Fit to Roam
Smartphones are the new fitness tool of choice, but with nearly a million apps, where to begin? Here are the seven you need.
Enter the length and time from a recent run, select your target marathon from the race finder, and Epic Runner will create a custom training plan, taking you from the couch to 26.2 miles in five months. It tracks all the important metrics—pace, time, distance of training runs—so all you need to do is put one foot in front of the other. Prior to race day, familiarize yourself with the course through maps, and after you cross the finish line, the results finder will get your time. Android; $2
Best iPhone Alternative: RunKeeper; free
The Endomondo Sports Tracker Pro keeps tabs on any activity that covers distance—that is, everything you do outdoors. Skiing: check your elevation up top and measure how fast you cruise down the slopes. Kayaking: track how many miles you covered from put-in to take-out. Road running: keep tabs on your heart rate and calorie burn for every stride. Afterward, you can break down your training further or search for routes and races at endomondo.com. The best part? You can customize the screen to show only the info you want and nothing you don’t. iPhone and Android; $4
During road rides, Cyclemeter announces your progress to make sure you’re hitting your intervals on time. Back home, review your workouts with maps and graphs that chart time, distance, speed, and elevation gain. To make sure you’re progressing, compete against your past workouts with the virtual competition map (the app’s voice tells you how far behind or ahead you are) and share the results online in real time—there’s nothing like a buddy’s scorn to spur motivation. iPhone; $5
Best Android Alternative: MapMyRide; free
Stuck in a rut with your post-work run or mountain-bike ride? The North Face’s Trailhead app, powered by EveryTrail.com, offers an extensive selection of nearby dirt routes based on your current location. Each of the 300,000-plus listings has complete stats, including elevation, incline, and mileage. Check out photos of the routes and get directions to the trailhead. Coming soon: weather forecasting and gear recommendations. iPhone; free
Best Android Alternative: BackCountry Navigator Pro; $10
If you’ve mastered the sprint tri and it’s time to challenge yourself to an Olympic-distance race (or something longer), download the Triathlon Calculator. This app will estimate times for each leg and convert your current speed into approximate finish times while you’re on the move, making the adjustment to a longer race a cinch. To prevent bonking, it also prods you when it’s time to refuel, based on personal stats and the length of your workout. Android; free.
Best iPhone Alternative: Ontri; $5
Hit the Road
Training Peaks’ GPS Run/Cycle/Walk Tracker Pro (three separate apps) are a great way to stay organized and have fun if you like being active but aren’t necessarily training for a race. Set your workout to music, race against your past performances, and opt for high-intensity intervals, which are called out via speakerphone. Come across an amazing view? Snap a photo, and the location of your image will be stored on a map, along with workout data like time, distance, speed, pace, calories, and elevation. iPhone and Android; $3
Find Your Pulse
Measure your heart rate with your phone—without any external hardware. Place the tip of your finger on the camera lens and Instant Heart Rate Pro will track color changes in your finger and link them to your pulse. Your HR history can be saved, so you’ll be able to compare your measurements over time. Android; $3
Best iPhone Alternative: Instant Heart Rate; $3
The industry-standard ANT+ technology wirelessly connects the iPhone and some Android phones to dedicated fitness accessories like Wahoo Fitness’s Run and Bike packs ($120 and $150 respectively; wahoofitness.com) to take advantage of many of the above apps’ features, such as heart rate, speed, and pace. Work out with your phone and don’t worry about dropping it with the Sportshell Convertible armband and belt clip ($45; store.apple.com) or the Arkon Bicycle Handlebar Mount ($30; arkon.com). And to prevent your handset from short-circuiting in the rain, cover it with the DryCase and DryBuds Combo, a ziplock on steroids that still gives you touchscreen access ($65; drycase.com).