over 600,000 existing routes

Audio and haptic notifications guide runs

Works well offline 

Interval training support

Easy to switch between run modes

Extensive sensor support

Cons

Only the first run is free

Trail run quality varies by region

Occasional connection issues

Free version has limited features

Feels slow at times

Navigation not always intuitive

Need to upgrade to paid plan for all features

Limited syncing options

Occasional glitches

Audio cues not very motivating

Lacks detailed run history

For all features, you need a paid subscription

Limited features

Not advanced enough for experienced runners

Can drain battery

Bugs and glitches

Drab interface

Limited run stats

Requires continuous subscription

Basic interface

Voice notifications can become annoying

Free version has limited features

Possible sync issues and glitches

Unappealing interface

Limited free version

Review

The Best Running App for Apple Watch

The right mix of features in an intuitive interface. A smooth overall experience without glitches. And a competitive dose of motivation. The best Apple Watch apps for running offer these and more.

#1 Joggo running app – Best overall 

Joggo
Running Training App Designed for Your Lasting Running Habits
  • Personalized running plans created by professional coaches
  • Meal plans perfectly tailored to your current diet, allergies, and health needs
  • Treadmill mode for people preferring indoor running
  • Educational articles on easier running, injury prevention, nutrition, and more
  • Behavior science-based reward system for lasting motivation
Our rating:
4.7
Learn More

The Joggo app on Apple Watch presents run data clearly and intuitively. It makes it easy to track your average pace, distance, duration, heart rate, and calories burned. You can also switch with ease between different run modes, including Free Run.

Whether you’re aiming to lose weight or just get into the habit of running, Joggo can help you get there. The app syncs data with fitness trackers for accurate tracking of your in-run performance. 

Following a personalized running and diet plan is the easiest way to lose weight and reach your running goals. You can follow these on the phone app while relying on the Apple Watch Joggo app to keep track of your data. 

The best part? You don’t have to take your phone with you to use the Joggo app. 

Ultimately, Joggo makes you focus on your run experience. It tracks your metrics accurately so you reach your training plan targets. You can also use the app in treadmill mode for indoor runs

Its user-friendly interface, fluid navigation, and simplicity place it at the top of our list of Apple Watch running apps. The only disadvantage is that you must subscribe to continue using it after the first run.

Cost: First run free. After that – a Premium subscription starts at $32.99 for 3 months. 

#2 Strava – Best free app 

Strava
  • Active community
  • Effective tracking across metrics
  • Performance insights
  • Neat interface
Our rating:
4.4
Learn More

The Strava app is one of the most popular running apps around, and for a good reason. It has accurate tracking, performance insights, and a neat interface. 

With the Strava Apple Watch app, you can keep an eye on key stats like calories burned, speed, distance, and pace. You can also discover some of the world’s most enjoyable trail runs. Monthly challenges add fun to the experience. 

The Strava Apple Watch app offers in-app purchases, including custom workout plans and live feedback. But the free app packs enough features for a good run too. 

Some users complain of connection issues. Still, you’re looking at one of the most polished running apps for the Apple Watch. 

With its compact data screens and seamless activity controls, it’s an app you’ll enjoy using. 

Cost: Free version with limited features. A Premium subscription starting at $7.99 a month or $59.99 a year is needed for goal setting, advanced metrics, route planning, and other features.

#3 Runtastic – Best integration with other fitness apps

Adidas Running
  • Smooth user experience
  • Integrates with many fitness apps
  • Easy tracking across activities
  • Virtual races and challenges
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Running in a pair of Adidas shoes? The Runtastic Apple Watch running app may be the app for you as it’s owned by the three stripes brand. 

Runtastic features a colorful and streamlined interface that’s easy to follow. It tracks distance, time, average pace, and heart rate. 

In addition to tracking, Runtastic offers virtual races in which you compete with other runners worldwide. You can also join regular challenges across running and other activities and sports. 

This Apple Watch running app stands out thanks to its integration with many other fitness apps, including the REBO Smart Bottle, Garmin Connect, MyFitnessPal, and more. 

Cost: Free with limited features. A Premium subscription to unlock all features starts at $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year.

