There are lots of ways people like to get in shape and/or focus on their health and well-being through exercise. And one of the most popular ways is through running. Heading outdoors for a jog is not only a great way to keep your body strong and get the daily recommended physical activity, it’s also an amazing way to clear your head of the stresses of the world. Whether it’s a morning run to start your day off right, an afternoon run to break up the monotony of the workday, or a late-night jog to work off a big dinner, there are lots of health tech and wearables designed for tracking running stats and/or making your running experience more enjoyable.
Here, we’ll walk you through some of the most exciting categories and how they can be valuable for both runners training for the next marathon and those just looking to go for a casual run a few times a week.
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Tracking your progress
Even if you’re only running for fun, it’s still worthwhile to be able to see your stats at the end, whether it’s your running route, heart rate, number of steps and active minutes, or all of the above. And there are a variety of devices that can help you do that.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers
There are tons of smartwatches and fitness trackers available from top brands like Fitbit, Garmin, Samsung, and others. Some fitness trackers and smartwatches, like ones in Garmin’s Fenix and Forerunner lines, have features that will specifically appeal to serious runners.
But if you’re just getting into running and not looking to spend a fortune on a device that can track every stat under the sun, from your route to distance traveled, cadence, pace, and more, most fitness trackers and smartwatches will do the trick.
What should you look for? Ideally, find one with built-in GPS. This means that you can pop out for a run without bringing your smartphone with you and the device will track your route, then sync with the app when you get home. If the device has connected GPS, that means it can still track your route, but only when you bring your phone with you. Built-in GPS, however, is a really valuable feature for runners.
Also consider getting a fitness tracker or smartwatch that can work with third-party apps, like Strava, which is a favourite among runners to offer more robust route, distance, and stats tracking. While you might not use one of these apps to begin with, you may decide to do so in the future. So, if your smartwatch or fitness tracker can integrate that data in a single app, it makes for a seamless experience. It’s a bonus if the smartwatch can store music and pair directly with wireless headphones (more on those in the next section).
Smart scales will help you monitor progress over time. And many of them don’t report just weight but also other useful data like body mass index, muscle mass, and percentage body fat. Weigh yourself every morning (ideally naked, after going to the bathroom and before showering) to get the most accurate stats.
Smart scales keep the captured data logged in an app – some can even communicate with a smartwatch or fitness tracker app (the Fitbit Aria Air smart scale, for example) so you can view all your fitness data in one spot. While running might not be helping you lose weight, you might see that you’re gaining muscle mass, or that your percentage of body fat is dropping.
Track your progress at home with a treadmill that has built-in memory or can connect with your fitness tracker or an app to log your data as you go. Not everyone has the time nor the ability to go for runs outdoors, especially with kids, busy work schedules, or inclement weather. Invest in a treadmill and get your runs in any time you can spare the 20-30 minutes. Look for one with app control, or at least with a display on a screen that can show you data in real time, including speed, distance, calories burned, and heart rate. If you’re reluctant because you don’t have the room in your home for one, models like the
SuperFit 2-in-1 Folding Treadmill can easily fold up and be tucked away in a corner to take up less space when you aren’t using it.
Entertain and motivate you
Walks, runs, workouts, and exercise of any kind always go by much faster with music. And having a good playlist that has upbeat songs can help you keep the pace as you run. There are a few options that are perfectly suited to runners worth considering.
Truly wireless earbuds
Truly wireless earbuds, also known as true wireless earbuds, pop right into your ears and connect wirelessly to a mobile device so you can listen to tunes on the go, free of wires. These make running really comfortable. When selecting a pair, make sure they are waterproof or at least sweat-proof and fit securely in your ears. Some can connect directly to a smartwatch so you can leave your phone at home and listen to music stored in the wearable device. If the headphones are sound isolating, that’s great, but if you’re running, especially on your own, it’s good to find a pair that has a feature that lets you hear your surroundings more clearly when needed. The Jabra 85t in-ear headphones, for example, have a feature called HearThrough, letting you tap one bud to let more outside noise in, adjusting just how much through the companion app. Good battery life is helpful as well, so you don’t have to recharge daily. The Jabra Elite Active 65t in-ear-truly wireless headphones are designed especially for use during exercise with inline control so you can adjust playback by tapping on the buds, and extra protection against water and sweat.
If you’re not a fan of true wireless earbuds, you can also get earbuds or headphones that are designed specifically for use while doing rigorous activity, like running. They’ll typically be named sports headphones and while many of them are of the true wireless kind, you can get other styles, too. The Bose SoundSport in-ear wireless headphones, for example, include buds that go in either ear, just like true wireless models. Except they are attached to a wire that fits behind your neck. This makes it easy to take the buds out of your ears and have them drape over your shoulders when you aren’t actively wearing them, a feature that runners who might stop to chat with friends or to grab an energy drink will appreciate.
