I’ve decided to dedicate my Friday posts for the next few weeks to beginning runners. If you’re a beginning runner I hope you find these posts very useful, and if you’re an experienced runner please share your best tips and advice in the comments!
Today I want to talk about the best apps for beginner runners. These are apps that will help you train safely, track your progress, help you improve your nutrition (if you want to do that) and keep you motivated even when the going gets tough.
I’ve used all of these apps myself (except for MyFitnessPal, more on that below) and can highly, HIGHLY recommend them all!
1. Couch to 5K – $2.99
If you’ve never run before except for the occasional mile in gym class then the biggest tip I can give you is to ease into the sport slowly. For many years I thought about becoming a runner, but I would run for 30 seconds and find it so hard I would give up instantly thinking I HATE RUNNING, I CAN’T BREATH, MY LEGS BURNNN!
Then in 2012 I decided to download the Couch to 5K app and that was a total game changer for me. Running still felt hard, but Couch to 5K eased me into the sport with short and manageable run/walk intervals that gradually built up over the weeks.
If you not only want to start running but want to stick with it I cannot recommend this app enough. The app gives you audio cues so you know when you should start running and when to stop and start walking. It also tracks your progress.
If you don’t want to splurge on the app you can find a free version of the training plan HERE.
If you don’t have a watch that can be set to alert you at specific intervals, I would highly suggest getting the app. It will make training so much easier (trust me on this one)!
2. Strava (or RunKeeper, Nike+, MapMyRun, etc.) – Free
If you’re planning on doing most of your training on the treadmill you’ll be able to track your stats (time, distance, pace) based on what the machine tells you.
However, if you’re planning to run outdoors for some or all of your runs I would suggest downloading a GPS tracking app like Strava to track your stats. This will help you see your progress over time which is really rewarding and will help you stay on track!
I used RunKeeper when I first started running to track my data, but I know in recent years Strava has become the app of choice for many runners. I’ve used it a couple of times, but I mostly use Garmin connect because I have a Garmin GPS watch.
I wouldn’t recommend spending hundreds of dollars on a GPS watch until after you’ve been running for a few weeks and are sure you love it. If you decide running isn’t for you, that’s totally okay! There are so many other amazing activities out there like cycling, swimming, zumba, mma … the goal is to just do what you love!
3. Rise – Free trial (then $50/mo)
If you’re happy with your nutrition then you can go ahead and skip this app. However, if you think you could make changes to improve your eating habits Rise is definitely something to consider.
Rise pairs you with a registered dietitian (RD) who reviews your meals and provides suggestions for improvements along with shopping list recommendations, meal ideas, healthy swaps for your favorite comfort foods, etc. Your registered dietitian will also answer any questions you have.
You simply snap a picture, using the app, of each of your meals and snacks. Once or twice a day your RD logs in and leaves you comments on each meal. There’s also a chat feature where you can talk about things unrelated to specific meals.
If you have an urgent question and your RD isn’t available there is also a CoachLine section where you post a question and another RD will answer within 3 minutes as long as its between 9am and 9pm ET.
When you sign up if you have the option to choose an RD that fits your lifestyle. For instance, when I used Rise I worked with an RD who is a runner. I’ve worked with an in-person dietitian before due to my history with disordered eating, and have found Rise to be pretty comparable but much less expensive.
To get one free week to try Rise use code GR46LR.
(This is not sponsored, I paid full price for my access to Rise.)
There is no long-term commitment so you can use Rise as needed when you feel like you need guidance and have gotten off track – or if you’re starting a new exercise program (like running or weight lifting) and aren’t sure how to adjust your diet.
4. MyFitnessPal – Free
If you don’t want to pay $50 per month for Rise you can address your nutrition going the self guided route. You can log your meals in MyFitnessPal and at the end of the day the app will show you a breakdown of your macros and of course you’ll be able to see how many calories you ate.
I don’t use MyFitnessPal because I won’t track calories due to my history, but I know many people like it. I have played around with it before and it’s very easy to use!
5. Charity Miles – Free
Charity Miles is an app that allows you to earn money for your favorite nonprofit organizations just by logging miles.
You turn the app on when you’re ready to run and for each mile you log, a sponsor company like Humana, Johnson & Johnson and Chobani will make a donation to your charity of choice.
You can choose from organizations like the ASPCA, Wounded Warrior Project, American Diabetes Association, Stand Up to Cancer and many more.
6. Pinterest / Tumblr – Free
When you’re first getting into running you’re probably going to find that it’s hard work. I know I certainly did!
After a while you’ll build up a base so that you can log “easy miles” which feel great, but it will take some time to get there.
To stay motived I highly suggest spending time on Pinterest and/or Tumblr each day looking at motivating running graphics. I have a board of my favorites on Pinterest, and if you scroll down to the bottom you’ll see the graphics that motivated me the most when I first started running.
The most important thing here is to look for graphics that motivate you specifically as a runner and an athlete. Find messages that resonate with YOU.
7. Instagram / Snapchat / Facebook – Free
How do you know someone’s a runner? Don’t worry they’ll tell you! 🙂
Shout it from the roof tops that you’re running! Getting encouragement from your friends, family or an online community can be very motivating and help keep you on track.
Personally I was embarrassed about running when I first started doing it. I thought people would make fun of me for thinking that I could ever be a runner so I didn’t want them to know. I started a tumblr instead to connect with other beginning runners, and eventually I started this blog so I could connect with a supportive community without having to talk about running with my real life friends and family.
I am happy to say today some of the people I met through blogging have become my real life friends and that’s so cool! Plus. my real life friends and family also obviously know that I’m a runner now too :).
I would definitely start posting on social media that you’ve decided to become a runner. Your friends, family and online community will give you support and encouragement which will help you stay committed.
I think it’s so cool that you decided to become a runner. You’re probably full of excitement and anxiety. I know I was!
Every Friday for the next few weeks I’ll be posting some of my tips for beginning runners, and I’ll also be interviewing my friends for their tips!
Luckily I know some awesome people like certified running coaches who can provide training advice, certified personal trainers who can provide cross training and injury prevention advice, registered dietitians who can provide nutrition advice and more!
If you have any specific questions please leave them in the comments below and I (and maybe some of the other runners who read here) will answer or point you in the right direction :). You can also email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you prefer!
When did you start running?
What motivated you to want to start running?