We are all so pampered these days and we don’t even realize it. I’m not talking about wearables and apps but more everyday and mundane stuff. Since I’m mostly a runner I’ll probably default to that but it pretty much applies to everyone, especially those that workout in the great outdoors. There are some crazy innovations out there like sneakers with carbon fiber plates and nutty looking aero helmets but that’s not what we’re here for today. Runners of 20 or even 10 years ago might remember what things were like back then but newer runners might think that it’s always been this good. Spoiler alert it hasn’t. So even though we’re not racing, medals come in the mail these days and there is nothing to train for let’s take a moment to remember that we all still have it pretty dang good!
Not lately here at least, but forecast data has improved over the years. We get hour by hour forecasts on demand now rather than reading about today’s weather in yesterday’s paper. That doesn’t mean the forecast is always right though. One of the really cool things we have access to now is live radar data. Of course you can always have a great run in the rain but should you want to avoid it live radar data is super helpful. On those days where it showers on and off you can always consult the radar and find a hole in all that rain. Another factor is also the relative accuracy of long term forecasts. It’s a lot easier to plan your week of workouts when you know Thursday it’s going to rain cats and dogs. We don’t realize how much easier weather apps make our lives compared to even 15 or 20 years ago.
Sure GPS is great and way better than having to drive a route to know how far you’ve run but there are maybe even way better uses of GPS than just that. One that immediately comes to mind is the way GPS has changed things like mountain biking. Back in the day there wasn’t even much point in taking a cell phone if you had one since you rarely even had a signal where you parked your car. Even if your did get in trouble and have some bars how did you tell anyone where you were exactly.
Now beyond how fast and how far you’re going now you can certainly call for help, give them your exact coordinates but it gets even cooler than that. Apps like cyclemeter can even alert a loved one that you’ve gone for a ride and locate you (and your last known position) should you fail to return home. All you have to do is open your app to track your ride and the rest is taken care of (after some initial setting up). Pace and distance might be how we use GPS data most often but it’s the other stuff we take for granted.
Easy music on the go
Running with music was a game changer for me when I got my first iPod in 2005. It was probably the biggest leap forward in liking running that I had really. I still kinda miss that iPod classic with it’s huge memory that I lost in a flood. There were many years after of 16 gb iPhones that were just painful! But before we had MP3 players there wasn’t really a good solution. The most current solution at the time was cd players with some form of anti-skip technology which usually still skipped. They were huge and your expensive cd’s all ended up scratched. Being able to (illegally) burn your own softened the blow somewhat. I don’t really think that cds were ever as good as cassette tapes since the walkman as smaller and didn’t skip the same way. However making a running mixed tape took A LOT of dedication. But… skipping a song by fast forwarding was painful! Before we had easy access to digital music running with tunes just wasn’t worth it for me an a lot of other fitness freaks too. We don’t really realize how easy we have it now with playlists and skipping songs using buttons on our headphones or watches.
Some runners really love the quiet of running. I am not one of those but… it wasn’t always possible for all runners in the past. Of course you could always run in the woods by yourself but other modern conveniences make this possible for more runners now. Because runners have cell phones on them now with reliable service and batteries they are more likely to feel safe enough to venture into more peaceful areas. Before I had a good reliable cell phone with me I only ran on well traveled streets and they were seldom quiet. For a lot of runners women in particular going off on your own still isn’t an option.
But now you have the option of staying safer, visible and wearing noise cancelling headphones if you want some peace and quiet. You can also share your location with a loved one and call for help if you need it. Even now if you love those quiet runs make sure you’re not taking too many risks to get them! I run with headphones and music like most runners and that does bring me some peace too. From time to time people do yell things at me that in all likelihood I don’t want to hear. What’s nice about the music option is as long as they don’t do anything besides holler something, I don’t have to hear it at all!
Other innovative people
There are so many ideas in the running world that make me think “hmm I wonder why I never thought of that.” Well now when someone does figure something awesome out we all get to know about it pretty fast. Some of those things are innovative products like buffs, arm warmers and road Id which still cost you a bit of money other things are totally free. One of my most used free innovations is this convent running clothes picker based on your current weather conditions. I literally never pick the wrong outfit anymore! Since we have things like instagram, running blogs, Facebook groups and running channels you’re more likely to get connected with great ideas way sooner rather than stumbling upon them eventually. Before all this most of the great things I stumbled upon actually came to me via my more connected family members. My mom hooked me on running undies and socks and my sister bought me the original Nike+ running chip system and the iPod nano to go with it to pace my runs. Just in case you’re behind here are some of my “why didn’t I think of that” things I haven’t mentioned yet:
- A windbreaker that folds into a pocket and fits in your bra or pocket
- Road ID for safety
- Running skirts
- Body glide for chaffing
- #runfie for motivation
- KT tape for injuries
- Hydration packs for long runs
- Facebook running groups
- Live progress tracking for friends and family on race day
These things might just fill a need you didn’t know you had.
This year in particular we might not feel all that lucky but hopefully this helped a little. What innovation are you most thankful for? Any I missed? Leave it in the comments below!