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2017 Running Gear Guide: Tech

2017 brings new run tech that goes well beyond the GPS watch and heart rate monitor.


Highlight: Music, on-command voice-activated stats—and yes, eye protection

The classic Radar sunglasses integrate superb wireless earbuds and a mic array for music and calls, with a voice-activated system and app for stats/coaching. It’s an eyes-on-the-road solution whose features include ascent, average metrics, pace, time, distance, heart rate, stride rate, stride length, power and more. Battery life is 3.5 hours.


Highlight: Comprehensive sleep, activity and recovery monitoring

Originally launched for elite athletes, this super light, incredibly comfortable band has no screen, just motion sensors and a very sensitive HR sensor monitoring your heart rate 24/7, at far faster rates than conventional bands. It measures sleep quality, recovery status at wake up, and strain during the day. At night it shows how much sleep you will need to adequately or just barely recover.


Highlight: Activity tracker and HR band with run-specific twists

This has a steps tracker, sleep and heart rate monitoring band with phone notifications as well. It takes activity-tracking metrics such as steps and resting heart rate to a potentially more useful level for everyday athletes. MIO’s Personal Activity Intelligence Score turns your weekly heart rate intensity data into a rating of the cardiac intensity of all those workouts.


Highlight: Detailed 3D view of run mechanics

RunScribe is made up of two tiny pods that clip to your shoes collecting deep analytical biomechanics data. There’s metrics for run efficiency, shock, motion and left-right symmetry. The data is easily sliced, diced and compared. It can possibly help inform shoe choices and potential injury prevention and recovery. There is no live feedback on the run.


Highlight: Android Wear GPS heart rate watch

New Balance partnered with Intel and Strava for this GPS/HR watch with a sharp color touch screen, well-thought-out run stats and a Google Play music player. Strava also powers the watch’s run app and stats storage. The companion PaceIQ wireless earbuds ($110) by Jabra call up real time run stats from the watch and its on-board music. (At the time of our testing software some features were still being tuned.)


Highlight: Android Wear GPS and HR smart watch

The M600 is a full-featured training, activity, sleep tracking and everyday smart watch. It has a high level of sport-specific customizability, unusual for Android Wear or Apple watch run apps to date. It includes access to Polar’s excellent Polar Flow and Smart Coaching via the app and website. Predictably, with Polar being the original fitness heart rate monitoring company, HR reading is very accurate.


Highlight: Simple, effective heart rate monitor armband

The Rhythm+ uses a soft neoprene armband and attaches on your forearm or bicep. It is waterproof and connects to hundreds of apps, devices and fitness watches. It has a super-simple one button operation and is a great choice if you don’t have an HR GPS watch, don’t like chest straps, or want to add HR monitoring to a phone app.


Highlight: GPS/HR plus topo maps all on the wrist

The 5X is big in all respects: capabilities, weight, size and price. This do-everything mountain watch has full-color topo and base maps of the U.S. with data overlays, turn guidance cues, points of interest along the way, and route suggestions. Battery life is 16 hours in workout mode and two weeks in everyday use.