Yes I know, the great thing about running is that you don't actually need any special equipment to do it. Only today I was seized with the desire to run home from work despite not having any kit with me so I headed down the Old Kent Road in my shirt and trousers. No doubt everyone thought I'd nicked something from PC World.
Still checking the odd gadget can't do any harm can it? My current favourite is Endomondo, a free phone app for tracking your speed, distance and more. Actually you can use it for more or less anything where you're moving, including walking, cycling , running or even climbing stairs. In my early Endomondo excitement I even worked out that you burn 26 kcal using the stairs instead of the lift at work - that's nearly a whole rich tea biscuit!
You start a 'workout' - which could be a training run or a race - and Endomondo tracks your time and your distance covered using GPS. One of the most useful features when you're running with headphones is that a voice tells you at each 1000m how long it took you and your time for the run overall. This really helps if you are looking to improve on your Personal Best as you can check how you are doing at each stage.
Once you've finished the run, you get a summary of distance, time, average speed and calories. It can also be linked to a heart rate monitor, but think you need the paying Premium version for that.
You also get a breakdown of your split times at the end of each 1000m. The only thing I have found problematic is that unless you've got the phone in your hand as you cross the finish line you are probably going to take a few seconds to press the stop button.
Endomondo generates a map of your route. Not just a pretty satellite view - in this case of Hilly Fields Parkrun - but showing the 1k, 2k, 3k etc. points. This is quite handy when you compare it with times. For instance at Hilly Fields the first kilometre is mainly downhill/flat so you would expect it to be faster than the next 1000m which features two uphill stretches.
|Inevitably the map on the phone is quite small, but you can log in to the website from laptop/PC|
and get a better image like this
There is also a whole community aspect to it which I haven't really explored yet, where people can choose to post details of their run. One aspect of that is that Endomondo uses GPS to give you maps and details of runs posted by others near to where you are at any moment.
The paying Premium version (£1.99 a month) has many other features which I may consider at some point, but I'm still finding my way through all the basics on the free version. The bottom line is that if you are going for a run and you want to know how far and fast you've gone, this is a great tool.
Further details at Endomondo. I am using an iphone, but looks like it will work with most smartphones