Running Apps & Tech Gear To Use When You Run

Fitbit activity-tracking wristbands. (U.S. CPSC/flickr)

Fitbit activity-tracking wristbands. (Photo by U.S. CPSC/flickr)

It’s no exaggeration to say that technology has revolutionized running in recent years. Sure, there are plenty of great runners that eschew anything but a good pair of running shoes. But even that is debatable now with the barefoot running trend.

There are a lot of great advances in both electronic technology and clothing over the past few years that make running even better than before. These things can add comfort, knowledge, or convenience. Clearly they are not necessities, but rather, an added bonus for anyone who chooses to use them.

(MORE: 13 Essential Tips For Your First Half Marathon)

A GPS watch is one of the best tools for distance runners. They calculate pace, distance, and elevation changes. Scott, a three-time half marathon finisher from Atlanta, says his Garmin 405 is his favorite piece of running technology, because it allows him to see his pace in real time and gauge whether he’s are on target with his training.

Additionally, there is no longer a need to use your car’s odometer to measure your home course if you have a GPS watch, because it accurately calculates the distance throughout your run with much more accuracy. Some of the top brands of GPS watches include Garmin, Timex and Nike.

iPhones, iPods and mp3 players

When it comes to listening to music, mp3 players can be a polarizing topic among runners. Many races strongly advise runners not to wear headphones as it can be distracting and dangerous. Some have a no headphones policy. However, during your training runs, music can be a great source of encouragement and motivation.

Choose something small and light with earphones that fit comfortably while running. If you are running outside, especially near roads, be cautious about your volume. Sometimes you have to be a defensive runner!

Running apps for cell phones have exploded in popularity and runners use them for many different things. Some apps are utilized for their GPS qualities where they can calculate time, speed, and distance. Others are great for tracking workouts and sharing their success with others.

Steve, a first-time half marathoner from Huntington, W.V., says he uses his RunKeeper app “on my iPhone to keep track of all training runs and my pace during the race.”

Apparel made for running

Clothing fabrics have come a long way since cotton shirts. Moisture-wicking fabrics are available at all price points and allow runners to stayer drier, longer. Everything from shirts and shorts to hats and socks are arguably much more comfortable when they made for running.

Visit your local running store for a few quality pieces that will last longer. Make sure to test your race day clothing before race day. Just like a dress rehearsal, it is important to make sure everything stays in place for the big day.

As for the things that other runners wish that someone had clued them into a long time ago? Chris, a running coach and specialist from Nebraska, says it’s no contest:

“If Body Glide counts as technology, it has to be the most important thing. You can make it through a run without a watch, GPS or your headphones, but running with chafed skin really sucks.”

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