Today is Global Running Day! Running is a great way to get in a cardiovascular workout, and get away from the stresses of the daily grind. Best of all, you can do it just about anywhere, without forking over any monthly membership fees and needing nothing more than a pair of decent shoes. Of course, like many hobbies, some high-tech gear can definitely make running more enjoyable and even improve your performance. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or are thinking about tackling your first 5K later this summer, here’s a list of some of our favorite products for runners.
For solo runners, there’s no better accompaniment than a carefully curated playlist. But the question of how to get those tunes from your smartphone or MP3 player (those still exist?) can be a complex one. Wires or no wires? No wires or truly no wires? What if I get caught in the rain? There are answers to all of these questions, and different products for each answer. While wired earphones are still plentiful, their benefits compared to wireless designs are slowly fading. Wireless earbuds can match the sound quality and fit of their wired counterparts, and prices continue to come down, making them only slightly more costly. The main disadvantage of wireless headphones is that you’re at the mercy of limited battery life, but even that is continually improving. Current models offer anywhere from 8 to 16 hours of battery life.
Terminology can also be a bit confusing. There are wireless headphones, and then there are “truly wireless” headphones. The former are headphones where each bud is connected to each other with a wire but don’t need a wired connection to your audio device; the latter are earbuds completely free from wire, with each individual earbud connecting to your device wirelessly. Today, there are plenty of options for each. Here are some of the best running headphones available today.
The JBL Endurance Sprint in-ear headphones are designed to function well while running an adjust about every imaginable athletic endeavor—even swimming. With JBL’s Maghook over-the-ear design, interchangeable eartips, and TwistLock technologies, the Sprint will stay securely in your ears during even the most vigorous activities. Touch controls make it easy to change your music or take a call, an IPX7 waterproofing means you can even take a post-run swim while wearing them. You can expect 8 hours of battery life with a full charge, but if you find yourself empty right before your next run, a quick 10-minute charge will get you a full hour of playback.
The most well-known truly wireless headphones are the Apple AirPods. The iconic, stark white design can be spotted in the ears of countless commuters, runners, and office workers every day. They offer great sound quality with innovative built-in touch controls, plus instant pairing with your iPhone (though AirPods can also be used with Android devices). The Apple AirPods Pro also offer weather resistance, grippy silicone ear tips, and adjustable noise cancellation, making them the best AirPods for running.
Just about everyone owns a smartphone, and for most of us it doubles as our music player. But if you ever yearn for the old days of the iPod Shuffle and other tiny, purpose-built music players, you’re not alone. Large smartphones can be unwieldy, and you might not want to risk dropping it or getting caught in a storm with it. Believe it or not, there is still a market for standalone MP3 players, and they’re perfect for those runners who just want a simple way to get their music on the goal. The diminutive Sony Walkman MP3 player is one such choice. Less than half the size of a typical smartphone, you can easily slide it into a small pocket on tights or running shorts. 8GB of memory stores more songs than you’ll ever need, and with up to 35 hours of battery life, most runners will only need to charge it once a month.
For some, even a slim smartphone is a hassle to deal with on a long run. Not a fan of figuring out how to carry your smartphone or MP3 while running? There is a solution: sport headphones with a built-in MP3 player. The Sony Walkman wireless headphones have a fully-featured MP3 player integrated into their design, so your entire setup sits on your ears. A built-in battery gives you 12 hours of listening time, and with 4 or 8GB of built-in memory, you’ll finish a marathon without repeating a song. An added perk: the Sony Walkman headphones are also completely waterproof.
Gadgets can do much more than just keep you entertained during your run—they’re also tools that can help you perform better and train more efficiently. An activity tracker with built-in heart rate monitor, like the Fitbit Charge 4, is a must if you’re serious about training. Monitoring your heart rate helps prevent overexertion, so you can run farther and get the most out of every workout. This Fitbit watch also puts some other conveniences right on your wrist: control your Spotify playlist without futzing with your phone, or use touchless payment options to grab a drink after your run.
For something a little more full-featured, you might consider a Garmin GPS smartwatch. These watches will generally offer all of the tech you’d find in a fitness activity tracker, with the added benefit of native GPS functionality. That means you record your runs with the same accuracy as a run tracking app that utilizes your phone’s GPS, without lugging your phone around. It’s an especially great feature for anyone who does trail running.
If you like to run long distances, make sure to bring a drink to stay hydrated. A YETI water bottle is a great way to keep your beverage at the perfect temperature. Sipping on cold water throughout your run helps to keep your core body temperature from rising. This will allow you to push your run farther before feeling exhausted. Just be sure to keep drinking after your run, too. Doing so helps your body recover faster so that you’ll be ready for your next run in no time.