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11 Best Running Apps for Beginners You Can Use in 2022
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11 Best Running Apps for Beginners You Can Use in 2022

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 23
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14 min

Running to lose weight or to get in shape? Or planning to take part in a race? Either way, the best running apps for beginners can help you reach your goals.

best running apps for beginners
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Running apps today are packed with features, but it’s important to focus on those that really matter to you. Some apps will make your weight loss journey so much easier. Others focus on helping you achieve the best performance. 

In this review, we look at the best running apps for beginners you can use right now. Whether you have an iOS or Android device, we’ll help you find the right app for you. So, before you lace up your running shoes, read on!

Comparison Table

Joggo
Verv
Runtastic
Nike Run Club
Aaptiv
Strava
C25K
Pacer
Runcoach
Runkeeper
MapMyRun
4.7
4.1
4.2
4.2
4.3
4.4
3.9
4.2
4.1
4.2
4.2

Personalized running plans

Meal plan tailored to your needs

Effective reward-based system

Diet-based meal recommendations

Treadmill mode

Over 10 popular diets

Coaches ready to answer your questions

Includes mindfulness and sleep plans

Workout music adapts to your tempo

Fitness challenges are fun

Motivational story runs

Community live challenges

Also tracks other outdoor activities

Guided runs

Meditation practices and wellness tips

Shows distance and speed on the lock screen

Very personalized experience

Downloadable offline classes

Backed by a large support community

Focus on social aspects of running

Performance analytics

Accurate tracking

Free full training program

Short-time goals motivate you

Realistic calorie tracker

Route discovery feature

Guided video workouts

Customized workout schedule

Race training available

Scales well to intermediate and advanced levels

Highly customizable plans

Motivating experience overall

Easy to find and plan routes

Engaging audio coaches

Gear tracker feature

No free plan

No nutrition planInaccurate difficulty levels

Interface could be better

Rigid training plan

Lacks personalized nutrition advice

Battery-hungry

Social engagement varies a lot depending on the region

Occasional glitches and accuracy problems

Lacks route suggestions

Not a specialized running app

Lacks nutrition guidance

Misses some running features

Route sharing raises privacy concerns

Feels too competitive at times

Pre-made plans don’t work for everyone

App may stop unexpectedly

Glitches

Lacks advanced tracking

No customization

Looks and feels drab

Inauthentic coaching experience

Expensive

Inconsistent tracking

Auto pause may not always work

Limited maps for trail runs

Tracking issues

Misses solid social features

Brand
Joggo
Verv
Runtastic
Nike Run Club
Aaptiv
Strava
C25K
Pacer
Runcoach
Runkeeper
MapMyRun
Rating
4.7
4.1
4.2
4.2
4.3
4.4
3.9
4.2
4.1
4.2
4.2
Pros

Personalized running plans

Meal plan tailored to your needs

Effective reward-based system

Diet-based meal recommendations

Treadmill mode

Over 10 popular diets

Coaches ready to answer your questions

Includes mindfulness and sleep plans

Workout music adapts to your tempo

Fitness challenges are fun

Motivational story runs

Community live challenges

Also tracks other outdoor activities

Guided runs

Meditation practices and wellness tips

Shows distance and speed on the lock screen

Very personalized experience

Downloadable offline classes

Backed by a large support community

Focus on social aspects of running

Performance analytics

Accurate tracking

Free full training program

Short-time goals motivate you

Realistic calorie tracker

Route discovery feature

Guided video workouts

Customized workout schedule

Race training available

Scales well to intermediate and advanced levels

Highly customizable plans

Motivating experience overall

Easy to find and plan routes

Engaging audio coaches

Gear tracker feature

Cons

No free plan

No nutrition planInaccurate difficulty levels

Interface could be better

Rigid training plan

Lacks personalized nutrition advice

Battery-hungry

Social engagement varies a lot depending on the region

Occasional glitches and accuracy problems

Lacks route suggestions

Not a specialized running app

Lacks nutrition guidance

Misses some running features

Route sharing raises privacy concerns

Feels too competitive at times

Pre-made plans don’t work for everyone

App may stop unexpectedly

Glitches

Lacks advanced tracking

No customization

Looks and feels drab

Inauthentic coaching experience

Expensive

Inconsistent tracking

Auto pause may not always work

Limited maps for trail runs

Tracking issues

Misses solid social features

Review

11 Best Running Apps for Beginners

The best running apps today feel like having a running coach in your pocket. They guide you every step of the way in your running journey.

Let’s take a closer look at each of the best running apps for beginners that made it into our selection. You have plenty of choices, but some apps offer so much more than others.

