Running is a wonderfully simple activity where little to no technology is ever required. And though many see running as a way to unplug, others rely on select items and advanced designs to inspire and augment their experience. Wherever you land on the integration of technology into your routine, it’s hard to deny how much it can help improve your running form and fitness. And if you’re someone who’s motivated by data, music, and tech of any sort, then gadgets can be well-worth the money spent. Here’s a look at some of the various devices available to runners.
Heart Rate Monitors
These simple monitoring devices typically employ a chest strap, though some wearable gadgets track heart rate through the wrist or forearm. Tracking your heart rate while you run allows you to optimize your workouts by emphasizing various heart-rate zones and letting you know if you’re within certain target ranges. Monitors can also help you know if you’re well-rested, based on variations in your resting heart rate.
These tech-packed wrist computers track your running pace and distance by signals to and from satellites in orbit to produce Global Positioning System (GPS) maps. Many models also provide all sorts of additional data, such as tracking your heart rate and other biometrics. They can pair with a smartphone to unlock a multitude of apps that offer training plans, coaching, connection to virtual running communities, and more.
Smart fitness trackers also collect and monitor various biometrics. Some are simple wrist straps that pair with wellness apps and services on separate devices; others are full-featured smartwatches that offer a suite of tracking capabilities directly integrated with apps, plus connection to music as well as text, email and phone communication on the run. Like GPS-enabled watches and heart-rate monitors, these trackers offer data meant to both motivate you and keep you on pace with your training goals. They can measure sleep, remind you to breathe, and even tell you when to stop exercising.
Cyclists have used power meters for decades, but the concept is relatively new for runners. A running power meter uses small, wearable accelerator and gyroscope units to measure the path of your foot and calculate how many watts you generate with each step. The information can be used to help you adjust your stride to become a more efficient runner.