There's no sugar-coating required: Technology has revolutionized running. First it was the advent of global positioning system technology, allowing runners to take to unmarked trails and blaze their own running paths while keeping constant tabs on their distance, time, average speed and even altitude changes.
And now, thanks to smartphones, apps are providing a wealth of additional help to runners and once again inspiring a tech revolution among fans of this popular pastime. By incorporating these apps into your training, you can become a more efficient runner and enjoy a better readout on what you accomplish with each and every run. They can also help you track the miles you've logged in your current pair of running shoes and let you know when it's time to spring for some new ones.
Here are five apps you shouldn't resist any longer.
Having trouble motivating yourself? Take this app for a test drive. miCoach is an app that literally brings the voice of a coach into your ear, providing verbal commands dictated by the workout plan you've selected. Ultimately, miCoach is designed to push you to achieve hard-to-reach goals. Plus, it offers the rare feature of tracking your elevation change, which isn't common among other running apps. Another attractive quality: it costs nothing.
Runkeeper is one of the more popular running apps, mainly because it provides a range of services including calorie counting, speed monitoring, activity history and other, more common features. Not only does it work for running, but you can bring it with you on just about any sporting excursion.
But the best benefit kicks in after the workout, when the app sends your data to your Runkeeper.com account. From there, you can publish your workout data to various social media accounts.
Designed with social media in mind, this app is one of the most popular options out there, claiming more than 2.4 million users. As the name suggests, map creation is the foundational feature of this free app. But there's also a premium version that provides various training programs, including short-term marathon training, for just $5.99 a month.
4. Couch to 5K
Eager to get off the couch and into racing form? There's an app for that. Couch to 5K is specifically designed to get new runners into the game, leading newbies through a variety of workouts on their way to successfully running a full 5K all at once. The app isn't as valuable to seasoned runners, but its focus is on taking sedentary individuals and providing them with a boost to jump-start their personal fitness.
With your apps guiding the way, you should find yourself better able to track your mileage, speed progress and even the number of calories burned in each workout. It may feel like you're cheating on the Spartan aspects of running, but in the end your use of this technology will only help you mold yourself into a better runner. And with many of these apps available at a low cost—and, in some cases, free—you have little to lose by experimenting to see which apps fulfill your most pressing needs.