There’s a new wave of run-focused wearable tech on the rise – the real-time, artificially intelligent virtual running coach has arrived. Brands like Garmin, Polar and TomTom have all been coaching us from the wrist for a long time but new brands who see the future of performance training as more of a human, two way conversation delivered via your headphones are making a play to be your running partner.
These gadgets do everything: they’ll create you a marathon training plan based on your current fitness and biometrics. They’ll help improve your form and technique and they’ll even tell you when you need to rest. All of them adapt on the fly as they get to know you better.
The purists will probably say that they don’t want to be burdened by technology on race day and that there’s no way a robot coach can replace the human touch. But I’ve just tested three of the best new products on the market – the Oakley Radar Pace sunglasses, the Lumo Run and the Moov HR Sweat – and I was genuinely impressed by how advanced the technology is already.
You can read my full big test feature ‘Best running wearables for real time coaching’ over at Wareable.com.
What’s the Best Real-Time Virtual Running Coach?
The Lumo Run (above) easily topped my list. It’s focus on form really set it apart from the rest because it taught me things I didn’t know about technique. The ‘coach’ provided timely, actionable and sensible advice on how to improve my form on the run and afterwards. If you want to know how you can become a better runner when you’re not running then this is it. Before each training run, Lumo gives you an aspect of your form to work on such as hip rotation, foot strike rate or braking. It then provides pre-run drills, complete with handy videos, to show you how you can improve. Post run you get feedback on how you performed against your target and more drills to help you further.
While the Oakley Radar Pace (above) does offer some advice on technique, it’s main focus is on adaptive training plans that evolved based on what you do and how you perform. Miss a run from your 12-week marathon plan and Radar will adjust accordingly. That’s all great but it was the voice recognition that blew me away. I loved being able to ask “What’s my XXX?” for a huge range of metrics and get an instant response. Even to the point where I forgot my initial issues with wearing, and talking to, a pair of very sporty ‘runner’ sunglasses.
The exciting thing is that these products are just the start. There are other new players set to shake things up. One product I can’t wait to see is the LifeBEAM Vi – which claims to bring aerospace grade biometrics to a wearable for everyone, alongside an AI coach that’s more human than we’ve seen before.
Sensoria – who have had a form-coaching products in the market for longer than anyone – are about to launch an upgrade to it’s products with Sensoria Socks 2.0 imminent along with a collaboration with Vivobarefoot to put the technology straight into the shoes.
The robocoaches are coming. But would you trust a virtual running coach with your next big race?