Oprah once said, “Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it.” Yet for beginner runners, it can be hard to feel as though you’re getting anything out of it other than shortness of breath, fatigue, and leg cramps.
While beginning any new workout regimen can be overwhelming, with commitment and consistency, there are tons of benefits to reap—including improved health, increased confidence, and a calmer mindset.
If you’re ready to hit the ground running (literally), here are some of the best running apps for beginners to help you to achieve your pre- and post-wedding fitness goals.
Couch to 5K
If the name alone doesn’t get you to sign up, the benefits of this app will. Intended for those with little to no prior running experience, Couch to 5K ($2.99) allows you to pick a 3D trainer who will serve as your coach throughout your training and workouts. Geared towards motivating new runners to “move from the couch to the finish line” in just 20-30 minutes three times per week, the app will prepare you to be able to run a 5K race in about nine weeks. (Note: It says run, not win... yet.)
This app works for runners, riders, and swimmers alike, making exercise fun and rewarding. With built-in tracking to analyze your performance over time, Strava (free) can help you to monitor your progress and set goals for the future. You’ll be provided with challenges and competitions, opportunities to place on the leaderboards, and even be awarded achievements. Strava is a great option for anyone who is a little (or a lot) competitive by nature.
If you’re new to running and prefer post-work runs instead of waking up with the sun, Kitestring (free and no smartphone required) is certainly a service to consider. All you have to do is sign up online, and it will text your phone to check in with you. Running late or ahead of schedule? No problem. Simply text back and extend your ETA or check in early. If you don’t reply, it will alert pre-selected emergency contacts via SMS. Aside from running, you can also use this service for a night out with friends, before heading out on a blind date, or any other situation where you might want extra safety measures in place.
This oldie but goodie tracks and records your running route while also connecting you to a running community. Over 20 million users use MapMyRun (free) to log statistics like distance, duration, calories burned, and average pace. It’s compatible with most wearable tech as well as UA Record Equipped shoes, providing you with at-a-glance infographics to encourage and motivate you along your routes.
To keep the momentum up, everyone can use a little pep talk when the going gets tough. Endomondo (free) lets you link up with friends—your motivators—to send and receive audio encouragements in real time. Aside from the feel-good social factor, it also provides a full training log and is compatible with Bluetooth and BTLE monitors to track heart rate. To better analyze your workouts, the app will send you audio feedback on your distance and pace for every mile recorded.
Gymboss Interval Timer
When you first embark on your running hobby, you’ll spend a lot of time alternating between running, sprinting, finding your pace—stopping to breathe—and yes, even walking. With the Gymboss 2 Interval Timer (free), you can easily preprogram your workout intervals to alternate between running and walking, and it will alert you when it’s time to switch between the two. This is a great way to avoid burnout in the early stages, while still staying motivated enough to push yourself to reach the next milestone.