How new technology can help you avoid running injuries
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How new technology can help you avoid running injuries

This year personal trainer Raquel Holgado wants to run 14 kilometres of hilly terrain in less than 60 minutes, which is a challenge even for an experienced runner. But she won’t be doing it alone.

Tagging along for every step of The Sun-Herald City2Surf, presented by Westpac, will be her GPS smartwatch which measures heart rate, ground contact time, pace and stride length.

Personal trainer Raquel Holgado uses a GPS watch as part of her training for The Sun-Herald City2Surf.

Personal trainer Raquel Holgado uses a GPS watch as part of her training for The Sun-Herald City2Surf.Credit:Wolter Peeters

GPS watches are just one piece of a new suite of wearable technology that can help you improve your time and can even help prevent injury.

Whether you are gunning for a top-20 spot or taking the title of “fun run” literally, the race has the potential to take a significant toll on the body if you push yourself too hard.

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Dr Deirdre McGhee, a sports physiotherapist and senior lecturer in the School of Medicine at the University of Wollongong, said that for anyone taking on the City2Surf the best way to avoid injury is preparation, and that's where wearable technology is the most useful.

"I think they are a good motivator for people to move more. So the motivation to train before the race rather than helping you during the race," she said.

"If you are not prepared, and your heart rate gets to dangerous levels that can cause cardiac problems, then a heart rate monitor could help you monitor your rate during the race or in the training prior to it."

Ms Holgado, who leads group training sessions for the City2Surf, said she prefers not to carry her phone when she jogs so she always wears her watch.

“I always try to have good pace during my session, so I can get better. When I can see how I am going, I know whether I need to go a little faster and if I need to plan for that.”

For the serious runner looking to measure more than stats, a number of brands have now released running shoes with an inbuilt sensor that monitors technique. The smart shoes are able to measure the way your foot hits the ground and, through your headphones, offer real-time coaching advice.

But for those not ready to invest in expensive equipment, the good news is that most people already have a fitness tracker sitting in their pocket.

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Free smartphone applications such as RunKeeper and Strava take advantage of your phone’s inbuilt GPS to record your speed and distance, with the added bonus of inbuilt challenges to keep you motivated.

“If you want to start trying to run, start with any application and see how you go,” said Ms Holgado. “It will give you basic information, but it’s enough.”

For Ms Holgado, the real benefit of technology has been watching the people she trains gain confidence as they see their stats going up.

“People like when they use a watch and can see how in a couple of months they are going from running three or four kilometres to nine or 10. That’s very exciting.”

The City2Surf will be held on Sunday, August 12. Register online.