When a fellow runner passes you, as well as giving a smile and a nod, they’ll often inadvertently treat you to a blast of music as it leaks out from their headphones. So when the sound of ghoulish screaming emanated from one woman’s headphones as she sprinted past, I was taken aback. After investigating I realised she hadn’t been listening to Florence and the Machine, but using the Smartphone application Zombies, Run! Time, I thought, to delve further into the world of running apps...
Zombies, Run! transports you into an apocalyptic world where you’re literally running for your life as the undead chase after you to devour your brains. Admittedly, this requires some suspension of disbelief but once you do it’s a useful motivational tool and especially beneficial for interval training. You are given various missions to complete interspersed with music from your playlist and it’s clear the creators had the gaming generation in mind. The app also provides you with basic stats on distance covered and calories burned. For anyone starting out in running who wishes to try something a bit offbeat, it’s worth a go.
Available: iOS, Android (£0.99)
A more conventional app, RunKeeper is one of the most popular on the market, giving users features such as GPS activity tracking, manual activity tracking, audio interval cues and iPod integration. You can also find routes in your area added by other users, and there’s an option to add activities such as strength training, as well as training plans for a 5k, 10k, half marathon and a marathon, so it’s suitable for runners of all abilities.
Available: iOS, Android (Free / RunKeeper Pro - £0.99)
They say that your biggest opponent when running isn’t other runners but yourself. And with Ghost Runner that’s very much the case. The app requires you to repeatedly run the same route as it captures your time and distance. When you come back to the route you can ‘race’ your avatar and track your progress. Every second or so Ghost Runner will calculate how far ahead or behind your last run you are, in the hope it will motivate you to push harder. The biggest drawback is that you have to repeatedly run the same route so it isn’t ideal for those who get bored of routes easily. A similar app for iPhones is also available called iRace Me.
Available: iOS, Android (Free)
Like RunKeeper, Nike+ has various features such as GPS tracker, pace tracker, timer, calorie counter, and a pedometer, so should keep stats fans happy. To start a run, you can choose from three options: a basic run with no set time or distance, a timed run against the clock, or a distance run for a set mileage. You have the option of choosing a ‘PowerSong’, hopefully giving you an extra push when you start to flag (for the record, I opted for Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run). Be warned, this only works if you have iTunes or GoogleMusic. As with most apps there’s the option for Facebook and Twitter integration - I was too shy to share my runs online though. Those who do will benefit from the ‘cheers’ option so that when anyone likes or comments on your Nike+ update on Facebook you’ll hear the sound of a stadium crowd cheering.
Available: iOS, Android (Free)
Run Double - C25K
One of several Couch to 5K programmes aimed at novice runners who require a bit of motivation to ease themselves away from the sofa and out on to the pavements. This offering from RunDouble gives users a nine week programme which promises a 3.1 mile run without stopping by the end of it. You can sync it to your music and are guided through each step by a virtual coach.
Available: Android (Free, Pro version £0.99)
Map My Run
An extension of the popular website mapmyrun.com, MapMyRun gives feedback as you run. It logs workouts and has the option of integrating with social media profiles. One of the most impressive features is how easily it integrates with the MapMyRun website, so users can log food intake, keep a daily progress journal, check out running routes in their area that others have created and become part of the online running community.
Along with RunKeeper, this app is the most stats heavy and is an excellent way of tracking your progress, allowing you to upload all the data online to share with your friends. Of course whether you want to do so is another matter…
Available: iOS, Android, Blackberry (Free/paid version £0.65)