Running has been around as long as there have been humans. But in the last decade, the use of technology has revolutionized the way we train, track, and monitor our progress as runners.
There are now various tools and devices available that can help us improve our running, avoid injuries, and stay motivated.
From smart shoes to wearable tech, here’s how technology is changing our approach to this age-old activity.
The pandemic opened up a whole new way of running: virtually. Without the ability to get together and participate in races, the running world had to quickly come up with new ways to stay motivated – and so virtual running was born.
Some virtual runs are simple, pre-recorded videos on YouTube that you can watch while on a treadmill. Other companies like Zwift have created an immersive app and running pod, allowing you to continue to run with your club/group/running buddy no matter where you are.
There are also virtual running races where you run a set distance on your own, then upload your results to a website to see how to did against other runners.
Running shoe tech is making shoes lighter, more comfortable, and faster. Each shoe company has its own unique tech, attempting to be the lightest, bounciest, and most comfortable on the market.
One trend is shoes with carbon-plated insoles. These springy plates help to propel a runner forward, often improving race times by 2-4 percent.
Another interesting concept is Under Armour’s smart shoes. Under Armour created Bluetooth-enabled running shoes that connect to the Mapmyrun app and provide runners with detailed metrics, including accurate cadence, stride length, and power measurements.
It’s a lot like having a coach in your pocket – or your shoe? The app uses the data it collects to provide personalized coaching for your running form. It makes improving your form as simple as checking your data after each run.
Wearables have become the norm. They’re not new, but we’ve moved past the simple step counters and heart rate monitors.
Wearables like Whoop are currently making waves – deviating from the simple wrist sensor by offering wearables that can be worn in a sports bra or a waistband. This makes them more convenient and comfortable.
Other handy wearables include power meters and cadence sensors. To those who rely heavily on their metrics to guide their training, these are invaluable and provide necessary feedback they can use to structure training.
They’re commonly being built into mid- to top-tier watches. Or you can buy small, inconspicuous sensors that attach to your shoes or shorts.
Runners love accessories. Anything that makes a run more fun or more convenient is a bonus. They may not be the most prominent in the tech world, but running accessories are also developing as tech evolves.
Bone conduction headphones are one of the best new inventions for runners. These unique earphones keep your ears open so you can hear the world around you while still playing music – a superb safety feature.
Exciting innovations include sweatbands with built-in music and earphones, digital ID tags, percussive massage gear, and insoles with sensors to track your form.
Technology has changed and is still changing running, both in how the sport is performed and tracked.
But most runners these days are wrapped up in tech – whether we’re talking about a smartwatch to monitor metrics, running shoe tech so you feel like you’re running on clouds, or headphones to stay safe on the road.
Tech can be your best friend on the race course if you use it wisely. And there’s still plenty more to come – the future is exciting.
Just don’t get so caught up in the tech that you forget about the joy of running.