1. Apple Workout
  2. Nike Run Club
  3. Strava: Run & Ride Training
  4. WorkOutDoors
  5. Watch to 5K
  6. Runkeeper
  7. RunGo
  8. SIT (Simple Interval Timer)

The best Apple Watch running apps tried and tested

From pace and distance to heart-rate tracking, we take these apps out on the road
Wareable Best Apple Watch running apps
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The Apple Watch is now a seriously good running partner. Of all the smartwatches with run-tracking abilities, it stands out for the right reasons.

If you're tracking your runs with the Apple Watch, you'll likely turn to Apple's own Workout app first.

Over time, it's become a very powerful running app that's packed with features.

But there are loads of Apple Watch running apps lurking on the App Store that have different benefits. We've tested most of them – these are our favorites.

Bookmark this: The best Apple Watch apps to download

Apple Workout

WareableApple Watch Workout

Workout has improved as the Apple Watch has become more focused on fitness – and it's now the pick of running apps available on the company's lineup of smartwatches.

You can start a host of workouts from this pre-installed app, there are separate modes for Indoor and Outdoor running, and you get plenty of data displayed on the watch itself, as well. 

Those data screens, handily, can also be edited in the Apple Watch companion app, picking between distance, current pace, heart rate, duration, average pace, active calories, total calories, and even running power. You can dictate the order in which they're displayed, and also select between single and multiple metric views.

In more recent watchOS updates, Apple has added features like automatic exercise detection, cadence tracking, and things like rolling pace, which offers an analysis of your speed in the last km/mile, in addition to average pace.

You're given one screen showcasing your stats, while a swipe to the left makes it easy to switch your tunes up and a quick right swipe can pause or end proceedings.

The post-run stats screen is fairly comprehensive, too, with distance, time, active calories, overall calories, average pace, and average heart rate.

The Apple Watch Workout app will also play nicely with third-party apps like Strava, and watchOS 9 (released in 2022) introduced new features such as the detection of running tracks, and a mode where you can race your best times on common routes.

Read our guide to the five essential running features Apple Watch users should know.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

Nike Run Club


Nike Run Club offers a great alternative to the Apple Workout app, focusing on training plans and guided workout sessions from Nike coaches and athletes.

It's quick to load, easy to navigate and runs are simple to start.

You can add a Nike+ Run Club complication to your Apple Watch face that launches straight into the app where you get to choose from 'Quick Start', 'Match Your Last Run', or a choice of distance, duration, and speed runs, although the latter requires your phone.

Things have improved when using the app and the big, bold screen metrics are easy to read – and you can swap between data screens by scrolling the Digital Crown. You also get heart rate, duration, and distance.

It'll also track indoor runs and offer settings like enabling/disabling auto pause and deciding on the frequency of performance updates. What's more, a Twilight mode will change the display to more neon colors if the ambient light sensor detects that lighting conditions are dim.

There's an indoor mode for tracking treadmill runs, too, but you have to remember to flick between indoor and outdoor settings manually. 

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

Free | Download Nike Run Club

Strava: Run & Ride Training


If you're a runner, there's a strong chance you've heard of Strava. If you haven't, you probably know a fair few people who won't track a long Sunday run without soaking up the kudos (likes) on the popular app.

The dedicated Strava Apple Watch app offers a simple way to track runs and have them uploaded to the platform – so you can get in-depth data on performance, fitness, and all the social aspects of running that Strava offers.

In terms of what it will let you do, you can track both outdoor and indoor runs offering staple running stats, and will make use of Apple's heart rate monitor to let you know how hard you're working. You'll also get audio cues to hear pace and distance updates.

If you're willing to pay up for a Strava subscription too, you can make use of the series of training plans and workouts to mix up your running sessions.

However, its usefulness has degraded since you can now sync runs from the Apple Workout app straight to Strava. That means you get the benefits of the excellent mid-run experience of Apple Watch, and the unbeatable post-run analysis of Strava.

To find out all about joining them, read our guide explaining how to sync Strava with Apple Workout.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

Free | Download Strava



Over the last few years, WorkOutDoors has emerged as one of the standout Apple Watch apps for runners - particularly if you're into stats and controlling how those stats are displayed on your Watch.

It's the combination of the vector maps and the ability to fully customize data screens with up to 300 real-time metrics at your disposal that gives it real appeal over other Apple Watch running apps on this list.

That mapping approach makes it much easier to interact with them on the watch screen and makes surveying surrounding running terrain a more pleasurable experience.

You can go full screen with those maps and make use of real-time breadcrumb trail navigation, letting you use the Watch crown to zoom into areas. The color coding to help you point out hilly and flat parts of your location is also handy, too.

