There's nothing better than leaving the concrete jungle behind in favor of natural vistas, chirping birds, and the sun on your shoulders. Dedicated trail runners know that there's no better way to work up a sweat and shed the stresses of daily life than enjoying the sights and sounds of nature while running.
The good news is that you don't have to give up the benefits of modern technology when you head off the beaten path. Here are a few great apps for those who eschew the asphalt in favor of trail running.
The description for this handy app begins with "Everyone. Every run." This is an apt descriptor for an application that is easy enough for anyone to use, but has the features serious runners are looking for.
There is no shortage of map apps that help runners plan routes and track their mileage. This one lets you personalize routes and running schedules, as well as see where you're going in real time. It also does a lot more.
You can not only track progress and compare runs over time, but the app updates you every few minutes so you can see how you're doing during your run. If you're the type of runner that pays attention to mile splits, this can be a major boon. It can let you know when you're slowing so that you can adjust as needed during training.
You can also earn rewards, share achievements with friends, and join challenges to stay motivated. The app is compatible with peripheral devices like the Apple Watch or Fitbit. It also integrates with Spotify and iTunes so you can meet all your running needs without toggling between apps.
Weather data is also included. In short, this app pretty much has everything you might need during your runs, as well as the data that helps you to track your progress over time. It's easy to see how Runkeeper earned 4.5 stars with nearly 50,000 reviews on iTunes.
[[Side note from Brian...I use Runkeeper to generate the stats that are on all of my running posts in Instagram]]
This fun app has been around for a while, but if you haven't seen it before, now is the time to check it out. The basic premise is that you're running for your life, and there are few things that will motivate you to kick it into high gear more than being chased by a mob of hangry zombies.
If you find yourself battling boredom when you run, this app turns your exercise into a game, complete with the sounds of brain-sucking zombies coming at you from every side. Zombies, Run! incorporates music from your own playlist to create a post-apocalyptic soundtrack to compliment your own route or accompany you on missions.
You can also track maps, stats, and other aspects of every run- pretty standard features for a running app. If what you're looking for is a way to make every run fun and engaging, this app goes the extra mile to keep you motivated.
Most trail runners have their favorite spots - those loops that are just the right distance and difficulty. That said, many are always on the lookout for new areas to stretch their legs. AllTrails is perhaps the most comprehensive app on the market for this purpose, featuring over 50,000 trails across North America, organized by region.
There are several things to love, including the fact that listings are curated by actual hikers, bikers, and runners who rate and recommend routes. The search feature allows you to find trails by length, rating, difficulty, and so on, as well as add filters for features like dog-friendly trails.
You can also track pace, distance, elevation, and other stats, follow friends, get driving directions to hard-to-find trailheads, create custom maps, and even download maps for offline use (great for areas without a lot of mobile coverage). Every trail runner will find something to love with AllTrails.
Pacing is a problem many runners face. Who has the time to create a playlist based on BPM (beats per minute)?
Now you don't have to - this handy app does it for you. Rock My Run offers dozens of music stations to choose from, with playlists curated by a range of renowned DJs (including David Guetta, Afrojack, Major Lazer, and more). The app will also offer suggestions based on your listening history and preferences.
What's even better is that the app can track your steps and heart rate to sync up your music to your run, instead of the other way around. Adjustable BPM features support body-driven music, or you can manipulate BPM manually, and tempo builds to enhance your workout and keep you moving.
Rock My Run also integrates with tracking apps like Runkeeper, Nike+, MapMyFitness, and more to ensure you get all the stats you need to track your progress.
Technically, this isn't a mobile app. It's a web-based program that uses SMS to check up on you and send out alerts if you don't respond. If you're running a trail in the middle of nowhere and you twist your ankle, take a tumble, or find yourself in trouble, this app will ensure that someone knows where you are.
If you fail to respond to a text message sent periodically, the app will automatically notify pre-selected contacts and send your location. This safety precaution could just save your life.