Quick Tip: Choosing a Running App for Your Phone

I’m just going to put this out there right now: I’m a Garmin guy.

I’ve tried running apps on my phone before, but I’ve just never been that big of a fan.

That said, when a listener asked me my opinions on some of the best running apps that are out there, I felt a sense of duty to try out a handful, give them an honest shake, and share my opinions.

So over the past couple of months, I’ve tried out 4 different apps: Run Safe*, Map My Run, Runtastic, and Strava. All of the apps have free versions and paid versions available, and I only used the free features available on each platform.

Choosing a Running App for you Phone

Here are my thoughts.

  • Accuracy: A big issue for me in terms of using apps in the past has been a perceived inaccuracy. Like I said, I’m a Garmin guy, and while I don’t know for certain that my Garmin is 100% accurate, I’ve used it enough over certain coursed that I’m confident that it is damn close. So I used my Garmin in conjunction with the apps to determine how accurate the apps appeared to be. In my non-scientific tests, it definitely seemed like Run Safe and Strava were spot on. Runtastic seemed to be just a little bit off (measuring slightly short (approx .01 per mile) when compared to my watch) and Map My Run was the least accurate (about .05-.06 short per mile). Obviously, the longer you run the more dramatic those discrepancies become.
  • Audio: All four apps allow you to play music (or podcasts!) while the apps are running. At the end of each mile, when the voice over comes on to tell you your pace, the music is automatically turned down. I believe with all the apps, the voice updates can be disabled if you’d prefer to not have them.
  • Extras: In addition to the typical distance, time, avg pace type of info, each app has some other extras. Run Safe was very unique, in that it offers the ability to let a friend or family member know (via text message) when you start running and when you get home safely. It also has a panic button, which you can push to alert your contact that something has happened and you need help. It’s nice because it’s a one touch button, no need to type out a text or scramble to make a phone call. All of the apps offered the ability to share your workouts on social media, with Map My Run and Strava having the added ability to create groups to create a sense of competition between you and friends.

Final opinion:

For me, it all comes down to accuracy. I don’t care about anything else. So without question, the only two apps I would continue to use are Run Safe and Strava. Depending on your wants/needs, the panic function on Run Safe could be very appealing and give that app the edge. Likewise, the community features available on Strava may be the deciding factor to put that particular app over the top.

But in terms of accuracy, which is my main determining feature, both of these apps are winners!

Press play below, to hear me go into a little more detail about each app.

What Running App or Apps Do You Use?

*In early June, Run Safe gave me a code to share with my audience to get one free month to try the premium version of their app. That gesture in no way influenced my review of the app, and the opinions expressed in this post and on the podcast are entirely my own. In fact, there was never an expectation on their part or a promise on mine for me to do any type of review of their app whatsoever at the time that the code was provided to me.

6 replies
  1. Ben
    Ben says:

    I gave up on running apps in favor of a Garmin watch. I don’t even run with a phone for music… No phone. Just running. And it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.

  2. Hiawatha
    Hiawatha says:

    To add another, I use Nike running. It’s free and although it sometimes freezes when connecting, they offer great support. I can tweet them or dm and get a quick reply. What I really enjoy are the challenges. I’m a competitor at heart not for speed but distance. So I do enjoy those competitions in addition to the medals and awards they give.

  3. Stephen
    Stephen says:

    I have found Endomondo to be a very good app too. I now use my Garmin while running then export to various apps. Have been testing many of them for the past year. I would say that Endomondo and Strava are the best out there. When you factor in gps accuracy, mobile and web interface, social interaction, and ease of data import/export.


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