As a running fanatic, I’m always on the lookout for the best wearable tech for running. I’ve road tested several different watches to track my runs and monitor my progress, such as Garmin 405 Forerunner and my new go-to Fitbit Surge that is easy to wear all day.
There’s no doubt we’re spoilt for choice when it comes to fitness technology. Many wearables on the market come with fantastic benefits for tracking and improving your run, but with so many to choose from, how can you make the right purchase?
Here’s a look at the different types of wearables to help you decide the best fit your training style.
CHEST STRAP WATCHES
For the serious runner out there, watches with chest straps are still at the forefront when it comes to heart rate and GPS technology. The biggest advantage of the chest strap over wrist-only options is the accuracy of heart rate monitoring. One of the most effective ways to improve your running fitness is to accurately measure your resting heart rate and active heart rate during and after a run.
The only downside is wearing the chest strap when running, which isn’t super comfortable for some.
In 2016, the wearable tech that every amateur runner was anxiously waiting for finally arrived; heart rate GPS watches worn on the wrist only. These watches allow you to track your heart rate at any time of day without having to wear the uncomfortable chest strap. For this reason, you’re more likely to wear it consistently during your training.
These watches all rely on light-based optical sensors to detect the blood racing through your veins, so the question of heart rate accuracy is a common one. In a test of 14 fitness trackers at the Faculty of Health Sciences at Sydney University using an electrocardiography (ECG) monitor, it was found big brands such as the Apple Watch Sport was accurate only 67% of the time, the Samsung Gear S2 53% of the time, and the Sony Smart Band 2 just 27% of the time.
Among the best performing were the heart rate monitors in fitness trackers from Fitbit, the Mio Alpha 2, and the Garmin Forerunner 235. These trackers managed to produce readings within 95% accuracy – despite having to contend with motion and sweat. The Mio fitness tracker was the best performing with an overall accuracy of 99%.
HEADPHONES WITH HEART RATE MONITORING
These wireless in-ear headphones eliminate the need for chest straps or watches to monitor heart rate. They take a reading from your lug holes and send data to your smartphone via Bluetooth, with spoken feedback as you go. The Jabra Sport Pulse Special Edition has particularly good reviews for accuracy and all round comfort.
TRACKING AND PERFORMANCE
With any wearable device, consider the level you want to be at and do your research to choose the best device that will help you get there. As they can be quite expensive, I find buying online can be a great way to make it more affordable as opposed to the big stores.
Consider the usability of the data it provides – is it easy to read? Does it track the things you want to know? What does it tell you about your performance? You’ll want to make sure the data is accurate and user-friendly to easily monitor your progress and adjust your training to suit. As a runner, you’ll want to track things like heart rate, personal best times and of course, distance – this is what will keep you motivated as your training progresses so be sure to choose a device that ticks all the boxes!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WEARABLE DEVICE?