#1 Joggo running app

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

Joggo tops our list of the best running apps for beginners because of its accessibility and personalization features. Get your running gear ready, take the app for a run, and it will then create a personalized running program based on your goals.

One-size-fits-all running programs don’t work for everyone. Joggo’s running plans factor in your age, BMI, fitness level, and other factors. They’re created by professional running coaches.

Joggo is a liberating running app because it doesn’t limit you to long-distance runs or any specific type of running. You can try different training styles. The app will guide you through all while tracking your key metrics and workout history.

Want to try interval training on a hill? Or experiment with fartlek runs? Joggo is like a digital personal trainer that will help you not only plan your workouts but get them right. This makes it the best running app for a beginner runner.

Bi-weekly running plan adjustments keep you on track. These factor in your progress and feedback to help you achieve results faster. 

Instructional videos for warm-ups and cool-downs can gear you up for running. They can also contribute to a better running technique.

A particularly motivating feature is the reward system, which awards you points after every run. Based on your score, you can compare your progress to that of other users.

You can also ask a personal trainer any questions you may have about your running plan or recovery from an injury. 

A full-body workout plan with strength training is available as an additional purchase. That, together with personalized plans for advanced runners, makes Joggo a dependable running companion in the long run. 

The latest version of the app has updated the design, which is now the smoothest to date. 

If you want to run to burn fat and improve your performance, you can count on Joggo. It has all the tools you need to succeed, packed in a fluid and intuitive interface. Joggo makes it easy to start running. 

Price: Your first run with Joggo is free. After that, you have to upgrade to a paid plan. Premium plans start at $32.99 for 3 months and $65.99 for 12 months. 

Pros
  • Personalized running plans created by professional coaches
  • Warm-up and cool-down exercises prepare you for runs
  • Treadmill workouts for running indoors on rainy days
  • Personalized meal plans with meal ideas adapted to your diet and allergies
  • Over 10 popular diets to choose from
  • Includes nutrition and injury prevention education
  • Reward system based on behavior science keeps you motivated
Cons
  • No free plan

#2 Verv

Verv: Home Fitness Workout
Our rating:
4.1
Learn More

Verv is a home fitness training app that promises to help you lose weight. While not specifically designed for a beginner runner, it can track your running activity. One of the most popular apps for fitness, it also features interval training and other workouts.

Verv proposes a personal training plan based on your age and your answers to a series of questions. However, the resulting running plan is fairly generic. 

On the plus side, Verv features guided meditation courses as well as meal plans, including vegan, keto, and intermittent fasting plans. If you want to lose weight running without stress, Verv can be an option. 

However, to access all training plans, meditations, audio coaching, and playlists, you need to upgrade to a premium plan. The free plan provides only basic features. 

Haven’t been exercising much lately? If you want to combine running with other exercises, Verv can help you get started. But don’t expect true personalization or coaching like other apps provide. 

Price: Free version available. Premium plans start at $14.99 a month and $39.99 a year. You can try premium plans for free for 7 days. 

Pros
  • Every exercise is explained
  • Includes mindfulness, nutrition, and sleep plans
  • Audio-guided interval training
  • Smart tracker is intuitive and integrates with Apple Health data
  • Over 270 guided meditations for releasing stress and staying focused
  • Music adapts to your workout tempo
  • 30-day fitness challenges can keep you going
Cons
  • Lack of a truly personalized experience
  • Workout difficulty levels not always accurate
  • No personalized nutrition plan
  • Interface could be better

#3 Runtastic

Adidas Running
  • Outdoor and indoor runs supported
  • Offers basic tracking (sufficient for the gym)
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Runtastic has been around for a few years, during which it has built a large community of users. You can share your progress with other users, get tips from them, and discuss running in all its forms and varieties. 

Long-distance runners make up a significant portion of the app’s community.

The premium feature Workout Creator lets you create a customized workout based on your training goals and the time available. However, you may find this more useful for HIIT and bodyweight exercises than running plans.

While this popular running app provides nutrition information, it doesn’t feature a personalized nutrition plan. On the plus side, Runtastic integrates with the Adidas Training app, making it an appealing choice for Adidas fans.

For targeted training, full access to story runs, and complete tracking, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. Reaching your running goal with Runtastic becomes easier with a premium plan.

Price: Free version available. Paid plans start at $9.99 a month and $49.99 a year. You can try the premium plan for free for 7 days. 