You can create workouts, store maps for offline use, and then head to the iPhone app to dig deeper into your data. It's here where you can upload GPX route files to fire over to the Apple Watch.

It also has dedicated modes for other activities including cycling and hiking. If you're a runner though, this one is well worth paying for.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

$5.99 / £5.99 | Download WorkOutDoors

Watch to 5K

WareableWatch To 5K

There are a lot of 'Couch to 5k' style options on the App Store, but the one that stands out for the Apple Watch is this - and it works independently from your phone.

The concept is to get running beginners up to 5k distance within two months and with three runs a week. This one is optimized well for the Apple Watch, letting you listen to music and dropping the volume to let you hear the audio cues telling you what you need to do and how you're performing.

It'll track key stats like distance, average pace, calories burned, and heart rate in real-time, and will also let you view workouts in Apple's Fitness app. Naturally, it will sync your runs and data with Apple Health, as well.

The UI looks great, and it's generally a really easy app to get to grips with, which is ideal if you're delving into running for the first time. If you want a Couch to 5k Apple Watch app, this is the one we think you should be downloading.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

$2.99 / £2.99 | Download Watch to 5K



Unlike some options on this list, Runkeeper was early on the standalone app train. And just like the Nike Run Club, it will also guesstimate your distance if you're hitting the treadmill.

When it comes to the watch app, though, there's not much to play with in terms of personalization. Before you set out, you can set a target pace and a maximum heart rate, but that's all.

One thing we loved about Runkeeper was the ability to create and follow set workouts. Three pre-set options include 20 Minute Easy Workout, 2.25 Mile, or 2 Miles with Rest, or you can build custom workouts in the phone app and they'll sync automatically to the list in the Apple Watch app.

This immediately turns Runkeeper into a more serious training tool, opening up all kinds of options for speed and interval sessions. Setting up a workout takes just a few minutes and the only real criticism we have is that the distance increments are too big (the smallest you can set is 0.25km, making it impossible to add 200m recovery sections into any speed work), and you can't set intervals based on a distance and a time target. It's either or.

In run mode, the screen is split into three areas with the top segment fixed to show duration and GPS signal strength. You can tap the middle segment to switch between distance and current pace while tapping the bottom segment flicks between showing current and average pace, current pace, and heart rate. You can also swipe left to see splits. There are also audio cues here along with integration for Spotify and Apple Music

As with most Apple Watch running apps, there's no run history shown in the app – you need to fire up the phone to delve deeper into your data. If you pay up for Runkeeper Go, you'll get access to training plans. Without that spend, you'll still get a solid Apple Watch running experience that will let you leave your iPhone behind too.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

Free | Download



A free Apple Watch app that lets you build your offline routes or select from 400,000 pre-installed ones, RunGo's specialty is its ability to cater to the visually impaired through voice assistance.

These supported routes include race courses, and run tours and will chat with you about local landmarks and interesting stories about the area like your very own run tour. It's now added a virtual run support for when you can't get to those locations, but you can still learn about the history and get a trivia fix running closer to home or on a treadmill.

It can also give you the basics from the wrist, such as pace, distance, splits, and elevation, while you can import GPX format routes to send over to the Watch and get turn-by-turn directions. Premium features include live tracking for friends and family to follow along, plus interval training.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: Yes

Free | Download RunGo

SIT (Simple Interval Timer)

WareableSimple Interval Timer

This isn't the best-looking app you'll ever download, nor is it a bonanza of run-coaching features. What it is, however, is a fantastically uncomplicated tool that has everything you need to set up interval sessions in a flash, direct from your Apple Watch. That's right, SIT gives you the kind of control most of the apps on this list would benefit from.

All you have to do is choose the number of sets, the duration of your efforts, and then the time you want to rest. Hit Go and you're presented with a screen that shows which set you're on out of the total number, a countdown of how long is left to go in this set or this rest period, and your current heart rate.

There are many improvements we'd make to this app: for example, there's no audio or vibration alert to tell you when you're moving between work and rest. We'd also love to see a variety of interval types, such as distance and even heart rate-based efforts, but this isn't a bad start.

  • Works without phone: Yes
  • Complication to launch from the home screen: No

Free | Download

How we test

Kieran Alger


Kieran is a world record-setting runner and one of the UK's most experienced running journalists.

A constant tester of the latest fitness technology, he's always hunting for innovations that can make him run faster, further and generally be in better shape.

Kieran is often found wearing four GPS running watches at once. And to date he's tracked more than 50 marathons, 13 ultras and countless half marathons - including the Marathon Des Sables.

In 2022, he became the first person to run the river Danube from sea to source, a measly 1,830 miles in 66 days. And still had time to test running gear.

Kieran regularly takes running tech to the extremes for Wareable and the likes of Runner's World, Mens Health and Wired.

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