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Pros and Cons of Popular Running Apps

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For some runners, the physical activity of running is only slightly more satisfying than analyzing the numbers behind each run. And thanks to the hundreds of fitness and popular running apps available for download today, it’s easy to track your route, share it with friends, and study your pace and performance.

With so many apps to choose from, it can be difficult to find the one that’s right for you. I’ve tested a number of running apps in my 10-year running career — below are four of the most popular to give you a sense of the pros and cons of popular running apps. I hope this information helps you find the perfect app for your own runs around the neighborhood.

MapMyRun

By far one of the most popular fitness apps out there, MapMyRun has the benefit of years’ worth of running routes and information stored in its database. I love using MapMyRun when I travel, because it has a massive list of user-created routes all across the country.

I find MapMyRun a little difficult to navigate (especially if I’m trying to use it while running) because it displays many ads. However, if you upgrade to a paid membership for $5.99 per month, you can enjoy it ad free.

Runkeeper

Runkeeper is similar to MapMyRun in that it has a large library of routes for runners to choose from. One of its more unique features of Runkeeper is that it offers training plans to help you achieve different running goals. For $9.99 a month, you train for your first 5K or half marathon with Runkeeper. It also has a relatively easy interface to use and integrates well with streaming music services like Pandora and Spotify.

Strava

Strava has become the go-to platform for many serious runners and cyclists, though it also works well for beginners. I personally love Strava because it syncs well with my Garmin GPS watch— all I have to do is allow my watch to connect to the Strava app via Bluetooth and all of my stats are uploaded and shared with my friends within seconds.

Strava could be considered a more competitive platform because its “community records” encourage a bit of friendly competition among local runners. For example, I’m always battling another runner in my neighborhood to set the record for a certain hill near my home.

Nike+

Nike+ is a simple but easy-to-use running app perfect for beginner runners and those with the Nike+ GPS watch. This app is newer to the market, so it has fewer routes available than other apps; however, its simple and ad-free interface is lovely to use.

I’m a fan of the Nike+ running app because it integrates well with the Nike+ Training Club fitness app, which makes it easy to keep all of my workouts in one place. Similar to Runkeeper, Nike+ offers training plans and workouts to help you meet your running goals.

Although I’ve talked about the basic features of four of the most popular running apps, there are dozens more apps to choose from and the choice is ultimately a personal one.

The good news is, many of the apps allow you to upload, export and sync your data — so no matter which app (or apps) you use, you should be able to save and store your run history as you test out different platforms. Happy running, and happy analyzing!

Reviews are not scientific and are the sole opinions of the reviewers, not an endorsement by BCBST of any specific app or device.

Mary Lambkin

Mary Lambkin

Mary Lambkin is a Nashville native, blogger, and healthy living enthusiast. She lives in East Nashville with her husband and loves running through downtown Music City and around Shelby Park. Mary has run nine marathons and is always looking for new recipes to fuel her exercise adventures. Learn more about her at www.minutespermile.com.

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Mary Lambkin

Mary Lambkin is a Nashville native, blogger, and healthy living enthusiast. She lives in East Nashville with her husband and loves running through downtown Music City and around Shelby Park. Mary has run nine marathons and is always looking for new recipes to fuel her exercise adventures. Learn more about her at www.minutespermile.com.

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