Best running apps for Apple Watch: 10 apps that will help runners track and navigate while exercising

Apple Watch running apps on top of nike sneakers
(Image credit: Future)

The Apple Watch is a great running watch, but that hasn’t always been the case. With every new iteration of Apple’s smartwatch, its run tracking powers have evolved and improved and in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, Apple has a watch that truly can hold its own against the running watch establishment.

Out of the box, the latest Watches offer a good, strong running experience, but take the time to seek out what’s available in the Apple App Store and you’ll be able to bolster and enhance the Watch’s powers to track, analyze and help you train. For every feature you get on a dedicated running watch, there’s pretty much an app to offer a similar, and at times better experience on Apple’s Watch.

If you’ve got the latest Apple Watch Series 9 or better still, the more run-friendly Ultra and still getting to grips with turning it into your perfect running companion, we’ve picked out the Apple Watch apps that can make that a reality.

1. Workoutdoors

Workoutdoors app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

Apple is improving the mapping support for tracking workouts on the Apple Watch, but it’s not there for running just yet. Until it is, you can use Workoutdoors to fill that mapping void in your life.

It is a paid-for app, but what you get in return is the ability to view detailed topographic maps and make good use of the breadcrumb-style navigation to help guide you on your way or help you get back home.

You don’t need to be wed to your iPhone to put it to best use as it’s available as a standalone app and Apple Watch Ultra owners can additionally assign the Action button to make it easier to kick off the tracking or get a quick view of your current map if you’ve got a few apps running while you’re running.



A paid-for run tracking app that stands above the rest with mapping and navigation.

In the App Store, $6.99

2. Watch to 5k

Watch to 5K app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

If you’re looking for an Apple Watch app to start your running journey, Watch to 5K is a great app to ease you into things. It’s an app designed to provide an easy-to-follow plan that will help you run your first 5km run in nine weeks.

This standalone app keeps the user interface and stats it tracks simple, and does work with music players, so you can listen to your own sounds and will interrupt with training cues while you’re tackling sessions on your plan. You can add a complication to your main Watch screen to have quick access to tracking and it will let you delve deeper into your progress and upcoming runs in the iPhone companion app.

There are no in-app purchases, so once you’ve paid up, you’ve got an app for life to help you tackle that 5k distance whenever you feel ready to do it.


Watch to 5K

Perfect for runners looking to get started, with easy-to-follow plans to get you running 5km in nine weeks.

At the App Store $3.49

3. Zones

Zones app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

The Apple Watch possesses a great optical heart rate sensor and also gives you the capability to pair up one of the best external heart rate monitors if you want to boost heart rate tracking accuracy. If you’re sold on training by heart rate, Zones is one of the simplest Watch apps available to help you do that.

Zones covers a range of exercises including running, putting your real-time heart rate front and center of the Watch, and delivering haptic cues when there’s been a change in your heart rate. Once your running session is done you can head to the iPhone app to get a more detailed story of your run and the effect it had on your heart rate.

There aren’t many apps out there better for focusing your running time on heart rate and letting you simply see when it drops and spikes.



The free version has ads, but there is a one-time payment for an ad-free version. 

Free at the App Store

4. Footpath

Footpath app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

Footpath is another Watch app that seeks to make Apple’s smartwatch better equipped at mapping out your runs and navigating them as well too. While it’s free to download, you’ll need to pay for the monthly or annual subscription to get the best out of it.

It’s an app that lets you store routes for offline use so you don’t need to lean on your iPhone. You can view topographic maps and use the Apple Watch Crown to zoom in and out of those maps. It calls out navigation directions and still keeps its navigation skills in play when you’re listening to music on your Watch. 

It’s another app built for use with the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button letting you pull up the next direction with a single press of that bigger Watch button.



You can store routes offline so that you can still use the app without signal when running.

Free in the App Store

5. YouRace

YouRace app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

For the more seasoned runner, YouRace lets you ditch the Workout app for one that makes it easy to track all your running sessions. That includes interval runs and it also has a race mode to provide race estimates to help you better strategize when a PB is on the line. It also works with the Apple Watch Ultra’s Action button to make it a much better fit for racing.

