How to Create a Run Tracker App: A Strava Alternative Guide

The segment of run-tracking applications is on fire. It was worth USD5.72 bln in 2023 and can likely rise almost 8.6% yearly from 2024 through 2030 to reach USD10.5 bln. The segment is bursting at the seams with millions of current users and growing: Strava alone, the leading run tracker app, has over 120 million users. Runkeeper has 18 million users, and Nike+ Run Club has over 10 million downloads just on Google Play.

The global shift towards healthier lifestyles has resulted in a surge in demand for fitness-related applications, and run tracker apps in particular. Leading-edge technology, on the other hand, has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of this segment.

GPS tracking, biometric sensors, and machine learning algorithms have enabled developers to create feature-rich solutions that deliver accurate data. Additionally, the proliferation of wearable devices has further fueled the adoption of running apps by giving users feedback and analysis of their performance.

With demand at an all-time high, the market has room for new players. But to compete, you need to stand out. Clone Strava or Runkeeper, and you’ll get lost in the noise. Instead, find an innovative feature, target a niche segment of runners, or both, and you’ll prosper.

Wish to leave the competition puffing in your dust as you race to the top of the charts with a new running tracker app? Look at the Strava story. It can surely inspire you to craft a solution that disrupts the industry.

Plus, explore hot functionalities and tips suggested based on our experience that help you outpace the current market players to become the new #1 application for runners globally. 

Strava’s success among apps for activity tracking

Strava started in 2009 as a simple GPS-tracking app for recording cycling routes. Little did its founders know it would evolve into the premier social network for endurance athletes.

How does Strava work today?

It lets sportspersons and enthusiasts monitor runs, swims, bike rides, and more (overall over 30 types of physical activities), analyze performance, join challenges, and connect with a community of fitness fans.

Seemingly a simple idea, isn’t it? However, with over 120 million users and USD 275 mln in revenue generated in 2023, the application has triumphantly tapped into a powerful human drive – the urge to compete and quantify progress.

And they did it technically flawlessly.


Features that get you hooked

First, it’s hard to stop using the app. The leaderboards, segment challenges, and kudos from fellows give the dopamine hits to keep you engaged. Strava’s gamification of workout figures is a digital crack for data-oriented athletes.

Community-driven development

This running app built its features based on user feedback, quickly realizing people wanted to compare their times on popular routes.

In addition to segment leaderboards, they introduced “KOMs” (King of the Mountains), letting cyclists compete for the fastest time. This fueled rapid growth and more athletes joined the application.

The power of data

As its community grew, Strava app amassed a wealth of data on the routes worldwide. They leveraged this data to provide valuable tools like route planning, performance insights, and trend analysis. This methodology has kept the app on the cutting edge and secured it as the go-to for runners and cyclists.

Premium success

After years of free access, the Strava running app introduced a paid membership model (“Summit”) with an enhanced analysis of users’ workouts, training plans, live segments so they can compete against others in real-time, and insurance coverage. This bold move could have backfired, but instead, it has soared, as these extras are hard to pass up for serious athletes.

Strava’s focus on community, data, and premium value has allowed this once-tiny startup to become a juggernaut. The solution capitalized on basic human needs for connection, motivation, and rivalry and created a platform to serve athletes in a way nobody’s done before.

Developing an app like Strava: Features to opt for

Now, it’s time to sprint towards an MVP that can get your users’ hearts pounding. First, lay the groundwork with user profiles, establishing objectives, route planning and so on. Next, add perks that will keep your athletes motivated.

Think long-term and apply advanced features that help them go the distance. If you build an app like Strava right, your solution will be off to a running start.

Must-have features for an activity tracking app

Now, let’s check out the prime functionality no Strava alternative can go without.

Effortless registration

First off, make signup frictionless. Keep it simple: name, email, password, and a profile image. Let users create detailed profiles – have them input statistics like age, height, weight, and goals so you can suggest customized exercising plans.

Workout logging

To get your users moving, include in your app for activity tracking the basics: logging runs, walks, jogs, and sprints. Let running fans follow their distance, time, pace, route, calories burned, and whatever other metrics you can think of to make them feel like overachievers. Offer voice input for those too out of breath to type.

Mapping custom routes

Every runner has their favorite route, so give users tools to map their own paths. Your activity tracker app can use a mix of map layers or satellite images to show the route overlay on a map. Let athletes drop pins to create waypoints for their run.

Calculate the total distance and estimated time so they know what they’re in for. Save routes so users can rerun them whenever they like. For a social element, allow runners to share their favorite mapped routes with others.

Diet and energy tracking

Wish your users to exert themselves fully? Give them possibilities to log meals, snacks, and hydration so that they can analyze what’s powering their workouts. Plus, you can use their data to offer meal plans according to their goals.

