Running’s easy, right? It’s just heading outdoors and putting one foot in front of the other.
But while it may seem like the most natural sport known to mankind there’s nothing a bit of innovative gadgetry can’t improve on.
And as any runner will tell you (along with an encyclopedic knowledge of public toilets and local water fountains) one thing all pavement plodders accrue over time is a love of data.
Monitoring your form and knowing how far, how fast, how heart-boundingly close to a personal best (PB) you’re running is a sure-fire way to help you understand your training, identify areas to work on and spur you onward to achieve your goals.
While a decent running watch, trainers and some sweat-wicking kit is probably top of your list, we’ve gone the extra mile to bring you a raft of running tech that could take you one step closer to that PB, one step further from injury and generally make running a smoother, more comfortable ride.
Note: we’ve ranked these from cheapest to most expensive according to prices at time of writing.
Ultimate stash belt for all your run-tech
Nothing falls out
Soft, secure and comfy
Need to take care with sizing
In a market saturated with stats, apps and data tracking, FlipBelt is one of the simplest bits of kit around. It’s also one of the most effective.
Pull the stretchy fabric tube up around your waist, fill it with all your run essentials – phone, credit card, energy gels, emergency change for the public loo – flip over. Hey presto, everything stays securely around your middle.
Unlike a bum bag with its adjustable straps and buckles, the belt sits flush to the body so there’s virtually no bounce. No zips on the openings mean no chafe, and providing you get the right size – there are five to choose from ranging from a 23- to 41-inch waist – there’s no riding up either.
You can even get water bottles designed to fit inside the belt, so it’s ‘see you later’ to that sloshing lopsided gait.
2. Shapeheart Armband
Two-for-one HR tracker and phone holster
Heart rate tracking
Data syncs with Strava
It’s an armband
Heavier than other bands
If there’s one thing every streamlined runner loves, it’s a space-saving two-in-one device like the Shapeheart Armband.
Unless you’re about to invest in the Apple Watch 3, carrying your smartphone on runs is often a necessary evil and that means while armbands aren’t everyone’s favorite, they often feature too. And if that’s the case you may as well make it twice as useful.
Not only does the Shapeheart deliver on the phone carrying front, with a magnetic case that allows you to easily detach your mobile from the strap to answer calls, take those vital running selfies (or check Google Maps), it also monitors your heart rate.
A removable optical heart rate (HR) sensor located in the neoprene armband sends your heart rate data to pretty much any running app you choose – Nike+, Strava and Runkeeper – so you can ensure you’re training in the right zone for your goals.
While it won’t trump the accuracy of a HR chest strap, the armband should be more reliable than the data from a watch as you’re less likely to get that gap between sensor and wrist that can skew HR stats.
3. Lumo Run Sensor
Comprehensive form advice
Helpful post-run video drills
Easy to lose
No third party app sync
If you’re serious about improving your speed and efficiency, the Lumo Run is one of the best running form trackers out there.
With no fewer than seven different sensors, including accelerometer, gyroscope and vibration sensor, all you have to do is clip the 25g lightweight device to the back of your shorts and you’ve negates the need for a trip to the biomechanics lab.
Lumo tracks all your vital running form stats – that’s cadence (steps per minute), bounce, pelvic movement and how much brake you apply with each step – and fires them to the Lumo app for you to pore over later, alongside personalized recommendations for pre- and post-run exercises based on how you’ve just performed.
You’ll also get recommendations on aspects of your form to work on during each run, along with real-time audio-coaching to help you adjust your form on the go.
The downside for those who prefer running on the light-side, however, is that audio cues and GPS stats such as pace and distance are only available if you take your phone along for the ride.
With 20 days of run time and onboard storage for sessions where you want to track phone-free runs this is your best weapon for improving form.
4. Jaybird X3
Lightweight sounds for wireless miles
Excellent adaptable sound
Good battery life
Proprietary charging dock
The Jaybird X2 in-ear headphones were a popular choice with runners and we expect the X3 to have a similar fan club. These new neckband-style Bluetooth buds offer plenty of improvements and an even friendlier price point.
For a start, they’re slightly smaller but retain the sweat-proof design and surprisingly great…