Last night, thousands of people, myself included, gathered in NYC’s Central Park for the annual midyear Corporate Challenge, a 5k race through the park that welcomes runners, joggers, and walkers—with corporate sponsors—to participate. It was fun to join a bunch of my coworkers in a fun activity outside the office; it also reminded me that I wanted to share a handful of my favorite runner-friendly gadgets that can help you both monitor and improve your abilities.
The Sportiiiis (from $149) attaches to any pair of sunglasses and uses a combination of audio and visual feedback to keep you on target. A tiny speaker near your ear gives you regular updates or, if like me, you’re plugged into your iPod while exercising, a set of LCD lights flashes (at intervals of your choosing), indicating whether you’re going too slow, too fast, or right on point. It can be synced to any heart rate monitor, foot pod (for runners/walkers/hikers), or the bike sensor, as long as they have ANT+ compatibility.
As I mentioned, I’m always plugged in to my iPod while running. I need a sweet, upbeat playlist to keep me motivated and energized. But normal headphones/earbuds are simply not ideal for running, because the danged cord is always in the way. My go to headphones are the JayBird Freedom ($99) Bluetooth earbuds. They’re sweat-resistant, latch on to your ears super securely, and the sound is lovely. (Though they do maximize the loudness of the volume to be much lower than most headphones, which is a great safety feature for outdoor use.)
Another Bluetooth option from the same company is the much more stylish JayBird Sportsband ($99) headphones. They’re more like traditional-style headphones, with a retro-mod look, but no wire to be found. What I love about these headphones is that not only can you start and stop your music via buttons on the actual band, but you can skip ahead (or behind) to a new song on your playlist, without having to look down at your mp3 player. What I’m not so crazy about: the old-school foam padding for the ears which makes me wary of using during an activity where I’ll inevitably be sweating.
In addition to this gear, there are some great apps I would suggest downloading and testing out. Both MapMyRun (free; Android; iOS) and RunKeeper (free; Android; iOS) are perfect for mapping out your runs/walks, storing them, and even sharing them socially. I tend to use MapMyRun more frequently, but RunKeeper takes it to the next level, and will track cycling, hiking, swimming, rowing, and even skiing/snowboarding, among others.
So really, a little investment (both some dollars and time) and before you know it, you’ll be running marathons. (And feeling pretty darn good!)