Social media has changed our approach to physical activity. Before, it was more difficult to remain motivated while training. Now, it’s all about that post-workout stats flex…
Social networks designed specifically for runners provide the encouragement and sense of community that people need to stay committed to their fitness journey.
Social networks for runners like Strava, Nike Run Club, and RunKeeper connect runners from all over the world, allowing them to track their runs, analyze the data, share favorite routes, and compete to win challenges. These apps motivate athletes and make running feel like more of a team sport.
With so many different running and fitness apps to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which one you should use. Here, we look at 6 of the most popular social networks for runners – what features make them great, how they allow runners to connect, and how much they cost.
The Best Running Social Networks and Platforms
Strava is definitely the most well-known social network for runners. It does not cater specifically to runners; it also works for cyclists and swimmers.
It works by using your phone or smartwatch’s GPS to track the route that you run, the elevation profile, your average, minimum and maximum speed, your time, power, and even your heart rate.
After your run, you can share a map of your route and your data with the Strava community. You can even include a selfie from your run. Your friends on Strava can then give you ‘kudos’ for your effort. This will help to keep you motivated.
If you enjoy being competitive, you can use Strava to race against your friends and other athletes around the world. Strava posts challenges so that you can win badges and rewards.
Strava is the social media fitness app that most professional runners and elite athletes use. By following runners that inspire you, you can see the distance, time, and pace of their runs.
Use the Strava app on your smartphone or connect to a wearable device. Strava is compatible with most popular smartwatches – Garmin, Apple, Polar, Fitbit, Samsung, and Suunto.
See more: Garmin vs Apple Watch for runners – which is best?
One of the best things about Strava and what sets it apart from other fitness apps is that it never shares users’ data with third parties. Strava is also completely ad-free, even the free version!
A premium subscription to Strava costs between $3 to $8 per month as there are different plans to choose from. For the average runner, the free version is perfect.
If you are serious about your training, consider the paid version because it allows more advanced data analysis, and you can create custom leaderboards for you and your friends to compete.
Nike Run Club
Nike Run Club is rated as one of the best running social media apps. It is perfect for runners of all fitness levels, whether you are training for your first 5K or for a marathon. The Nike Run Club app will enhance your running experience.
It uses the GPS in your smartphone or wearable device to track your running route, distance, pace, time, and heart rate (if you use a smartwatch). The tracking is very accurate, and you can see your progress as a runner over time.
What sets it apart from Strava is that it offers users coaching. You can choose to go on guided runs, where you will have Chris Bennet, Nike’s Global Head Coach, talking you through the whole run. He offers support, encouragement, and even a cheesy joke or two.
During your run, you can listen to music from integrated apps like Spotify. The app will automatically turn the volume down when coach Bennet is speaking.
Like on Strava, you can post the details of your run together with a photo and a map of the route. While you can see other people’s data, the app does not enable direct competition with other runners.
Nike Run Club emphasizes the value of mindfulness in running. Nike has partnered with Headspace, a mindfulness app that helps you practice gratitude, breathwork, and stay present during runs.
The best thing about Nike Run Club is that it is 100% free. There are no in-app purchases or options to upgrade to a premium version. At the end of the day, it is a marketing tool for Nike.
Nike Run Club is available for Android on Google Play and for iOS on iTunes. Most smartwatches are compatible with Nike Run Club – Apple, Garmin, TomTom, Wahoo, and Polar. Unfortunately, Fitbit and Samsung Galaxy Watches do not support it.
The Garmin Connect app displays and analyzes the data that your smartwatch collects during your training. It is used by runners, cyclists, and golfers.
The app uses data from your Garmin smartwatch to track your daily activity, heart rate, steps, sleep, calories, and even stress level. The types of data you can record depend on the type of watch you have and what sensors it is equipped with.
You can set yourself daily step goals, and the app will tell you when you break your own personal records. You can also review your progress over time.
Garmin Connect allows you to review your running metrics. It will display the route you ran, the distance, your time, pace, and how many calories you burned. You can win virtual badges when you achieve milestones or run a PB.
For runners who enjoy a bit of healthy competition, Garmin Connect allows you to turn any route into a virtual race. You can create segments of a set distance, run them, record your fastest time, and then other users can race against you.
Garmin Connect also allows you to connect with running clubs around the world. When you are in a club, you see all the members data, and there is a leaderboard. This will definitely motivate you to up your pace!
Garmin Connect is a free app, and there is no premium version. It is only compatible with Garmin smartwatches. Data from Fitbit running devices can manually be uploaded to Garmin Connect, but no other brands are supported.
RunKeeper is a highly rated app that is designed specifically for runners. If you walk or hike, you will also find this app useful. This app is great for motivation, developing your running skills, and helping you achieve your goals.
