Can you feel it? Running season’s in the air. You may have already noticed the uptick of running groups parading through the city, trail runners weaving through routes in parks, or solo runners on training missions in your neighborhood.
To get you excited for running this year and keep you in the loop about what to watch for in the running world, check out these five running trends to get in on in 2017:
1. Taking it to the trails
If you’re looking for an alternative to running loops around your neighborhood, then a change of scenery could be the answer. Trail running is a revitalizing way to switch up your run routine and helps you escape the hustle of the city. Over the last decade, trail running’s grown a huge amount (US-based Outdoor Foundation shows the percentage of trail runners increased by over 85% from 2007 to 2015), which makes 2017 a great year to jump in since there are lots of resources to help you start.
How to get in on it:
- Read: How to start trail running: tips for road runners
- Sign up: more than 40 chip-timed MEC trail races in gorgeous locations across Canada
2. Wearable tech is sticking around
Wearable technology first made a big splash a few years ago. In 2017, it’s still proving to be one of the go-to tactics to stay motivated and measure your output and performance. Most of us are familiar with run watches and heart rate monitors from Suunto, Polar and Garmin (their Forerunner watch has been a hit in the run world for more than a decade), but we don’t all use them to our advantage. Make this the year you figure out the range of possibilities and features that run gadgets are capable of. Here are three ideas of what’s possible:
Full-on fitness tracker
The Polar A360 is much more than just a heart rate monitor. Some notable features include sleep monitoring, vibration alerts to ensure you’re in the right heartrate or pace zone, and programmable training calendars. It’s also smartphone compatible for text, email and other essential notifications.
- Pros: Simple to use, optical HR monitor, touchscreen, sleep tracking, multi-sport, good value
- Cons: No stopwatch or countdown timer
Fitness coach on the go
The Garmin Vivoactive HR GPS pushes your limits like a fitness coach by learning your current activity level and creating daily goals based on where you’re at. It can track your performance for running, cycling and swimming, and can even count flights of stairs you climb (triathlon in your future, perhaps?). Its cousin the Garmin Vivosmart HR+ won Fitness Tracker of the Year at the Wareable Tech Awards 2016.
- Pros: Multi-sport, GPS, smartphone compatible, optical heartrate monitor, and daily steps
- Cons: No interval training or countdown timer
All the bells and whistles
The Garmin Fenix 5 boasts almost all the features you’d ever want in a watch, whether you’re running, swimming, cycling or even navigating in the alpine. It tracks steps, sleep patterns and heart rate, and has an integrated antenna for outstanding signal reception from satellites.
- Pros: Multi-sport, Strava segment integration, GPS, altimeter and barometer, no need for HR chest strap, wifi connectivity to upload workouts
- Cons: No touchscreen, loaded with features means a higher-end price
3. Run crews, groups and clubs are everywhere
Sure, following running athletes on Instagram is great for initial motivation. But a running meet-up or crew where you run with people in real life gives you that extra kick to head out after a long day at work or drag yourself out of bed in the morning. Luckily, running crews are popping up in cities across Canada and each one has its individual flavour. There are groups that head out from buzzing Queen Street West in Toronto (Parkdale Road Runners), ones that run to post-run craft beer (like RunTOBeer), some that mix road runs with singletrack trails in BC (Fraser Street Run Club) and lots more.
How to get in on it:
- Read: Coast to coast: 10 Canadian run crews you should join
- Check out: MEC Run Crews in cities across the country
4. More gear for more styles
As more people get into running, the demand for diverse and individualized styles and features has increased. Today’s running brands are offering up gear and clothes to suit everyone. Urban vs. trail, minimalist vs. gear-head, short shorts vs. high-rise tights: you get to choose what works for you.
Here are a few things that caught our attention for 2017:
Montreal-based Ciele (pronounced see-ell-e) started just a few years ago with one style: the GoCap. Things have taken off since then, and the TRLCap is the latest cap in the Ciele family. Why we love it: 5-panel fit, breathable mesh, signature Ciele style in a new package.
Comfy high-rise running tights come with all kinds of benefits: they won’t dig in to your hips, they give a snug and supported fit, and they provide great coverage for post-run stretching. The new Sanctuary running tights come in a high-waisted option with a minimalist single inseam.
Tees that look (and smell) fresh
Long run planned? How about sweaty speed work? Look for lightweight tees treated with antimicrobial Polygiene to help them smelling fresher. The MEC Rhythm Tee and Core Shot shirt use this treatment, are made of recycled polyester, and have a roomy but flattering fit.
Very off-road runners
If you’re going to start trail running, you’ll appreciate trail running specific shoes. We’re digging the Salomon Speedcross 4 trail shoes, made to blaze through mud, snow and guck. They’ve got GORE-TEX® uppers to keep you dry, laces that won’t get in the way, and Orthlite footbeds for support.
Soft water bottles: there when you need them, collapse down when you don’t. They’re awesome for races since you can fill them up at aid stations, and they fit into streamlined hydration vests. More and more races are going paper-cup free, so these are nice minimalist way to BYOWB (water bottle).
5. Digital motivation
Since most of us are digitally connected, it makes sense to look to our phones to help us improve and be inspired – which is where running apps come in. One app to keep an eye out for later this year is EverybodyRun by Ciele (the same brand that makes those nifty caps). It aims to connect runners with other runners, running services and run shops. Official launch is later in 2017. For more app ideas, check out running apps you should know.
Here’s to a fantastic 2017 running season. Share your running pics with #goodtimesoutside to show us what new routes, races and run crews you’re into this year.