The 11 Best Free Running Apps For Beginners In 2022

As one of the most popular solo sports in the UK, running continually attracts new participants. And, if you’re reading this blog, we can only assume you’re one of them; a new running recruit, shall we say?

One of the many advantages of running is that it can be practised at almost any time of day, indoors or outdoors. But when you’re just getting started, finding motivation and a will to persevere is difficult—no doubt about it.

Thankfully, however, that’s where running apps can help, particularly for beginners.

Whether you see yourself as a future treadmill trooper, pavement pounder, or perhaps you’re even eying a cross-country crown, there’s bound to be something for you here.

Check out the 11 best free running apps for beginners in 2022.


1. Strava

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Although Strava describes itself as being “designed by athletes, for athletes”, it’s perfect for those just starting their running journey, too.

Strava’s mobile app and accompanying website are predominantly used to track physical exercise such as running, walking, hiking or cycling. But with built-in social networking features, too, it’s so much more than just that.

Strava allows users to record and track their runs, map out routes, and train for set running events while connecting with friends and other app users.

Once you build a profile, you can then interact with others and share your runs on the app. Think of Strava almost like your Facebook timeline. You can ‘like’ and comment on other people’s runs, which is a great way of both building a community of like-minded runners and drawing route inspiration, too.

Strava is one of the best free running apps for beginners, for sure.


2. NHS Couch to 5k

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

The NHS Couch to 5K app, in partnership with the BBC, is designed to help runners go from complete beginner to capable of conquering a 5k in just nine weeks.

Each week on the Couch to 5K programme consists of three runs, as follows. While it’s completely up to you how you space out each of your runs, leaving a day’s gap in between is strongly advised.

*Every run should begin with a brisk five-minute walk to warm up, as well as a standard muscle stretching routine.

Week One
Alternate 1 minute of running and 90 seconds of walking for a combined total of 20 minutes.

Week Two
Alternate 90 seconds of running with 2 minutes of walking for a combined total of 20 minutes.

Week Three
Two repetitions of:
– 90 seconds running
– 90 seconds walking
– 3 minutes running
– 3 minutes walking

Week Four
Runs to consist of:
– 3 minutes running
– 90 seconds walking
– 5 minutes running
– 2.5 minutes walking
– 3 minutes running
– 90 seconds walking
– 5 minutes running

Week Five
Three different runs this week:
First run – 5 minutes running and 3 minutes walking, twice, followed by another 5 minutes of running
Second run – 8 minutes running and 5 minutes walking followed by another 8 minutes of running
Third run – 20 minutes straight running

Week Six
Three more different runs this week:
First run – 5 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, 8 minutes running, 3 minutes walking, and another 5 minutes of running to finish
Second run – two 10-minute running periods with a 3 minute walking period in between
Third run – 25 minutes straight running

Week Seven
Three 25-minute runs.

Week Eight
Three 28-minute runs.

Week Nine
Three 30-minute runs.

At the end of nine weeks, you should be in a position to run a full 5km without stopping—a great way for beginners to build their running ability. Motivational celebrity podcasts are also available in the app.


3. Adidas Running by Runtastic

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Adidas Running is one of the best free running apps on the market, catering for all runners, from complete beginners to experienced athletes.

With live built-in GPS tracking, Adidas Running allows users to accurately track and share runs and more than 90 sporting activities such as yoga and swimming, with its global community of more than 170m.

Again, this app has been designed with a typical social network ‘newsfeed’ style in mind. Not only can you interact with others, but you’ll also have access to Adidas’ blog posts, regularly updated motivational fitness content, activities and relevant events local to you.

Users can also make the most of virtual races and competitions, courtesy of Adidas Running partners, Vitality Running World Cup and Smashrun. Whether it’s distance, duration or consistency you’re training for, Adidas Running allows you to set personal goals and work towards them.

The app is also compatible with other similar free running apps, such as Zwift.


4. Map My Run by Under Armour

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Beginner or no beginner, the Map My Run app by Under Armour has the tools you need to stay on track and reach your running goals in 2022.

The app is designed to make running easier from the get-go with customised training plans, coaching tips, and an inspiring community of more than 60m athletes.

Users have post-run access to copious data, which breaks down performance into easy-to-read graphs and charts so you can determine improvable areas as you progress with your training plan.

The app is also handy for at-home workouts, with routines designed especially by Under Armour’s performance specialists that require minimal additional exercise equipment—just you and a pair of trusty running shoes!

Map My Run can also be synced to your favourite devices, including Apple Watch, Samsung Gear and Fitbit—even Under Armour running shoes if you have them!


5. Nike Run Club

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Nike has been synonymous with sport for decades, and its running app, Run Club, is another great, free resource for beginners and veterans alike.

Whether it be simply for building base fitness or training for the dizzy heights of a marathon, Nike Run Club is built with the tools handy to help ease you into regular running and the routine it brings.

With weekly schedules, guided runs with an encouraging in-ear voiceover, plus ongoing training advice, Nike Run Club makes sure users enjoy running every step of the way and are motivated enough to come back and run again.

The positive impact of running on mental health is a huge factor in why many people take up the sport in the first place. Users will find additional exclusive guided runs in partnership with the wellbeing app, Headspace, among Nike Run Club’s voiced runs.

