The Apple Watch has an incredible range of capabilities, and fitness applications are some of the most exciting for people who want to keep in shape and track their progress.

Running apps are some of the most exciting ones in the fitness community, but just like with any other types of fitness apps, there are numerous choices out there for Apple watch owners.

The good news about using an Apple watch as a runner is that over the years Apple has made a lot of improvements, and today the smartwatch offers everything that a dedicated running watch does. The Apple Watch Series 6 has improved GPS tremendously for more accurate distance tracking, and the heart monitor is currently one of the most reliable ways to track your heart rate without a chest monitor.

If you want to put the fitness capabilities of the Apple Watch to good use, here are five of the best running apps for the Apple watch.

1. Strava

One of the most popular apps for running and cycling in the world, Strava is the best choice for those who are interested in the community aspect of running. With this app, you can compare times with other members of the community or with a local group of friends in order to boost your motivation. You can also set up various group challenges. The app shows you how long you’ve run for, the distance traveled, as well as your average space and current heart rate.

Best App: Strava is on our best Apple Watch Apps List.

Price: Free to download, premium plan starting at $5 a month for an annual subscription

Pros

  • An easy and free way to track your running
  • Allows you to keep up with your friends’ activities
  • Can help you discover running routes via segments
  • Concerns about privacy because the app shows the route you take on a map, which means that your address is easy to pinpoint
  • Some basic features are only available in the premium plan

Review Summary

Most of the reviewers who tested and reviewed Strava are happy with the way it keeps you motivated and the community aspect, too. Complaints are mostly related to the fact that basic performance analysis is only available in the premium plan.

Score: 9.8/10

Download Strava 


2. Runkeeper GPS Running Tracker

Price: Free with in-app purchases available

This is one of the oldest running apps out there, and it’s developed by the sportswear firm ASICS. This is an intuitive app that is easier to use than many others and is suitable for various levels of running experience. Runkeeper features GPS tracking so you can track your routes accurately, and even though the social aspect is not as comprehensive as that offered by Strava, you can still participate in app-based running groups.

Pros

  • Easy access to weekly, monthly and yearly progress stats
  • You can sync your Spotify and iTunes playlists
  • Works for treadmill runs

Cons

• The GPS isn’t quite as accurate as Strava’s

Review Summary

Score 9.6/10

Most reviews for Runkeeper GPS Running Tracker are positive, with runners appreciating the design and functionality of the app. Most of the negative reviews are related to the not so stellar GPS tracking, particularly for routes off the beaten track.

Download Runkeeper GPS Running Tracker


3. C25K 5K Trainer

Price: Free to download and use, in-app purchases available

C25K 5K Trainer is the best Apple Watch running app for beginners. C25K refers to Couch to 5K, and the main purpose of the act is to get first-timers or people who are returning to running after a very long break fit enough to keep going for 5 km. With plans of three workouts per week, users can typically achieve their goal of running a 5K within eight weeks.

Pros

  • Incorporates a mix of walking and running that’s ideal for beginners
  • The 5K training program is free, but you can get access to extra training programs including 10K and full marathon via in-app purchases
  • Pro version offers extra features such as distance tracking and calorie counting

Cons

• Might not be a good choice for everyone     

Review Summary

Score: 9.3/10

The vast majority of the reviews for C25K 5K Trainer are positive, with runners loving how the app truly makes you get up from the couch and run a 5K in about two months. However, some users mention that the training program could be too difficult for unfit people.

Download C25K 5K Trainer


4. Nike + Run Club

Price: Free

This is a free to use app that’s surprisingly packed with features. It offers GPS tracking so you can easily map your runs, as well as audio guides, custom coaching plans, and custom challenges. Nike + Run Club is suitable for both outdoor and treadmill runs and it allows you to take part in leaderboards, which can be highly motivating.

Pros

  • Nice design with a large number display
  • Audio guided running workouts from coaches
  • Great stickers and filters for post-run selfies

Cons

• The GPS tracking is not the most precise

Review Summary

Score 9.1/10

Nike + Run Club receives great reviews, with runners liking the number of features available for free. The downside of the app, mentioned quite often in reviews, is that the GPS tracking is not always accurate.

Download Nike + Run Club


5. Adidas Runtastic

Price: Free app available, pro version is $4.99

Runtastic is a feature-rich app for the Apple Watch that supports multiple sports, not just running. You can choose from different modes, including workout, training and competition, and there’s also voice feedback available in multiple languages. Runtastic integrates with your favorite music player and can be connected with a separate heart monitor.

Pros

  • Offers support for multiple sports
  • GPS tracking for your routes
  • Multiple modes for workout, training, and competition

Cons

  • Free version is quite limited

Review Summary

Score 8.9/10

Users rate Runtastic high, and the reviews typically mention how easy it is to use the app. The downside is that even though the app has a free version, it’s quite limited.

Download Runtastic