Smartphones take this tech to the next level - we can all now carry pocket-sized, GPS-enhanced computers around with us. If you're trying to work out which tech you need to help improve your personal best, here's a look at what's available.
Running watches have long been the go-to gadget for tech-savvy runners, typically using a heart rate monitor worn around your chest to relay your vital signs back to you via the LCD screen.
These watches have come a long way in recent years, employing the same GPS technology as a sat-nav to track your position, distance travelled and speed. They also integrate with your smartphone or laptop using wireless technology, allowing you to download your run data and chart your progress over time.
For example, the
Garmin Forerunner 405 GPS running watch allows you to transfer your run data between the watch and your computer wirelessly, and uses GPS technology to measure your distance covered with 99% accuracy.
The watch also allows you to set waypoints easily using GPS and the touch-activated bezel interface. With a few taps you can call up your personal best from previous runs and compete with yourself, charting your progress along the way. As with most running watches it also measures your heart rate and number of calories burned.
If you want to get seriously techy, linking your iPod or iPhone to Nike+ will open up a world of exercise feedback and analytics.
With a pair of Nike+ shoes, which have a special insole pocket for the Nike+ iPod sensor, each step can be relayed to your iPod. Using the touchscreen interface and the Nike+ app you can create custom workouts based on calorie-burning, time or distance goals.
As it runs on your iPod, you'll also have access to your music library, which is great for motivation. You can even set a go-to 'Power Song' for when you need a moment of motivation if you hit 'the wall'.
After your workout you synchronise your device with the Nike+ website from wherever you are so that you can pick up the data on your PC or Mac. Using the data you can compare your runs over time and chart your progress.
You might be reluctant to take your iPhone out for a jog, not least for fear of dropping and breaking it, but the
iPod Nano is relatively small at roughly 4cm by 4cm. It features a touchscreen interface and has a memory of 16GB, so you can store up to 4000 songs on it. Create your own soundtrack
Speaking of music, you might find yourself bored of the same old songs in your smartphone's music library, or you might just suddenly fancy listening to a track you don't have mid-run. If you're a Spotify premium user, you can access unlimited streaming music for £9.99 a month.
Using 3G or Wi-Fi (depending on where you're running) you can call up and stream any track you like from a library of millions of tracks in fantastic 320kbps quality.
Faced with a run up a massive flight of stairs? Call up the Rocky soundtrack!
If you don't have don't have a connection on your run, you can sync your custom Spotify playlists over Wi-Fi before you leave and listen to them 'offline' as you go. You can temporarily cache up to 3,333 tracks for offline listening.
It's all very well having access to a practically infinite music library, but if you're struggling with uncomfortable headphones or tangled wires, listening to music while running can become a chore.
There are some pretty cool solutions for runners though. Take, for example, the
Philips Shb 6017 headphones, which do away with wires in favour of a wireless Bluetooth connection.
Bluetooth headphones are synched to your smartphone or Bluetooth-enabled music player, but run on their own batteries, which may be rechargeable or replaceable.
The Philips Shb 6017 headphones hook comfortably behind your ears too, so there's no risk of them dropping out during even the most rigorous of runs.
Record your run
Perhaps if you're preparing for a big event like a charity marathon you'd like to make a video diary of your training. Pivothead's Aurora Black Smoke sunglasses have a built in camera which records high definition video (1080p) at 30 frames per second and takes 8 Megapixel stills.
The wrap-around sunglasses come with 8GB of internal memory for storing your pictures and video, and you can sync the specs with a bespoke Android smartphone app for quick viewing and sharing.
Set your goals
Of course you don't need any of these gadgets to enjoy a run, but being able set yourself goals and visualise your progress can be motivating. If you're a gadget geek and a fitness freak, you'll probably relish the opportunity to combine your two interests anyway.
Some of these gadgets don't come cheap, so if you're looking to upgrade your run with the latest tech, be sure to compare prices on the
MoneySupermarket shopping channel.
Please note: Any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.
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