Are you itching to try a 5K? You're not alone. More than 6.2 million Americans finished a 5K running event in 2012, and those numbers are predicted to keep on growing.
The 5K is the perfect event for runners of all shapes and sizes because its (relatively) short and there are thousands of events across the U.S. Chances are, there is at least one, if not dozens of events in your local area. And even if you have never run before, it's much easier than you think to get going. And you can use the beauty of modern technology to help get you there. Here are five great running apps that can help you get off the couch and across the finish line of your next 5K:
1. Get started: Runkeeper. Hands down this is the best - and most popular - app for straight up timing and tracking your runs. You can also set goals, share particularly good runs on Facebook, track other types of workouts, and even play your music through the app. And did I mention that it's free? (iPhone, Android: Free)
2. Get social: Endomondo. This über-popular social running app can give your running a boost by helping to connect you with friends near and far. You can create routes, challenge times, track hydration, get help from an audio coach, send friends pep talks, follow friends on their runs in real time, and even see other runners' times while you're running so you can test yourself. (iPhone, Android: Free)
3. Get faster: Zombies, Run! Sometimes it can be hard to dig in and give your self that extra push to go faster while running. But you know what might get you moving? The fear of being chased by hungry zombies. Suddenly your morning jog is more about survival than clicking off miles. You get some time to run at slower speeds while you build your "base" of supplies intermixed with interval runs where you are running for your life from a zombie. If this doesn't get your heart pumping, it's safe to say that nothing will! The 5K training app is ideal for beginners looking to conquer their first race. (iPhone, Android: $1.99)
4. Give back: Charity Miles. Want to feel great about your next run? Sign up for Charity Miles where your runs — no matter how far or how fast —will help raise money for your favorite charity. You can choose from a number of prominent charities including Habitat For Humanity, Girls on the Run, Autism Speaks, The Nature Conservancy, Feeding America, and The Michael J. Fox Foundation, just to name a few. Press start, go running, and just like that your favorite charity will earn 25 cents for every mile you clock. Now that's motivation! (iPhone, Android: Free)
5. Don't get lost: MapMyRun. If you're tired of your same old running route but afraid to venture onto paths unknown, MapMyRun might be the perfect app for you. You can use it to sort through hundreds of potential running routes in your area, or create your own and upload it for others to share. MapMyRun tracks your distance, calories, elevation, and your nutrition for the day, so if you're feeling low-energy you can look back over the past few days and see if it's your diet that's got you down. (iPhone, Android: Free)
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