I’m guessing that you’re here to learn about the latest running technology to help make you that little bit faster – that’s pretty much the reason I’ve been putting together this weekly guide.
But the time has come to extend things a little bit – as part of T3′s new ‘Man vs Tech’ feature I’m going to be taking part in a triathlon for the first time in my life.
It’s in 8 weeks.
I’ve not been in the pool for about 5 years (apart from messing around in Dubai with a beachball for an hour) and my cycling regime consists of a leisurely pedal for a mile each morning to the train station.
But there will be one secret weapon in my arsenal: technology. I’ll be given every tool possible to get me tri-ready – so whether it’s the latest wetsuit, power meter or mat (apparently I’ll even need one of them for changing my kit) I’ll be putting it through its paces here.
Wahoo Tickr X
Back to the running gear – and I was incredibly excited to try this heart rate monitor out. I hadn’t even considered that the humble chest strap would be an area where tech firms were looking to give runners the extra edge, but Wahoo proved me wrong.
The key thing I love about this strap is that it connects to both Ant+ and Bluetooth 4.0 devices – so no matter what you’re running with, if it supports a chest strap this is it.
But what about that X? Well, that’s the good bit: the Tickr X will track runs and workouts even when you’re not connected to anything, monitoring your power output and calorie burn for as long as you’ve got it attached, as well as being able to work out your cadence and stride speed (both excellent metrics for tracking how well you’re running, and that info’s available to any of the 50+ apps that can connect to it).
If you use the Wahoo 7 minute workout app it can also track your strength regime, using the inbuilt accelerometer to count squats, press ups or on the spot jogging.
While the latter two functions are really cool, I’m not sure they’re worth the extra £30 / $50 that the Xx brings (the ‘normal’ Tickr does the dual connectivity well). It’s been great being able to track the calorie burn during the whole of my workout, as there have been times where I’ve still been cooling down but the watch is already stopped.
But download that info to the Wahoo app (compatible with both Android and iOS) and you can’t do anything with it. I want to be able to segment it so I can see what I burned during the run compared with the session clearing the garage after, not one big lump of useless data.
The fitness app is really simplistic too. You can change things like workout duration and repetitions, but there are no training plans and it doesn’t save your reps for each session, so unless you write them down, there’s no progression. The Tickr X doesn’t even count every rep well.
So this chest strap – while admittedly amazing at some things (I love that I can skip music tracks by banging my chest) – fails to offer enough to warrant additional investment. Go with the normal Tickr unless you really want to just be able to train using your heart rate and run without a phone.
Price: £80 / $99
Best for: the multi-gadgeted runner
JVC HA-ETR40 headphones
Anyone who has been reading this column for a while knows one thing: I’ve got shit ears. Not for listening, but for holding things in.
I’m not saying I usually put my lunch in my lugholes or anything, but when it comes to headphones NO pair of earbuds will ever stay in without surgical attachment.
I didn’t expect much from the boringly-named HA-ETR40 earbuds when they landed on my desk. That feeling of ridicule rose when I was saw that they were the ‘fin’ variety, with a little upwards hook holding them in place – and they didn’t even have a range of fin sizes.
‘Ha,’ I thought. ‘I might not even bother with these. Save me a run cursing as they slip straight out the second a bead of sweat appears. I might have a sandwich.’
But JVC promised me the ‘new’ pivot system (the method of putting them in and swivelling the bud until it fit in snugly, something I’ve used a dozen times to no avail) would sort me out with these new washable, sweatproof headphones.
So I tried it. And they felt snug. So I began to run. And they didn’t fall out. So I ran faster. They refused to budge. Lather, rinse, repeat: these JVC earbuds are the best fitting headphones my terrible expanses of skin I have for ears have ever encountered, locking in for any run type I tried over a week.
The sound quality isn’t the best ever, I’ll admit. It’s a long way from terrible though, and if you’re after running headphones it doesn’t matter how bad the quality is as long as you can tell the difference between a voice and a guitar.
What matters is fit and comfort, and these earbuds have both in spades. The clip to hold them to your t-shirt is also really well made and firm, with a clever lever meaning it won’t snap off.
The only real gripe is the remote button, used for pausing and skipping tracks, is nigh on useless. It’s stiff, doesn’t read the inputs most of the time, and for some reason keeps triggering the voice over mode on my HTC One M9.
But I don’t care about any of that. These headphones are the most comfortable I’ve ever encountered, and for a rather low price considering what they’re up again. A kit-bag must for any runner suffering like I’ve been.
Price: £40 / $35
Best for: the aurally challenged