Runners today enjoy easier access to sporting innovation and technology than ever before. From running watches, GPS trackers and heart rate monitors, to inventive approaches to laces, scales, and clothing, promises of a tech-rich future have largely borne out.
Old movies and books asserted by 2021 we would have flying cars, auto-fastening shoes, laser guns, and jet packs - and they were right. But what they didn't see coming was how runners would be able to feed their own futurist fandom with a huge choice of top running tech.
We may still need roads, but we may no longer need laces, maps, hardcopy schedules, analogue stopwatches, or personal trainers.
Here are some of the latest tech, inventions, and innovations to feed your futuristic fitness fantasies.
High-spec training watches
GPS watches have revolutionised training effectiveness for many runners, providing personalised training assistance and incredibly accurate progress tracking. Packing the power of an old desktop computer into a wrist watch and adding wireless connectivity has given today’s runners a completely new way to maximise the effectiveness of their training.
A premium GPS smartwatch, the Polar Vantage V2 GPS Watch has an advanced wrist-based heart rate monitor, supports over 130 different sports, and is fully integrated with GPS, GLONASS, Galileo and QZSS. Built for your longest adventures and endurance races the smart watch comes with an extensive battery life that can last up to seven days with multiple battery saving modes.
Thanks to the 945's built-in full-colour maps and popularity routing, you'll be able to run with confidence wherever you are in the world. The safety and tracking features give your loved ones peace of mind as you explore the trails and, should you get into trouble, you can even send your real-time location to emergency contacts. If you are going it alone, stay motivated with your favourite tunes; the 945 can store up to 1,000 songs and can also sync your favourite playlists from Deezer and Spotify.
The perfect watch for long-distance adventurers. Suunto 9 Baro has intelligent battery management, which allows activity recording for between 25 and 120 hours. Never run out of charge thanks to the real-time monitoring which gives you a heads-up if you need to switch to a more power-conserving mode. Even the GPS location tracking has been designed to minimise the drain on your battery, whilst still maintaining a high level of accuracy.
Push your limits with the most advanced Garmin watch yet. Tested to US military standards, the ultra-rugged construction will withstand the toughest conditions. As well as GPS navigation and running metrics, this feature-packed watch includes everything you need for a plethora of outdoor pursuits. For example, maps for over 2000 ski resorts are pre-loaded and there's a Pulse OX sensor to monitor blood oxidisation at altitude. Another major attraction, however, is the Power Glass ™ solar charging technology which boosts battery life, giving you up to 10.5 days in smartwatch mode or 28 hours in GPS mode.
Next-gen heart rate monitors
It was only a short time ago when accurately monitoring your heart rate involved an analogue stopwatch, standing still, counting, and a bit of mental arithmetic. Now, a simple arm strap can take care of it, and use the information to build incredibly precise assessments of your fitness peaks, troughs and potential.
So much more than just a heart rate monitor. This all-round workout tracker gives you all the data you need to improve your running performance. Track all kinds of metrics like vertical oscillation, ground contact time, stride length and vertical ratio, then head to the Garmin Connect app which will help you to make sense of it all and see where you can finesse your running style for those all-important gains.
Compression running wear is an innovation many saw coming. Skin-tight clothing seemed a common feature in every future-gazing Hollywood sci-fi movie, and we assume this was only because of its anticipated fitness benefits and nothing to do with showing off the actors’ toned physiques. Anyway, recent advancements see compression wear offer measurable benefits for runners and sports enthusiasts of all disciplines as the technology is continually refined and improved.
These clever tights help to alleviate the stresses and strains that running puts on the legs. Thigh mapping supports the knee joint whilst calf mapping reduces muscle oscillation, improving recovery and limiting soreness after your workout. The high-tech breathable fabric also gives you UPF50+ protection and features reflective logos for visibility when it's not so bright out.
If you're one of many runners who experiences sore muscles the next day, you might want to take a look at these recovery-boosting calf guards. They help to reduce muscle vibration, without restricting movement, thanks to 3D waved knit technology. The fibre has a micro-massaging effect that is triggered by every movement, helping your legs to stay fresh.
Innovative running shoes
Manufacturers are still mining the make-up of the running shoe for new ways to handle the pressures and stresses running has on the ligaments, joints, and bones. From lace-less models to see-through soles, the running shoe continues to be re-examined and reinvented. If anything, the famous self-lacing sneakers predicted by 1980s blockbusters are starting to look a little dated.
This futuristic footwear has a hidden sensor built in to track, analyse and store all of your running metrics. Sync your data to Under Armour's Map My Run platform so you can see your progress, or connect a pair of headphones to get real-time coaching whilst you're running. The super-lightweight UA Flow sole delivers an impressively smooth ride, whilst the woven upper allows maximum airflow, making these the perfect choice for long summer miles.
With a snug, sock-like fit, the adidas Ultraboost 21 Running Shoes are built for high-performance, allowing you to touchdown with control and push-off in comfort. Updated for 2021 the shoes combine premium adidas Primeknit+ textile uppers with innovative Tailored Fibre Placement for the ultimate foot-hugging fit, while the iconic ultraboost 3D Heel Frame and a midfoot lace closure offers signature support and security.
From recovery-boosting massage guns to reflective body paint that lets you leave the Day-Glo jacket behind, today's running accessories have solved all of the problems runners face on the road or trail. All, that is, except for the awkwardness of not knowing what to say to other oncoming runners. No one knows how to fix that.
No more hobbling up the stairs after every long run. Whip out this powerful little gadget for a therapeutic muscle-pounding to kick-start your recovery so you'll feel fresh and ready to go again in no time. Connect to the app via Bluetooth to be guided through massage routines for running, cycling and more - you can even use it to loosen up after a hard day at the computer.
Listen to music or catch up on podcasts without losing awareness of your surroundings. Innovative bone-conducting technology delivers sound directly into your inner ears, bypassing your eardrums, so you'll still be able to hear the ambient sound around you. Feather-light, waterproof and secure, these wireless headphones are perfect for all your workouts.
For runners who like to get lost in the music and gym-goers that don't want to work out to the sound of other people's grunts, the Apple AirPods Pro are a great solution. The Active Noise Cancellation lets you listen with no outside distractions, but if you need to be able to hear what's going on around you there's also a Transparency Mode.
Whatever you wear, this clever little stick of skin spread will help you stay visible in low light conditions. The wax-based retro-reflective paint sticks to your body, no matter how sweaty you are, and bounces light off headlights and streetlights. Slick onto arms and legs to make yourself unmissable.