Mobile communication has come a long way – from the first mobile phone invented by Martin Cooper of Motorola in 1973, to Steve Jobs’ “reinvention” with Apple’s iPhone in 2007. Surely and quickly, the consumer electronics landscape has been drastically reshaped in the past few years by the rapid growth of these pocket-sized do-it-all widgets. As a result, we’ve learned to love our phones and integrate them into every aspect of our daily activities – including running. Many runner are reaping the benefits of having the latest smartphones on the market. If you aren’t already carrying your phone to run, here are 5 reasons you should reconsider:
A smartphone is, above all, a phone. Having a phone on you when you set out for a run provides tremendous convenience and ensures your safety. This is especially important when you’re exploring a new route or tackling a challenging distance. Personally speaking, I’ve once called for a ride when I hit the wall on a hilly long run. And the other time when I bonked without my phone, I had to walk 7 miles home – don’t make my mistakes! In extreme conditions, having a phone can even safe your life.
2. GPS Tracking
If you don’t own a stopwatch or a GPS sports watch like those made by Garmin , you can use your phone instead. Most smartphones today have built-in GPS navigation that supplements your runs with relevant data such as time, distance, and pace. All you have to do is download an appropriate app that fits your needs. There are many apps available – free and paid – on both iOS and Android. By the way, GPS is good for another thing critical to your safety – maps! Once I’ve gotten lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood and ended up running 1 extra hour in darkness.
“Do you listen to music when you run?” Some people swear by the performance enhancement in music and can’t run without it, while others simply use music to combat boredom. Keep in mind that music isn’t the only thing you can listen to during your runs. You can also tune in to news, programs, podcasts, or even comedy on Pandora (my personal favorite). Additionally you might want to start working on that long booklist of yours and try listening to audiobooks on the run.
You CAN be productive when you run – unlike many other exercise and fitness activities. No, I’m not telling you to bring your laptop for a stroll around town. But you certainly can organize your thoughts, brainstorm ideas, or even have a conference call during a run – just remember to keep it at a conversational pace. And with voice assistant available on your smartphone, like Siri on iOS and various apps on Android, you can do a whole lot with just your voice. Things like making phone calls, scheduling appointments, taking notes, and reading/composing email or text message can all be done via voice command, handsfree.
Runners get to see lots of things because we’re naturally curious and adventurous. But a picture is worth a thousand words – and sharing is caring! So don’t forget to snap some shots of the breath-taking scenery that you stumble upon. Or perhaps you want to show your friends something completely crazy and otherworldly out there. Photographer Chase Jarvis said “the best camera is the one that’s with you”. And if you bring your smartphone, you’ve got yourself the best camera for the run. Just get ready when the moment presents itself.
What’s your experience with carrying a phone on the run? What are some functions on your phone you can’t run without? What other devices do you use regularly in your running?
(Kevin Lu is an engineer, currently working in the field of orthopedic devices. He received his B.S. and M.S. in biomedical engineering from New Jersey Institute of Technology. Science, technology, and running are Kevin’s passions. In his spare time, Kevin trains for and participates in races of various distances. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter (@ SweatEngine ) and check out his blog Beyond Distance .)