Managing health at home
There are other devices you can use to manage your health at home, both before and after your run.
Blood pressure monitors
It’s always a good idea to keep tabs on your blood pressure, especially if you have issues with high or low blood pressure. A blood pressure monitor at home makes this simple as you can simply wrap it around your arm, press a button, wait, and get a reading within seconds. There are lots of options, all of which are super easy to use, like the Beurer BM67 blood pressure monitor we reviewed in early 2021.
Other health monitoring devices
Another health monitoring device you can use includes a chest heart rate monitor, which can keep track of your heart rate not only before and after a run but also during. Keep in mind, however, that most smartwatches, and even fitness trackers, include heart rate sensors, eliminating the need to wear a chest strap. And given all of the additional features you get with one, you’re wise to just get a wrist-worn tracker. That said, if you’re really serious about heart rate tracking and want a secondary source to compare results, you can opt for a chest strap.
To check your blood oxygen levels and lung health, use a pulse oximeter: slide your finger into the little grip and you’ll get a reading instantly that will let you know your levels. There are even personal EKG monitors you can get that take an EKG reading from your fingers to detect potential atrial fibrillation, bradycardia, or tachycardia that might impact your running habits.
Another aspect that can impact your health, wellness, and your readiness to go for a run, is sleep. And there are sleep tech devices that can come in handy. For example, an anti-snoring sleep mask would be great for not only monitoring your sleep quality in the morning by analyzing the data in the app each morning, but they can help prevent you from snoring in the first place.
Focus on fuelling your body
Runners know that a big part of ensuring a successful run is having the right fuel to drive you and replenish you when you get home. And that often involves healthy smoothies or fresh juices to revitalize you, rehydrate, and provide plenty of essential nutrients.
If you love smoothies, a blender is a must. But they aren’t just great for after-run smoothies. You can also use them to prepare healthy snacks, like homemade hummus dip or pesto sauce for zucchini noodles. There are countless things you can do with a blender. And for runners who love to go for a quick run in the morning, they are perfect for making a quick breakfast replacement smoothie while you cool down from an intense 5K. A blender like the Blendtech Total Blender has 10 manual speeds and pre-programmed settings for smoothies, hot soup, and more. And it can blend even frozen fruit and ice quietly.
If you don’t need, or have room, for a full-sized blender and you’ll only use it for your own personal-sized smoothies anyway, consider a personal blender, which is not only smaller in size but many of them come with lids and handles so you can drink right out of the same cup you blended in.
Some runners might prefer fresh-squeezed juice, which is a great way to get much-needed vitamins and nutrients from fruits and vegetables. There are different types of juicers to choose from, including centrifugal, masticating, juice presses, and citrus juicers.
The most popular type of juicer is the centrifugal juicer, which lets you insert different types of fruits and vegetables down a chute while a spinning metal blades presses them against a strainer to extract all of that juicy goodness. Drink a glass on ice after a good run or have one with lunch to ensure you get your daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. If you want to make large batches of fresh-pressed juice to keep in the refrigerator and drink from after every daily run, consider investing in a masticating juicer instead. They can be more expensive and larger and generally take longer to get juice from smaller pieces of fruits and vegetables. But if you want to dedicate each Sunday to prepping your juice for the week, it might not matter.
Note that there’s also a new category of product called bluicers that, as the name implies, combine the features and functions of both a blender and a juicer.
A big part of running is the recovery afterwards. But not everyone has time to soak in an Epsom salts bath for an hour while they let their joints, muscles, and skin heal. There are a few things you can do to help ease the muscles in especially your legs, but every part of your body that the run might have put to work.
Handheld massagers, also known as massage guns, provide percussive massaging of your muscles as you run them over the sorest points. A popular brand is Theragun, which offers devices like the Elite Premium percussive massage device that runs quietly (so you can even use it under the desk at work) and can provide customized therapy based on your activity using the Therabody app. Hyperice is another popular brand with its Hypervolt Bluetooth Percussion Massage Device, which offers adjustable speeds, quiet operation, and interchangeable head attachments so you can target different muscles.
Another useful fitness recovery device is a foam roller, which can help ease your sore and tight muscles after a run. They can also be used before a run to help warm up your muscles and release any pain points before you get started.
Take the next step
From the time you pop those running shoes on to the moment you rest up for bed, check out plenty of great health tech items at Best Buy online that are perfect for runners of all kinds, from novices to 10K pros.