My running gear: Griffin LightRunner, MilestonePod, and Sensoria Smart Bra
These workout accessories are helping me run faster, better, and smarter.
By Caitlin McGarry, MacworldAUG 31, 2015 8:30 pm PDT
At a Glance
Keeps iPhone 6 secure while running
If you don’t position it just right, it can scrape or pinch your arm because of the iPhone 6’s size
A comfortable iPhone 6 armband that lights up for safe night running.
Life was so much simpler when I only needed an iPod to fuel my workouts, but that was before I became obsessed with quanitifying my health and fitness. I can’t help it: There are just too many gadgets to try, all of them promising to help me run faster, longer, and smarter.
My usual road companions are my iPhone 6 and Apple Watch, but lately I’ve been testing some new gear to improve my performance. Here are three accessories I’ve been running with lately, in addition to my phone and watch—and yes, I realize how absurd that is. Don’t be like me.
I was on a months-long hunt for a high-quality, comfortable iPhone 6 armband to wear running when Griffin released its
$40 LightRunner this June, and it’s been lighting up my life—literally—all summer. Finding an armband for the 4.7-inch phone, one that wouldn’t make me feel like I was running with a mini tablet strapped to my arm, proved to be a challenge. The LightRunner’s adjustable neoprene band is comfortable even during longer runs of 5+ miles (although I admit I’ve pinched my upper arm a few times by tightening the velcro strap too quickly). A mixture of cloth and rubber hold my phone securely in place without ever letting it touch my skin. The LightRunner also has a window that protects the phone’s screen while still recognizing touch, so I can pick a playlist in Apple Music before strapping the band to my arm. There’s even a hole for the Touch ID fingerprint scanner so I can quickly unlock my phone if necessary.
The LightRunner’s main purpose is security: It has built-in flashing LED lights for night runs, and you can even choose between a slow, steady flash or a fast one. I typically run in the early mornings, which have been bright and beautiful all summer long, but as we head into fall and winter, this safety feature will definitely come in handy.
My Apple Watch and fitness apps tell me how fast and far I run, but I’m always looking for more insight into my performance. Milestone Sports makes a small $25 Bluetooth gadget called the
MilestonePod that monitors your foot striking patterns, steps per minute, rate of impact, stride length, and other stats about your running form and presents them in easily digestible summary in the
Milestone Sports app. The app doesn’t just give you numbers—it can tell how likely you are to injure yourself, and even gives you a “runficiency score” based on your technique.
I love this little pod. I laced it to the top of my sneaker and haven’t thought about it since, except when I finish a run and sync the data from the pod to my phone. And each run’s summary inspires you to improve by comparing your numbers to those of elite runners. For instance, each of my feet is on the ground for an average of 260 milliseconds during a run. Elites averages less than 200 milliseconds. That’s something I can work on.
A gadget that requires a lot of set-up before a run or that I’m conscious of while on the road is one I won’t use for long. There are other products that give you similar stats, like Sensoria’s running socks, but this is one of the cheapest, least obtrusive options out there.
Sensoria Smart Bra
I prefer MilestonePod to
Sensoria’s smart socks, but I’m still intrigued by Sensoria’s line of smart fitness wear. The new
Sensoria Smart Bra ($139) and
T-shirt ($149) come with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor that snaps on to the fabric close to your chest to give an accurate heart rate reading while you run. Ideally, you could ditch accessories like chest straps and wrist-worn heart rate monitors and track your pulse through your clothing.
The sports bra is comfortable, and the Bluetooth monitor is easy to snap on to the frabric and then pair to the Sensoria Fitness app. Unlike the socks, which were made of an uncomfortably warm material, the sports bra is light, breathable, and designed to wick sweat away, which is what you’d expect of a piece of exercise clothing. I didn’t test the T-shirt because it’s only available in men’s sizes, but it’s designed to feel and perform similarly to the sports bra.
The voice coach in Sensoria’s app will tell you your heart rate as you run, which I compared to the heart rate readings from my Apple Watch. They were always within a few beats of each other. You can also pair the Sensoria heart rate monitor to third-party apps like MapMyRun, Runkeeper, and Runtastic .
I wouldn’t recommend the sports bra to larger-chested ladies, because you can find an alternative with way more support for far less than $139 (and even less than $69, which is what the bra costs without the heart rate monitor). But if you have some money to spare and want a piece of clothing that’s a little more useful than your standard running apparel, Sensoria’s fitness gear gets the job done.