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5 Fitness Apps for Running Smarter in the City

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Keep these five fitness apps in your back pocket to run smarter, safer, and with more motivation.

Apps are a dime a dozen these days. And it can be hard for athletes to know which ones are really worth the download for endurance training. But if you’re a tech person and dedicated runner like me, you want to use your smartphone to its full potential.

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Running Apps for Motivation, Weather, Safety

I’ve narrowed this list to five well-rounded favorites for regular runs all over Chicago.

Outside of the biggies you probably already know — like Strava, MapMyRun, and Spotify — I’m using these lesser-known fitness apps to stay focused and motivated while training for an upcoming half-marathon. These keep me out in front of weather, danger, and even the dreaded plateau.


On weekdays, I tend to run at night after work. If it’s not summertime, that means I’m running in the dark, which is an eerie feeling. Before I head out, I always open up Glympse, a location-tracking app that shows where I am and how fast I’m running.

Glympse running app

I can send my location to a friend or family member for as many minutes or hours as I want, and then they can see exactly where I am. Knowing my friends and family have my exact location helps me feel much safer on my night runs.

Nike Run Club

This is the app I use to track my mileage and keep me motivated. You can add and compete against friends, or even participate in community challenges with people all around the world. It’s addicting.

I’m a competitive person by nature, so once I start Nike Run Club challenges or see my friend inching ahead of me in weekly miles, it makes me all the more likely to keep going and get back on top.


I can’t run without music, but some songs on my playlist just don’t keep me motivated. Spring completely takes care of that by curating a personalized playlist for me based on what I like and how fast I’m running.

Woman running while listening to music

It keeps me motivated, in the zone, and drowns out any negative thoughts in my head.

Atmosphere Weather

The weather is constantly changing in Chicago, and I’ve been caught in the rain enough times to learn my lesson. Before I leave my apartment, I’ll take a quick look at Atmosphere Weather to see if blue or cloudy skies await me, and to ensure that I’ll be able to get my full run in before any inclement weather hits. (Otherwise, I prepare myself accordingly.)

Atmosphere Weather app

The app is super visual with an easy-to-read clock interface and also shows wind speed, which is really helpful for my runs along the Lakefront Trail.

Charity Miles

With Charity Miles, it’s not just the endorphin rush that makes me feel amazing after a run. The app makes a donation to charity based on the number of miles I run. Seriously, it’s that easy. My charity of choice is Charity: Water, which provides drinking water to developing nations. This is also perfect to use during marathon training and makes those 13- to 18-mile runs even more worth it.

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