Running Tech & Tools

An introduction about speed and distance devices.

What you won’t find here

Are extensive reviews on devices. I tent to give my view of the device and what the best approach would be to use this device. If you are looking for device reviews and features discussed into detail head over to the very awesome blog of DCRainmaker.

Basic features

What makes a device a great device? That questions is actually very easy to anser. First ask yourself the question “what do I need for information during and after training/race”. You should also ask the same question based on what you “would like to have”. Together with you budget it’s very easy to decide what works.

Here is a summary that you would like to have during training/race:

  • Tempo/Speed (pace or km,mi/h)
  • Time (Stopwatch)
  • Hearth rate

The reason is simple. The above numbers allow your to train more specifically. I haven’t seen any device on the market that includes the above and doesn’t give you distance, laps, alarm settings.

You can go two ways with a speed and distance device. Either you spent some money on a dedicated device or you use your smartphone.

Smartphone with application

Since the arrival of the iPhone the way we use our phones changed a bit. They try to sell us applications with the statement to “improve our life” and make “life easier”. Smartphones nowadays have a lot of sensors and combining this sensor data can be very interesting.

Smartphone, Nokia, Android, iPhone … it doesn’t matter they all have at least one and probably more than one application designed to track and record your statistics during your running workouts. I used to run with a iPhone and a running friend still runs with an Android phone. We both use the application “Runkeeper”. Different applications offer different features. In the end they al come down to “what you like”.

Dedicated device

Dedicated devices are small computers just like our smart phone but then specifically made for the purpose of tracking your running statistics. Most of them come in a “watch form factor”. Most known devices are from Polar, Garmin, Timex and Nike.

Smartphone vs Dedicated device

They both do the job. Can’t argue with that. But based on my past experience I must favour a dedicated device if your really into running. So basically for the “more casual” runner a smartphone should work just fine. Certainly to start with.

Since this blog is al about sharing my experience and opinion here are my cons and pro’s.

Smartphone pro’s

  • Cheap (if you already own one)
  • Easy to use
  • Many different speed and distance applications
  • Build in music player
  • Big color screens
  • Always online allows new features (twitter cheering, live races/training)

Smartphone con’s

  • Not always accurate (Main reason not to use a smartphone, click here to read more on this topic)
  • Low battery life
  • No direct data access (must sync your data over the internet)
  • Not always very stable (phone OS and application)
  • Often big and sluggish

Dedicated device pro’s

  • Accurate & consistent
  • Battery life
  • More data analysing options
  • Form factor (watch style and compact)
  • Fully packed with only what you need

Dedicated device con’s

  • Expensive
  • No connection to the world during your run
  • No music

First thing you should do is run. Then see what a speed and distance device can do for you. Right now probably your phone is enough. If your serious about running you are either looking to buy a dedicated device or already own one. Very soon you will discover more of a need for running data, at least that is what I’m planning on to show you.

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