2016 Tech Gadgets to Improve Your Running
As technology continues to advance, the gadgets do too. Companies across the world have created products that allow you to track, measure, compare and analyze every aspect of your running metrics.
This doesn't mean everything on the market is worth the investment, though.
We found—and tested—some of the latest technology for runners to understand their every move and know the meaning behind each step.
Polar M400 Running Watch$229.95 1 of 10
The M400 tracks all the crucial stats during a run, including time, pace, distance, heart rate and calories burned. Data can be synced and analyzed with their smartphone app or desktop platform so you can quickly identify victories or areas that need improvement.
With a "Back to Start" feature, you don't have to worry about getting lost in a new city or unfamiliar area. The super soft band and uncomplicated design make this watch easy to fall in love with.
Garmin Forerunner 230/235 Running Watches$249.99/$329.99 2 of 10
The Forerunner 230 and 235 are the latest updates of the very popular Forerunner 220 model. The main difference between the two is the wrist-based heart rate monitoring capabilities of the 235, hence the $80 price discrepancy.
The Forerunner tracks distance, pace, time and heart rate—all the basics you need on training runs—and displays them on a colorful and easy-to-read watch face.
If you're an avid treadmill runner, the watch includes a built-in accelerometer that has the ability to track pace and distance while training indoors. It also connects with your phone to provide text, call, email, calendar and social notifications.
BSX Insight Lactate Threshold and Muscle Oxygen Monitor$299.99 3 of 10
If you've ever had a lactate threshold test done, you know two things: 1) they aren't fun and 2) they aren't cheap.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the concept of lactate threshold, your body produces a substance called lactate during exercise, which can negatively affect your performance. An LT test measures the amount of lactate your body can handle before your running (or other exercise) is negatively affected.
In the simplest of words, BSX Insight is an LT test you can take any time you want. A small muscle-monitoring device fits inside a compression sleeve worn during runs to constantly track the amount of oxygen being supplied to your muscles and the rate at which your body is removing lactate.
The corresponding mobile app lets you take a true LT test or simply track your body during a daily run. Either way, the workout summary provides all the information you need to understand the level at which your muscles are performing—or not performing—at various stages of your training schedule.
Note: We found that the app is not very phone battery-friendly, so be sure to force-close it after each workout.
Fitbit Surge Running Watch and Fitness Tracker$249.95 4 of 10
The Surge is Fitbit's answer to the traditional running watch, providing basic tracking capabilities like mileage, pace and heart rate.
What makes the Surge stand out, however, is the addition of text and call notifications, sleep tracking and the ability to control your music playlist. With a battery that lasts up to seven days, you can spend less time charging and more time on the go.
truMedic TM-1000PRO Deluxe TENS Unit Electronic Pulse Massager$139.97 5 of 10
For those of us who can't get to a masseuse or chiropractor as often as we'd like, enter the truMedic TENS unit.
This compact and lightweight device comes with eight reusable electrode pads that can be placed on the body to deliver electronic pulses to the areas you need it most. These pulses stimulate nerves and muscles, aiming to relieve pain and provide a calming "massage."
Usability is super simple, with clearly labeled buttons that correspond to the area of the body you are targeting and indicate intensity level and treatment time.
Milestone Pod Run Tracker$24.95 6 of 10
Considering how small and simple the Milestone Pod is, the amount of data you get from it is pretty substantial. Simply lace the device onto your shoe and hit the road.
At the end of your workout, you'll have access to a plethora of stats on your running style, including foot strike, cadence, stride length, leg swing and more. The product app also tells you ideal stats, so you know how far away you are from perfect form.
Stridalyzer Smart Insoles$99 7 of 10
It seems as though everything these days is becoming "smarter," and that even includes the insoles of your shoes.
The sensors in these lightweight, flexible insoles track your running form, stress points and consistency throughout your workout. The insoles connect to an app that provides real-time alerts to highlight stresses your body may be experiencing during a run.
The app also provides guidance based on your results, offering advice to strengthen certain muscles, improve your stride or correct inconsistent joint stress.
Note: We recommend making sure the insoles are fully charged before each run. Otherwise, you'll have a hard time connecting them to the app.
Stryd Power Meter$199 8 of 10
Tracking an athlete's power output has been a proven training method in cycling for years, and now Stryd has brought the concept to the running world.
Using power metrics allows you to pinpoint form errors or sources of wasted energy to become a more efficient runner. As compared to heart rate, power measurements are more effective as a training metric because they take into account environmental conditions and poor running form.
The Stryd lightweight sensor attaches to a heart rate monitor strap and connects with most brands of running watches. During your training, the sensor tracks your body's power output, displaying the metric in watts. This number is shown in real-time on your watch or training app, and workout stats are synced with the Stryd platform where you can compare your runs to previous workouts.
Polar A360 Fitness Tracker$199.95 9 of 10
Sometimes, you don't want to wear a giant running watch on your wrist all day. The Polar A360 solves this problem, and it's a great way to track your daily fitness levels while not running.
This sleek device—which comes in five colors—tracks steps, distance covered and calories burned, while providing an on-demand heart rate taken from the wrist. It has eight training modes, so it can be worn during a variety of exercises (including swimming—it's waterproof!), but is understated enough to be worn during the day as a general fitness tracker.