Couch to 5k for free with voice prompts, music and GPS tracking on iPhone

I’m not athletic, but like everyone else I need to exercise. I tried the gym for a year, but got really bored with the treadmill, elliptical, weights, etc. Too much repetition and distraction for me. Plus it’s about a 10 minute drive to the gym. I’d rather use that time exercising. I tried Crossfit, but it was too intense and pricey for my blood ($100/month).

I decided to go back to the basics: pushups, pullups, situps and running. This post will focus on how I (a non runner) am now training for a 5K (3.1 mile) run.

I’ve been doing pushups, pullups and situps for the past 6 months, but wasn’t getting enough cardio. I figured I’d do some jumping jacks, but that is hard to do at 5am when everyone else is sleeping. I didn’t set out to start run training, but as I was browsing through the Health and Fitness section of the App Store last weekend I happened to see a Couch to 5K app and figured I’d give it a try.

Couch to 5K training takes you from sitting on the couch to being able to run a 5K. Each session lasts about 30 minutes and you do it 3 times a week for 8 weeks or so. You start with a 5 minute warm up then you alternate between running and walking for 20 minutes then you cool down for 5 minutes. Over the training period you walk less and run more until you are running the full 30 minutes. That is exactly the “ease into it” type of plan I like. CrossFit was too intense from the first second….kind of shocked my body. Couch to 5K will let me ease into cardio at a very doable pace.

I downloaded all of the free Couch to 5K and run training apps I could find and discovered that the following four things are important to me:

  1. Voice Prompts: I need the app to tell me when to start running and then switch to walking
  2. Music: I need to be able to listen to music, audiobooks, etc while I’m running
  3. GPS: I need to be able to know exactly how far I ran (2.3 miles vs 3.1 miles) and having the actual route I ran on a map is a bonus.
  4. Future: I want to be able to train for a 10k, Half Marathon and Full Marathon if I want to in the future.

Everyone that knows me knows that I’m “frugal”. So being myself I wanted to do this for free. After trying out all the free apps I couldn’t find one that met all my needs (the 4 things above) so I resorted to using two apps at the same time. There may be better apps out there, because I didn’t even try the ones that weren’t free.

Here are the apps I finally ended up deciding to use:

**1. **C25KTM – 5K Trainer FREE – Couch to 5K



This is the main training app that I use. I picked this app for the following reasons:

  1. Voice Prompts: It has the voice prompts that tell me when to start running and tells me when to start walking. The voice is loud, clear and not annoying (yet)
  2. Music: Like all the other ones I tried It allows you to play a playlist while you are walking. You could also just play music outside of the app using Spotify or your favorite music app.
  3. Future: ZenLabs (the creator of this app) also has training apps for 10K, Half Marathon and Full Marathon. This is very appealing to me because I know that when I finish my 5K training I’ll want to keep going. They don’t have free versions of the Half and Full Marathon, but that’s okay I’m many months away from getting there.

The cons to this app are:

  1. It doesn’t save your history to the cloud. If you reset your phone you have to go back and double click each of the days to catch yourself up to where you left off. Not a big deal, but it would be great if they implemented a simple sync with some service.
  2. It doesn’t have GPS tracking so you don’t know how long and the distance of your run. I solved this by also using the free GPS app below.

This app also supports PINK. You can find out more at

**2. **MapMyRun GPS Running


I only use this app for GPS tracking so I know the exact time and distance of each run. It also saves the route details so you can later view on a map. I also like being able to see the exact distance I ran and also like being able to go the MapMyRun site to see my runs from my laptop.

This app also has training plans, but they start at $5.99 a month. You can find out more at

So every morning that I’m doing a run I start GPS tracking with MapMyRun, then open C25K, start my music then start my workout.

I start my second week tomorrow. I’m really enjoying it so far.