We have come to associate fitness trackers and heart rate monitors with devices you wear on your wrist or strap around your chest. It is clear the race to make running shoes an integral part of the Internet of Things is lagging behind. This is despite the fact that feet are the most logical place from which to monitor steps, distance and other associated metrics. Nevertheless, there are a few options to choose from. In this article we list our pick of the best running pods.
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Running is a popular fitness activity because of its health benefits, affordability and convenience. However the sport can cause injuries, often due to overtraining and people doing too much, too soon.
There are over 36 million active runners in the US and over 60% get some sort of injury each year. Overuse injuries can occur from training errors such as running frequency, speed, lack of leg strength and flexibility – alongside many other factors.
The advantage of purchasing trackers that are located on your feet are that some of these devices improve not just how far and how fast you run, but also how well you run. They do this through parameters related to your running form such as foot landing, cadence, balance and time on the ground – metrics which you cannot get from wrist based trackers.
Correct form is very important for runners at all levels. Its not enough to simply focus on training, nutrition and hydration. Good posture and proper technique helps you move more efficiently, avoid injury and have a positive mental outlook.
Essential reading: Top GPS watches for running and training
You can take time to educate yourself or fork out for a fitness coach. But there may be a better way. The next level up from simply dishing out statistics, a growing number of wearables is providing users with real-time analysis of running form.
While this market is still in its early stages, there are a few players that have already come out with some good options. Some of these will purely track your fitness, others will also spit out information of your running form.
Stryd is a lightweight shoe-clip. Its main novelty is that it brings an entirely new metric to the world of running – power. Power is a single measure the incorporates speed, form, fatigue and terrain. This helps runners better pace their efforts. A simple tweak in effort can keep you going strong through the entire workout or race.
Simply set a power target and run to see results. Stryd accounts for terrain, form, and fatigue to tell you how hard to move. This allows you to run faster and not hit the wall.
There are other metrics, too. The full range includes: power, form power, leg spring stiffness, run stress score, ground time, vertical oscillation and cadence. Stryd measures everything with high accuracy, realtime pace and distance. The shoe-clip also plays nice with over 30 ANT+ Bluetooth sport watches such as the Apple Watch, Garmin, Suunto and Polar wearables.
And that’s only scratching the surface of what this little gadget can do. In our review we note that Stryd adds a whole new dimension to your training. Rather than overloading you with stats, it provides visually attractive, actionable information you can use to tweak your training or know here you are currently at.
Small enough to attach to your shoelaces or fit in the mid-sole pocket of compatible shoes, this best selling gadget is easy to use. Much of its benefit is for those who regularly use a treadmill although it can be useful for outdoor runs, too.
The outstandingly robust device uses advanced MEMS inertial-sensor technology to achieve Garmin says 98% accuracy for speed and distance. The foot pod is compatible with most Garmin wearables, as well as third-party GPS watches that support ANT+ foot pods.
This is a great little gadget that will not set you back very much. The foot pad is powered by a small, replaceable watch battery which will keep you running for up to a year.
Unveiled at CES 2020 in Las Vegas, NURVV Run are intelligent insoles that deliver insights and guidance on how to run faster and avoid injury.
Data is captured 1,000 times per second (per insole) and includes info on cadence, step length, foot-strike, pronation and balance. Users get real-time audio, visual and haptic feedback that includes personalized speed and technique workouts and guidance on achieving a pre-set target. The lightweight insoles are embedded with 32 high-precision sensors that work in conjunction with two GPS trackers
The accompanying smartphone app spits out more detailed guidance which includes a complete picture of your running technique. You also get a Running Health score after each run which shows your injury risk in an easy to understand way.
The smart insoles are probably the coolest running tech we’ve tested out. They are lightweight and durable – you really don’t feel them at all. The whole system is very easy to use and you can connect it to your Garmin or Apple Watch. Or simply use the insoles on their own or with the smartphone app.
Sensoria’s smart fitness socks are a novelty in the world of running. They monitor cadence, foot landing and impact forces exerted by the runner, as well as actionable information from Sensoria’s AI coach on how to run farther, faster and healthier.
