Running foot pods sound like a ‘Back To The Future’ gadget that would allow you to run while hovering above the ground or to run on water, but they are actually a much more simple device. Think of the original pedometer, the kind you had to clip to your belt, with a modern makeover. In this post, we are going to explain foot pods and how they work, what they can offer your running workout, and discuss whether they are worth the price tag.
What is a foot pod?
A foot pod is essentially a smart pedometer. Instead of clipping it to your belt, you attach it to your running shoe. It then measures your speed and your cadence and sends this information to a corresponding app on your phone. There are many different brands out there, much like the activity tracker market, so the quality of the device and the usability of the app will depend on which one you go for. Some brands also sync to smartwatches and other activity tracking apps. Given that these always include a steps, distance and speed function, why would you want to double up?
The answer lies in the way that foot pods collect data, as compared to a smartwatch, activity tracker, or smartphone. The latter type of device uses data that you input (i.e. your height, gender, weight), data it collects (i.e. steps) and GPS technology to estimate your distance and speed. They essentially plug your data into a calculation to produce the measure of what you have done, rather than measure you.
A foot pod, on the other hand, uses advanced technology to assess your movements and your personal stride length to generate a more accurate reading of your workout. For this reason, foot pods are more reliable and accurate than smartwatches
, activity trackers, a smartphone, or just about anything else that is wearable but not attached to your foot.
How to use them
Foot pods are very straightforward, simply attach them to your running shoe and go. From this perspective, none of the brands offers a particularly standout product. Where you want to be more discerning in which app you plug your data into and how you use it. All the leading brands will come with their own corresponding app, however, if you already track your exercise and daily movements through another app, then using two simultaneously is a pain.
Given that there are so many brands out there, at different price points, it would not be an efficient use of our time to list them all and their cross-connectivity features. For that, you will need to do a bit of independent research. The questions you ought to ask yourself are:
- If you already use an activity tracking app, are you so satisfied with it that you would not want to switch to another?
- Are you solely interested in your running metrics and therefore able to opt for a standalone measure of your run, or do you want your running data to fit within an overall picture of your activity that day?
- How much money are you willing to spend on a foot pod? From double to triple figures, there is one for every budget.
Why track at all? Are running pods worth the money?
Why should you track your run? Well, the answer depends on what you want out of your session. If you are the carefree type who runs for pleasure, not purpose, then you probably do not need to track. If you want to improve your speed and stamina, then having personalised data will help you to reach your goals.
The question is, are running pods worth buying if you already own a wearable tracker? While running pods have been known to achieve up to 98% accuracy for speed and distance, most brand name activity trackers and smartwatches are only marginally less accurate. So, if you already own one of these devices it is unlikely that buying a running pod will significantly change the data you can already gather about your run.
If you are choosing between buying a foot pod and an activity tracker or smartwatch, remember that while foot pods will deliver more accurate running data, activity trackers and smartwatches are designed for wearing 24/7 and therefore will collect data on other facets of your health. From sleep tracking, heart rate, and even blood sugar levels, you will get more out of these devices than simple foot pods – of course, if you do not want this data then these features do not matter. Another thing to consider is price. For the same quality, you will pay less for foot pods because they are a much simpler product.
At the end of the day…
While collecting data about your run will help you to measure and improve your performance, it is not necessary to own every bell and whistle on the market. Foot pods can be a cheaper option for someone who solely wants their running data, but if you already own a gadget with an activity tracking function then you probably do not need to double.