High-Tech Runners Train Smarter With GPS A good pair of shoes and an open stretch of trail were all runners used to need. But now many swear by GPS technology that monitors their speed and distance, and new smart phone apps tell them whether they need to pick up the pace.
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High-Tech Runners Train Smarter With GPS

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High-Tech Runners Train Smarter With GPS

High-Tech Runners Train Smarter With GPS

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, Host:

And it's always seemed to me - turning to another sport - that appeal of running is that all you need is a good pair of shoes and a stretch of open road. But like everything else in our lives, this most basic sport has gone high-tech. Go out for a jog these days and your GPS watch will constantly update your pace and distance. And now smart phones with built-in GPS have gotten into the game, offering lots of new tools to runners. We asked NPR's Tamara Keith to take a couple of these programs for a spin.

TAMARA KEITH: I realize this is super geeky. But I love to know precisely how fast I'm going. And if my GPS says I've only gone 5.95 miles, I'll run up and down my driveway to get it up to six.

LOUISE KELLY: Mechanical Voice: Begin workout. Blue zone, five minutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF APP)

KEITH: Mechanical Voice: Speed up to yellow zone - five minutes.

(SOUNDBITE OF APP)

KEITH: Mechanical Voice: Speed up to yellow zone.

(SOUNDBITE OF APP)

KEITH: Mechanical Voice: Great job. Time, 35 minutes. Calories, 365.

(SOUNDBITE OF APP)

KEITH: Like all of these apps, miCoach allows you to check your stats, see the run on a map, tweet your results, and upload the data to the Web. They all cost less than $10 and have slightly different bells and whistles. David Willey is the editor-in-chief of Runner's World magazine. He regularly uses imapmyrun and runkeeper.

DAVID WILLEY: I've actually gotten quite addicted to the data and the specific information that I can get in real time and then sort of play with after my run.

KEITH: He says in the past only very serious or elite professional runners got this kind of coaching and detailed information. Now anyone can.

WILLEY: There are probably more runners that are out there training smarter than there ever have been, because of technology and the sort of democratization of technology.

KEITH: And then there are people like Rich Cohen.

RICH COHEN: It's nice to just go out there with your watch and just enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the nice weather and the people running around you and maybe some of the scenes.

KEITH: And when he says watch, he's not talking about one with a built-in GPS. Just a plain old watch, so he knows what time it is. Rich and I run together when he wants to take it slow. And I get the sense that he thinks all my gear and technology are silly.

COHEN: If I want to run six miles, I'll go for about 45 minutes. If I feel like I'm going a little slower, I might add on a few minutes. I don't feel a need to say I'm going out at 7:30 a mile, I need to run 7:30 a mile for six miles to feel like I accomplished what I was trying to do that day.

KEITH: Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LOUISE KELLY: And you'll find a summary of running apps on the All Tech Considered blog at npr.org/alltech.

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