Take it from someone who has been there: Starting a running routine is tough. It truly can feel like you’re wading through wet cement as you put one foot in front of the other. Even jogging a few blocks might seem impossible, but that’s precisely why the motivational running app Runkeeper is so great.
The ASICS Runkeeper app essentially functions as your pocket coach-slash-tracker: It measures your running course, time, and pace, and then presents you with a neat little stat summary at the end of your jog. You can refer to the tracker as you run and look back at past runs to see your progress, however slow and steady it might be. It also offers peppy workout plans from running coaches, if you want a little extra inspiration.
When I got back into running in 2020, the Runkeeper app quickly became my go-to. It took a few weeks, but I eventually went from wading through the aforementioned cement to doing brisk 5-mile runs without a second thought — which is to say that it’s incredibly helpful if you're a beginner. But it’s also ideal for those who are training for a marathon — and everyone in between.
Curious about how it works? Read on for my honest review of the Runkeeper app, plus tips for getting started.
How The Runkeeper App Works
The basic version of the app is totally free to use, but there’s also Runkeeper Go for $39.99 a year, which offers extra features like personalized training, tailored motivation, live run tracking, and in-depth insights to help you reach your goals.
Once you sign up and log in, you can dive directly into the Activity Settings. That’s where you’ll set your workout “type” to running, though you can also use this app to track cycling, walking, hiking, and even swimming. You can also “enable audio stats” if you’d like to get time checks throughout your run, but this is optional. Personally, I turned off the audio once I got used to my routine, mostly so I could listen to music or podcasts without interruption. (The app allows you to connect to Spotify, which is a great perk if you’re particular about your workout playlist.)
To get Siri-style check-ins on the go, set the audio to pop in at your desired interval, whether that’s every 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes, or every half-mile, mile, etc. You’ll also choose which stats you’d like to track, such as pace, average speed, current speed, calories burned — or even a split speed (aka how long it takes to run a certain distance) if you’re feelin’ fancy. Once you’re laced up and ready to run, you’re good to head off down the road or turn on your treadmill. And if you want to connect the app to a smartwatch, you can do that, too.
What Using The RunKeeper App Is Like
Choose Your Workout
Under the Start tab you’ll see there’s the option to either do a “Quickstart” run, which will bring up a pace tracker to chart your miles, or a “Guided Workout” where you’ll have more, well, guidance. Here you can download regimens like the “I am a Runner” routine for a 30-minute workout that includes a warmup, intervals, and a cool down with coach Corinne. There’s also the “My First 5K” run with coach Erin, who promises to get you moving and train you on proper form. Scroll through the various options and pick one that feels right to you.
During Your Run
Once you choose a run, a screen will pop up to display your stats as you go. (Hint: I have the “Auto Pause” option turned on so my timer stops whenever I get stuck at an intersection.)
For beginner runners, I recommend ignoring all these stats and doing whatever feels good. You’re much more likely to stick with a new running routine if you don’t overdo it.
After Your Run
When you finish running, simply hit the stop button, indicate that you’re done, and you’ll be taken to a new screen that shows your stats. From there, choose one of the five smiley faces to track how you felt. (I remember clicking the sad face a lot in the beginning.)
I found it helpful to see my faces change from medium to happy as I got more acquainted with my running game. You can also name your run — something that’s appealing if you like to organize — take a sweaty selfie, and share your results with friends on the app. Once you hit save, you’ll see a map of your workout.
If you need it, you can enable Workout Reminders (which function via push notifications) under settings. These pop up on your phone’s home screen with a little nudge to plan your next jog. Personally, I liked using this feature as I got into a running routine — without it, I probably would have put off my runs till the next day, and the next day... you get the idea.
Should You Try The Runkeeper App?
Even if you’re someone who hates running, this app will ease you in with helpful routines and gentle motivation that’ll have you jogging a half-mile, then a mile, and beyond. The fact that the app stores all your runs so you can see your progress is motivating, too. I never thought I’d see the day where running felt good, but the Runkeeper app got me there.