The best new technologies for getting the most out of your training.
Training is just part of the equation in developing good and consistent performance. We are in a gold rush age of innovations to help triathletes and triathlon coaches drill deep into objective information on how to get the most health and fitness out of each workout. The following are some of our favorites in 2017.
POLAR V800 $499.99 www.polar.com
THE GOODS: The Polar V800 is a fully-loaded training watch that helps you plan, execute, monitor and analyze you training. It addition to syncing with Polar Flow, a web service, , in addition to continuously monitoring heart rate and syncing data into the Polar Flow web app, offers a thorough analysis of sleep quality and duration, nutrition, training intensities and duration, and more.
THE UPSHOT: Just about every detail that can be swept up by GPS and continuous heart-rate tracking is collected by Polar’s flagship product.The software is also has been harmonized to work with with the Strava social network and Training Peaks online coaching services. The V800 will even study the quality and duration of your sleep.
MARC PRO PLUS $950 (Marc Pro is $650) www.marcpro.com
THE GOODS: Marc Pro Plus is an electrical muscle stimulation device that has two primary modes, a low frequency for enhancing muscular recovery (blood and lymph circulation) and a high-frequency that is best used on the likes of sore joints or the lower back to reduce pain. Owning a Marc Pro or other EMS-type unit is an easy, EASY way to improve training output by deeply enhancing recovery. You don’t really have to do anything other than charge up the unit, put electrode pads on fatigued muscles, and lay down for a half hour or more (or all night).
THE UPSHOT: To convince yourself of the impact an EMS session can have, use it on only one leg and not the other after a long run or bike when your hamstrings or quads are waxed. Compare how the legs feel the following day. Another comparison to make is the simplicity of the Marc Pro units. There’s no dizzying array of “programs” to choose from. For recovery, put it on low-frequency and for soreness, put it on high. Low, by the way, it better for recovery than using the high.
ReST Starts at $2799 www.restperformance.com
THE GOODS: ReST is a smart bed engineered with the triathlete in mind.
THE UPSHOT: Along with the notion that sleep is when you recover from training and net performance improvements, ReST allows you to customize a night’s sleep to improve circulation in any particular muscle group that is particularly exhausted. That’s just the start. Here’s a good overview on the tech that is now being used by Mirinda Carfrae, Tim O’Donnell and Andy Potts.
CROSSOVER SYMMETRY $195 www.crossoversymmetry.com
THE GOODS: Crossover Symmetry is a new, comprehensive gear-and-system approach to help you build shoulders that can handle high-volume swim training loads. If you consider that each swim stroke zaps shoulder stability in bite-sized increments, and that a high-yardage workout (or race leg) is going to inflame and destabilize, then being proactive about it can allow you to go harder and retain ideal mechanics for longer.
THE UPSHOT: You can purchase a resistance level suited to your ability. Comes with access to their online training programs.
RPM2 $499 www.rpm2.com
THE GOODS: A wireless foot-bed running power meter that offers the runner/triathlete a complete picture of power-output, mobility and symmetry. Also lightweight. Force distribution data is collected and measured as well as left/right balances and imbalances, cadence, ground contact time and more. A new unit is pre-set with six “range of motion” exercises, seven “gait” exercises and two “force distribution” exercises. Four cycling exercises are also a part of the package.
THE UPSHOT: Lance Walker, head coach of the Michael Johnson Performance Center, works with a range of world-class athletes, sprinters to NFL stars and beyond. “Everyone wants to be faster,” Walker says, underscoring his belief that the RPM2 tech is useful for both power athletes and endurance athletes. Using the RPM2 on a daily basis will allow the athlete and coach to notice extremely subtle changes in mobility and symmetry. A tight left hamstring can be identified before a speed workout and suggest a certain emphasis in the warm-up. But also useful is applying RPM2 data toward the idea of super-economic running form. “A half of calorie leak of energy starts to add up for the endurance athlete,” Walker says. The RPM2 footbed and correlating smart phone app are tools toward discovering those leaks and fixing the mechanical plumbing.
NORMATEC RECOVERY Packages start at $1495 www.normatecrecovery.com
THE GOODS: Think about how a warm-down jog after a hard track session (or easy spinning after bike intervals or a cool down after a sprint swim set) is meant to flush the muscles of metabolic waste products and speed along recovery. NormaTec gives this idea a turbo-boost with pants and sleeves that use a dynamic pulsing compression to do the flushing and circulating.