The high-tec socks are made of antibacterial, anti-blistering and sweat wicking material. Now on the second generation, they feature better textile pressure sensors and are two times lighter than before.
Sensoria Core has also received an upgrade recently. This is the unit which houses the technology and wirelessly relays data during your run to the Sensoria Fitness mobile app. Weighing less than half an ounce and measuring less than one square inch, the Core is now four time smaller and has double the battery life of the current ankle bracelet.
The upgraded Sensoria Run 2.0 app for iOS (and Web Dashboard v2.0), shows your run in detail and includes information such as a foot heat-map, foot landing, contact time on the ground, cadence, pace, heart rate (when connected with the Sensoria HRM or other devices), speed, distance, altitude gains, GPS track and more. The app also allows you to tailor your goals and track progress. And now there is the addition of the company’s artificial intelligence coach, Mara.
Running shoe manufacturer Altra teamed up with iFit, a company that specializes in fitness wearables and associated software, to produce the IQ. These smart shoes feature a multi-sensored system within the length of the midsole that can sync your shoes to your smartphone and give you lots of useful data.
The shoe has a lot of features, but it’s really about tracking your form. And you don’t have to wait until the end of your run to see what you might be doing wrong. The app provides real-time suggestions on how to adjust your form, increase performance, and cut down the chances of picking up an injury. For example, it can tell you whether you are landing harder on one foot and whether impact concentrates on your heel rather than the mid foot or toes.
The Altra Torin IQ relays feedback in two way both through the app, and headphones. This is all customisable through the app. The system can also tell you stride length, speed, distance travelled, the amount of ground contact time, and cadence.
Lechal insoles and buckles can turn your regular pair of shoes into your personal guide. Slip these smart insoles into your footwear and get help navigating. The gizmo connects to the GPS on your phone to lead you to your destination. All you need to do is set your destination in the accompanying app and follow the series of simple vibrations and patterns. The shoe that vibrates is the way to go.
The intelligent insoles also double-up as a fitness tracker. They’ll keep tabs on steps taken, calories burnt, distance travelled and more. You can also sync data with Apple Health and the Google fit app. Battery life is a perfectly respectable 15 days on a single charge.
Zwift have recently released a RunPod. It connects to your smart gear so you can train in the comfort of your home or on the gym treadmill.
For those not in the know, Zwift is an online training platform that creates virtual training courses. This includes anything from the fantasy island of Watopia, to routes inspired by Central London. The system takes the data from footpods to power your avatar. You can run alongside friends, those in the Zwift community and even compete for real-world prizes.
The release of the pod follows the acquisition of running tech business Milestone by Zwift. The goal all along was the come up with Zwift’s own footpod, essentially a refined version of the popular MilestonePod. Something that has a more responsive feel for both indoor and outdoor running.
The Zwift RunPod is a low cost alternative to more sophisticated foot pods from the likes of Garmin, Styd and Polar. It gives those who don’t already such a device, a cost effective way to get into the game.
The Pod measures and broadcasts speed, cadence and distance when paired with Zwift via Bluetooth. RunPod calibration can be done within Zwift, so all you need to do is clip it on to your shoes and you’re ready to go.
Moov Now is a one of a kind wearable fitness coach that actively monitors your activity and talks to you as you work out. The multi-sport gadget essentially translates your exact movement into real-time coaching and lets you know if you are performing exercises correctly. It does this through use of the 9 axis motion sensing system – including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer.
For running, the device not only helps you improve your performance and stamina, but it also corrects your form. It monitors your landing impact, cadence, and range of motion, and watches out for you to prevent injury, while pushing your limits.
Lumo Run is a small and discreet sensor that measures and coaches you on your running form to improve performance and reduce the risk of injury. This standalone gadget, which measures only 25 grams, clips onto the back of the waistband and works with any pair of running shorts.
The device can measure a whole host of metrics including cadence, bounce, braking, pelvic drop and rotation. You’ll also get feedback on your form through your headphones as you run, along with personalized coaching tips and recommended exercises.
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