RunKeeper is designed for runners of all levels – whether you are just starting out, training for a 5K, or a 100-miler. The app allows runners to set measurable goals, like how many workouts they want to do per week. It tracks all walking, running and other activities, like cycling.
The app tracks all the basic metrics during your runs – duration, distance, pace, and average pace. It uses your mobile device’s GPS to track the route that you run.
RunKeeper also gives you vocal statistics while you run. For example, you can choose to be motivated every time you run another two miles. This way, you do not need to keep looking at your phone to check your progress.
The app features challenges and virtual running groups. You earn rewards when you achieve your goals. RunKeeper shows you your weekly, monthly, and yearly stats, so you can track your progress as a runner over time.
The free version of RunKeeper is great, but the paid version, RunKeeper Go, gives you access to even more features. RunKeeper Go costs $10 per month or $40 for an annual subscription.
With RunKeeper Go’s premium features, you can follow personalized coaching plans to supercharge your training. You can also track more stats and compare them between runs to track your progress.
A brilliant safety feature that RunKeeper has is live tracking. It allows your loved ones to track where you are during your runs. This is useful when you are running a race or when you are running alone and want others to know where you are.
See a direct comparison: Strava vs Runkeeper
The Adidas Running App by Runtastic is another fantastic app for runners. It focuses on making running more social. Runtastic connects a global community of runners and fitness enthusiasts. Trainers and community members will motivate and push you to achieve your running goals.
Runtastic connects to Facebook so that you can share your runs with all your friends who use the app and engage in friendly competition. The Runtastic community also creates live challenges you can join.
Runtastic has a free and paid version. The free version is perfect for runners who are just getting into it. It connects you to the Runtastic community, so you and read blog posts, join challenges, and access a few guided Story Runs.
It uses your mobile device’s GPS to track your route. With the free version, you can track all the basic running metrics, like distance, duration, speed, average pace, and calories. You can also look at your weekly activity and track it over time to see your progress.
During your runs, a coach will give you vocal support and let you know your distance, calories burned, and pace. This helps you focus on your goals without constantly needing to check your phone.
The paid version allows you to track more stats, like personal bests. You can access the full library of guided Story Runs, and you follow targeted training programs. The paid version costs $10 per month or $50 for an annual subscription.
Runtastic is compatible with iOS and Android devices. It also integrates data from Garmin and Polar devices.
MapMyFitness By Under Armour
Under Armour is another activewear brand that has created its own fitness tracking app. MapMyFitness allows you to track all your activity, analyze your data in the app, follow adaptive training programs, and connect with your friends and a huge community of over 60 million fitness enthusiasts around the world.
You can use your Facebook account to create a MapMyFitness profile, so you can immediately get started and find your friends. The app has a beautifully clean and easy-to-use interface. All the features are accessible from the home screen, and there is a quick start button to begin recording a workout.
MapMyFitness tracks a range of activities – walking, running, cycling, swimming, and gym workouts. You input your height and weight into the app so that it can more accurately track your calories burnt. Connect your smartwatch to track your heart rate. If you have a pair of Under Armour Smart Shoes, you can record metrics like stride length and cadence.
MapMyFitness itself tracks all the usual running metrics – distance, time, pace, average pace. The app uses your device’s GPS to record your route, or you can follow routes that others have created. You can also record your workouts retrospectively and import your workouts from your Garmin smartwatch and Nike+.
Under Armour sets an annual challenge for its users. For example, if you run more than 1022km in the year, you can win exclusive prizes.
You can share your runs with friends and family on Twitter and Facebook. If you run a particularly cool route, you can suggest it to others. You can also post a picture from your run and a caption.
What sets MapMyFitness apart from other fitness trackers is the nutrition section of the app. It is so comprehensive; it could be an app on its own.
You can record the food you eat during the day, how much water you drink, and your weight. The app helps you to reach your fitness goals, especially if you want to lose weight.
The app has a free version, or you can get the paid version, MapMyRun MVP, for $6 per month or $30 per year. MapMyRun MVP has zero ads and many additional features, like training programs, vocal coaching, route recommender, and live tracking.
MapMyFitness is available for Android and Apple devices. Unfortunately, it is not compatible with some smartwatches, like Fitbit and Polar.
Final Thoughts on Running Social Media Apps
Fitness tracking apps are a dime a dozen these days, but the six apps in this article are rated the best of the best. Strava is definitely the most popular platform for elite athletes. Nike Run Club, Adidas Runtastic and MapMyFitness by Under Armour all have enormous online communities.
If you already have a Garmin smartwatch, then Garmin Connect is the best running app for you. It has all the social features that the other apps have, and its tracking is extremely accurate. RunKeeper is a tracking app that is specifically for runners, so if you are dedicated to your sport, this is the app for you.
As you can see, we’re spoiled for choice!
There are plenty of running apps that can add a whole new realm of community to your fitness hobby.