6 Best Running Apps for Apple Watch

Apple watch fitness featured

You Apple Watch is a perfect companion for running, but you’ll need to the right app to help you. Here are some of the best running apps for Apple Watches.

The iPhone is a great fitness tool that can do a lot of useful things such as tracking your runs, measuring your pace, and providing that all-important music to accompany your workout. However, taking your iPhone for a run can be a pain; having it strapped to your arm works, but it’s far from ideal.

That’s where an Apple Watch can be a game-changer. There are many running apps that allow you to leave your iPhone behind and track your run with your watch alone. This offers a far more comfortable running experience, once you get over the fear of not having your phone with you every second of the day.

There are plenty of great running apps out there. We take a look at some of the most popular to help you find the best running app for your Apple Watch.

1. Workout

workout apple watch app

Your Apple Watch comes with a great running app out of the box. In fact, it’s not just a great contender for the best running app on Apple Watch, it’s a great app for a wide range of different workouts, and it’s free.

You can track both indoor and outdoor runs in the app, so if you prefer working out on a treadmill, your lack of motion isn’t going to cause any issues. For both outdoor and indoor runs, you have a wide number of options, from an open run to a paced run that helps you to reach a set distance within a specific time. You can even create your own custom workouts with periods of timed or distance running and recovery.

Your watch can display your current and average pace, as well as the distance covered and the time you’ve been running. You can also control the music on your Apple Watch whilst you’re running. You don’t need your iPhone with you to use the Workout app on your Apple Watch, so you can leave the phone behind when you run. If you subscribe to Apple Fitness+ you can also benefit from additional features such as guided runs with ready-made playlists.

2. Strava
strava apple watch app

Strava was one of the first running apps to make an appearance on the Apple Watch, and it’s still going strong. One of the reasons it’s so popular is that it taps into the social aspect of running.

You can compare your times with other Strava users and even create group challenges to see who can run the fastest or the furthest. Strava can also track a wide range of other sports, from cycling to surfing. You can run without your phone and see your running time, distance, average pace, and heart rate directly on your watch.

If you sign up for the Strava subscription, you get the added ability to discover workout routes submitted by other users, compete on specific segments of routes, and chart and analyze your training.

Download Strava (Free with In-App Purchases)

3. Runkeeper
runkeeper apple watch app

Runkeeper is another app that has been around for some time on Apple Watch and maintains a loyal following. The Apple Watch app frees you from your iPhone, so you can leave it behind when you run.

You can choose from pre-set workout options such as 20 Minutes Easy Workout or 2 Miles With Rest or create your own custom workouts on your iPhone which you will then be able to access on your watch. The main app screen shows your time, distance, pace, and heart rate, but you can swipe to other screens to see the heart rate zone you’re working in and the current and upcoming intervals.

You can use the app for free, but if you sign up for a Runkeeper Go subscription you get access to additional features such as personalized training plans, progress insights, and live tracking.

Download Runkeeper (Free with In-App Purchases)

4. Nike Run Club
nike run club apple watch app

Nike was offering the ability to track your runs even before the iPhone existed. With the use of an activity tracker that would fit in certain Nike running shoes, you could track your runs using your iPod. An iPhone app followed in 2010 and the company has never looked back.

The Nike Run Club Apple Watch app allows you to leave your iPhone behind when you go for a run. You can see your elapsed time, heart rate, and current pace on your watch, as well as see the number of calories burned, cadence, distance run, or average pace as the main metric on your watch screen. When your run is complete, you can see a map of your run that was tracked via GPS.

The app includes a wide range of training plans covering everything from running your first 5K to training for a marathon. You can also compete against friends on the Nike Run Club leader board or take on one of the challenges such as running 30K by the end of the month. And with this being a Nike app, you can even track how far you run in each pair of running shoes you own. The app is also totally free, with no need for in-app purchases.

Download Nike Run Club (Free)

5. Adidas Running (Formerly Runtastic)
adidas running apple watch app

If you’ve ever used running apps in the past, you may have tried an app called Runtastic. If you’re wondering why it no longer exists, it’s because it’s now called Adidas Running. The app still has all the great features that made Runtastic so popular, and it includes tracking for a wide range of other sports, too.

Even without your iPhone, you can use the Apple Watch app to see your distance run, time elapsed, current pace, heart rate, and your current heart rate zone. You’ll also receive voice updates as you run. If you wish, you can turn on Live Tracking, which allows followers to see where you are and even cheer you on as you run.

The free version of the app allows you to set a workout goal for distance or duration. If you want to set a combined distance and duration goal or a calories burned goal, then you’ll need to upgrade to a premium membership. This also gives you access to training plans, interval training, target pace, and more.

Download Adidas Running (Free with In-App Purchases)

6. Couch to 5K Runner
couch to 5k runner apple watch app

If you’re a complete beginner, or you haven’t run for a long time, then working up to running 5K is a great place to start. This app is intended to help you do exactly that.

You answer a few questions such as your age, weight, and height, your running goal, reasons for starting to run, and running experience. The app will then generate a starting point for your running plan, allowing you to skip ahead to runs that are the right level for you. You can only skip ahead with a paid subscription, however. If you’re using the app for free, you’ll have to start from Week 1, Day 1.

In this case, you’ll start out running for one minute then walking for 90 seconds, repeated six times. By the eighth week, you should be able to run 5K without stopping.

Download Couch to 5K Runner (Free with In-App Purchases)

Do More With Your Apple Watch

Hopefully, this list will help you track down the best running app for Apple Watch for your personal needs. The Apple Watch is one of the most popular wearables for fitness, but it can do far more than just track your runs or your steps.

For example, did you know you can unlock your Mac with your Apple Watch? Or that you can approve tasks on your Mac with your Apple Watch? You can even use your Apple Watch to unlock your iPhone when you’re wearing a mask.

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