Running is a hobby you can enjoy with pretty small startup costs – some good shoes to prevent injury and you’re good to go! Technically you don’t need to track anything while you run and sometimes just running for the love of it is worthwhile. At some point, you’ll probably want to start measuring your progress and working towards some running goals. When I first started running I was happy to use my phone and the multiple free applications available to do this. But the farther I ran and the more involved I got with the sport the more information I wanted. It won’t be long before you start asking yourself should I get a fitness tracker?
Getting a fitness tracker can be a hard step for some people to take. They ask themselves, do I really need this? Then they say, these are expensive, I can probably just get by without it! For some people this is true but for others, the quality of life increase you receive by using one might be worthwhile. This article will not only help you answer that should I get a fitness tracker question but also let you know the fitness trackers that have worked best for us!
Should I Get a Fitness Tracker?
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What are the Benefits of a Fitness Tracker?
While many phone applications boast a pretty good set of data tools they can’t compare to the constant live information that a fitness tracker can give you. Using a phone application can give you your average pace, the distance you have traveled, the time you’ve spent on the road and some can even calculate your cadence. However, if you want to know your heart rate then you’ll probably have to stop and hold a finger over a specific button or spot on your screen to get a reading.
Phone applications can help you keep track of your sleep by manually entering them but many fitness trackers have this ability built in. Not only can most of them tell you how many hours of sleep you got but they can also give you an idea about the quality of that sleep.
I carry my phone with me wherever I go. It works overtime as my entertainment in waiting rooms and long drives, my camera for taking snappy Instagram or blog photos. It keeps me in touch with important emails and even gives me the security to head out on my own when I otherwise wouldn’t. My phone is my lifeline so wouldn’t that make it the perfect choice for tracking my fitness too?
At first yes! Absolutely! I downloaded and used a variety of applications to help with my health in general. I tracked my carbs and plotted out my running plan. In fact, I still carry my phone while running and I don’t see that changing with a fitness tracker. BUT, now I can carry it in a pocket of my running belt or hydration vest. I don’t have to carry it in my hands the entire time! This often leads to cramped fingers on longer runs and that lingering fear of dropping it (Cases can’t protect it from every freak fall!). With a fitness tracker, I can get all the information I need just by glancing at my wrist. No pausing my workout mid-run by brushing the screen or losing all my data thanks to an application crash. And, since I run with my dog and already have a leash to juggle, the fewer things in my hands the better!
Of course, many people opt for armbands or hip holsters to carry their phones and those work pretty well too – but I found them annoying when I had to stop mid-run to adjust them or contort my arm at a weird angle to make sure I was running at my desired pace.
Multiple Activity Tracking
Yes, there are applications out there which track different activities but often times I found myself downloading more than one application. I had an application for my strength training and an application for my running. I had another application for my nutrition and one for sleep habits. It got annoying. Not only was I getting endless notifications but remembering or bothering to take the time and open all the different apps got tiresome. I found I was much more consistent if I could handle everything in one place.
Many fitness trackers allow you the ability to customize and track a variety of activities from one spot. The more expensive ones are even waterproof which allow you to take part in water sports without worry. Of course, the mileage you get from this benefit will vary on the type of fitness tracker you pick. The more expensive versions have the best options of course!
Many people find that simply wearing a fitness tracker gives them more motivation. It’s a constant reminder that you have goals you want to accomplish. Sure you can turn on goals and notifications on most fitness applications but how many of us get annoyed and turn those off? I know I did. A lot! I can turn my phone over and just kind of forget about what it’s telling me to do. Hello, procrastination!
It’s a bit harder to do that with a watch unless you decide to just stop putting it on. But if you paid the money for a fitness tracker, odds are you’re a bit less likely to do that then you would be to turn off a free application. I mean you paid good money for this thing, you’re going to get some use out of it!
Should I get a Fitness Tracker? Yes or No?!?
- You have progressed to the point in your sport where your training requires more information.
- You need the added motivation that a wearable tracker can provide.
- You’re tired of carrying your phone or constantly worried about breaking it!
- You take part in so many activities that no single free app seems to work.
- Armbands or belt holsters annoy you or never fit properly.
- You’re truly committed to using everything you can to get better at your sport or fitness routine.
- You want to keep a more well-rounded account for your overall fitness – heart rate, sleep, nutrition etc
- You’re perfectly happy with the current information you have or you don’t mind using numerous different applications to track it.
- You are not sure that you’re going to stick with this ‘fitness’ thing.
- The free application your using gives you everything you need as your starting out!
- You don’t like wearing watches/ They irritate your wrists.
I’ve decided that I do need a Fitness Tracker. But..which one?
Picking the fitness tracker that’s right for you can be overwhelming. A lot of your choice will depend on exactly why you want the tracker in the first place. If you simply want the motivation or to dip your toes in and see if you’ll actually use it then a cheaper version might be best. You have to keep in mind however that these lower-end options are often slightly less reliable and accurate than the more expensive name brands – so make sure to research your choice wisely!
The Trackers I have Used
My first fitness tracker was a Fitbit Flex 2 . It was nifty and provided me with a bit of extra information, namely through a sleep tracker, but I quickly found it too limited and because I wasn’t using it I often just forgot to wear it at all.
I have recently inherited my husbands Fitbit Alta HR. It is a definite improvement to the Flex 2 and provides enough information to make me think it would be a suitable fitness tracker for most people! It tracks heartbeat & sleep but it’s not waterproof so if you enjoy swimming as part of your fitness routine then it might not be for you.
By far and away the best fitness tracker I have yet to wear is the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Technically this is my husbands watch but he let me wear it for a weekend to test it out. Probably because I was initially really skeptical about it due to the price point. I was fine spending $100 or so for a fitness tracker, especially since my Flex 2 was a clearance buy..but when he started looking at $200 and above I began to question the real need for it.
By the end of the weekend, I was sold. It was cool, it made my runs hassle-free and dare I say more enjoyable? I could control my music, see any text messages I got, receive phone notifications and keep up with my distance, pace and cadence all by glancing at my wrist. I still had to carry my phone with me since this version of the watch doesn’t store music – though there is a version that will (and I love running with music) BUT! I didn’t have to pull it out of my running belt or even look at it at all unless I wanted to take a picture! The sleep tracker seemed far more accurate than the other trackers too.
Odds are I will be ordering one of these for myself in the near future – though I might get a white one!