A Year of Running: Let’s Talk Running Tech

Hello again! I hope everyone is staying safe and well. Today I’m back with another post talking a little bit about running tech and my recommendations/thoughts. What I would say with running tech is that I can’t really give too much information about other products since I don’t feel like I could necessarily do them justice as I don’t have any experience of them, but I can only share information of what I have heard.

Phone Apps

First up I want to share the easiest and cheapest option for running tech. Simply using your mobile phone to track your run. If you have a smart phone there are a variety of apps you can use, such as: Nike Run Club, Map My Run and Strava. My personal preference is Strava. The free version of Strava is absolutely fine if you’re just starting out and want something basic to track your runs on. However, if you’re enjoying all the features of Strava it may be worth looking at upgrading to the paid version. The main reason I use the paid version of Strava is for the “Strava Beacon” function, but I also enjoy being able to map routes etc out.

The only thing about relying on a phone as your running tech is that sometimes the apps might close themselves down, and also with the size of phones these days they can feel a bit bulky to carry around, especially in Summer when you might not have so many pockets available! But at the same time, personally I’m not sure I’d ever go out without a phone in case there are any problems.

My Running Armband

If you’re carrying your phone with you on a run you’re going to need somewhere to carry it. During winter/if I have a coat on I usually just shove my phone in my pocket, but as it warms up I generally either carry my phone in a running armband or a waist belt (I’ll talk more about waist belts in an “accessories” post). Some leggings/shorts etc. have pockets that you can use for phones, but personally I don’t use these pockets for a phone, in part because my phone is usually too big for the pocket, but also I normally use the pocket for my key and my inhaler. I use this Mpow Running Armband. It was only £5 and it works great for me.

Headphones

First up here full disclaimer, I’m not someone who really has a big appreciation of “good quality” sound and knowing much about headphones. But I can simply share my personal preferences and what I’ve found works for me.

AirPods and iPhone headphones

When I started out running I just used my bog-standard in the box iPhone headphones. Were they the best? Not really, did they work for running? Yes. The basic iPhone headphones were good enough to get going with running and when I first started out I didn’t really want to spend much money on “stuff” until I knew I would carry on. The cable surprisingly didn’t get in my way too much either, but soon after decided to get something else.

Following on from the basic headphones I want to just mention AirPods for running. I have only once used my airpods for running when I took part in the indoor relay (running around the garden), but personally I wouldn’t use them for running on a regular basis. This is down to a couple of reasons, the first being I don’t find AirPods to sit in my ears very well, so I wouldn’t want to risk losing one! But second, the normal “AirPods” aren’t designed for running and aren’t sweat-proof. I know the Pro ones are more designed for running/gym, but personally I wouldn’t go for these as my running headphones.

The first pair of headphones I actually bought for running were the SoundCore Spirit X. As an Anker product I had big faith in these, but I also got them in an Amazon Deals of the Day and only spent around £15 on them. They were great for running. It was so nice to no longer have a cable getting in my way, but also with the ear loop bit I knew they were going nowhere! The battery life on them was pretty decent too, they were also designed with some water resistance so I knew I could wear them in the rain. I used these for around 4-5 months before upgrading my headphones again.

When I took on the Surrey Half 5k back in March 2020 I remembered reading about Aftershokz headphones. They were allowed in the event because they’re bone conducting headphones, leaving your ear free to be able to hear around you. When I went back to work after being on furlough I moved back to my flat and I was going to be running in more unfamiliar places and I wanted music, but also wanted to be able to hear what was going on around me. I started looking into Aftershokz headphones and my mum actually treated me to my Aftershokz Air headphones. They’re sort of middle range Aftershokz headphones and I’ve been really impressed with them. Yes, OK, the sound quality isn’t the best but that’s to be expected when they’re not actually playing music through your ears (although I think the top of the range version have better sound quality). Also, they sit really well and comfortably while wearing my glasses (something else I was a bit unsure about). The charge is really good too, I think I only charge mine every 4-6 weeks (depending on my milage). You could argue they’re not the most practical headphones, and you wouldn’t want them for commuting on the train or anything like that! But personally I find them great for what I want and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them! Tip though is to try and hold out to Black Friday when they have good deals on them! We got mine through Costco who had them £15 cheaper than anywhere else at the time.

Running Watches

The final piece of running tech to mention is running watches. Now, first up, let’s face it, we now live in a world where more and more of us wear a smart watch on a daily basis. Be it a Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, or other make. I made the jump to a smart watch in November 2019 where I bought a Fitbit Charge 2. When I first started running I just used my Fitbit Charge 2 and it was perfectly fine for what I wanted right at the start. That said I didn’t like how I had to go through the faff of connecting my phone to it to be able to map the run, and even when I did, it didn’t always work. But what I did like was how if I forgot to start the watch, usually the watch would work out I was running and record the activity.

Once I’d signed up for the Great North Run last year I decided to up my game and I treated myself to the Garmin Forerunner 245. To be honest I kind of wish I’d spent a bit longer researching running watches rather than just going for “the best running watch”. At the time I was a bit of a novice about it all! I don’t regret getting my Forerunner 245, but sometimes I do wonder if had I researched more I’d have picked another Garmin model. I got the Garmin Forerunner 245 music, but actually I don’t use the music function (at the moment anyway) so could have just gone for the basic version. The battery life is OK…. it’s not the best and I charge it every 5-7 days depending on how much I wear it/how long my runs are. I know this is a better battery life than an Apple Watch though! Important to note though, I don’t have the notifications turned on which probably improves battery life a little! I do like how the Forerunner 245 uses buttons rather than having a touch screen though. My dad has a Garmin Vivoactive 3 which is touchscreen and finds it quite annoying at times.

One thing I do strongly suggest though is if you get a Garmin Watch get a screen protector for it! I accidentally dropped my watch face down on the kitchen floor after having it for around 2 months and the screen cracked! That was an expensive mistake!

Now, I personally don’t have an Apple Watch but I want to mention it briefly here. I know quite a lot of people have Apple Watches so it makes sense to mention it. I also know quite a lot of people use Apple Watches for running but I also know quite a lot of people complain about Apple Watches for running. A lot of people comment about how Apple Watches don’t track your run properly, so this is just something to bear in mind.

Well, that sums up my recommendations and comments on Running Tech. I hope at least one person finds it helpful!

What “Running Tech” do you use?

Hope you’re all staying safe and well! 🙂

2 thoughts on “A Year of Running: Let’s Talk Running Tech

  1. I also think some reflector belt/light is important! I get off work late so don’t have time to run during daylight hours so I bought a light-up vest that also has a flashlight! I love it!

    • Yes! That’s a great shout! I do have one but forgot to add that it. I never bothered until a cyclist (who also had no lights) nearly ran into me on an evening run 😂

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