Pros
  • Story runs can boost your motivation
  • Makes it easy to track and review your miles
  • Community live challenges is a fun feature
  • Compete with other runners active on Facebook
  • Lets you track hikes and other outdoor activities
  • Works with Apple Watch
Cons
  • You can’t adjust the training plan once you start
  • Audio coaching may get on your nerves
  • No personalized nutrition plan
  • The app eats a lot of battery

#4 Nike Run Club

Nike Run Club
  • Supports outdoor and indoor modes
  • Customizable workout plans
  • Audio guidance for instructions and motivation
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Nike Run Club is one of the most popular running apps on both Google Play and the App Store. But is that because of Nike’s brand reach, or does this app really have something going for it?

Nike Run Club provides basic progress tracking for your runs, including average pace, distance, and time. Its highlight feature is arguably guided runs. These feature audio coaching provided by professional coaches and running legends like Eliud Kipchoge. 

Like most other running apps, Nike Run Club also features training plans. The 4-week training plan can help you get started. You can then move on to longer and more challenging plans. That includes a 12-week marathon training plan. 

Training plans take into account your goals and fitness levels. But they are not personalized for you like the plans in other running apps. 

On the plus side, the Nike Run Club app has useful features like auto pausing in running mode if you stop. Shoe tagging, which lets you log run performance while wearing different shoes, is another handy feature. It also syncs with Apple Watch. 

There are also plenty of challenges with leaderboards to keep you motivated. A very active community and social media integration add to the fun of the app. You can easily connect with friends and other runners and share your progress. 

Overall, the Nike Run Club app is one of the best free running apps. Provided you don’t expect premium features from it, like personalized meal plans. 

Price: Free. This is the only free app on our list of the best running apps for beginners that’s entirely free and without ads. 

Pros
  • Easy to get started with and track your progress
  • Includes meditation practices and wellness tips
  • Information vetoed by professional coaches
  • Shoe tagging feature helps you find out which pair you run fastest in
  • In-run audio cheers from friends add to the motivation
  • Shows distance and speed on the lock screen
  • Works with Apple Music and Spotify
Cons
  • Social engagement varies a lot depending on the region
  • Occasional glitches and accuracy problems
  • No suggested running routes – you have to stick to guided runs
  • Difficulty levels for runs could be clearer
  • Doesn’t integrate with Fitbit

#5 Aaptiv

Aaptiv
  • Easy-to-follow workouts recorded by professional trainers
  • The app suggests a customized workout plan
  • Strong community support
Our rating:
4.3
Learn More

Aaptiv is a fitness app that includes running workouts. An audio-based coaching app, it features motivational classes you can follow to reach your running goals.

Unlike other apps, it focuses on the running experience rather than weight loss or maximum performance. It also plays cool running music that can keep you going during a tough workout. 

It’s not a dedicated running app, though, which means it lacks some of the tracking features of other running apps. Despite this, however, its ease of use and intuitive plans make it a good choice for beginner runners. 

This fitness and health app also works offline. You can download classes when cellular data isn’t available. This, together with the fact that you can use it for cross-training, make it useful if you’re at the beginning of your running journey. 

The downside is that Aaptiv doesn’t offer that many workouts for long runs. That can be a problem if you’re preparing for a marathon or half-marathon. It’s not the best running app for long-distance runners. 

Price: 7-day free trial available. Membership starts at $14.99 a month or $99.99 a year. 

Pros
  • Highly personalized experience
  • You can download classes for offline use
  • Backed by a large support community
  • Guided workouts make it easy to get started
  • Fun and motivating personal trainers
  • Strength training plans also available
  • Apple Watch support
Cons
  • Not a specialized running app
  • Lacks nutrition guidance
  • Audio cues may lag or be difficult to follow
  • Not as many running features as other apps

#6 Strava

Strava
  • Widely known brand in sports
  • Supports various types of workouts
  • Data from all workouts in one place
Our rating:
4.4
Learn More

Strava is one of the most popular running apps around, and for a good reason. It makes it easy to track your runs, set fitness goals, and compare your progress with friends. 

Powered by a vibrant community, Strava fosters a spirit of healthy competition. This run app can be very motivating if you want to challenge your running abilities against those of friends and other users. 

From your first steps with Strava, you will not feel alone. Group challenges can help you give your best, even on lazy days. You can find plenty of local running routes in the app to keep you going. 

Safety is a bit of a mixed bag, though. The competitive aspect of this running app may make you overshare running routes and other personal information. 

On the plus side, the premium safety feature Beacon enables you to notify up to 3 other people about your route. They don’t even need to have the app to track your location. 

Overall, Strava is one of the best running apps for serious runners. You can use it as a beginner too. But to get the most out of it, you need to bring your competitive side to your Strava runs. 

Price: Free option with limited features available. Premium plans start at $5 a month or $59.99 a year. In-app purchases are also available. 

