Originally published October 2015, updated August 2017
WalkJogRun sets the gold standard for accuracy and discoverability.
Whether you like to stay active by walking several days a week or are on a rigorous running plan, one of your biggest challenges in keeping at it probably isn't physical. It's boredom. The thought of running the same neighborhood streets (or even the same beautiful park) you did last week, the week before that, the week before that (you get the picture) can grow old, quickly.
Even if you've already found a way to get variety in your route, you're on your own searching Google or asking the front desk for ideas on safe or scenic places to help you stick to your exercise schedule.
For me, WalkJogRun is the really the first phone app/website that actually solves this problem, unlocking an amazing amount of tried and true running routes on the spot, literally. I've used plenty of apps from Nike+ or Garmin (even MapMyRun) that can also show routes from their users, but they tend to falter when you're not in a densely populated area or they just show areas you already know about. No matter where I've been, I've always found a route to run. Even at home, where I live out in the country, it shows over 20 different options within half a mile from my doorstep.
The route finder also has an awesomely wide range of searching and viewing options. There are 9 different map types you can view, a list view that breaks them down by route distance, and every route you select shows the elevation so you don't accidentally pick one with more hills than you'd like. You'll find virtually any type of of path, whether you prefer running on trails, sidewalks, neighborhoods, or city streets.
Changing up your scenery not only helps you look forward to exercising, you'll also break out of the habits you mentally form doing the same course day-in and day-out. I always run further and faster in a new place, taking in the scenery and using my run to explore further.
In the app, you can simply pan and zoom from on the map from your location (or a searched location) and explore any size area you'd like. When traveling, I love running riverfront or oceanview paths in new cities, so I just flick around the map a little bit and look for bodies of water and search what's there. Even better, if no uninterrupted path exists, you'll likely find the best connection routes discovered by locals.
View search shots from the app below
So all that's great. The catch? It costs $5, which is steep when there are plenty of free or $1-$3 alternatives. While it has a lot of other GPS tracking and exercise logging features, the easy-to-use route finder and deep database (of over 2 million) are what makes it worth that price.
Like I said, the app is only worth $5 if you take advantage of the route finding features. MapMyRun and RunKeeper are two good alternatives that have many similar features and may suit your needs, but also offer a free version to use.
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