Top Free Running Apps for Android

Hit the road and record every step

There are many apps on Google Play that are geared for runners 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 some features that set them apart from the rest of the apps. There are three main factors that I used 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.

So here are my Top Five Free Running Apps for Android Phones. Each of the top three apps have been reviewed at length and links to the full reviews are provided in the app summaries.

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Cardio Trainer

athlete with lighttrace
Credit: Henrik Sorensen

Taking the top spot is Cardio Trainer. This app has great mapping, has a full-featured free version and can be personalized with multiple settings. The app is stable on both my Motorola Droid and HTC Incredible and is incredibly accurate with both its distance and speed recording. 

The interface is clean, clear and is easy to use from the moment you first start using the app. Cardio Trainer provides a map of your route and can be viewed while you are still out on the streets. The accuracy is so precise that it even showed my route when I moved from one side of a street to another on the map. 

With features like a built-in music player, voice feedback and choosing to record in miles or kilometers, Cardio Trainer is really an amazing app!

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Run Keeper comes in at a solid second place for running-based Android apps. While it does not have the personalization options that Cardio Trainer has, 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, Run Keeper is your app.

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

What these app lacks are the following:

  1. No way to find out how many calories you've burned
  2. No internal music player
  3. No altimeter.

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

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Filling out the Top 3 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? Two main reasons at the time of review;

  1. You can only view the map of your route after you complete your workout.
  2. Limited personalization settings.
  3. Lack of an internal music player.
More »
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Keep Running

Okay, so this app doesn't meet all of the criteria I set, but it makes the list because of its one ingenious, fun and motivational feature. With Keep Running, you set the minimum speed you want to run (or walk, bike, hike, etc) and the app, using the built-in GPS of your Android, let's you know if you fall below your speed threshold. How does it do this? It's built in music player shuts down the second you go too slow!

Simple and ingenious, this feature is great for anyone who wants to set speed goals during their workout. With the ability to adjust the minimum speed before each workout, you will easily be able to set your workout goal and then use Keep Running to make sure you have instant feedback to keep your moving at your defined pace.

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