One of the best things about running is that it requires almost no equipment whatsoever. Just put on your shoes, a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, and you’re good to go. Right? Yes, of course, that’s all you need, but that doesn’t mean that running can’t be made more fun by adding some cool-but-not-strictly-necessary gear. And some of these gadgets will help you run faster and further too!
It’s quite frankly amazing how many cool features can be squashed into a watch-sized package. Basic GPS units are quite affordable these days, and even the simplest GPS running watch will make a huge difference to your training. It will allow you to effortlessly track your time and distance and chart your progress over time.
If you splash out, you can buy all singing and dancing models too. They will set you back a few bucks, but the more advanced watches will allow you to track all sorts of metrics. These will also enable you to set up custom training programs.
With a Bluetooth connection, you’ll be able to control your music and check your messages without having to take out your phone. On top of all that, you’ll never have to worry about getting lost again; your watch will point your way home.
Earbuds with Hear Through Capabilities
A pair of wireless earbuds is a must-have for most runners. However, many lament the lack of situational awareness they have while listening to music with their ear canals blocked.
Many earbud manufacturers now offer devices with hear through capabilities, also known as audio transparency or blended hearing. The concept behind this technology is an ability to hear both one’s music, while still hearing outside ambient noise such as passing cars, horns, or voices.
The ability to enjoy music while pounding the payment and detect potential safety hazards and other noises gives today’s runner more peace of mind.
Heart Rate Monitor
If you’re getting serious about your running, a heart rate monitor is an absolute must have. Some runners’ GPS watches will include a wrist-based heart rate monitor, but for the most accurate result, a strap around the chest is best.
By tracking your heart rate, you can optimize your training. Running in different heart rate zones will be optimal for different results, depending on what your goals are and how long your run is.
But heart rate monitors are not just for experienced runners. Beginners will benefit from them too because one of the biggest traps novices fall into is trying to run too fast. While “being able to talk” is an excellent guideline, information from a heart rate monitor is far more accurate.
Not strictly a piece of running equipment, your smart phone is nevertheless one of the best things you could ever bring on a run. Because it is multipurpose, you can use it to listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks, for starters. A small distraction can make that long endurance run much more enjoyable.
If you don’t have a GPS watch, then you can use one of the many available free apps to track your progress. If you do have a GPS watch, you’ll want to use your smart phone to collect and study the data you collect.
Then there’s the safety factor. You never know what might happen. Unfortunately, an accident can happen to anyone, and if you do happen to twist your ankle, having a phone with you can be a lifesaver.
Just be sure to look after your expensive smart phone, as they tend to be quite sensitive to water damage. Running in the rain (or even your sweat) can put it at risk. A decent case or even a plastic bag is all you need to keep it safe though.
You may have heard of foam rollers as a great tool to deal with running injuries. But you shouldn’t wait until you’re injured to start using one. They are brilliant in helping you get the best possible warm-up and cool-down.
Using a foam roller to stretch and self-massage your muscles will help increase mobility and loosen tight muscles. After a run, the roller will allow you to deal with stiffness and soreness before these minor things turn into injuries.
Regular stretches can also do these things, of course, but a foam roller is much more efficient at targeting the deep muscle tissue. Foam rollers are proven to help prevent all sorts of common injuries, such as runners’ knee and shin splints.
You’ve got car keys, house keys, a phone, money, gels, and various other bits and pieces that you must carry on your run. You can’t hold these all in your hands, and bringing a bag isn’t ideal either. The solution may be a running belt. They are handy and can be a good thing to talk about in your next Instagram running caption.
Running belts strap around your waist and are surprisingly roomy. Their elastic straps keep them snug and stop them from bouncing around. Many such belts have all sorts of handy little features, like loops for storing gels and holders to strap on a water bottle.
By keeping your items close to your waist and center of gravity, the weight of your items is well distributed and won’t interfere with your running. At the same time, all your items are within easy reach.
Running belts are not expensive, so they are a handy indulgence in if you want to give yourself a boost.
While these six gadgets may not strictly be necessary to be able to run, they are items that every runner should consider buying. They will make your runs more enjoyable and your training more efficient.