Updated: Feb 28, 2021
Creating and sticking to a training plan is no mean feat. It requires powerful dedication and a deep commitment to the end goal that you're working towards - whether that be to lose weight, build your fitness for an upcoming event, or just to prove to yourself that you're capable. But relying on your own drive and willpower to remain on track and continue heading out of the door - even on the cold, dark mornings - is a recipe for disaster. This is made even more difficult with most in-person races being cancelled because of the pandemic.
This is where technology can come in. For a very small (often free) cost, nowadays, anyone with a mobile phone and an internet signal is able to access some very powerful tools that can transform your training; giving you the added motivation to work harder and more effectively than ever before. Fitness mobile apps are continually being developed and improved which harness the power of human psychology to encourage users to stay consistent and even enjoy their training more. As well as that, many apps connect or harness other powerful technologies to give greater feedback on performance, which can make a huge difference for sports like running, cycling and swimming.
In this article, we've picked 5 of our favourite fitness/training apps that can help you to stay on top of your training and motivate you to push through your current ceiling. Let's go!
1. My Virtual Mission
My Virtual Mission is a brilliant mobile app that allows you to create virtual running, cycling and swimming challenges by choosing the start and end points on a map. You then log your activities through one of their handy integrations with Strava, Runkeeper, FitBit and MapMyRun and the app will show how far you've gone on the challenge.
We love how motivating it feels to have a finish line in sight, as this really drives us to keep completing our sessions so that we can get closer to our end goal. Without this, it can sometimes feel like an endless slog as we cycle through the various weeks of our training plan. Plus, it has the added bonus of making it feel like we're travelling, which is something we're missing at the moment!
My Virtual Mission is awesome for fundraising too. You can create a mission, select your chosen charity or cause and then invite friends, family and colleagues to donate. As you work through the challenge, your supporters can stay up-to-date on your progress and cheer you on from the sideline.
2. The Conqueror
Similarly to My Virtual Mission, The Conqueror is all about chasing down an epic distance goal by tracking your runs, walks, rides and swims through their app. But the major difference is that The Conqueror create the events, which you can then enter (if you think you're up to it!). These include monumental challenges like swimming the English Channel, climbing Mount Everest or even completing the Camino de Santiago.
Successfully complete one of their virtual challenges and you'll earn yourself a stunning medal that you can proudly display alongside all of your other silverware, which offers that extra bit of motivation to get out and get it done. We like how this replicates real in-person events and makes you feel like you've really accomplished something at the end of it. Plus, we do love a bit of bling!
As with many other apps, Conqueror syncs with your favourite activity tracking platform so you don't need to switch that around. You can also enter their challenges as a team and work together to tick off the miles, which is a great way to add an extra layer of motivation and accountability.
3. Run With Hal
If you're a runner or triathlete and are looking for some expert training advice instead, then look no further than Run With Hal. Created by the famed runner and author, Hal Higdon, Run With Hal offers adaptive, progressive training plans, straight from the mobile app. Available on Google Play and App Store, you'll be able to choose your target race or distance, as well as various other inputs that will customise your training plan, such as: available days, target pace and blackout days.
Run With Hal will create a personal training plan for you with workouts that fit your goals and lifestyle, so there's no excuse not to hit that next PB. You can track your training sessions from within the app and also see your statistics over time, so you get that extra dopamine hit when you see your progress. The main thing we like about this app is how to adapts to changes in your schedule and alters your plan to ensure you remain on track. So if you're unwell, are away on business, or life just gets in the way of a training session, then you can rest easy knowing it won't derail your marathon prep.
It's great to know that the plans are based on the tried-and-tested routines of an expert runner and Hal's own expertise can be accessed through the app itself, too. Regular notifications keep you motivated and drip-fed with running tips, so you get the feeling that you have your own personal running coach.
4. Charity Miles
Need some philanthropic motivation? Well Charity Miles is the app for you. For every mile that you log - whether that's running, cycling or walking - they'll donate money to a panel of carefully chosen charities. So as well as runner's high, you'll get that added endorphin rush of knowing you've done your bit for the greater good. So far, Charity Miles users have logged over 100,000,000 miles and raised over $2,750,000 for good causes - quite impressive!
They're able to do this due to their relationship with corporate sponsors who advertise through the platform. These funds then get donated to charitable organisations whenever users run, ride or walk, which is a genius idea! We find that it really helps when you're midway through a session and suffering, to know that there's a larger purpose to the pain than just what your friends will see on Strava...
5. Zombies, Run!
We end with something a little more light-hearted. Or perhaps not, if the idea of being chased by hordes of zombies who are hungry for your flesh is a little terrifying...
Zombies, Run! is an app for iOS and Android that puts you in the middle of a centre of an exhilarating story where you're the hero that's been tasked with saving humanity from a zombie attack. Your runs become desperate missions to gather supplies, rescue survivors, and defend homes. This will certainly get your heart rate up!
As you're running, the mission and music will play through your headphones and if you're chased by zombies, you'll have to speed up. The addictive storyline will make you want to keep getting out on the pavement or trails and the horrifying sound of approaching zombies will most definitely push you to work harder than normal!