If there’s one piece of equipment I would highly recommend (other than running shoes), then it is a fitness tracker or a running watch. These are relatively new gadgets and people were happily running without them for many years before they were invented. But the fact remains that these are great devices and they can make a huge difference to your running and your weight loss for a ton of reasons.
Whether you opt for a fitness tracker or a running watch, there are a few things to look for. The best devices need to have:
- A pedometer
- Heartrate monitor
What this then allows you to do is to track your route, measure your distance, count your steps and even measure your steps. That information can also be collated to tell you all kinds of other things, such as:
- Your VO2 max (in some cases)
- Your MHR (maximum heartrate)
- Your average heartrate
- Your lowest heartrate
- Your best split (time it took you to complete one mile/kilometre)
- Your average split
- Your best pace
- Your average pace
- Your overall distance
- Your precise route
- Your calories burned
- Your number of steps
- Your maximum elevation
All this information makes running hugely more fun and a lot more rewarding. Why? For starters, you can now know exactly the distance you’re running without having to set out a specific route prior to heading out. This makes a big difference because it means you don’t have to know where you want to go but you can still monitor your progress and see improvement.
It means that you can simply head outside and start running, without meticulously planning a route first and then deigning to stick to it precisely. This is one of my favorite things about running — it allows me to explore new areas and to find new locations in my neighborhood. I’ve discovered all kinds of parks, cafes, restaurants and shops just by running around and I know a ton more shortcuts too. It’s also really good for your sense of direction and internal map.
What all that does, is that it allows you to turn running into a chance to explore and discover new things and this is so much more exciting and motivating than simply running the same route time and time again. It also means you can set yourself challenges and aim to improve. One week you might find you drastically increase your average pace and split, another week you might see that your heartrate stays much lower while you do the same run.
This again makes running more rewarding. Before smartwatches we had no real way to know if we were progressing while running. This made it in some ways less rewarding than going to the gym where you would be able to see the amount of weight you could move go up each time. Suddenly, you can see incremental progress and this makes it much more addictive.
You can also use this to set specific goals if you want to improve in specific domains. And as we’ll learn, this will also make it much easier for you to lose weight. You can do things like monitoring the time you spend in your fat burning zone, or you can go on ‘tempo runs’ and try and push your anaerobic threshold. And trying to maintain a certain pace is also very useful if you want to train for a marathon where the whole point is to maintain a certain speed over the distance. All this is possible thanks to a running watch!