A smartphone can be a great running partner if you load it up with the right apps.
An "apped-up" runner can sync his or her training with social networks, music, maps and more to make the running experience more holistic. Here's a list of the eight most essential smartphone apps for runners:
If you frequently travel for business or vacation, Localeikki is a must. The app allows you to view some of the best running routes or other activities to keep you active. Furthermore, Localeikki's crowd-sourced database takes the hassle out of trying to find safe routes in a new city. Get the app on iOS.
Strava is my favorite smartphone app of all time for running. There are so many elements to this robust app, but what really stands out for me is the social integration, easy-to-use buttons while running and the ability to follow elite athletes and track their workouts. As an added bonus, Strava also caters to a strong community of cyclists. Get the app on iOS and Android.
One of the earliest pioneers of smartphone apps for runners, MapMyRun's strength is in route creation and tracking. One of the standout features is its ability to connect with other devices, like Jawbone, Fitbit and Garmin. Get the app on iOS and Android.
This smartphone app is extremely versatile and offers many features. Runtastic possesses the traditional tracking capabilities, but it also has a feature called "Story Running." This feature plays audio tracks that put you in a story while you run. It's a great way to stay motivated or break up a training funk. Get the app in iOS and Android.
Many running shoe brands have attempted to create a smartphone app for runners, but Nike does it the best. From the social cheers feature to coaching, the strength of the Nike+ app is in its motivation for training. Get the app on iOS and Android.
It's hard not to mention this smartphone app that enjoys notoriety for introducing so many people to running. The app helps people break into running by training for their first 5K race. It's great for new runners as it offers motivation and an achievable goal. Get the app on iOS and Android.
7. Zombies, Run!
Who would have thought runners and fans of the Walking Dead would have so much in common? Now in it's third generation, Zombies, Run! brings a gamified element to running with its Zombie Chase interval workout and all the running missions that help you build your community. This app is a great way to get started with running or to introduce some variation into your training plan. Get the app on iOS and Android.
8. Garmin Connect
Garmin is at the top of the GPS tracking game, so it's not a surprise that this app is on the list. If you own a Garmin GPS watch or another one of its activity trackers, you can sync all your workouts via one app. Get the app on iOS and Android.
Chris Narbone is a Chicago runner who curates Amplify Running, a blog about gear and technology for runners.