Whether you’re gearing up for a triathlon or just want to get from couch to 5K, there are heaps of tech products out there to genuinely help assist with your endeavours. So if it’s running, cycling or swimming that’s your focus, here’s how fitness training technology can help up your game.
Hit the streets, hit the track, or hit the hills – from casual jog to paced trail-run, there are a breadth of environments on everyone’s doorsteps to take advantage over. But don’t just don the running shoes, strap on a sportswatch or smart band to get the most fruitful feedback.
Product pick: Garmin Forerunner 630
GPS means ditching the phone
Running with a phone in the pocket is a drag. Basic sportswatches will measure strides as a basic form of distance recording, but more advanced ones have built-in GPS to track your route, speed and distance – ideal if you want to beat a personal best without carting around unwanted weight in your pocket.
Optical heart-rate monitoring
Recent sportswatches have built-in optical heart rate monitors to measure your blood-flow between two points of light for an accurate reading. A suitably tight fit is all that’s needed to see your real-time pulse rate, useful for zone training, sustained rate for weight loss, or circuit training to reduce your average BPM over time.
Run to the hills
Not all running happens on flat surfaces. If you’re into trail running and want to improve your ascent and descent times, then more advanced sportswatches include a barometric altimeter to measure elevation. So when your heart is pounding extra hard you’ll know why.
Whether you’re dusting down the mountain bike for the first ride in aeons, or hardcore training on the road bike for a sportive, a bike computer clips onto the handlebars to act as a great focus point to assist your training.
Product pick: Garmin Edge 520
GPS for speed and route tracking
Not only will global positioning record your route on the road – great for uploading to a tracking site/app like Strava – it will also show your real-time speed. So if you want to push that average from 18mph to 20mph, you’ll know exactly how fast you’re travelling at a glance.
ANT+ for heart-rate monitoring
Often sold as a separate heart-rate monitor chest strap, wrapping one of these clip-on devices around your chest can record your current heart-rate, connected by ANT+ wireless technology. Great to see how close to max BPM you are, target one of the five key zones for weight-loss, or monitor your average.
Cadence and power meters
For those who want to know everything, top bike computers will tap into cadence meters to record your leg rotations per minute, or even power meter pedals to record the watt output that you’re putting down. Eat that spinach Popeye, this is detailed integration for the aspiring pro.
Take it to the beach. Or, well, just your local pool will do the job. But whether you’re a lengths swimmer or seeking out new open-water adventure, a basic running watch clearly won’t cut it because you’ll be needing a waterproof device.
Product pick: Suunto Ambit3
GPS is as good as useless indoors, so a wrist-mounted swim tracker uses an on-board accelerometer to detect your end-of-pool rotation to tally up each length (you pre-programme the pool length). Rather than running the numbers through your head a quick glance at the wrist can confirm how many lengths and your total distance.
Par for the course
SWOLF; swim golf? No, really. By combining the number of swim strokes per pool length (again, using the wrist-mounted accelerometer) and how long that length took you get a SWOLF score. Just as with golf, a lower score is a better result. If you can optimise your stroke, position and power then you’ll optimise performance.
Do away with earplugs [Finis Neptune V2, around £115]
When you’re doing those lengths you might want to listen to music or, better still, get feedback from a fitness device so you know you’re on the right track. This can be achieved with waterproof headphones, but bone conduction tech uses bones to transmit the signal: meaning the ability to send audio through your cheeks without popping any loose-fitting earplugs into your ears.