Pros
  • Large and vibrant community
  • Highlights the social aspects of running
  • Performance analytics for competitive runners
  • Beautiful design and intuitive experience
  • Accurate tracking
  • Premium Beacon safety feature notifies up to 3 people about your location
Cons
  • Privacy concerns over route sharing
  • Possibly too competitive for new runners

#7 C25K – Couch potato to 5K

C25K
  • Easy on beginners
  • Includes warm-ups and cool-downs
  • Tested couch to 5K plan
Our rating:
3.9
Learn More

The easiest way to start moving if you’re out of shape or overweight is by mixing running with walking. Research suggests that combining running with walking may improve your running performance. 

C25K features pre-designed training plans based on the run/walk method that get you ready for 5K races. Even if you’re a total couch potato. 

The audio coaching guides you through your weekly workouts. Route and progress tracking gives you a sense of progress and helps you assess your performance. 

C25K targets beginners. It works if you want to establish a running habit. But if you have more specific goals like shedding weight, you may find its features insufficient. Still, it’s one of the best free running apps for total beginners.

The pre-made 8-week plan provides a good start while requiring only 30 minutes of moving 3 days a week. For customized programs, you need to upgrade to a paid plan. 

Price: Free with premium features pass starting at $4.99 a month. 

Pros
  • Full training program available for free without any annoying limitations
  • Accessible interface
  • Short-time goals give you a sense of accomplishment
  • Easy integration with Facebook, Twitter, and MyFitnessPal
Cons
  • Pre-made plans may not be a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone
  • App may stop unexpectedly
  • You may encounter glitches

#8 Pacer

Pacer
  • Runs in the background of your phone all day
  • Free to use
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

Pacer is a pedometer and step tracker app. It can track calories burned and active time. However, it lacks the more advanced tracking features of other similar apps. 

It features a few pre-made plans, including couch to 10k and weight loss walking plans. It also allows you to build your own plan based on your fitness goals.

Despite the plan customization, however, Pacer lacks the personalization that other apps provide. You can think of it as a basic distance tracker with some perks. 

Pacer Premium brings to the table advanced reports and insights, science-based guided workouts, and a weight loss coaching program. 

The latest version introduces a premium family sharing option for up to 5 family members. It’s a useful feature if you want to take your family for group runs. 

Price: Free plan available. Premium plans start at $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year. 

Pros
  • Day-by-day goals keep you motivated
  • Realistic calorie tracker keeps you grounded in reality
  • Workout challenges can get you moving
  • Route discovery with ideas from around the world is a cool feature for frequent travelers
  • Enables you to challenge friends and join global challenges
  • Virtual courses for workouts
Cons
  • May become inaccurate when switching between time zones
  • No advanced features like customized training plans

#9 Runcoach

Runcoach
Our rating:
4.1
Learn More

Runcoach provides adaptive training based on your fitness level and goals. It can even take into account your free time to create a running course you can follow. 

GPS workout tracking logs basic data about your runs. For additional data tracking, you can connect the app with Garmin or Fitbit devices or other popular fitness apps, like Strava. 

The app design isn’t the most inspired, though. The user interface feels slow and clunky and could do with a redesign. 

The app also includes expert advice from USATF-certified coaches who can answer fitness and nutrition questions in the app. Personal coaching is available through the Gold membership. 

However, some runners training with this app complain that advice from their personal trainer in the app is bland and delivered in a chatbot style. Even when it’s useful, it may not be motivating. 

Price: Free plan available. Gold membership for personal coaching costs $19.95 a month or $119.95 annually. You can try the Gold membership for free before deciding whether it’s for you. 

Pros
  • Customized workout schedule adapts to your targets
  • Easy to tweak an existing plan based on your performance and schedule
  • Helps you focus your training on specific races
  • Includes discounts for fitness trackers once you reach certain milestones
Cons
  • You’ll find the interface drab compared to other apps
  • Coaches respond within 24 hours, which may feel a bit too long at times
  • Expensive for what it offers

#10 Runkeeper

Runkeeper
  • Supports outdoor and indoor run modes
  • Offers basic tracking (sufficient for the indoor workouts)
  • You can schedule workouts and receive reminders
Our rating:
4.2
Learn More

The Runkeeper app has been one of the most popular running apps in the App Store. The perks of that include a large and active community of runners.

Runkeeper provides pre-programmed routes and GPS tracking for time, pace, and distance. It’s accessible enough for beginner runners while also catering to competitive runners. 

You can set goals with ease and count on the app’s tracking features to log your miles. Whether you want to get fit or run more and faster, with Runkeeper, setting goals is easy. 

