Experienced runners know you can’t just hop off the couch and head for the starting line of the Boston Marathon. Training keeps you limber, keeps you healthy and ensures you can keep up with the competition once you’ve got your number pinned on. iPhone apps can help you improve your training, track your progress and even add a little extra fun to your workout.

Mobile apps built for runners

Maybe you’re not experienced, but have dreams of pulling on track pants, lacing up your shoes and making it from the first step to the finish line. These apps can help get you out of the house by motivating you and guiding you through your first months as runner. Much cheaper than a personal trainer or a GPS-enhanced runner’s watch, mobile apps built for runners are a great way to start your training regimen.

RunKeeper Pro is a popular runner’s app that tracks your progress using the GPS-ability of the iPhone. It costs $9.99 for the full app. There’s a free one you can start out with, but it doesn’t include voice commands. As you run, the voice lets you know whether you’re hitting the pace you’ve set or going too fast or slow. It helps keep you on track for the long haul and makes sure you don’t burn yourself out in a sprint. RunKeeper Pro collects data about your pace, distance and calories burned then uploads it to a website where you can track your progress over time. You can also download RunKeeper Pro for Android, Windows Phone and Nokia.

Ghost Race Pro also tracks your time, but it offers a little fun, too. Instead of running your normal route alone, try racing against yourself. Ghost Race’s tracking feature can map one of your runs, then set it up so you run against yourself on the same route in real time, always knowing where you are compared to yourself on a previous day. If you’re lagging behind your usual time, Ghost Race can help provide the motivation to get a little extra speed in your step. It’s $0.99 in the app store and is also available on Android.

runner’s appInterval Run is another program with voice commands. It’s great for those times when you don’t want to look down at your phone as you run.  Since it offers interval-training programs, it’s an easy way to mix up your daily workout routine. There are preprogrammed runs; you can also create your own interval program. Best of all, you can hear the feedback over the music you’re playing through your iPhone. It’s only $1.99 in the app store.

So install a new app, stretch, grab some water and head out the door. It’ll be like running with a small, electronic friend who happens to know a lot about distance, speed and being a successful runner. Are there any running apps that you would recommend?

Tags: running apps, Boston Marathon, boston marathon training app droid, developing iphone apps on windows, Ghost Race Pro, Ghost Race’s tracking feature, Interval Run, iphone apps for runners, mobile apps built for runners, RunKeeper Pro, runner’s app