best running tech


Best running headphones

For some people, running without music is a bit like having sex on your own - it’s not always that easy to get motivated. But finding a decent set of running headphones can be pretty tough.

There’s plenty to consider. How do they sound? Do they feel comfortable, stay in your ears and feel secure while you’re on the move? Is there enough cable to let you have your smartphone or iPod tucked away where you need it? Also, do they feel built to withstand sweat and being leftat the bottom of your kitbag?

For the past three years I’ve tested most sports headphones - running over 3,000 miles - and here’s my take on the best headphones for running.

Sennheiser PMX 680i
These have been my go-to headphones for the past two years. The result of an Adidas and Sennheiser tie-up, you get a pair of in-ear buds with great sound and sport credentials.

The cables are forged from ultra-durable Kevlar and definitely stand the test of time, while the buds themselves are sweat proof and fairly comfortable in the ears.

But the big killer feature for me is the neck band. Being able to drop your heapdhones around your neck at any point during a long run is vital and I hate having them swinging around in front of me while I run. 

There are slightly different models that come with iPhone controls but I found the control unit to be heavy and tugs on the earphones as you run, so I prefer them without.

Pioneer SE-D10e Gold
Another snappy name but get over that and what you get is another pair of robust running headphones. They don’t have the neckband you get on the Sennheiser PMX 680i but they do come with coils in each of the cables which lets you lock the individual earphones together for a bit more stability while they’re on your ears, or indeed hanging down in front of you.

The loops hold them firmly in place - I’ve never had these fall out on me - and the buds are adjustable so you can tailor the fit to your ears.

The sound is great once you’ve got them ‘in properly’ and while the cable isn’t toughened with Kevlar, it does come with a decent length that means you can tuck your smartphone away whereever you want without trouble. The price on these is pretty nice too.

Powerbeats by Dr Dre
The sporty addition to Dr Dre’s superbly popular Beats line up, the Powerbeats are ear-loops-with-buds style. In my office there’s been mixed feedback about them with some people feeling the fit isn’t snug enough or bemoaning the lack of adjustability.

I’ve given them a good run out though and I like them. It might be something to do with my larger lugholes but I found them comfortable and pleasantly lightweight. The sound is easily as good as the Sennheiser and Pioneers too.

Like my running shoes, I want my headphones to do their job without me really being aware that I’m wearing them.

The Powerbeats do this in all but one thing - the chord is too short. I like to thread the cable underneath my running shirt, out of the bottom and into my phone which sits either in a jacket pocket or a special running pouch. I’m not an arm-strap phone carrier. And the chord just doesn’t quite cut it and you get an amount of tug as you run. That said they’re a solid option.


The Polar V800 looks like a niece piece of kit

I’ve not had the chance to play with it but the new Polar V800 looks very much the heart rate specialists had really improved the look of the info on the screen and kicked their design up a notch.

I’ve grown to become a big fan of Polar watches. The RC3GPS is extremely reliable in terms of GPS connection and has a really solid battery life but my one criticism has always been the basic design and old-school interface. That looks like it’s changed with this.

Integrated GPS – fast, accurate speed, distance and route measurements

Smart and accurate monitoring of training sessions with an integrated activity tracker that automatically adjusts your recovery status to give a true account of how much rest you get in between hard sessions. Now every movement is registered, from your toughest workout to a walk up the stairs

·         Instant analysis and in-depth insights into all your training and recovery on the Polar V800 when used with the Polar Flow web service.

·         Records your heart rate even while swimming – making it perfect for triathletes – and includes the most accurate altitude readings with a built-in barometric pressure sensor.

·         Rechargeable battery which offers up to 14 hours of training time, 50 hours in low power GPS mode, or 30 days in time mode with 24/7 activity monitoring.

·         Running Index data shows your aerobic fitness and running economy.

·         Orthostatic Test to help you avoid over-training by gaining insight into recovery status over the long term. You can access four weeks of your training history at the touch of a button

·         Gorilla Glass face set in stainless steel with an aluminum core and soft, breathable polyurethane straps.

·         Updatable software which will allow users to add new features from the comfort of their own home as they become available. The wireless connection to a smartphone creates the possibility for further features, such as SMS notification and music control, which will be added as updates later in 2014.

·         Power monitoring function for serious cyclists, which will be available mid-2014 to be used in conjunction with new Bluetooth Smart power pedals.


IRONMAN world champion, Frederik Van Lierde, said: “I train up to 35 hours a week and I need a smart training tool that gives me deep insight into my performance, whether I’m swimming, running or on a bike. The Polar V800 goes with me anywhere. And because it also measures even my smallest activity, it helps me know how I’m benefitting from the rest I need to stay at the top of my game.”


Pricing, availability and compatibility

The Polar V800 with integrated GPS will be available around the world in April for a suggested retail price of €399.90 (€449.90 with heart rate sensor) with UK prices TBC. 


Running in the new Adidas Climachill

Staying cool while running is one of my own personal battles. My genetics - and possibly the fact we had no heating my house when we were growing up - mean I get hot really fast. And when I’m hot, I sweat, a lot.

Sweating means salt loss, salt loss can make it hard to rehydrate unless you’re replacing it and that means I’m regularly facing the risk of under performing, all because I’m over heating.

So when Adidas showed me the Climahill running t-shirts a few months back I was intrigued.

What is Adidas Climachill?

Climachill, is a new range of temperature-control sportswear that Adidas says features its most advanced cooling technology ever. They go further still promising to keep the wearer up to 36% cooler than previous Adidas gear.

In addition to flatter fabric, they’ve used titanium SubZero flat yarn with titanium woven throughout the inside of each Climachill shirt. The idea is that this conducts heat away from the body for what Adidas describes as “ a refreshing, cool-to-the-touch feel.”

More interestingly they’ve also incorporated lots of 3D aluminium ‘cooling spheres’ on the inside of the shirt around the shoulders and upper back, a heat centre where cooling is needed most. These are supposed to cool on contact with the skin.

Did it work? The proof is in the running

So, how did it feel on? I went for a nine mile run in a pretty warm day in London. It was around 16 degrees celcius.

When you first pull on the Climachill t-shirt you do notice the cool feel of the 3D spheres on your back and the shirt itself is light and comfortable and well made.

While it was really comfortable to run in, three miles into my run I wasn’t really aware of the 3D spheres any more. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t working but if you’re expecting to feel a cold panel on your back you’ll probably be disappointed.

While it was hard to discern if was helping reduce my usual sweating, it did do the sweat-wicking well and there’s another job it did that really impressed me…

The best anti-chaffe ever?

I tend to run with a trusted base layer under my technical t-shirt on longer runs, simply because 99 per cent of t-shirts destroy my nipples - vaseline or not.

The new Climachill’s superbly smooth inside completely cut out theat chaffing. So in terms of keeping cool that’s an instant win. I can now run with one layer less.

Adidas Climachill running t-shirt price

These new t-shirts will set you back £28.00 in the UK.