#4 Nike Run Club – Best Apple Watch app for audio coaching

Nike Run Club
  • Standout audio coaching
  • Guided runs increase motivation
  • Reliable built-in GPS tracking
  • Route visualization
  • Regular challenges
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Nike Run Club is another completely free running tracker and fitness app. It’s one of the best-known running apps on mobile. The Nike Run Club for Apple Watch, with its GPS-based tracking features, won’t disappoint you either. 

Nike Run Club features audio-guided runs and turn-by-turn directions. Delivered by famous Nike coaches like Mo Farah, the audio instructions can motivate you to keep pounding the pavement or the trail. 

Another cool feature is route visualization, which renders your route graphically. The Apple Watch version of the Nike Run Club also displays social notifications, like when another runner cheers you. This can keep you engaged. 

Cost: Free. 

#5 Runkeeper – Best Apple Watch app for basic workouts

Runkeeper
  • Makes it easy to follow basic workouts
  • Displays splits
  • Lets you set up target metrics
  • Easy integration with Apple Music and Spotify
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Runkeeper lets you create and follow basic set workouts. Aiming for a target pace or optimal heart rate? You can set these up before taking Runkeeper with you for a run. 

The run mode displays duration, distance, pace, and heart rate. With an easy swipe left, you can check splits. You also get audio cues through your Apple Watch. But you may find these to be a bit too far in between. 

Don’t expect to see your previous run history in the app, though. For that, you’ll have to switch to your phone. But then this is true for most Apple Watch apps for runners. 

Love listening to music when you run? Runkeeper integrates with both Apple Music and Spotify. The quick and easy music integration wins it extra points. 

Cost: Free version with limited features. For goal coach, premium training plans, and in-depth stats, you need to upgrade to a paid plan starting at $9.99 a month or $39.99 a year.

#6 Apple Workout – Best basic app for beginners

Apple Workout
  • Fluid tracking and navigation experience
  • Automatically detects exercise
  • Customizable main screen
  • Measures rolling pace
Our rating:
4.3
Learn More

The Apple Workout app comes preinstalled on the Apple Watch, so you don’t have to go through extra trouble to get it. You can expect from it the same fluid and polished experience that most Apple apps provide. 

This app can automatically detect your type of exercise and track pace and cadence, heart rate, duration, and calories. If you need essential tracking for your runs, it can be right for you. 

Furthermore, you can control the exact data displayed on the main screen of the Workout app using your iPhone. This is useful if you run for performance rather than weight loss

Apple’s Workout app is a good start for most people who choose the Apple Watch as their running companion. But serious runners may look toward apps with additional features. 

Cost: Free for simple tracking. For activity classes, you need to sign up to Fitness+ starting at $9.99 a month or $79.99 annually.

#7 MapMyRun – Best for mapping routes

MapMyRun
  • Intuitive HR display
  • Hassle-free route mapping
  • Shows local routes
  • Live tracking (paid feature)
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Another popular running app in the App Store, MapMyRun is also available on the Apple Watch. The summary screen shows duration, distance, current pace, and heart rate (HR). 

If you want to reach a certain HR during your runs and maintain it, this watch app can help you. The HR screen is especially intuitive, showing current HR as well as average and peak HR. 

With this runner app, you can also find race courses in the area. You can choose from hundreds of activities and sports to track. This makes MapMyRun useful for cross-training

However, bear in mind that some features are limited to the premium version of the iOS app. This includes live tracking, which shares your location with your friends and family. 

This Apple Watch running app doesn’t have built-in nutrition features, but it connects with MyFitnessPal. The downside is that it can eat a lot of battery. 

Cost: Free with limited features. For all the features, you need a paid subscription starting at $5.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

#8 Couch to 5K – Best for getting ready for a 5K race

Couch to 5K
  • Easy on beginners
  • Includes warm-ups and cool-downs
  • Tested couch to 5K plan
Our rating:
3.9
Learn More

Next up is the Apple Watch version of the popular Couch to 5K training program. This watch app promises to get you ready for a 5K race in just 9 weeks.

It guides you through your warm-up, runs, and cool-down, tracking your distance and pace every step of the way.