THE UPSHOT: Visit the training room of a professional sports team and it’s a very strong bet you’re going to see an athlete kicking back on a massage table with NormaTec gear inflated and flushing away. Pro triathletes are in on this too.
VI $249 www.getvi.com
THE GOODS: Artificial intelligence coaching engineered with an almost shocking level of human personality. Vi tech is wired into your goals, your response to training and even the weather. It also uses tools like “run to the beat” to help you improve a basic running skill like optimizing your stride rate.
THE UPSHOT: Think HAL 9000 from A Space Odyssey turned into a kind of hip, friendly trainer. A running-specific device with high-quality sound, Vi doesn’t just talk to you but asks questions, calls you by name and listens to your answers. A good device for the aspiring/beginning triathlete training alone and wants to make the experience less intimidating and more fun. A great gift to get someone off the couch and into a daily exercise routine.
CERCACOR EMBER SPORT PREMIUM SPORT PREMIUM www.cercacor.com
THE GOODS: A non-invasive pulse-oximeter, health and recovery tracking system, especially useful with altitude training.
THE UPSHOT: Using the Ember can take a great deal of the guesswork out of altitude training. Sea-level athletes can collect and chart their fitness/health data without so much as a pin prick. Location-based GPS allows triathletes living at altitude or doing a bout of training at high-altitude (or using an altitude tent) to thoroughly chart increases in hemoglobin levels and ascertain optimal exposures to elevations and also plan out a return to sea level for racing.
MASIMO MIGHTYSAT $299 www.masimopersonalhealth.com
THE GOODS: A medical-grade pulse oximeter that gives you an almost instant snapshot of pulse rate, oxygen level in the blood (an accurate measure of how well you’re recovering in your training), strength of blood flow and more. Using it is like sticking your finger into a clothesline pin. Wait a few seconds and the data flows across the small screen. Sync it to your phone and the data is recorded and tracked. A scientifically-solid tool for coaches wanting to know when to change a training plan and insert a rest day.
THE UPSHOT: There are cheapo pulse oximeters available at Walgreens. The MightSat and the app are worth the investment. Made to withstand the strain of use in a hospital environment.
HALO NEURO $749 www.haloneuro.com
THE GOODS: Through the principles of neuroplasticity, Halo Neuro headphones send a mild series of electric pulses into the motor cortex that ramp up the speed of learning and coordinating better coordinating better movement patterns. An example: You wear the headphones, activate the Halo Neuro app (connected by Bluetooth) while doing a warm-up, and begin a swimming, biking or running workout in an amplified state of learning power. For the endurance athlete, this means more powerful and more efficient movement patterns. Per Haloneuro.com, “Endurance relies on the motor cortex to repeat an action for an extended period of time. Each time you take a step, swim a stroke, or pedal a bike, your brain and your muscles consume energy. Via plasticity, your training leads to more efficient movements, reducing the energy cost of each action and allowing you to endure for a longer period of time.”
HOTSHOT Six-packs ($35) / 12-packs ($65) www.teamhotshot.com
THE GOODS: Hotshot is a formulated drink designed to prevent muscle cramps. For decades muscle cramps have been thought to be a signal of dehydration or electrolyte imbalance, hence the belief that drinking more water or electrolyte sports drinks will do the trick. Hotshot–created by two world-class neurobiologist-kayakers–is focused on calming the motor-neurons prone to hyper-excitability that trigger hellhole-like exercise-induced muscle cramps.
THE UPSHOT: The essential science supporting the use of Hotshot is reviewed in 2016 Fall/ Winter edition of the Journal of the American Medical Athletic Association. There’s also anecdotal evidence circulating (by the likes of three-time Ironman World champ Craig Alexander) that Hotshot accelerates recovery from hard training. It really is like a shot: a serving is 1.7oz. It comes in six-packs ( $35) or 12-packs ($65). The basic cramp-prevention protocol, like on race day, is to knock one back 15 to 30 minutes before the start. If you feel a cramp coming on, drink another to shut it down. And for hard-training/race-recovery drink one after the effort.