Just 50 years ago, running — even if you were a world-class athlete — was remarkably simple. Footwear was relatively straightforward, and options were limited. Clothing was anything comfortable and breathable. Nutrition consisted of whatever you were hungry for or had around to eat, and the only timepiece you consulted — if you consulted one at all — was a stopwatch. Those days, however, are long gone, and in their stead is the ever-present future: running has gone irrevocably high-tech.
From calorie counters and sleep trackers to heart rate monitors and GPS, even amateur runners can know their training intensity and nutritional needs with an intimate detail that was unheard of decades ago. For many runners, the ability to keep track of training minutiae is a godsend that makes running even more enjoyable. If you love to run — and geek out over gadgets — here is a closer look at some of the best running technology available.
Heart Rate Monitors
For the runner who is ready to take her fitness, endurance and speed more seriously, a high-quality heart rate monitor is an essential piece of equipment. Not only will it eliminate guesswork, but a heart rate monitor will also ensure that fitness targets are met. Both undertraining and overtraining can wreak havoc on a runner’s body and race times. A heart rate monitor — because it’s gathering personal and reliable data that any athlete can meaningfully interpret — will make goals more definable and accessible.
Not all headphones and ear buds are created equal — especially for runners. Finding a pair of headphones that sound good, feel good, stay put and endure sweat used to be a search tantamount to finding the Holy Grail. Not anymore. A handful of excellent sports headphones are now on the market, including:
- Sennheiser Adidas PMX 685i. Worn across the back of the head to minimize bounce, these headphones are water resistant and washable, and they allow you to answer the phone while in motion.
- Jabra Sport. With two separate earpieces joined by a thick cable, this Bluetooth-compatible pair of headphones is comfortable and dependable.
- Jaybird Bluebuds X. These small ear buds are guaranteed to resist sweat, and they’re also Bluetooth-compatible.
Fitness trackers no longer just keep track of how far you’ve travelled in a workout. The newest generation, including Nike+ FuelBand, FitBit Flex and Polar Loop among others, is more like a coach and a fitness diary. Calories, sleep, steps — everything is tracked and analyzed to determine the best next move to help you reach your goals. Each fitness tracker syncs up with a corresponding app to help you stay on target in the present and improve over time.
Are you looking to take a 9-mile run today? No need to plot your course ahead of time, just power up your trusty GPS (global positioning system), and head out. Today’s runners’ GPS technology will let you know exactly where you are in the whole, wide world, how far you’ve gone, your split times and more. If you’re the kind of runner who likes to head out on an adventure, GPS running is for you. So long as it can connect to a satellite, you’ll never get lost, and you’ll hit your mileage, too.
If people are doing it, there’s an app for it, and running is no exception. Fitness and running apps abound, and while most offer some helpful ideas and tracking, not all are user-friendly. Some apps, however, will change how you run completely, including:
- MapMyRun. A GPS tracker and workout log that has a built-in community, MapMyRun will keep track of your runs and workouts for the long-haul, which means you can gauge progress better and make changes more effectively.
- Zombies, Run! If you can lack verve when it comes to working out, Zombies, Run! is an app you should try. It functions like a video game, complete with wily zombies along your route that you have to avoid to save yourself and the world.
- Charity Miles. Work out and give back. Charity Miles lets you earn money for one of 20 charities for every mile you log through your phone’s GPS.
Smartphone Arm Bands
People rarely go anywhere without their smartphones, and the same is true of runners. While it may not feel super high-tech, a good smartphone arm band will go a long way in increasing your comfort and the safety of your smartphone. Don’t drop your phone. Band it to your arm.
Running, like almost everything else in the 21st century, has found its way into the tech-heavy future. From fitness trackers to GPS, there’s never been a better time to be a geek who loves to run.