Now that the holiday season has passed, the gifts have been opened, the trimmings have been trimmed and the calories have been consumed (and, admittedly, enjoyed), it is time to focus once again on New Year’s resolutions. Whether athletes are well-versed or beginners, they know how difficult it is to achieve resolutions for a few weeks, let alone a few days.

Thanks to new technological innovations, however, including fitness trackers, athletes can ensure that their New Year’s resolutions aren’t just short-term goals that are overlooked by February, but are long-term lifestyle adjustments instead. In doing so, athletes will not only improve their fitness, but also potentially exceed their expectations for run, swim and bike times and even develop new relationships with other runners, bicyclists and swimmers as winter transitions into spring.

The Leaders of the Pack

To ensure athletes have yet another year of successful training in 2018, Garmin International, Inc. is now offering a premium GPS running/triathlon watch—the Forerunner 935—that includes a variety of training features, each of which will help them monitor their performances. For instance, the watch’s training status automatically analyzes athletes’ previous exercise and fitness levels so that they can acquire insight into how their bodies are responding to workouts and determine whether or not they are training productively.

In addition, the watch’s training load offers athletes overviews of their weekly activities. In doing so, they can decide whether their training sessions are too easy or too difficult (and then adjust accordingly). At the same time, the watch’s training effect actually tracks and reviews the aerobic and anaerobic benefits of athletes’ training sessions, thereby providing them insights on how their training is improving their abilities so that they can achieve maximum performance.

“The Forerunner 935 also offers advanced dynamics for running, cycling and swimming,” says Stephanie Schultz, media relations specialist, fitness, Garmin International, Inc. “By clipping the watch’s Running Dynamics Pod to their waistbands, athletes can see all six running dynamics—cadence, ground contact time, ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical oscillation and vertical ratio.”

She adds, “While on a bike, athletes can also keep track of power zones, platform center offset and power phase. And, in the water, the Forerunner 935 will track distance, stroke, pace and personal records.”

Joel Feinberg, former owner of Universal Sole, considers Garmin to be the leader in GPS running/triathlon technology, stressing that devices like the Garmin 230 (which doesn’t provide a wrist heart rate) and the Garmin 235 (which does provide a wrist heart rate) are very economical and fulfill most athletes’ workout indicator needs. Nick Hurley, manager of Dick Pond Athletics in Hoffman Estates, agrees, adding the Garmin vívoactive 3 is also a popular choice for athletes as it is comparable to an Apple Watch and can be customized to apps like Uber.

“Triathletes looking to take their training to the next level should look no further than the Forerunner 935 though,” Hurley states. “As Garmin’s all-in-one watch for triathletes, it utilizes GPS outside but can still track swims in the pool, as well as indoor/treadmill runs while using a built-in accelerometer. Not to mention, an additional quick release kit also allows athletes to mount their watches on their bikes.”

As another leader in GPS fitness technology, Samsung has recently released three new products—the Gear Sport, the Gear Fit2 Pro and the Gear IconX 2018—that continue to build upon the company’s reputation as an innovative wearable brand. The Gear Sport, for example, is a fitness-focused smartwatch that is water resistant for up to 50 meters, thereby allowing athletes to train in pools as they track their lap counts and times. In the meantime, the Gear Fit2 Pro is an advanced fitness band with built-in GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring and advanced features that allow athletes to remain connected as they pursue their health and fitness goals.

“The Gear IconX 2018, meanwhile, is a second generation of our company’s cord-free earbuds that empower users to feel free while maintaining their active lifestyles,” says David Ng, senior product marketing manager for Samsung. “Additionally, we have the Gear S3, which offers LTE connectivity and recently underwent a software update to provide users the great fitness features that are available in the Gear Sport and the Gear Fit2 Pro.”

He continues, “Our customers not only use our wearables to keep track of their fitness, but they also love our other great features, such as stylish designs, advanced connectivity options like LTE calling and access to thousands of apps. There are a lot of devices that provide GPS and heart rate and calorie tracking. But with Samsung Gear, customers also know they’re going to stay in touch and look great while doing it.”

Pace, Foot Health and Comfort Shouldn’t Be Overlooked

In addition to connectivity, heart rate monitoring and app access, Hurley also stresses the importance of using watches to program pace alerts so that athletes can train within set ranges (and avoid being too fast or too slow for the pace they are trying to run). Brian Hudson, director of sponsorship and outreach for Fleet Feet Sports, also advises athletes utilize the store chain’s FitID foot scan so that they can receive immediate 3-D renderings of their feet as they prepare for another training season.

“Not only can customers make more informed decisions about the best footwear for them, the data from these scans will also be compiled to help shoe companies design better footwear in the future,” Hudson explains. “We’re excited how this technology will fundamentally change the ways in which runners choose their shoes.”

Aside from the significance of pace and foot health, comfort shouldn’t be overlooked either. As an athlete at Together We Tri, Howard Kreiner prefers strapless heart rate monitors, rather than chest heart rate straps.

“I cannot function without my Garmin, as I’ve become very dependent on knowing my speed, distance and heart rate at all times,” Kreiner says. “But Schosche’s heart rate monitor armbands are more budget friendly options—and they’re much more comfortable than chest straps.”

Maintain Active Lifestyles During Chicago’s Harsh Winters

As a Chicago native, Ng understands how difficult it is to stay fit during the winter months. After all, there are a wide range of excuses available: it’s too cold to run, the roads aren’t always salted and various indoor activities provide Chicagoans plenty of entertainment options. Nonetheless, Samsung Gear offers athletes two innovations—TV fitness programs and calorie input tracking—that help them maintain their focus on active lifestyles, despite the negatives of training during the winter.

“Through Samsung’s TV fitness programs, athletes can choose programs that fit their needs without ever having to leave the comfort of their living rooms,” Ng states. “The programs automatically schedule all workouts, send athletes reminders and let them do their workouts on their phones or Samsung TVs.”

Furthermore, athletes can also manage the calories they consume prior to (and after) they run, jog, swim and bicycle, due to the company’s fitness technology and calorie input tracking offering.

“Tracking the calories that athletes burn is great,” Ng adds. “But by actually managing the calories they consume, athletes will have more complete pictures as they strive to achieve their goals.”

However, without keeping track of their fitness goals, athletes will be unable to manage their calorie consumption, let alone properly train for marathons, triathlons and other races during the winter. Leah Bohr, director of training for the Chicago Area Runners Association [CARA], believes that athletes are motivated to train on a regular basis when they track their fitness data, actually see their progress and maintain accountability for their achievements (and missteps). Also knowing that other athletes, particularly members of associations like CARA, can review their accomplishments is a source of incentive.

“This is a big piece of what CARA works hard on,” says Bohr. “You want everyone to come together to share in each other’s goals and be there when someone else might need advice. This really helps build a community.”

Tom McGlynn, founder and CEO of runcoach, also stresses the importance of utilizing apps as often as possible. In doing so, athletes can not only increase their workout options, but also further improve their camaraderie with other athletes who share similar fitness goals.

“On the nutritional side, MyFitnessPal is an excellent app to track caloric intake,” McGlynn states. “There are a variety of core work, strength, yoga, flexibility and dance activities that can be viewed via videos on YouTube.”

“App technology is improving athletes’ accessibility to training in the comfort of their own homes, while also having the option to work out in the gym with other athletes,” adds Feinberg.

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