I remember the days of setting out for a run with a basic route in mind that gave me a basic idea of how far I would run and how many calories I'd burn. Of course, those days are long behind those of us with a smartphone (or even a fancy new iPod). There have long been websites that allow you to map a run, hike or kayak trip to show you how many miles you traveled and estimate how many calories you burned, but now you can carry these programs with you on your mobile device thanks to the many applications made to do just this. Like anything, not all apps are created equal, so here are the best ones to meet your workout needs.
Looking for a fitness community?
If you're looking for a community with which you can share your fitness goals, accomplishments and routes, while also getting feedback and professional guidance, download iMapMyRun or RunKeeper. The iMapMyRun application is the mobile version of the MapMyRun website, which has turned into an online fitness community where users can find new routes, share their favorite runs, get tips from professionals and keep track of nutrition and other fitness goals. The RunKeeper app is the same idea, and both let you sync your workout - whether it was a hike through the Rockies or a swim in the harbor - with your account on their websites. Both are available for Android and iPhone systems, and come in free, "lite" versions.
Need a kick in the butt?
It happens to the best of runners - you hit a plateau, whether it's in your time, your distance or your route. A little healthy competition might be just what you need, and Ghost Race might be the best app from which to get it! This app lets you track your times on various routes, then lets you race against your "ghost" by updating you in real time on how you're doing. It's basically like training against a competitor. If you're super competitive, this is the app for you! This app is available for Android and iPhone, and there is a free "lite" version and a "pro" version for $0.99.
Just starting out?
Let's be honest, most of us aren't training for a marathon. If you're someone who needs motivation to actually get up and put sneakers on rather than beat some "personal best," download an app called Get Running (Couch to 5K). This peppy program is known for training users for a 5K in nine weeks, but can be used even if you just want a regular, simple running routine. This gives targeted runs that work up to a user's ability to be able to run for 30 minutes straight. The audio feature guides you through your three runs per week, and offers encouragement along the way. This app is available on the Android and iPhone for $2.99.