Best companion apps to take with you on your jog

Cross-training can improve your stamina, giving you more energy during performances. The simplest exercise you can add to your non-rehearsal days is jogging. Even just putting in a couple miles on your off days can boost your endurance.

As an avid runner, I found that getting feedback on your workouts serves as a potent source of encouragement, as you can track your progress over multiple jogging sessions. In addition to your standard mileage tracker apps (Nike+, Runtastic, Strava), I've compiled a list of the best apps to take with you on your outdoor workout sessions. These apps are mostly for fun, but I found that they can add a lot to a run.

1. Pokemon Go (Android / iOS, free)

Pokemon Go puts you in the shoes of a trainer in Nintendo's world of Pocket Monsters, the Japanese-born gaming phenomenon that has influenced a generation. This mobile app has you wandering around your city, collecting items and experience points from landmark locations called "PokeStops." Most importantly, you are tasked with finding wild Pokemon and enslaving capturing them to add to your catalog.

Jogging around the city lets you encounter many of these PokeStops as you occasionally encounter wild Pokemon. One game feature allows you to "hatch" eggs after you have traveled some distance on foot, and jogging accelerates the egg hatching process. I've hatched a few rare Pokemon out of these eggs in the middle of long runs!

This augmented reality mobile game quickly earned the top spot on the "Most Downloaded Apps" list within just a week of it's release. As of the time of writing, Pokemon Go is installed on more cellphones than Netflix, Pandora, or even Twitter. Pokemon Go users even outnumber the users of Tinder, another popular app where you find monsters.

2. Zombies, Run! (Android / iOS, free to try - $1.99 full version)


If the overabundance of zombie themed entertainment today is truly a sign of mindless consumerism, then appropriately enough, the only paid app on this list is a zombie themed app. 

In Zombies, Run! you become one of the last surviving humans at the outset of the zombie apocalypse. As you run, the game narrative describes your journey towards the last human stronghold. Along the way, you'll rescue survivors and collect supplies on your path - with the occasional sprinting session in the form of a panicked zombie chase, perfect for interval training. With more than 200 missions and a gripping narrative, you'll want to keep training to find out what happens next.

3. Charity Miles (Android / iOS, free)

Charity Miles tracks your workout statistics as you walk, run, or cycle around town, much like any other basic workout app. But as an added bonus, you'll get the feel good benefit of knowing that someone could be benefiting from your workout. At the beginning of each training session, you select one of 30+ charities, ranging in causes such as Parkinson's Disease research, the World Wildlife Fund, or the Special Olympics for example. After your workout, Charity Miles sponsors show you a quick advertisement before donating 25 cents per mile to your chosen charity.

Although 25 cents doesn't feel like much, Charity Miles has already donated more than a million dollars to their various organizations since the app's launch in 2009. 

4. Walk for a Dog (Android / iOS, free)

Like Charity Miles above, the premise behind WoofTrax' GPS-enabled app Walk for a Dog is to donate to a good cause for each mile that you put in while running. The beneficiary is decided based on your ZIP code: Walk for a dog locates the nearest animal shelters to your location, from which you are allowed to select. Walk for a Dog allows you to make profiles for each of your dogs to keep track of how fit each dog is becoming.

Animal lovers, this one is for you.

Yes, personal fitness is hard. Despite the benefits of cross-training, it's still a challenge to get your feet on the road. I found that these apps above have provided a great added motivator for me to lace up my running shoes and get out the door. 

Got other suggestions for great companion apps to take with me on my runs? Comment below!

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