The sport of running has been around basically for as long as humans have walked the fact of this earth. It’s a sport that’s relatively inexpensive and largely accessible, and it’s one that, compared to many other sports out there, doesn’t necessitate tons of specialized instruction or costly equipment.
Many of us began running soon after we began running an innately born way of getting around and it’s something we’ve been doing for our entire lives.
However, most runners these days will eagerly admit that they love their gadgets. Sure, it’s not totally necessary for runners to have the latest and greatest pieces of technology, but tons of runners love to boast the most cutting-edge thing out there, in the hopes that it’ll up their running in at least some small way.
With running’s increasing popularity over the past 10 years, GPS-enabled devices, too, have become very popular — almost every runner out there runs with some sort of GPS-enabled watch so he/she can track his/her runs and statistics — as have smart phone technology. It wasn’t that long ago when none of us had a smart phone; now, mostly everyone does, and many runners place as great an importance on their smart phone as they do on their shoes.
Taken together with their watches, runners have come to rely heavily on their smart phones, and specifically, on their running-focused apps, to help them become better runners than they currently are. The app marketplace for runners is deep and rich, and there are improvements and enhancements being made daily by the developers worldwide.
Top 3 Apps for Runners:
Strava. If it’s not on Strava, it didn’t happen — or so say the millions of runners who use this social media platform daily. While it originally began as a social media platform primarily used by runners and cyclists, athletes of all different ilks can now use it to share their workouts and comment (and support) those of their friends, both virtual and in-real-life. It’s a free app to use, and if you feel so inclined, you can pay for premium membership by way of an additional monthly (or yearly) fee. The Strava app has come a long way since I began using it in 2014, and now, not only can you auto-post your workouts from Garmin, you can also add pictures, join clubs, and even add longer-verse posts within the Strava app. Available on Google Play and the App Store
Instagram. One of facebook’s more worthwhile purchases was Instagram, a photo and video-sharing social media platform, and one that’s hugely popular within the global running community. While anyone and everyone can use Instagram, simply tagging your pictures with some running-focused hashtags (like #runnersofinstagram, #marathoner, or #raceday) will effortlessly connect you to runners the world over. Some users create mini-blogs out of their daily Instagram videos or pictures as well. Instagram’s algorithm works in such a way that once you begin to follow some runners, it’ll suggest many more to you, and before too long, you’ll have developed a robust community of runners of all different shapes, sizes, abilities, and speeds from all over the world. Who knows? Maybe you’ll meet your new best friend from this great little community you’ve created and fostered. Available on Google Play and the App Store
Garmin Connect. As I mentioned, most runners these days swear by using a GPS-enabled watch to track their daily runs and to collect all the myriad statistics that runners like to gather 🙂 Garmin Connect is the software that comes (for free) with the purchase of any Garmin device, and the corresponding app has an easy and intuitive user interface to navigate. Runners can have quick access to statistics about their runs; their weekly, monthly, or yearly volume; their heart rate information (if they use heart rate monitors); their elevation gains; and many more data fields. It’s hard to know how much you’re improving as a runner in the absence of data, and Garmin Connect puts all of it at your fingertips. Available on Google Play and the App Store
Instagram, Strava, and Garmin Connect are just three of the most popular running-focused apps that are currently available (and free) for runners worldwide. Personally, I use these apps almost every single day to help me capture data and detail about my runs, and I greatly enjoy that they’re free so I can use my hard-earned money on other important stuff, like races! It will be interesting to see how these apps continue to evolve in their next iterations, and fortunately, users have the power to leave feedback directly to the developers in the App Store/Google Play Store, so if you see something that you think is lacking, take the time to give the developers your two cents. Chances are high that you’re not the only person who feels that way.
A decade ago, I doubt that anyone could have guessed how important technology — and specifically, our cell phones — would become to the casual sport of running, but nowadays, I think every runner would admit that technology has actually been a huge driver of the sport and a great catalyst for individual improvement. Only time will tell, and fortunately, there’s an app (or several!) for that.