Eight ways a smartphone can become your running buddy
Make the miles fly by with these handy apps and podcasts, says Liz Connor
A good pair of trainers might be a runner's best friend, but we reckon a smartphone follows closely behind. Assemble the right apps and podcasts and your phone can double up as the ultimate running buddy, helping you smash those PBs and keeping you on track for the next big challenge.
Whether you're looking for the right tunes for a jog, a smart coach to push you the distance or a podcast to help the miles fly by, here are eight of the best digital tools to keep under your belt next time you hit the road or trails...
1. Couch to 5K
Running is simple and free to do - but that doesn't mean it's always easy at the start. If you're not sure how to get past that initial wheezing-after-a-minute stage, the popular Couch to 5K app is designed to get you off the settee and running a breezy 5km within just nine weeks. Following a schedule of three runs per week with a rest day in between, this intuitive app has motivational virtual coaches that give runners prompts of when to run and when to walk.
Find it at nhs.uk
2. Well Far: The Running Podcast
Amy Lane's motivational podcast is the perfect way to fire up your appetite for hitting the pavement ahead of a Sunday long run. Lane, Women's Health digital editor, chews through all of the weighty run chat - from lacing on the right pair of shoes, to the joy of finding your running tribe.
Download from iTunes
If you've got a competitive streak, pit yourself against Strava's millions of worldwide members. The app uses GPS technology to track your runs, measuring your speed, distance travelled, your course and displays your metrics in an easy-to-digest format. A big draw is its 'segments' feature, which allows you to name sections of pavement, turn them into a racecourse and see how you rank in comparison to others in your local area. Game on.
Find it at strava.com
There's nothing worse than running to a bunch of songs that are completely out of sync with your pace. This handy app clocks your stride and matches songs that stay in time with the rhythm of your feet, making the miles more effortless. If your plan is to reach a quicker pace, you can also set your desired tempo and use the music to push you that little bit faster.
Find it at run.weav.io
5. Charity Miles
The Charity Miles app lets you convert your weekly jog into fundraising efforts for worthy causes. Once you've signed up, every mile you run donates approximately 17p from a corporate partner to your chosen affiliated charity.
Find it at charitymiles.org
6. Zombies, Run!
If the thought of improving your heart health isn't enough to get you out on a run, the idea of having to scarper from zombies might just do it. Interactive app Zombies, Run! gameifies your run with a creepy audiobook that's designed to get your heart racing and legs moving away from the undead apocalypse. By building your mileage in the real world, you can collect medicine, ammo and batteries, all of which can all protect you in your efforts against the enemy.
Find it at zombiesrungame.com
Staying safe on your run is really important, but it isn't always easy to let others know if you get lost or hurt. If you regularly jog solo, this app pairs with a wearable band that can let someone else know if you ever encounter any danger.
Find it at roadid.com
8. Marathon Talk
Being a good runner also depends on strategy. Marathon Talk is a weekly podcast dedicated to running advice and training tips from different experts in the field. Athletes Martin Yelling and Tom Williams discuss everything from nutrition to pacing, arming you with all the advice and inspiration you need to complete your next 26.2 miles.
Find it at marathontalk.com