The power of tech has made a difference in so many areas of our lives, but have you ever thought about using it to maximize your athletic performance? Distance running is a sport that is rising in popularity in Houston and with it, so is running tech. Approximately 27,000 runners participated in the Chevron Houston Marathon and Aramco Half Marathon last month. Just watching the finish line makes it apparent how integrated tech has become to this particular sport. It’s now rare to see a finish line without runners fixated on their watches or smartphones. And it makes perfect sense. Tech has the incredible ability to not only track but help improve performance. Many athletes use apps and wearable devices to drive their training, allowing data collected from these devices to reach their goals.
For endurance athletes, the tech typically breaks down into two different categories – tracking and analyzing. GPS watches like Garmin™ or TomTom™ watches are a favorite among Houston runners to track their mileage and pace during training.
When it comes to analyzing all the factors that go into a run, there’s an app for that! Houston runner and registered dietitian LAUREN ROSS combines the data from her Garmin Connect or Strava™ app with HRV4Training app for heart rate variation tracking to get a well-rounded picture of what’s working (and not working) in her training.
Some love the apps while other runners prefer a more “old school” approach. HUNG CAO, president of Kung Fu Running Club, subscribes to this method using Excel® documents and formulas to track his progress and as a result, qualified for his first Boston Marathon in just five years of running. He shared how important the data really is: “Having five years of data and the ability to analyze and graph things, I can make sure I’m not doing anything that my data doesn’t indicate I should be doing.”
One of the biggest benefits of tracking your training is having a record of every run. This allows athletes to analyze performance year over year, but tracking has other benefits, too. For Chevron Houston Marathon pacer MAY SHEK, “Printing my training records off Garmin Connect or Strava helped my doctor see my weekly mileage and the previous months’ training pattern to diagnose an overtraining injury.” Ross also looks at her tracking apps to look back at rest days and ensure that she’s taking time off when she needs it. And for many Houston runners, looking back at prior training and the weather conditions can also help them train safely during Houston’s unpredictable weather.
TIPS FOR RUNNING TECH NEWBIES
Running tech can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re considering training for a race and using tech to reach your goals, don’t go at it alone. Ask friends and fellow athletes for advice. The great thing about fitness tech is that it typically comes in either an affordable app form or a wearable device (which can be borrowed by friends). And, if data is intimidating, go at it slow and use the resources around you to learn. Data and tech-based training might not be for everyone, but that’s the beauty of it. Download an app and discover your potential on the road or trail.