Devices to help you train to run faster and smarter

  • Rajiv Makhni
  • Updated: Nov 29, 2015 11:45 IST

It’s surprisingly crowded for a book launch. It’s a cookbook, so most people may have converged thinking they’ll get a good meal out of it. On stage, they’ve reached that slightly trite part of any book launch: the moderator (Tisca Chopra) is asking the author (Maria Goretti) why she wrote the book and whether she will open a restaurant after this. The author interjects with a candid confession that she can only cook for people she loves so she will have to turn away too many people from the restaurant!

That’s when I realise that she’s never had me over for a meal. And then I spy a familiar face in the crowd. My editor is here, and I’m two days late with this column. Slinking away is not an option; she is right between me and the door. I rifle through my usual excuses (unwell, on a flight, in a shoot, hospitalised, had an accident and lying on the road) but none would apply right now. I brace myself, stand tall, practise a huge smile and move in.

In my quest to dazzle her by talking fast and not giving her a chance to say anything, I reveal too much. I tell her how I’ve been training hard for a triathlon and am using technology to get better results. She latches on to that and says that would make for a great column. So here it is.

My life in gadgets

I originally thought I would break this column into three sections: What I use for my run, my cycling and my swimming. But then that’s serious overkill. In the past three months, I’ve tried a number of things for each activity and I’ve realised that apart from becoming a human guinea pig for experimental technology, its also stressful to use too many gadgets. Setting them up, understanding how each works, pulling an app for each, charging each regularly – it’s a long and difficult system to maintain. It’s also awkward to have so many thingamajigs strapped around your wrist, ankle, chest, legs, torso, head, ears and other organs too.

My conclusion after trying out many different things is twofold: a) Wearable technology isn’t quite there yet, most products shouldn’t have been released at all, b) For optimum performance and actually boosting results, you need a unified device or two that does it all. I’m going to concentrate on those that made the cut and are still used by me. Many discarded devices are now in my triathlon graveyard.

Sensoria Smart Socks

These space-age socks were one of the first things I used before my run. They look like normal socks, but woven within are three soft pressure sensors. A magnetic Bluetooth electronic anklet snaps on to collect and send data to the app. Real-time visual and audio feedback and analysis like foot-landing speed, position, time on ground as well as cadence can help you train better.

Tech foot forward: Sensoria socks offer real-time visual and audio feedback and analyse foot-landing speed, position, time on ground and cadence for runners.

The anklet was a bit of an issue with my first run till I realised that I can turn my socks over them and make them snugger. You can take off the anklet and throw the socks in for a machine wash. This is a polished product and can take running to a new level.

Moov now

Besides the slightly clichéd name, this is quite a miracle. It’s now a generation two device (called Moov Now) and can analyse running, swimming, cycling and more. It’s unobtrusive enough to use as a daily fitness band, tracks your sleep and the battery life is about six months. Generation one had a terrible problem: each activity needed a separate app but now there is a unified app.

All the right moovs :This device can analyse running, swimming, cycling and also tracks your sleep.

Strap one Moov to your wrist, another to your ankle and the world is your fitness oyster. Run and it analyses your running position and gait; swim and it analyses your stroke and speed; cycle and it tells you if your pedalling speed and style is up to the mark. Add-ons are brutal boot-camp-like exercises and a martial-arts boxing challenge. Some instructions are excellent (you’re landing too hard on the road, visualise that you’re running on a hot burning surface and bounce) but at some point, it becomes fairly intrusive. Overall, Moov can be a serious device for training.

Jabra Sport Pulse Headphones

What do you use your ears for? To hear. That’s it? You’re wasting so much untapped potential. That one area is rich in multiple sensors: blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, stress levels, heartbeat and many other biometrics. Tapping into some of them are the Jabra Sport pulse headphones.

Ear to the ground: Jabra Sports Pulse headphones also give excellent biometric feedback as you run.

They are Bluetooth (so no pesky wires), they stay on even when you’re running hard, have a very rich sound field for music and also give excellent biometric feedback as you run. Also an invaluable tool when your Sensoria socks and Moov are giving you real-time audio feedback.

These, combined with my staple Fitbit Surge and GoQii, are my current tools to become a triathlon warrior. That my current timings bring me right to the bottom 10 for last year’s race is besides the point!

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, November 29

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