Running Technology & Gear

With the Reagan Run fast approaching, you might be thinking about a new pair of shoes, a new running shirt and shorts, maybe a new Smartwatch.

The available options in running technology and gear are endless; Smartphones, Smartwatches\GPS watches, carbon plated running shoes, moisture-wicking/antimicrobial clothing and socks, it can all be very overwhelming for the new and seasoned runner alike, the days of simply putting on some shorts, a t-shirt, socks, and sneakers to go for a run are gone.

Running shoes are the single most important requirement, whether running a 5k or marathon you want a shoe that properly fits you based on your foot measurement and running gait. You might hear terms like drop, neutral, over or under pronation.

Drop of a shoe is the difference in height between the heel and forefoot measured in millimeters. The greater the drop, the steeper the angle between your heel and forefoot. More than 6mm drop: regular drop, recommended for runners whose foot meets the ground with the heel first (the majority of runners), less than 6mm drop: low drop that is getting close to a barefoot stride. Best suited to runners who run regularly and whose forefoot or midfoot hits the ground first. Pronation refers to how your foot rolls when it strikes and pushes off the ground, is the push off neutral (centered) or do you push off the inside or outside of your foot. A properly fit shoe will not only protect your feet but help keep your entire body aligned, a professional at your local running store can help you with a properly fit shoe.

Running clothes and socks first and foremost should be comfortable on your body, whether you prefer loose or tight-fitting clothing it should be comfortable and not binding in any way. Moisture-wicking material is an important feature to look for when choosing clothing and socks.

Moisture wicking material can help you stay cool and dry when you run, it’s breathable and easy to care for as well. Properly fit moisture wicking socks offer the same benefit as clothing with the added benefit of helping with discomfort caused by blisters, the wicking material moves the moisture away for the skin and a proper fit helps alleviate the sock bunching and causing blisters. My preferred moisture wicking material in socks is Smartwool, a blend of merino wool and synthetic material, they are available in different thicknesses to keep your feet comfortable in any season.

GPS watches, Smartwatches, Smartphones, open-ear headphones are not only used in running but have become a big part of people’s daily lives, tracking steps, heart rate, playing music, and though they are not a necessary part of running, electronics and tech have become a big part of running and training, they can enhance your running experience, and help your train better.

GPS watches, Smartwatches and the apps used by them can provide you with an immense amount of data about your run, distance, pace, heart rate, cadence, elevation gain/loss, and analysis that can help you train better. Popular apps like Strava can interface with almost any GPS watch and allow you to share your running and fitness journey with other likeminded people, be involved in challenges and earn rewards. GPS watches can range in cost from less than $100 to more than $1000 depending on your specific needs, features like battery life, waterproof or not, and various sport modes and Smartphone integration drive the price.

Listening to music, podcast and audio books while running is very popular as well, though not something I prescribe to, many people can’t leave home for a walk or run without it. There are numerous ways to listen, USB players, Smartphones and watches can be used to stream music, in ear devices, wireless

earbuds are popular way to listen, the latest trend is open ear headphones that use bone conduction technology send vibrations directly to the inner ear, bypassing the ear drums and allowing users to hear what’s going on around them.

As you can see the amount of technology available in running today can be overwhelming, in the end you only need a comfortable pair of sneakers and comfortable clothing to start your fitness journey.