How Fitness Trackers Can Make You a Better Runner (Or At Least Less Likely to Break Something)

You’re a runner. Good for you. You run early in the morning. You wear sneakers. You run on the road or the gym or the park. You like to sweat, breathe hard and feel sore. You think running is fun.

But do you use a fitness tracker?

You know, those devices that you wear or clip or stick that measure your activity. Things like steps, distance, speed, calories, heart rate, sleep, and more. Things that help you track, optimize, enhance and avoid.

If you don’t use one, maybe you should. Because fitness trackers are not just toys or accessories. They are tools that can help you run better and healthier by giving you data, feedback, and guidance.

Don’t believe me? Well, let me tell you some benefits of using a fitness tracker for running:

Track Your Progress

One benefit is to track your progress over time. You can see how far, how fast, how many, and how high. You can also compare with your past runs or other runners.

Why is this good? Because tracking your progress can help you set goals, measure improvement and celebrate achievements. It can also motivate you to challenge yourself and push your limits.

For example, say you want to run a 10K race in six weeks. You can use a tracker to monitor your weekly stats and see if you’re on track. You can also use it to adjust your plan if needed. And when you finish the race, you can use it to see how well you did and share with your friends.

Optimize Your Training

fitness trackers for runners

Another benefit is to optimize your training. Depending on the tracker or app, you can get recommendations based on your level, goals and preferences. For example, some trackers can suggest the best pace, intensity, duration, and frequency for your runs. Some can also create custom plans that adapt to your progress and feedback.

Why is this good? Because optimizing your training can help you improve performance, avoid plateaus and reach your potential. It can also prevent overtraining, which can cause fatigue, burnout, and injury.

For example, say you want to improve speed. You can use a tracker to measure your current pace and see how it changes with terrain, weather, and mood. You can also use it to follow a speedwork program with intervals, tempo runs, and hill repeats. And when you get faster, you can use it to congratulate yourself.

Enhance Your Experience

Another benefit is to enhance your experience. Running with a tracker can make your runs more fun, interesting, and rewarding. For example, some trackers can play music, podcasts, or audiobooks that match your pace and mood. Some can also provide feedback, encouragement, and coaching with voice or vibration. Some can even gamify your runs with competition, badges or rewards, challenges, or communities.

Why is this good? Because enhancing your experience can help you enjoy running more, stay engaged and motivated, and overcome boredom or monotony.

For example, say you want to spice up your runs. You can use a tracker to listen to something that entertains or educates you while you run. You can also use it to get feedback on how well you’re doing and what you need to do next. And if you’re competitive or social, you can use it to join a race or a group.

Avoid Injuries

Another benefit is to avoid injuries. Running injuries are common and can be caused by many factors, such as poor form, bad footwear, no warm-up or cool-down, too much mileage or intensity, or no recovery. A tracker can help you prevent or detect some of these factors by monitoring your biomechanics, such as cadence, stride length, contact time, and oscillation. It can also track your sleep quality, stress level, and recovery status.

Why is this good? Because avoiding injuries can help you run safely, comfortably, and consistently. It can also save you time, money, and pain later.

For example, say you want to prevent shin splints. You can use a tracker to measure your cadence (steps per minute) and see if it’s right. You can also use it to check your stride length (foot landing distance) and see if it’s right. And if you feel pain in your shins (or anywhere), you can use it to rest and recover well.

Conclusion

Fitness trackers are not just gadgets that count steps. They are tools that can help runners run better and avoid injuries by tracking progress, optimizing training, enhancing the experience, and preventing injuries.

If you’re a runner or want to be one, consider getting a fitness tracker that suits your needs and preferences. You may be surprised by how much it can improve your running journey.