Goal setting

Make your sport enthusiasts define their small and ultimate goals to keep them on the literal and metaphorical path to success. Users must be able to tailor these goals to weekly targets, individual workouts, etc.

Your Strava alternative could also offer suggestions or direction on creating achievable objectives, ensuring users don’t push themselves too far or have unreasonable expectations.


Once users set their goals in your app, keep them accountable with notifications. Remind them if they’re behind schedule for the week or haven’t logged a run in a few days.

Send encouraging messages to help them stay driven. For mapped routes, notify users of their progress and how much they must do to complete.


A little friendly competition perfectly motivates users. Create weekly or monthly challenges and offer rewards for winners. In your app like Strava, you can also set up competitions where users race to complete a certain distance or run a route in the fastest time.

Performance analytics

Give customers thorough analysis and access to the data from their workouts. This covers heart rate, average speed, distance, time-to-progress, elevation gain if they prefer tackling hilly terrains, and more. Visualizing change and progress is essential for user motivation.

Sharing the sweat

No alternatives to Strava are complete without a social feed for users to post selfies, share their accomplishments, and like photos of protein shake recipes.

This lets your users interact with fellow running fans and build community. Facilitate connections based on location, workout frequency, or mutual Instagram followers.


For your users, syncing with their Fitbit or Apple Watch means seamless tracking without manually logging workouts in multiple places. For you, it means more opportunities to analyze trends and provide personalized insights. With such integrations, your application becomes central to your users.

Value-added features for your app like Strava

Consider expanding your app’s functionality to capture additional niches:

  • Integrate podcast or music services into the app.
  • Provide hyperlocal weather forecasts so users can train smarter by adjusting plans around impending rain or heat waves.
  • Develop brief, educational articles or audio tips focused on techniques, routes in the area, and injury prevention.
  • Design an AI or recorded voice coach that offers guidance and encouragement during workouts.

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Running to the bank: Profiting from your alternative to Strava

While offering a free version is crucial to attracting users, you need to monetize to keep the lights on. Subscription models are a tried-and-true way to do just that.

Let’s retrace Strava’s steps that allowed the application to go from a humble tracker to a $1.5 bln business.

Go pro for serious runners

Strava’s bread and butter comes from premium memberships, which vary in different regions and can start as low as a couple of dollars per month. To develop an app similar to Strava, consider providing a paid “pro” membership tier with advanced features for your serious runners.

Personalized plans, coaching advice, route planning, and performance analytics are worth a fee. Even casual runners may be willing to pay for a premium plan with enough added perks. Virtual challenges, training videos, and discounted gear can motivate upgrades.

Premium features for premium athletes

Allow inside purchases, such as customized training plans for professional runners. Hire experienced coaches to provide one-on-one guidance for your users.

For major sports teams, build team management features that allow coaches to keep tabs on all their athletes. Charge a pretty penny for these premium services.

Promoted challenges

Strava application charges companies to sponsor challenges on their platform. It has already collaborated with Red Bull, Reebok, and others. Challenges for brands start at USD 20k. They can last up to a month and allow companies to market their goods to a broader pool of customers.

You can also team up with sportswear, nutrition, and wearable brands, or gear manufacturers to get their products in front of your users.

Data licensing

Brands, cities, and urban planners drool over Strava’s data. By tracking runs and rides, Strava knows the infrastructure that needs improving. Local governments, for example, pay to license this data to help build safer roads and more accurate transportation models.

After building apps similar to Strava, you can also aggregate your data into reports that brands can buy to understand the running market. Public health researchers and gear companies would bid on details to curb obesity rates and build better products.

Share stats on things like

  • routes, distances, paces, and locations for runs;
  • trends in run frequency, duration, and intensity over time; and
  • demographic info like age, gender, income level, and education of your users.


Race to the top: How to make an app like Strava

Our experience shows that running tracker app development today isn’t just about beating yesterday’s time. As a startup venture, you’re building a new community while mapping new running trails across the globe.

This social experience requires you to do your homework before diving into development. Study Strava and other running apps to determine what’s working and where you can make it better. Talk to runners to learn what they really want in an app. Maybe they crave more stats, coaching advice, or features for interval training.

Thorough research and planning will pay off – you’ll create an app runners truly want, not just another Strava clone. And you’ll have a massive advantage over competitors who failed to do their homework.

Below are our specific recommendations on how to create a run tracker app to win the enthusiasts’ hearts.

1. Prioritize a captivating user experience

If you want to give Strava a run for its money, you’ll need to design an irresistibly intuitive and habit-forming app.

  • Focus on simplicity and ease of use. Every step of the app experience should feel effortless.
  • Make use of wearable technologies. Incorporate other fitness trackers to provide consumers access to more precise data.

