Runners. Marathoners. Fitness enthusiasts. The health regimen you are on isn’t really complete unless there is a certain amount of tech quotient infused into the mix. And it is not just fantastic shoes that you need. A smartwatch with fitness tracking credentials, a cool pair of wireless earbuds, an anti-pollution mask which is very relevant in most Indian cities and some up-to-date fitness gear is also essential to look the part. To feel the part. And to genuinely enhance your running experience. Good news that, with a packed marathon season awaiting you over the next few months. Just in the remaining days of January, there are as many as 61 marathons lined up across India, between January 18 and January 31. Nasik, Pune, Jaipur, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad, Mysore, Goa, Gurugram to name a few—there will surely be a marathon happening somewhere near you at some point sometime in the next couple of months. The events include 0.5K, 1K, 2K, 5K, Half marathons, Full Marathons and Ultra Marathons. Parent toddler marathons. Super-fast runs. 12 hour runs. Marathons that support a cause.
To make it easier for you to get the gear in place, we have handpicked some of the best tech-inspired accessories and gear for the upcoming marathon seasons, and the years’ worth of running that awaits.
Nothing comes close: Nike ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%
Rs 19,995; Nike.com
The successor to the brilliant Nike Vaporfly 4% is the ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%. In fact, this shoe will be even faster than the predecessor, which already had rivals complaining because of the speed advantage it offered rivals. For starters, there is the VaporWeave upper, which is a material lighter than Flyknit and also absorbs far less water. This moisture wicking means the weight remains controlled. The outsole has been redesigned for better forefoot traction, after feedback from athletes including Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge, British distance runner Mo Farah and American long distance runner Shalane Flanagan. The ZoomX mid-sole has also seen significant upgrades, including the reduced offset from 11mm to 8mm which runners believe means better propulsion during foot strides. Rivals want it banned. Get yours soon.
Ultimate Smartwatch: Apple Watch Series 5
Rs40,900 onwards; Apple.com/in
This remains the benchmark in the smartwatch ecosystem, as it has been, for years now. Unless you use an Android phone, in which case, bad luck. The latest iteration of the Apple Watch can be had in the GPS and GPS + Cellular variants, in 40mm and 44mm sizes. The always-on Retina display lets you glance at your fitness regimen progress. The heart rate sensor is now known as perhaps the best in business. Apple updated the workout metrics with the latest Apple Watch Series 5, with specific goals now in the picture. This is now also primed to be your partner in the pool, with the Pool Swim workout and the water resistance capabilities. Runners will quite like the Cadence, which lets you see your steps per minute metrics. And well, pair these with your AirPods, and music can be your motivation too.
Stay hydrated: Bobble Bottle
Don’t forget the hydration requirements for a marathon. The Bobble bottle is a great option. This has an integrated filter which cleans the water you fill inside the bottle. This is quite handy if the source you are taking the water from, is unknown. You can buy the Bobble Bottle in 550ml and 650ml sizes, and the filters can be replaced (these cost about Rs199 each). They usually need to be replaced after cleaning about 150 liters of water.
Breathe clean: Vogmask N99
Rs1,786 onwards; nirvanabeing.com
The unfortunate reality of the situation is that air quality and pollution in most Indian cities is quite bad. That remains the backdrop of the marathon you are looking forward to participating in. These masks, available in micro-fibre and organic cotton variants, offer multiple layers of filtration before you breathe in the air. Apart from the N99 filter, there is also the layer in which the coconut shell derived carbon, along with acrylic, is bonded to polyester. You will get this in small, medium and large sizes as well, depending on which fits best for your facial structure. This is designed to filter particles as small as 0.3-microns and are also available as single valve or dual valve options. Style is ticked off too, with various colour options and patterns.
Versatile Smartwatch: Fitbit Versa 2
Rs 20,999 onwards; Fitbit.com
There is no better alternative to the Apple Watch than the Fitbit Versa 2, if that is what you need. With the Versa 2, Fitbit kept the basics firmly bolted on, and yet subtle improvements across the board. There is Amazon Alexa built in, the Fitbit OS gets a bit more polish, the display looks brighter than before and battery life remains excellent, as always. Runners would love the exercise modes and the data the watch generates which the Fitbit app (free for Android and iOS) does a great job of making sense of.
The Soundtrack: Apple AirPods Pro
Rs 24,990; Apple.com/in
The biggest update the AirPods wireless earbuds have received in years is also the newest addition to the AirPods line-up. This is the first time Apple has added Active Noise Cancellation to the buds. The way this works is that one set of microphones are outward facing which detect external sound to analyze environmental noise. The AirPods Pro then create an equivalent anti-noise that cancels out background noise before it reaches the listener’s ear. A second inward-facing microphone listens toward the ear, and then the buds cancel remaining noise detected by the microphone. A lot of the brilliance has to do with the new H1 chip allows the AirPods Pro to do real-time noise cancellation, audio processing, transparency mode and adaptive sound as well as the “Hey Siri” requests, at the same time. And yes, the redesign makes them look even better.
Smart footwear: UA HOVR Sonic 3
Rs 8,404; Underarmour.com
Smart shoes are something that Under Armour certainly does very well. The HOVR Sonic 2, when we reviewed them last year, proved very competent as shoes that could also track your fitness routine and put all that data on your phone via the companion app. The update to the Sonic 2 is now here, and what it gets, first and foremost, is a redesigned upper which is now all about micro threads, a new compression add-on that complements the UA HOVR midsole foam and weighs just 289 grams. Extremely comfortable to wear too, considering UA doesn’t compromise on the cushioning and comfort, yet offer a very balanced build.
Colourful Audio: Mobvoi TicPods Free
Rs 8,499; Mobvoi.com
Wireless earbuds at more affordable price points often tend to be compromises. Not this one though. The TicPods Free by Mobvoi really get the basics spot on and build well on that. Though not the most compact looking buds, the TicPods Free do look stylish. The white (ice), red (lava) and blue (navy) colour options add to the personality. They have in-ear detection sensors which pause music or video playback if you remove these buds from your ear. These are IPX5 water resistant too. The charging case looks cool and is well built as well. The TicPods Free last about 4.5 hours on a single charge, which is great for earbuds across price points, and the charging case adds another 18 hours or so of additional charge with regular top-ups. Works well with Android and iOS devices.