I am not sure what I am more passionate in talking about; running or technology. And when these two items come together, well – I am all in. I listen to podcasts/read articles/watch videos to learn more about the latest and greatest technology to “try” and enhance my running. I started with a Garmin when I was training for Boston in 2011. It made a big difference from the previous year’s training plans in KNOWING how far the mileage was, rather than just guessing how far I had gone based on time and what I thought my pace was that day. I learned I was pretty far off my guesses when running the same routes from one year to the next.
When the Apple Watch came out, I snatched that up as soon as I could. While the first iteration wasnt a very good running watch, it has gotten a lot better by now. The ability to run without my phone has been a game changer for me – less bulk, more freedom.
NOW there are so many apps, software and hardware to enhance your running experience. I do try a lot of them, and wanted to share my experiences. As I am pretty deep in the Apple ecosystem, most of these reviews will be iOS focused.
I can’t say enough about the Apple Watch. I know there are some limitations to it but I am not a professional athlete and I am not running a lot of marathons or triathlons these days so this watch does exactly what I need. I have had the watch since Series 0 and each iteration has solved many of the issues of the past generation. I currently have the latest version, Series 6 with LTE, it has solved much of my concerns and become all the watch I need for running. It lasts more than all day, has customizable graphics, I can run without my phone, receive my notifications and listen to music. I can even take a call while running! As someone that does run in the middle of the work day, having the notifications on does allow me to know if I have to cut my run short to get back to my computer to handle a pressing issue – or if I can go a bit longer. Plus with all the various watch bands and faces – I can dress the watch up and down. Recently I acquired the new solo loop (just the single band of fluroplastic – or whatever they call it – with no buckle) – and it is SO COMFORTABLE! All of my tech revolves around this watch.
While the main app that I cant live without is Strava, there has been enough written about this app and wanted to focus on how I get my workouts into Strava. I do prefer the Apple Watchs native workout app to the Strava app on my watch. Mostly the ability to control my music with just a swipe, the customizable screen, the automatic uploads to my fitness and workout app, it really does it all for me. So the app I use to automatically import all my Apple Watch workouts is HEALTHFIT. While HEALTHFIT is a robust app in itself, it does give you the ability to automatically upload your Apple Workouts to Strava, and for me – that was something I had been looking for for a while. It does this upload automatically, as soon as I finish the workout, and will sync all workouts to Strava that I record on my watch – yoga, strength training, cycling, hiking, etc. And as the Apple Watch has such a wide variety of workouts, HealthFit does upload all of those options. This app has solved so much of my issues with Strava uploads. From the app store description – HealthFit exports automatically in background your workouts from Apple Watch to popular fitness platforms and gives you access to advanced analysis of your fitness data with more than 50 charts.
The app is $3.99 on the App Store, a great stocking stuffer.
I discovered this app when I was traveling to PA for our annual RunSignUp conference. I was staying right in downtown Philly but really had no idea where to run without getting complete lost. (And as a female running alone in an unfamiliar city, I have learned my lesson!) I have a lot of running GPS apps but wanted something to give me a turn by turns for an established route. So I googled it 🙂 and Run Go came back to me. I tried it out that very morning and it was pretty cool. I often get lost when I run in places that I don’t know (been late to a few conference meetings as a result), so being able to pre-select a distance and then have the app show me route options near me within that distance goal was pretty cool. The turn cues were incredibly helpful to ensure I stayed on the route and back to the hotel in time.
But I have been able to explore this app more with our Gratitude & Hope Run and it is even more cool. The Apple Watch app is one of the best I have ever used. The turn by turn directions are super cool. There is an actual map on the watch face. But the ability for us as race directors to layer in audio cues – I had so much fun playing with this for our Gratitude & Hope Run. It really has so much possibility.
The app itself is free for all the needed features but they have a premium upgrade for $14.99/year that allows for GPS export, live tracking, auto-syncing to Strava and more cool features.
4. Icee Now
While this is not technically tech, it is pretty techie…. I have been suffering from some sort of -istis (no idea if it is plantar facitistis, bursitis, etc) since May/June. I have no idea what it is, I just know that the more I run – the more it hurts. My PT tells me the best thing I can do is ICE! But lets face it, icing is inconvenient. You have to find ice, find a way to adhere it to the affected area, lie somewhat stable, blah blah blah. Icee Now eliminates all of that. There are a few different products – a re-stickable ice pack, an ace-bandage type of product and a wrap tape-bandage that is some what sticky and adheres to itself. These tape wraps are my favorite product. They don’t need refrigeration, and are kept in sealed containers so you can take them literally anywhere. Let’s say you finish a race and have a long ride home. If you have this product in your bag, you can wrap your knees, ankles, whatever, with the IceeNow wrap and “ice” while you drive. Most PTs agree that icing as soon as possible after you have inflamed the area (ie run), helps speed the healing process. Having these wraps readily available and allowing you to still be mobile, eliminates all barriers to the process. I have been wrapping my ankles and calves after I run but while I make dinner so that I am completely mobile. The product works using menthol as the cooling agent so they smell great. Again – not technology in the truest sense but pretty “cool” technology in my mind.
