The cool air against the skin, wind gently blowing through the hair, and the smell of fresh cut grass on a warm, sunny day are all reasons to get outside for a run, not to mention the cardio-health benefits, and the opportunity to escape the barriers of my 4 apartment walls. The smartphone is my jogging companion, bringing my playlist and recording my progress. Loading up the right fitness app can be a helpful motivator too...
The second season of Walking Dead maybe over, but the Zombies, Run! app has you covered until next fall with a highly interactive offering. Can you outrun the living dead? You can finally put your fitness against imagined hordes of zombies as you run through a storyline that develops over the course of 40 runs (with the promise for expansions.) Create your own playlist and witness the epic story unfold in between tracks with radio messages and voice recordings. In between workouts you can use materials gathered from your workouts to strengthen the fort and feed/heal survivors that depend on your workouts to live. $8
A strong alternative to Nike+ GPS, the popular Runkeeper service is not only good for running, but also works for those who bike, swim, or weightlift. For running purposes, Runkeeper lets you create real-time GPS routes, audio cues for distance or time and features data back up to their servers. Logging into your account on their site lets you see your active history through charts and statistics such as calories burned, average pace and run length. Free
Also available for iOS/Windows Phone 7
Couch to 5K
Beginners looking to get into shape might want to consider C25K. The main goal is to start users off on a nine-week training plan that with vigor and discipline will get you to run a full 3.1 Miles (5 Kilometers for those who follow the metric system) by the end. It's a very approachable app that lets your control your music in-app and is recommendable for the sole purpose of getting more fresh air and exercise. Once you conquer this goal, you can elevate to higher physical goals. $3 +$1 for additional GPS support
Also available for iOS/Windows Phone 7 - Each $3
Windows Phone 7
Achievements and trophies are good motivation in the video gaming world and Marathon taps into the same motivation factor to their fitness app. Marathon also records a great range of data such as speed, distance, calories consumed, or the geometric climb or decline from your run. For those who like to improvise their route, Marathon follows where you've run and draws it out by itself by using GPS. Data is displayed through charts and can be shared by their own site, Twitter and Facebook. $1.50
Endomondo Sports Tracker
Another social network for the physically active who frequently indulge in exploring a wide variety of terrain is Endomondo. With a robust GPS tracker that records distance, speed and altitude, Endomondo is great for runners, joggers, cyclists and hikers who like to mix things up with paths through the woods or mountains. Endomondo even gives pep talks and encouraging words to help give an extra push towards the finish line. Additionally it can be used with select heart rate monitors and allows challenges to be posted to Endomondo friends as well as publish activities and progress.
Also available for iOS/Android
(Photo: Gregory Han)