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Off and Running: Top Tech for 2020 Runners

Medically reviewed by Susan Kerrigan, MD and Marianne Madsen

It should surprise no one that distance running is among the most popular athletic activities around. The premise is simple, the execution intuitive, and the community so supportive and proud of each other. No fancy equipment needed, either–just your legs, some good shoes, and a place to keep going in circles. 


Well, maybe there’s a little more. 


There are endless resources about the best running shoes, but seasoned runners will be quick to tell you that real blister prevention relies just as much on choosing the right socks. Look out for a new series of running socks from Balega outfitters, which aims to reduce friction with smoother yarn and added layers of toe and heel padding to accommodate impact. The sock has front and back tabs to make for easy adjustments on the track, and the elastic material is intentionally designed smaller than socks of similar sizes to provide a snug fit across the entire foot.

One of the main appeals of running is the objective standards it allows you to set and measure–how far, how long, how many calories, etc. The upcoming Matrix PowerWatch measures these and more, but that isn’t the real genius of this timepiece. In this version, the watch includes a thermoelectric coil and miniature solar panel, charging off of ambient light and the user’s own body heat. This has two main advantages. First, you will no longer need to remove your watch to charge it, so you can be sure not to miss important parts of your daily routine. Second, the thermoelectric coil doubles as a vital sign sensor, giving this watch unprecedented accuracy while measuring distance, pulse, and more.

Nighttime runners may want to have a look at the upcoming Coast headlamp, which adds barely one and a half ounces to your total weight and can light up your trail for close to two and a half hours with a powerful LED bulb. Three separate white illumination modes and one red-bulb setting let you pick the appropriate brightness for your environment. It is weatherproofed to keep you moving no matter what it’s like outside. The whole thing is kept tight to the head with a full elastic strap and is USB rechargeable, so no need to worry about battery packs or running out to the store for refills.


Among the coolest new bits of runner apparel in the works are running bodysuits designed to eliminate a number of common runner afflictions–chafing, sweating, and heat exchanging just to name a few. There is even talk of designing a suit to try and reduce air resistance on runners. Canada’s Running Magazine talks of using an aerodynamic suit to streamline the silhouette of a human body, cutting back resistance and torque on the runner by a considerable amount over long distances. 


As a whole, running apparel only tends to get more impressive as time goes on. Here’s hoping 2020 will see plenty of happy, healthy, high-tech runners.

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