You may be asking why is an apparel item on a tech list? Well, these gloves have the best touch sensitive fingertips I have every used (and I have used a LOT of gloves). Plus they have so much more cool stuff – the grippy grippy plans, the comfort level, the warmth. I wear these so much more often than just running. But the fact that they are so comfy and the touch part of the fingertips actually work on tech – must have for me.
6. AirPods Pro
I rarely go anywhere without these amazing earphones, not just running. I love listening to either music or podcasts when I run. I have been doing it since the first MP3 players were invented. But wired earphones were SUCH A PAIN! Getting all tangled, getting caught on stuff while you run (I used to always get them caught on branches and mailboxes and they would rip out of my ears). I bought the first pair of wireless earphones when they came out. I will admit that I was slow to purchase AirPods (I bought Jabras back in the day) as I thought they looked so weird when they launched. But I ended up getting a pair and was a convert. Flash forward to the AirPods Pro and I am hooked. I love the transparency mode for when I run, and Noise Cancellation for when my husband is watching wrestling on TV and I am pursuing YouTube on my iPad. The AirPods Pro as so comfortable in my ears with the squishy tips. The other upside with the shorter stalks – They dont bounce against my earrings when I run. ???? them!
7. Zwift –
For cross training, injury prevention and REALLY bad weather days. As I mentioned above, I get injured often. I just cant run like I used to when I was younger. To that end, I have learned that cross-training is the only way to continue running into my older age. While I do love outdoor biking, I dont love Spin at all (just too different from my road bike) and I dont love the indoor trainer, but Zwift is pretty cool stuff and makes the monotony of an indoor trainer a little less terrible. I have Bluetooth speed and cadence sensor on my bike which hooks up to Zwift, but it isnt necessary. Zwift gamifies indoor cycling – not only does it give you a slew of structured workouts you can choose from, but you can also customize your little biker avatar, and ride virtually with people from all over the world. You can join other ride groups, or work your way through a weekly program. In a world where virtual events kept us all connected, Zwift has been doing this for a few years now – and it is pretty cool.
Zwift is $14.99/mo subscription
8. Massage Gun
While there are plenty more expensive versions on Amazon, I picked up this one for $50 and it comes with all the extras. Having this little massage gun sitting next to me in the living room is like having a little masseuse at the ready. As we know, a little targeted agitation can help speed muscle recovery and reduce tension, this little tool helps hit all the right targets. It is a good pain. Most come with a variety of attachments to ensure you are getting the right type of work. Because it is techy and is easier to use, I tend to use this more than my foam roller!
I discovered this watch band a few years ago and it is a neat little band. It provides amazing placement, especially while wearing a jacket or long sleeves. It still allows for the heart rate sensor to work correctly, but puts the watch face right in sight-line rather than fooling around with your jacket sleeves. It takes a little tinkering to get the fit right in the beginning, and not super comfortable for day long use, but for running and biking – I love the placement.
This watch band sells for $39.99
I use this for low-light runs (as well as early morning race starts). This headlamp is not only so comfortable and light that I forget it is even on my head, but it also has some powerful lumens. The best part is that it is rechargeable, so I am not always searching around for some weird sized batteries. The headlamp has a tilt feature so you can position the light where you need it, but it also has a few different light settings.
From Amazon’s description:
- The ultra-thin 3D molded housing sits flat on your forehead. That means no bounce, no slip. By integrating our electronics into the fabric, we pack all your lighting into an ultra-thin facing that is designed to fit as seamlessly as a contact lens.
- Moisture-wicking fabric keeps you cool and dry for any activity and the rechargeable battery means you can leave the alkaline behind.
- Max Output 330 Lumens, Adjustable Front Panel, Red Night Vision Included
- 40 hours of battery on LO, 3.5 Hours on HIGH, Recharge Via Micro USB.
- HeadLamp 330 is made from high-quality moisture-wicking band that keeps your forehead comfortable and dry during activity. Best of all – no abrasion points. The easy-adjust clips also take the guess work out of right-sizing your band.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO YOU ALL and KEEP RUNNING!