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Home / Tech / Preparing for a marathon? Here’s how a smartwatch can help you train

Preparing for a marathon? Here’s how a smartwatch can help you train

Marathon season is just about to start. If you are one of those people who has ever run a marathon or given up wheezing halfway or even walked to the finish line, you will know that it’s no easy feat. We spoke to a coach for the best suggestions

tech Updated: Jan 16, 2020 18:31 IST
Jhinuk Sen
Jhinuk Sen
Hindustan Times
Marathon season is just about to start. If you are one of those people who has ever run a marathon or given up wheezing halfway or even walked to the finish line, you will know that it’s no easy feat. We spoke to a coach for the best suggestions
Marathon season is just about to start. If you are one of those people who has ever run a marathon or given up wheezing halfway or even walked to the finish line, you will know that it’s no easy feat. We spoke to a coach for the best suggestions (Satyabrata Tripathy/HT Photo)
         

Marathon season is just about to start. If you are one of those people who has ever run a marathon or given up wheezing halfway or even walked to the finish line, you will know that it’s no easy feat.

Marathons take months of training if you want to do it right. Besides hitting the gym and spending enough time on cardio for starters, you should also have a wearable that keeps you on track instead of relying only on yourself and a trainer.

There are a bunch of wearables that can help you prep for the run, but today we are going to tell you how the Apple Watch and a Fitbit (Fitbit Versa/Versa 2/Ionic) can help with suggestions from coach Urmi Kothari.

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“Your training determines your race day. And ironically, even though sometimes we have done everything right, the outcome can be slightly different,” Kothari said.

“Make sure your running plan is made to make you a better runner. Enough miles and just enough frequency and lactate threshold runs, will make sure you are peaking well before race day,” Kothari said. The lactate threshold is the maximal effort or intensity that an athlete can maintain for an extended period of time with little or no increase in lactate in the blood. It is an effort or intensity. And while you are doing this, it is very common to “overtrain”.

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Mind you though, overtraining is bad for you. You need to monitor your recovert and heart-rate not only during training but also on rest days. The Apple Watch and the Fitbits can help you keep a tab on the stats related to your runs, like distance and pace, and also on your heart rate over different ranges of activities like run or rest.

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If you aren’t an Apple user, you can use fitness bands like the Fitbit Versa 2 to help you train for the run. We recommend the Fitbit Versa or the Fitbit Versa 2 or even the Fitbit Ionic since they come the closest to offering all the features you need to train well along with a good enough screen real estate. These work with the iPhone as well, just in case if you were wondering.

The Fitbit comes with a whole range of workouts that you can use to track your sessions. While these workouts are on, your Fitbit also informs you about your heart rate and calories burned.

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Sometimes, your heart rate will be extremely high in spite of a slow run. That’s when you know your recovery is poor,” Kothari pointed out. Your recovery will improve over time as you train. Kothari also recommends supplements like Ashwagandha, Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, Vit D 3 and Vit C and B complex are helpful in ensuring recovery.

“Sleep and Stretches post run or on rest days are two most underrated recovery tools,” she added.

Both the Apple Watch and the Fitibit can help you monitor calories that you are burning through the day so you can decide whether you need to increase or decrease your calorie intake. And of course, you can use the Apple Watch to set reminders through the iHydrate app, the Fitbit app has no such feature but you can set one on your phone for regular reminders, so as you have enough fluids in your system. If you collapse from dehydration, that is not good for anyone.

The Outdoor Run option on the Apple Watch also has a ‘rolling pace’ feature now that displays the pace of the previous kilometres covered. This allows you to set a target pace to ensure you are pushing yourself in the right zone to get as close as possible to the target time. Marathons are not as much about speed as they are about stamina, and therefore, time.

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Apple Watch comes with Pace alerts give you a gentle tap on the wrist to let you know if you’re behind or ahead of where you want to be – the plan is to not get left behind. Cadence lets you see your steps per minute and helps you refine your running technique and the rolling pace constantly updates, allowing you to see your split for the preceding kilometre at any time.

Fitbit workouts comes with a range of ‘actions’ like Run, Bike, Treadmill, Weights etc. When you are on the run you can pick Run or Treadmill, alternately use can use the Interval Workout for laps.

Both the Apple Watch and the Fitbits are compatible with running apps like NRC or Strava and allows you to directly sync the runs with your smartphone. So if you have already been using either of the apps to train, you don’t need to drop them or start afresh.

And to make all this intense training fun, Apple Watch gives you easy access to songs on Apple Music, so connect your headphones and get moving. For Fitbit users, you can use Fitbit Music and sync in songs manually from the web app.

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With the Apple Watch and your Fitbit (Versa/Versa 2 or Ionic) you can keep track of your progress as you train, it is always good to look back and see how far you have come. All the stats are accessible through your phone.

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In a build-up to race day Kothari suggests that you “don’t try anything new”, no new clothes, socks and definitely no new shoes. You need to break your running shoes in well before the marathon, you don’t want shoe bites to hamper your run. “Don’t even change your watch strap,” Kothari added. A new watch strap might be uncomfortable for you and will end up distracting you during your run.

Of course, there are other fitness bands and smartwatches out there that you can pick from. In our experience we have found these two to be the most productive. Happy running!