The app also features basic audio coaching. However, you may not find this as smooth or motivating as in the Nike Run Club and other apps. 

The Couch to 5K Apple Watch app doesn’t provide as many running stats as other apps. You may also find the interface a bit drab.

But if you’ve set your sights on a 5K race, it can help you get to the finish line. Provided you’re willing to pay the subscription plan.

Cost: Subscription costs $4.99 a month.

#9 RunGo – Best for offline running

RunGo
  • Works offline
  • Features over 600,000 pre-made routes
  • Voice and haptic notifications provide guidance
  • Lets you create your own routes
Our rating:
4.0
Learn More

RunGo makes it easy to create running routes and follow them even offline. You just have to make sure you download them before you head for the run. 

You can also pick from one of over 600,000 supported routes. It shows route difficulty, a map of the route, and elevation. Step-by-step directions combining voice and haptic notifications. You can also join running groups. 

RunGo has a Just run mode that tracks your distance, pace, and other key stays for free runs. The interface may not be as glossy as that of other apps. 

Also, off-route voice notifications may get on your nerves at times. But if you like creating your very own run tour with custom or pre-made routes, you’ll probably like it. 

Cost: Free version with limited functionality. To access all features, you need to subscribe at $3.99 a month or $29.99 a year.

#10 iSmoothRun – Best for interval training

iSmoothRun
  • Supports interval training support
  • Multiple run modes
  • Great sensor support
Our rating:
4.0
Learn More

Our list ends with iSmoothRun, a running tracker that makes it easy to run laps and intervals. Dedicated screens for each of these run modes can simplify training. You also get essential running stats, including heart rate, distance, and cadence. 

Extensive sensor support, including footpods and data exporting, is a nice feature. Plus, you can easily share running workouts with the Strava app. 

iSmoothRun displays the run history for each day of the week as a simple graph. This enables you to check your effort and progress at a glance.                             

The app also offers good customization options. You can set up your watch screen just as you like it. 

Cost: Free version with limited features. The Premium version starts at $4.99 a month or $24.99 a year. 

How to Choose the Best Running App for Apple Watch?

Running apps often look similar, but looking beyond appearance brings to light important differences. Here are the key factors we focused on when drawing our list. 

Quality

Does the app run smoothly? Does it track distance, pace, and heart rate accurately? Are there any glitches and connectivity problems? Quality build is a feature that all the apps on our list share. 

Price

Many running apps for Apple Watch are available for free. So when an app comes with a price tag, it needs to provide real value. Think personalized plans, live tracker, and other premium features. We also consider how flexible in-app purchases are. 

Brand reputation

Brand reputation is important in a world where the best running apps include a social component. It can act as a glue, holding together a community of users who provide feedback on the app’s development and improvement.

Effectiveness

An effective running app helps you set and follow your running goals. It keeps you on track, helps you train smarter, and motivates you to reach your targets. 

The apps that made it on our list don’t just provide a list of features. Each of them works as an effective training tool. 

A Word From a Coach

Running helps you lose more weight than walking, according to a prospective follow-up study. But to lose weight running and maximize its health benefits, you need to run regularly.

A Danish study indicates that running 2.5 hours or 30 minutes five days a week maximizes the health and longevity benefits of running. Serious training plans involve this amount of running or more.

Apple Watch apps for runners help you build a running habit. By making distance, pace, heart rate, and calorie tracking easy, the right app can keep you motivated.

But keep in mind that not all of the best apps offer personalized training plans. For fast, consistent results, follow a running plan that takes into account your age, fitness level, and other key factors.

Training plans adapted to your needs bring faster results and make your running journey more enjoyable, too.

Conclusion

The best app for Apple Watch works as a natural extension of its counterpart phone app for runners. It tracks your key running stats and lets you check them at a glance. It can also show you your current pace and heart rate.

By doing so, it supports your running goals and motivates you to keep logging those miles. Above all, it’s accurate and reliable, so you don’t have to worry about tracking issues.

Finally, quick and seamless syncing with the complementary iOS app gives you full access to your run data.

In the end, the best Apple Watch running apps support your training goals without getting in the way of your running experience.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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