The community aspect of the app is also worth mentioning. You can join virtual running groups and take on running challenges. The app can also encourage you to explore new local running routes. 

This running app also provides personalized training routines to reach your race-day goals. However, you’ll have to subscribe to a paid plan to access these plans.

The downside to the Runkeeper free version is that it doesn’t include live run tracking and personalized training. 

Like other users, you’ll like the app’s smooth interface and simple navigation between features. You can also sync running data from your Apple Watch and Fitbit devices. In the end, Runkeeper deserves a mention on our list of the best running apps. 

Price: Free plan available. Premium plans including advanced features start at $9.99 a month or $39.99 a year. 

Pros
  • Works offline
  • Integrates weather forecast
  • You can keep using it as you become an intermediate and advanced runner
  • Highly customizable plans
  • Intuitive interface
  • Motivating experience overall
  • You can choose from different audio voices
  • Virtual races
Cons
  • Inconsistent GPS tracking at times
  • Small and less active community
  • Auto pause may not always work

#11 MapMyRun

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

Our list of running apps for beginners wouldn’t be complete without MapMyRun. Since its early iterations, this running app has come a long way.

With the latest version, you can do more than track your running routes. You can plan routes, access comprehensive running stats, and try a host of training programs. 

The overall app design and live tracker look polished and make using the app an enjoyable experience. More than tracking your run, the app can help you train for an event, acting as a live coach. You can also join fun challenges.

If you’re willing to upgrade, you get comprehensive training plans for 5k, 10k, half-marathon, marathon, and more. You’ll also find a weight loss training plan, though the app lacks nutritional advice.

MapMyRun lets you customize your running goal. However, it doesn’t offer the same degree of personalization as other running apps. 

To boot, MapMyRun integrates with smart shoes from Under Armour. If you love the fitness brand, this may feel like the right running app for you. 

Price: Free plan available. The premium version starts at $5.99 a month or $29.99 a month. Two-week free trial is available for the premium plan. 

Pros
  • Easy to find and plan routes
  • Accurate GPS tracking
  • Engaging audio coaches
  • Gear tracker reminds you when to upgrade your running gear
  • You can customize the metrics in the live run screen
  • More affordable than other apps
Cons
  • Maps don’t help with trail runs
  • You may come across tracking issues
  • Lacks strong social features

How to Choose the Best Running App for Beginners

With so many running apps for beginners around, you may feel spoiled for choice. Many of them offer overlapping features such as distance tracking or social integration. 

But it’s not just about the features. It’s about the overall experience the app provides, and several factors go into that.

Quality

From the registration and setup experience to the first run and beyond, we assessed the interface, functionality, and fluidity of the user experience. We also considered the accuracy of the tracking features, a common problem with running apps.

Features

The best running apps have enough features to help you start moving and achieve your goals. Some apps have better-developed features than others.

Think personalized workout and diet plans, advanced tracking, in-app consultations with coaches, and social integration. We gave more weight to apps with well-rounded features.

Effectiveness

All fitness apps promise to get you moving. But do they actually work? We looked beyond the features to see whether they delivered.

The best running apps for beginners go beyond seamless progress tracking and effective training plans. They can keep you motivated.

Price

With many apps, you need to access premium features to get advanced tracking and professional running plans. But are the premium features really worth the money? We weighed their value before choosing the apps above.

A Word From a Coach

Before you lace up your shoes, it helps to set a goal. Do you want to lose weight? Train for a marathon? Run faster and farther? Reach a certain fitness level?

Often, you can combine goals. But get clear on what you want to achieve from the start. The right running app for you will do more than track your running routes.

It can provide personalized running plans, regular challenges, and community support to keep you motivated.

At the same time, your goals will change with time. For continuity, it’s smart to pick a running app for beginners that also provides more advanced training plans. In other words, one that can scale up to intermediate and advanced runners.

Don’t forget about diet. To lose weight or reach your fitness goals, you need to eat right. An app like Joggo that includes meal plans can make everything so much easier.

Also, free apps have inherent limitations or ads you may find intrusive. If you’re serious about your goals, paying for premium running app features is worth it.

You’ll get a degree of personalization and tracking features that not even the best free running apps have.

The Wrap-Up

The best running app for beginners is easy to use and provides personalized training. More than planning your workouts and tracking your running routes, it can help you avoid injury and stay motivated. 

Joggo checked all these boxes and came first in our selection of running apps for beginners. 

In the end, running is a journey, and like any journey, it has its ups and downs. When you start running, enthusiasm powers you up. But as the miles add up and rainy days come, staying motivated is crucial to keep going. 

The best running app for beginners, through its overall design and features, does just that. So you can reach the finish line and achieve your goals.

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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