It’s free to download, but there are some features like building interval training plans, uploading GPX route files, or firing your data to Strava to soak up that kudos that you’ll need to pay up for. In return though, you’ll get a very slick, feature-rich app to cover all of your runs and can turn the Apple Watch into more of a race-ready smartwatch.



Track all your running sessions in one helpful, free app.

Free on the App Store

6. RunGo

RunGo app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

RunGo is an Apple Watch running app that’s focused on voice and using voice to help guide you on routes. It has an extensive library of voice-guided runs including city tours narrated by the locals who know it best to fill your running time with information about your surroundings.

It will of course track runs and display staple running metrics like distance pace, but navigation is at its heart and even offers turn-by-turn directions and offers the ability to import routes from the Watch screen.

You will need to pay extra for features like letting close friends and family track your runs live, but if you love the idea of a running app that cares about getting you where you need to go and enhancing your knowledge about your surroundings, it’s well worth the download.



Easy run tracking that guides you on running routes with a navigating voice.

Free on the App Store

7. Tempo - Runner’s Workout Stats

Tempo Runner stats

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

Tempo is for the stats-obsessed, whether you’re a new runner or someone who wants to drill into the data of your last big marathon training run.

It works with a host of run tracking apps, including Apple’s own Workout one, and takes that data and presents it in a more digestible manner. That includes the advanced running metrics that you can capture on Apple’s Watches and does also provide an easy way to see your personal best times for different running distances.

There’s the ability to compare data from previous workouts to gauge your progress and a handy intensity calendar to see if your training is building nicely. You can even build your workouts from here and stick a complication on the main watch screen to make sure you have quick access to those more detailed running stats. 


Tempo - Runner’s Workout Stats

Works alongside all the other fitness apps you've got preinstalled on your Apple Watch.

Free on the App Store

8. Training Today

Training Today app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

Apple does a great job of tracking your runs and adding Training Today into the mix will give you a better sense of when you’re in the best shape to run.

It uses Apple’s heart rate sensor and looks at your heart rate variability measurements throughout the day along with workout data to give you a simple Ready To Train (RTT) score to help you make better decisions when to train.

It doesn’t need an iPhone to operate, but does require a subscription to get access to features like using Siri to check your training scores, see when scores drop and add those scores to Apple’s new smart stack widget.

Basically, if you’re staring enviously at Garmin’s training readiness scores, this is a way to get something similar on Apple’s smartwatch.


Training Today

Give yourself an idea of when best to train with a Ready to Train score.

Free on App Store

9. Lupa Run

Lupa Run app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

Lupa Run is part running coach, part mindfulness coach, using audio to push you in the right direction both physically and mentally.

It’s a paid-for app that offers structured training sessions to help you push to run a faster 10k or add running into your routine to benefit your functional fitness like strength training. It also serves up what Lupa Run calls body scan meditation runs, designed to make you feel less anxious or even give sleep quality a boost.

You can favorite sessions on the iPhone app and then those will become available on the Apple Watch app, so all you need to do next is connect your headphones and follow the audio cues to make the most of this pretty unique approach to run training and coaching.


Lupa Run

Push yourself with structured training sessions and then calm down with guided meditations.

Free on the App Store

10. Strava

Strava app

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

If you’re already a runner, then there’s a good chance you know about Strava, if you’re new to this world, then you’ll get to hear about it soon enough. This is an alternative place to fire your run stats to and also tap into one of the biggest running communities that will want to keep you motivated to keep moving.

The Strava Apple Watch app lets you track indoor and outdoor runs, delivering real-time data including heart rate, pacing, and run splits. There’s support to turn on the audio feedback if you don’t want to glance down at your Watch screen and there’s a dedicated Strava complication so you don’t have to mess around if you just want to get out the door and run.



The most well-known running app with stat measuring and indoor and outdoor tracking.

Free on App Store

Michael Sawh

Michael is a freelance journalist who has covered consumer technology for over a decade and specializes in wearable and fitness tech. Previously editor of Wareable, he also co-ran the features and reviews sections of T3, and has a long list of bylines in the world of consumer tech sites.

With a focus on fitness trackers, headphones, running wearables, phones, and tablet, he has written for numerous publications including Wired UK, GQ, Men's Fitness, BBC Science Focus, Metro and Stuff, and has appeared on the BBC Travel Show. Michael is a keen swimmer, a runner with a number of marathons under his belt, and is also the co-founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers.