The Road to Khon Kaen: FREE Running Apps

Jim Damico, 126 TCCS

There are lots of pros and cons about all the electronic gear we use and carry when we run. I’m not going to get into that. For safety reasons, I always take my phone with me. Since I’m carrying my phone anyway, why not take advantage of all its capabilities?

Note: If you don’t have a smartphone with GPS, that’s okay. Just use your watch to track your training runs. Convert mileage to minutes (3 miles – to – 30 min) and you can follow a standard training plan without the need for anything else.

3 Reasons to use a running app on your smartphone:

1. It creates a workout diary that shows your training progress. But more importantly, it can show you if you’re overtraining. If your running statistics show pace times are not improving or perhaps you’re even getting slower, it might mean you are overtraining. Oops. Overtraining could lead to injury that would end your bid to run in Khon Kaen.

2. At site, we are isolated from other runners – no running buddies to be found anywhere. Most running apps have a social media function so you can give and receive virtual encouragement. Other Thailand PCVs use the following five apps. If you decide to use one, be sure to friend other Volunteers so you can help them and they can help you.

3. A few of the free apps offer training plans which will schedule workout runs to get you ready for your race. Some apps provide audio cues during your runs to talk you through your whole training. This can be a huge benefit.

All of the following five apps are free and are currently being used by PCVs in Thailand. Many of the apps also offer paid subscriptions with more advanced features. But for your first race, the free version is more than adequate. They all use GPS to track your run and give you stats on how you did. You can review previous runs to analyze your progress.

Free Running Apps:


Probably the most used app by Thailand PCVs so it is perfect for the social support as you train. Strava is a cycling app, but it’s also good for runners. If you enjoy biking, Strava would be a natural choice. Strava does not provide a free training plan.

Nike+ Run Club:

Nike+ (iOS or Android) was ranked second in popularity among Thailand PCVs  so it would be a good choice for connecting you with other PCV runners..

Workout options  include “4-week getting started” plan or “8-week get more fit” plan but you’ll probably want, “Get ready for Race Day” which has 5k, 10k, half marathon, and marathon choices of 4-26 weeks depending on distance. The app asks for your running level (distance/week), when your race is and how many days per/week you want to run. Then it asks about you before you “build your plan.” Audio feedback is provided during your workouts .

One big feature: The coaching plan adapts based on your schedule and progress. I’ll use this app to prepare for Khon Kaen.


Training plans are part of the premium subscription but if you download the MapMyRun Trainer app, you can get the training plans free.

MapMyRun Trainer (iOS, Android) had options for : 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, and 50k. Choose your distance and then choose: walk-run, couch-to, or current-runner plans. To set up a personalized training plan, pick the day for your long run, number of runs per week (3-7) and the date of your race (1/29/17)  

Note: When you set the runs per /week, it counts cross-training as a run; if you want to run more, increase the days per /week.


Runkeeper is probably the most popular running app in the United States. You could use it to connect with other PCV runners – and probably a lot of friends back home.

Runkeeper Training Plans (iOS, Android) has options for: 5k, 10k, half marathon, and  marathon. Choosing ‘half marathon’, for example, provides seven different training plans depending on your fitness level or race goal (e.g., 16-24 weeks, 4-5 runs per week). You pick a start date (not the race date) to create the plan. Workouts include easy/long runs and intervals. Runkeeper provides audio cues during your workout.


And rounding out our top five  Thailand PCV running apps is Runtastic. It doesn’t include a free training plan, but it has other workout apps if you want to track your progress on other fitness goals like strength, core or abs.

Remember, all the apps track your mileage and pace, so if you’re using a written training plan, you’re still good to go even if the app you select doesn’t provide a training plan.

If you’re interested in a run-walk-run strategy to complete Khon Kaen, you’ll need an app with interval notifications to tell you when to run and when to walk. Two I’ve tried and liked both Runtastic’s ‘Timer‘ and ‘Tabata‘ by Anuj Seth.

Stay safe. Train fun.


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