There’s an app for everything nowadays, it seems! The world of running is increasingly being saturated with apps and programmes which promise to turn us from Jon Minnoch  to Mo Farah  in mere weeks. While some of these claims should be taken with a pinch of salt - and it’s very much worth noting that any piece of tech is only as good as your willingness to use it - some technology might be worth investing in to give your training a bit of a boost. Here’s a quick look at some of the ways you can use technology to improve your running skills:
There are definitely some very good running apps out there. The only problem with apps is that they’re only useful as long as you actually use them (duh). They also often necessitate you carrying your mobile devices with you as you run - so make sure that they’re covered  against being dropped, jolted, and covered in mud! Probably the most useful apps out there are those which take feeds from wearable technology (more on that later), as they can provide bespoke advice based upon your particular running metrics. However, there are some good stand-alone apps out there. The Runners’ World app, for example, provides you with plenty of good advice and motivation drawn from their extensive pool of running enthusiasts and experts (as well as tracking your run as you go). Apps like RunKeeper and Strava provide training and tracking programmes designed by experts, and adds a social dimension - allowing you to share and measure your progress against that of your friends. That element of sharing and comparing provides motivation, encouragement, and an edge of competitive incentive to many. Market leader when it comes to running apps is MapMyRun , which will happily (as the name suggests) map your run via GPS, track the number of calories etc you’ve burned (based on information you provide relating to your age, body weight etc), and suggest routes when you’re in an unfamiliar location. It also lets you chart your progress with your friends.
One of the most effective ways to utilize tech to improve your running performance is also one of the simplest. Music is an incredible motivator, scientifically proven to reduce discomfort, increase stamina, improve running times, and optimize enjoyment while running. So impressive are the effects of music on runners that some scientists have described it as ‘a legal drug for athletes’ . Whether you’re matching your footfalls to a good, solid beat, or using the dopamine rush  provided by a tune you love to get you through the wall, chances are that you’ll run better with music than without it. Most of us have known this for a long time (some of us remember the days of trying to run as smoothly as possible with a Walkman or Discman, so as not to jolt the machine out of its rhythm!) Weirdly, however, the more intense you are about running, the less music affects you. It’s thought that this is because those who are really serious about running are getting enough of a ‘kick’ out of the activity itself (and thus focusing inwards, on what they’re doing) to not need the added stimulus of music. They also don’t need ‘distracting’ from the aches etc of running. For the rest of us, however, plugging in some headphones could well be the best technological way to improve your performance!
Wearable technology is the next big thing, sports wise - but currently it only really works if you’re willing to listen to the messages it’s giving you. While tech like music will actively improve your running performance from the outside (as it were), wearable tech will only work if you are willing to listen to and build upon what it’s telling you. Assuming that this is the case, however, there’s some pretty impressive stuff out there to draw upon. Lumo Run, for example, make ‘smart running shorts’  which provide some impressive metrics based around your pelvis and hips. Linked to an app, Lumo Run can tell you an awful lot about your running style and performance, including detailed analysis of hip tilt, bounce, pelvic rotation, stride length etc (along with suggestions for improvement). Meanwhile, companies like Polar and FitBit make devices which generally fit onto the wrist, and provide plentiful biometric information related to heart rate, steps taken, improvements in pace and time etc. All in all, if you’re willing to work with what you’re being told, there’s plenty of scope for measurement and improvement from wearable running tech.
Article by Helen Rayner
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 BBC Sport, “Rio Olympics 2016: Mo Farah makes history by winning 10,000m gold”, Aug 2016
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 Adharanand Finn, “Does music help you to run faster?”, The Guardian, Apr 2012
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 Lumo, “Introducing Lumo Run”
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