Those among us who consider ourselves to be ‘of a certain age’ will remember the days when, after donning our Sub 4 tracksuit and lacing up our Silver Shadows, the last thing we’d do before leaving the house for a training run would be to glance at our analogue wristwatch and make a mental note of the time, so that we had a rough idea of our pace upon returning home. Of course, any precision in this calculation relied very much upon knowing exactly how far we had run, so it mainly came down to guesswork. Fast forward several decades to a world of running tech that seemed positively unthinkable in the 1980s, and the accuracy with which we can measure not just pace, but pretty much every other metric you could imagine is simply mindboggling.
The latest technology available to runners has even come on in leaps and bounds (or strides) in recent years. As well as GPS mapping – for an accurate idea of the length of our training runs – we have heart rate monitors, elevation charts, even mobile apps which allow us to pit ourselves against other runners who have trodden the same route.
The two new products we’ve highlighted here are perhaps the most advanced yet, and present a ridiculous amount of data to help us better understand – and hopefully improve – our running. Want to know once and for all if a certain pair of shoes is helping you produce more power? Ever wondered where a certain trail heads but were too wary to set off into the unknown mid-run? Wonder no longer.
Welcome to a world of ankle and wrist-worn tech that would blow a 1980s time traveller’s mind!
Power for the people
Like it or not, plenty of us are guided by what our watch tells us. Too fast, too slow; the numbers are there in black and white. But what about the weather? Was it windy? Or the terrain? Was it hilly? All that may change, but those numbers just stare back at you.
Of course, for lots of us that doesn’t matter; indeed, we’ll argue that as trail runners speed can be largely irrelevant, but still you can’t help but take a glance down at your wrist, can you?
Which is where the Nurvv Run smart insoles (pictured above), using 32 smart sensors to accurately measure running power, come into their own.
The concept is simple. The insoles fit into your shoes and report back exactly what is occurring.
Here’s how it works:
■ For indoor runs, a new Power Dial gives a live indication of the power zone you’re working in, much like heart rate zones, allowing you to craft your training session based on specific benefits you hope to achieve.
■ For indoor and outdoor runs performed without a heart rate monitor, audio cues are delivered when you shift power zones.
■ Apple Watch users benefit from a power cue on the watch, plus power zone audio cues when an HRM is not connected.
Running Power Form Report
■ This lets you explore how your power metric has varied over the course of a run, generating insights and helping you to improve on future runs.
■ The circular chart shows a breakdown of the run by power zone.
■ The power line graph shows how power has changed during the run, with average power per split, power zones, an elevation profile to correlate to and the ability to overlay pace on the graph, you can understand how power has interacted with other key metrics during the run.
Perhaps the best way to think all of the above is that this information provides you with the ability to perfectly execute a training plan and get the most from your workout. Of course, we’ll stress it again, as trail runners we tend to know all about feel almost as second nature because we learn how the terrain affects us, but it’s a nice extra to have in your locker when you’re training.
Some cyclists swear by it and, although it’s early days yet, there will be runners who’ll benefit. For instance, the numbers will tell you what shoes work best for you – you’ll see different metrics from different shoes and the numbers may surprise you. Plus, the stats will also knock heart rates on the head, and you’ll be keen to put together a power workout using the new figures rather than old fashioned split times. You know who you are – tech heads, give it a whirl!
In the UK and Ireland, NURVV Run is available to buy for £249.99 from sportsshoes.com
Ready for action
Maybe it’s a throwaway line, but marathon legend Eliud Kipchoge, the only man ever to crack two hours for 26.2 miles, says he’s pondering turning to trail running and ultra-distance running.
In an interview with an American magazine, Kipchoge, who also revealed he runs more than 6000 miles a year, said: “After leaving the marathon, I want to run the ultramarathons just to feel how it is. Running for more than four or five days, or even run at once for 70 kilometres. I really want to feel the pain of running for a long time.”
Trail running supremo Kilian Jornet tweeted “awesome” when he heard the news. Certainly, it promises to be interesting and if nothing else, Kipchoge definitely has the right watch for the job.
That is because he’s been testing the Coros Vertix 2, which we can confirm is a powerful tool when it comes to off-road adventures.
Technology is hugely important to Kipchoge. “The technology is there. I follow everything. I use my heart rate in every training. Even for the slowest jog, I value my heart rate,” he said.
Coros offers that and much more, as you’d expect from a GPS watch like this, but what really stands out is the mapping facility. That is seriously sophisticated and, for instance, has the power to accurately plot your route as an overlay of the actual trail you’re running, giving you accurate pace, distance, and time data.
In addition, the Vertix 2 offers three layers for mapping: Landscape, Topo (Topographic), and Hybrid.
Runners who want to follow a route can use the navigation feature which will overlay their GPX route with the new map layers allowing for a more data-rich experience. Coros’s new super-responsive touchscreen allows you to drag with your fingertips making it easy to pan and move around the map. Pre-loaded with the global offline Landscape map, you can download region-specific Topo maps of your choice for free by visiting coros.com and transferring the files to the watch by USB from any computer.
It features all the extras such as the Electrocardiogram (ECG) mode, the most accurate way to monitor your heart rate, and is also a reliable way to obtain Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
Using that data, the watch is capable of assessing both ECG and HRV, as well as also stress (both from training, and in daily life), which can help you to enhance and optimise your training and recovery plan. We’ve come a long way!
VERTIX 2 is packed with features:
■ Equipped with dual-frequency GNSS Chipset for best-in-industry accuracy
■ Communicates with all five major global satellite systems simultaneously
■ Global offline maps including landscape, topography and hybrid views
■ 140 hours battery life with full GPS
■ 60 days daily use battery
■ 32GB of internal storage including onboard music storage
■ Insta360 action camera integration
■ 1.4-inch sapphire glass screen with touch screen capabilities
■ New and improved user interface
■ Reusable hard/protective water-resistant case