These runs combine calming conversation and guidance from mental health experts and gurus to help you practice running, mindfulness, and how to become a ‘better’ runner overall.


6. Asics Runkeeper

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Described by Asics as “motivation at your fingertips”, the Runkeeper app has all the tools to help you become a better and stronger runner.

Users can connect with others through the app by following audio running cues, participating in virtual challenges, and joining running groups for free.

With training plans developed especially by experts at the Asics Institute of Sport Science, all runners can find a plan to match their needs—be it fitness or stamina improvement, or training towards a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon.

Pace tracking, distance covered, elevation and calorie burn are all accurately displayed on one handy screen in real-time on the app, which syncs seamlessly to your Apple Watch, Garmin, or equivalent.

What’s more, Android users in particular, can track runs simply from their phone’s home screen thanks to the app’s nifty Android widget.

Asics Runkeeper is also available in 12 languages.


7. Pacer

Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Pacer is one of the easiest to use running apps around today.

Designed to help everyday people of all activity levels get more active and make healthier life choices, Pacer makes exercise simple—because who said it needs to be difficult, right?

Pacer was developed with values such as simplicity and inclusivity, so the app requires minimal tech-savviness to navigate.

The app prides itself on being ‘clutter-free’, which means it only contains features you’ll actually use, so users aren’t completely overwhelmed when they first download.

Regardless of your current fitness level, Pacer’s tracking and workouts require no prior experience. That said, the app does indeed have various advanced features built in to challenge the more seasoned runner, too.

Runs, steps and daily calorie burn counts can also be synced to your Fitbit for a fully-integrated approach to your running training.


8. RunGo


Available on: iOS/Android

best free running apps

Keep getting lost while out running? Struggling to establish a set route? Or, perhaps you’re getting bored of the same old route? You need to try RunGo.

With the help of custom voice navigation, RunGo lets users create, find, and follow countless routes all over the globe as if they were a local. From London to Toronto and back again, RunGo has you covered.

Either build your own route or select one of the 600,000 ready-to-go routes stored in the app. Then, think of RunGo as your virtual tour guide. Follow its voice-guided tour to keep on top of every turn and even nearby attractions and tourist spots.

The guided voice tours are particularly good for easing those inevitable beginner’s nerves, as your knowledge of the route will look seamless to the untrained eye.

Behind the voice, the app also tracks stats like your run time, pace, distance, elevation, and estimated finish times.

It’s hard to believe it’s free, all things considered.


9. Zombies, Run!

Available on: iOS/Android

Gamers, listen up!

This game-inspired running app lets you run in the real world but become a hero in another.

In the app world, only a few have been lucky enough to survive a zombie epidemic. Now, you, the runner, must find your way to one of humanity’s last remaining outposts.

The other survivors need your help to gather supplies, rescue others, and defend their homes from the zombies surrounding them.

So, how does it work? Walk, jog or run anywhere in the world, and hear your step-by-step mission and accompanying music through your running headphones. You’ll automatically accumulate essential supplies for your fellow survivors as you run.

With 200 different missions and zombie chases galore, this award-winning game is bound to make your heart race and keep your running motivation high.

However, be warned, you’ll have to pick up your pace if the zombies chase you, so don’t use up all your energy too quickly!


10. Zwift

Available on: iOS/Android

Though perhaps more commonly associated with cycling, Zwift is also a great free running app for those that dabble in both sports.

Zwift makes serious training fun through its global running community and immersive worlds. While you pound the pavements in the real world, your digital Zwift avatar tackles a new world of virtual courses on the app.

Users can discover the fantasy island of Watopia and explore its 50+ routes, inspired by modern cities in the UK and abroad.

The running landscapes in Zwift are truly a sight to behold. You can experience the jungle, countryside, and even volcanic terrain even if you’re just at home on the treadmill.

Zwift’s workouts and running routes have each been individually crafted by elite coaches, all with the aim of turning you into the runner you want to become—whatever that may be.


11. Charity Miles

Available on: iOS/Android

Though running and your reasons for doing it can be highly personal, you might also be running or training to run for the benefit of others, too.

Training for a sponsored run, or just want your everyday runs to make a difference somewhere? You need to check out Charity Miles.

This free, innovative app has been enabling users to earn money for charity whenever and wherever they run for the last 10 years and has helped raise more than £2m in that time.

Users simply choose their charity or cause, create a ‘pledge page’ on the app, then start running. The app uses your phone’s internal pedometer or GPS to track the distance you’ve covered.

Your miles are turned into money in various ways—predominantly via sponsorships from:

  • Your chosen charity’s sponsors
  • Your friends, family and colleagues
  • The app’s brand partners

Check out Charity Miles’ FAQs page to learn more about the ins and outs, and start turning your runs into cash right away.


Specialist running insurance from Insure4Sport

Whether you do indoor running, cross-country, or on roads, it’s wise to take out insurance cover to protect you against accidents and injuries—which, let’s face it, are not too uncommon in running.

At Insure4Sport, our specialist running insurance spans various running disciplines and includes cover for coaches, running teams, solo runners, and more.

We also offer additional marathon cover—so, if you’re currently training for one this summer, you’re in the right place, too.

Click on the button below to learn more about our running insurance and get an instant online quote today.

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