By Maria Wyllie
Explore Big Sky Associate Editor

With the advent of smart phones, there’s no longer a need for GPS trackers, stopwatches and music players when you go for a run. Fitness applications now centralize these features for you, allowing you to think less and run more.

But, with so many fitness apps out there, how do you know which one to choose? EBS reviewed some of the top-rated apps to help you find out which one is right for you.


Nike+ Running
It’s no wonder Nike+ Running is the most popular running application on iTunes. Of all the free running apps out there, it offers the most features with a visually appealing, user-friendly interface.

Voiceover coaching, an integrated music system, weather reports, comprehensive tracking and a companion website are all offered at no cost. You can even give your run a boost by adding a “power song” when you need the extra motivation. Nike+ also has sharing capabilities if you’re interested in letting your Facebook friends know you went on a run, but it doesn’t clutter the app with information about other random Nike+ users’ workouts, like apps such as Endomondo and Runtastic.

RunKeeper
Although RunKeeper offers a plethora of features, there are no built-in playback controls, meaning you have to exit the app every time you want to play a song that isn’t on your initially selected playlist.

What does set RunKeeper apart is its incorporated Health Graph – a digital map of your personal health. Health Graph allows a variety of fitness apps to access your account and add their own data to it. It can track weight loss, sleeping patterns, diet and body measurements. This is a good option for those in need of an app that does more than track their mileage.

MapMyRun
Powered by MapMyFitness, this app is another great option for those wanting to combine their exercise and diet plans. You can record calories consumed and burned, how much water you’ve had to drink, as well as how much you weigh each day.

Even if you just want to log your miles, MapMyRun has a simple interface that allows you to switch between a live map of your route or a stats page with distance, time, pace and calories burned. After each run, the app will post it directly to Facebook or Twitter, if the settings are adjusted to do so. Overall, this app doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s accurate and to the point.

Runtastic
Runtastic has a lot of great features, but its complicated interface might turn users away. Charts are difficult to decipher and seem to add unnecessary confusion to your post-workout analysis.

The free version doesn’t integrate your music either, which means you have to exit the app in order to switch songs. But if you don’t mind spending the money, Runtastic has a great “Training Plan” shop where you can choose from a wide range of plans to meet your fitness or weight loss goals.

Endomondo
Designed for running, cycling, hiking, or any other endurance-based activity, Endomondo helps you reach fitness goals by building an online community to help motivate you. Similar to Facebook, there’s a newsfeed where you can track what your friends are doing and join virtual competitions against other users.

This app might be a bit intrusive for those simply looking to log their runs, but it’s great for those needing a bit more peer motivation.