2. Implement accurate GPS tracking

If you seriously consider creating an app like Strava, note: your GPS tracking needs to be flawless. Opt for a solution with the latest GPS chips that can pinpoint a runner’s location down to the inch. For runs, walks, hikes, bikes, swims, and any other activity runners want to track:

  • distance,
  • pace
  • elevation and more.

During your running app development make sure your GPS and motion sensors can handle it all. The more data you provide, the more indispensable your app becomes.

3. Secure personal data

Prioritize strong privacy protections to safeguard your users’ details. Consider implementing

  • robust authentication and authorization controls to restrict access solely to authorized users;
  • industry-standard encryption techniques to store all user-provided information securely;
  • minimal data approach to reduce the scope of potential data exposure;
  • routine security assessments and testing to spot weaknesses proactively;
  • transparent privacy disclosures and meaningful user consent controls; and
  • compliance with applicable legal standards to maintain user trust in personal data handling.

4. Incorporate gamification and social features

After you’ve locked down the tracking and safety components, think about gamification and social features. No modern activity-tracking app is complete without keeping users entertained.

  • Leaderboards. Build them to motivate runners to compare distance, speed, and more. Let users filter by age, gender, location, or club to find the perfect rival.
  • Challenges and prizes. Issue challenges and give awards to keep runners striving to improve. Integrate them with the social features so runners can show their wins to friends.
  • Clubs and groups. Many runners thrive on the accountability that comes from joining others. Add features that allow them to find local groups or organize their own group activities.

Plus, while your solution may become runners’ go-to hub for tracking and connecting with fellow athletes, many will still want to share updates, photos, and milestones on mainstream social networks. Build integration with leading platforms to make sharing simple.

5. Integrate with other health apps and wearables

These days, fitness enthusiasts use a variety of apps and wearables to track all aspects of their health and exercise.

If your app like Strava plays nicely with those, you win major user brownie points.

  • Partner with smartwatch makers. The latest activity trackers and smartwatches provide a treasure trove of data. Sync with watches from Garmin, Fitbit, and Apple to log various metrics.
  • Play matchmaker with nutrition apps. Build API integrations so people can easily share data between your app and MyFitnessPal or whatever tools they use.
  • Make a holistic health dashboard. Provide a dashboard where people can see all their health stats at a glance, with info pulled from your app plus any connected or third-party services.

6. Opt for robust technologies

You need dynamic technologies with enough horsepower to handle the demands for the functionality suggested above.

  • AI. It’s indispensable for crunching the copious data from users and IoT devices. Machine learning algorithms can detect patterns to offer personalized training and performance insights, identify new running routes, or even predict a user’s race time.
  • IoT. This technology transforms run-tracking apps from simple activity loggers into robust digital training assistants. Connected devices and sensors collect extensive data, enabling more advanced analytics, coaching tools, and immersion.


Key takeaways from Strava’s rise in the tracking space

You’ve just sprinted through the compelling reasons why diving into this segment can propel your business to greater heights. With all the stats and trends pointing up for this industry, the time to enter is now. You can outpace the competition with the right app vision, development team, and marketing strategy.

Besides, Strava’s rise offers inspiring insights. Though this application began small, its purpose-built solution for athletes fueled viral growth to millions of users. For entrepreneurs, the primary takeaways are to deeply understand your clients, build for them, and keep improving the product – that’s the Strava playbook for entrepreneurs to run with.

How to get started?

The product discovery phase is the best first step you can take to lay a solid foundation for the development of your app. It includes a functional specification, UX/UI design, and a visual prototype that will give you a clear vision of the end product. On average, this phase takes 4-6 weeks.

The product discovery phase can help you:

  • define a full scope of work and develop a roadmap for building an app
  • set a realistic budget for your MVP and plan your resources
  • test the waters with your audience using a visual prototype
  • craft a convincing investment pitch
  • get to know your team

Contact Eastern Peak if you wish to develop an app like Strava, have a vision and are ready to solve your niche’s problems better than anyone!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make a successful run tracker app?

Developing apps like Strava requires careful consideration of the market and niche you wish to fill. While this segment is competitive, ample opportunities remain for specialized applications addressing dedicated communities.

With targeted research, you can identify underserved groups and design an intuitive experience that delivers value to those users. Back strong ideas with technical skills and a lasting commitment to improvements.

How much does it cost to develop applications similar to Strava?

The cost of developing an app relies upon many factors such as features, platform, design complexity and more. A fit-for-purpose budget can be established based on your vision. While some apps require significant investment, opportunities exist across the spectrum.

How to monetize a running tracker app?

Apps for activity tracking have potential monetization paths as a standalone product and platform for related fitness services. Subscription plans for advanced metrics and coaching could turn avid users into paying ones. Integrating the app with wearables opens opportunities to share data with partners seeking health clients. Developing a solid brand further diversifies the business model through sponsorships, sales, and more.

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