A Guide to Android's Best Free Running Apps

Hit the road and record every step

Backview of woman
Patrik Giardino / Getty Images

There are many apps on Google Play geared for runners. These are in addition to the step counters from Google Fit and Samsung Health that are usually pre-installed on the device.

While most of the apps in the Play Store share common features, three of these apps have features that set them apart from the rest of the apps.

There are three main factors that used here to judge these apps:

  1. The app must be free, or at least have a feature-rich free version.
  2. The app must have mapping features using the GPS built into Android phones.
  3. The app must be able to be personalized.

All of the apps below should be equally available no matter which company makes your Android phone, including Samsung, Google, Huawei, Xiaomi, etc.

01
of 10

Runkeeper: A straightforward way to track you progress

Runkeeper app on Android

What We Like

  • Simple and straightforward

  • Easily set and track goals

  • No extra junk to get in the way

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't track calories burned

  • Lacking some extra data, like an altimeter

Runkeeper comes in at a solid second place for running-based Android apps.

While it does not have the personalization options that Cardio Trainer offers, it is the master of social networking. If you are part of a fitness or running group that uses Twitter or Facebook to share with and compete against other members, Runkeeper is your app.

The mapping feature is solid and, unlike our third place contestant, you can view the map anytime during your workout—not just when you've stopped the session. 

Despite a few drawbacks that may be addressed in future updates, Run Keeper is a solid app at a solid price: Free.

02
of 10

Runtastic: Track your progress and follow a running plan

Runtastic app on Android

What We Like

  • Easy to track and visualize progress

  • Get right in and start running

  • Simple plans to help stay on track

What We Don't Like

  • Ads can be intrusive

  • Can be slow

Rounding out the top three running apps for Android is Runtastic.

Very similar in features and functions to Cardio Trainer and Run Keeper, Runtastic is geared towards cardio exercises like running, walking, biking, and hiking. The interface is easy to use and its mapping feature is accurate and powerful.

So, if Runtastic shares the most common and useful features as the top two apps, why does Runtastic finish third? Unfortunately, you can only view the map of your route after you complete your workout. It also has limited personalization settings, and it lacks an internal music player.

03
of 10

Zombies, Run!: Train to survive the zombie apocalypse

Zombies, Run! for Android

What We Like

  • Interesting and innovative idea

  • Great for people who don't like working out

  • Tons of activities and goals to hit

What We Don't Like

  • Not exactly great for someone serious about running

Zombies, Run! is a killer running app for Android (and iOS) that turns your regular run into a post-apocalyptic survival audio experience so you can forget just how tedious running is. Scripted radio transmissions are intermingled with your regular music collection that build upon the Zombies, Run! story and random zombie events will trigger during your route, forcing you to run faster or lose in-app points. It's intermittent exercise, but in a whole new way.

04
of 10

C25K - 5K Running Trainer: A great way for beginners to start running

C25K for Android

What We Like

  • Excellent for beginners

  • Simple interface

  • Compatible with multiple music apps

What We Don't Like

  • Some features are limited to the Pro version

Maybe you haven't run anywhere since high school gym class or you've just stopped exercising in the last few years. Either way, C25K(short for couch to 5k) is a great way to get active again. It's a super simple app with a clean interface that anyone can get started with in just a few minutes.

C25K is designed to take all the obstacles out of your way, when it comes to running. It has fantastic integration with several music apps and excellent tracking capabilities, without too much data to confuse you. With C25K, you can install the app, and get started right away. Even better, you'll feel accomplished. Plus, there's some room to grow with this one too.

05
of 10

Map My Run: Run tracking, mapping, and fitness extras

Map My Run for Android

What We Like

  • Visualize your progress

  • Focus on maps and routes

  • Connectivity with wearable devices

What We Don't Like

  • GPS connection drops occasionally

  • Seems more like an Under Armor companion app than a standalone

Under Armor has several fitness apps, and Map My Run is the one specifically for runners. Map My Run is all about mapping out your run and tracking your progress. The goal here is to find which routes work best for you.

Map My Run certainly delivers on its promise of giving you the tools to track your running, but it also feels somewhat like a big ad for Under Armor. If you're working with other Under Armor gadgets, this is probably a good thing. Otherwise, one of the other apps on this list is probably a better fit.

06
of 10

Nike Run Club: Join the club, and get motivated

Nike+ Run Club for Android

What We Like

  • Great simple interface

  • Excellent visualization of runs

  • Tons of ways to keep you motivated

  • Android Wear companion app available

What We Don't Like

  • Some users report GPS bugs

Nike Run Club delivers a much more engaging experience than many other apps. From the name alone, you can guess that Run Club is more interactive. With this app, it feels more like a virtual gym than an app.

Nike Run Club offers all the usual tracking and mapping features that you'd expect from an app like it, but it also comes with plenty of ways to stay motivated. Guided runs, challenges, achievements, and social components all help to shake things up and give you a bar to reach.

07
of 10

Strava Training: An advanced running community

Strava Training for Android

What We Like

  • Packed with features

  • Great social aspects to connect and motivate

  • Connect with multiple wearable devices

What We Don't Like

  • Not really beginner friendly

For more serious runners, there's Strava. Strava doesn't hold your hand or try to give you encouragement. Instead, it gets straight to the point, and delivers the tools you'll need to make the most of the runs you're probably already taking regularly.

Strava's other strong suit is its social component. You can think of it as a community of runners, and you can use Strava to coordinate with or compete against your friends.

08
of 10

Running Distance Tracker+: Straightforward tracking with a great interface

Running Distance Tracker+

What We Like

  • Clean and simple interface

  • Tracking data is excellent

  • Great route visuals

What We Don't Like

  • Some features require you to pay

Running Distance Tracker+ is probably the best looking app on this list. It's clean, modern, and sports a unique dark theme that really stands out. This app doesn't just look good. It's also a fantastic tracker that maps out your run and records all the data you could possibly hope for, including your pace throughout the run.

Running Distance Tracker+ is simple to get started with, but if you have specific preferences, it opens the door with a complete settings layout to adjust how information shows up on your screen.

09
of 10

Endomondo: Track and analyze your run

Endomondo for Android

What We Like

  • Simple to get started

  • Convenient run tracking

  • Tons of challenges and goals

What We Don't Like

  • Ads can be annoying

  • Key features are gated behind the premium version

Endomondo is another app owned by Under Armor, and even though it's not specifically geared only for running, it's still a great companion. Endomondo makes staring your workout about as simple as possible and tracks the most vital information about your run, including calories burned.

This app's core functionality is good, but as soon as you want anything extra, you're going to need to pay up for the Premium version. It really is a shame, too, because Endomondo can be great, but there are better free options for most situations.

10
of 10

Pumatrac: Plan, train, and compete

Pumatrac for Android

What We Like

  • Lots of built in workouts

  • Clean interface

  • Spotify integration

What We Don't Like

  • Not focused on running

  • Seems light on features

Pumatrac is, more or less, a simple way to track your workouts. You can start and stop, time them out, and map your routes when you're running. It's all really plain and straightforward.

Pumatrac's main selling point, above other apps here, is the wide library of workouts it offers for free. They're not all focused on running, but you shouldn't have trouble finding something to do with this app.