There are many gadgets for training and racing. If you like these gadgets and they help you feel good, go ahead and use them. If you are low on cash or easily distracted – skip the gadgets. To be honest many of these gadgets are not 100% accurate and can have big mistakes. So you can save the money and skip most of these fancy gadgets if you want. If you do decide to buy any gadget, go read the online product reviews to make sure it is the right product for you. Here is a quick rundown of the gadgets and common pitfalls for each.
Make sure your GPS watch has a battery life long enough for race day which will probably be much longer than any training you have done before. Remember that GPS watches need to connect with satellites. During the summer months as we try to stay cool by training under shady tree lined pathways, those trees might also block satellite signals so don’t be surprised if your GPS watch is a little less accurate during summer training. If you want to really figure out which GPS watch is best for you go to http://www.dcrainmaker.com/ and read his reviews. That guy truly loves to test GPS watches.
Fitbit & Fitness Trackers
These can be very inaccurate if you aren’t careful. You want to make sure you properly calibrate it and wear it correctly using the right settings during training to get the least inaccurate data. A 2015 study published in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise found several big pitfalls of fitness trackers. If they help motivate you to keep moving, go ahead and use them just double check the data to make sure your pace & distance is accurate.
Many marathoners find that 180 steps per minute is most efficient. To help you hit 180 steps per minute, try to listen to music with about 180 beats per minute (bpm). If you Google “180 bpm songs” you will find song playlists for any musical preference. There are also smartphone music apps that will automatically select and play music based on your current pace or your targeted pace. If you do listen to music, don’t blast the volume. #1 – If you are on the road you won’t hear other people/cars/bikes and that’s dangerous #2 – Hearing loss ain’t cool.
Heart Rate Trackers
To make our bodies stronger, we ideally want to stress the body just the right amount by training at an elevated heart rate but not overdue it. Heart rate trackers can help us hit this magic spot for the best fitness benefit. Just remember that often they are not 100% accurate. If the sensor strap is not in the right place or moves during training or something else happens you can get funky results. So be careful and don’t assume it is perfect.
Here are some of useful websites:
MapMyRun.com – It enables you to find training courses near you and also to make your own course. This is great for you to map out your midweek route to make sure you are doing the right distance.
McMillanRunning.com – Online calculator to help you estimate your race pace based on your current pace. It is also helpful to figure out how much work is needed to reach a goal time.
Runtastic.com – Smartphone app & website that helps you to log your miles.
Charitymiles.org – App that tracks your miles and donates to charity based on your mileage.
Smashrun.com – Website using your running data from Garmin, Nike+, or smartphone app to compete against others and earn badges. Tracks your progress and analyzes your miles. Runkeeper.com is an alternative online tracker.
labs.Strava.com/heatmap/ – Good way to find where people are running in your area. This interactive online map consolidates GPS data from runners to show where people are training the most often. More frequently used routes are shown in brighter color.
These are just a few of the gadgets and tools available to help you. Just remember the best tools are your smart brain and your passion to keep moving towards your race day goal!