Resident tech expert Kieran Alger runs the rule over the latest gadgets designed to improve your running.

Running is one of the most basic fitness activities. All you need is a pair of decent shoes, a bit of motivation and you’re ready to unlock huge health benefits that range from improving mental health to living longer.

But if you’re thinking of taking things a little bit more seriously than a casual spot of cardio, there’s a whole raft of intelligent new tracking tech and apps that can help make your runs feel easier, reduce your risk of injury and – if it’s your goal – turn you into a speed demon.

It’s now possible to track every stride in fine detail, have real-time coaching to improve your form and get advice on the basic sessions you need for a great balance in your training.

So whether you run just to keep fit and want to have a bit more fun, or you regularly chase personal bests, here’s a selection of the latest gadgets to help you fast-forward your running.

Five running gadgets that make you a better runner Men's Fitness UK

UA Hovr Machina

MF BEST BUY:
UA HOVR CONNECTED SHOES
From £140, underarmour.co.uk

From the everyday training shoe, the Machina (pictured), to the faster racing shoe, the Velociti 3, and the Guardian 2 stability option, Under Armour’s latest connected kicks look and run like regular running shoes.

But hidden in the soles are a series of sensors that track your running stats, like a GPS watch, turning your trainers into a valuable coach.

The shoe sensors track distance and pace, phone-free and with excellent accuracy, though you will need your smartphone to access the latest feature upgrade that unlocks the option for real-time coaching for cadence and stride length – arguably the biggest factors to focus on for improving your running and cutting injury risk.

Ground contact time and whether you heel, mid or forefoot strike are also tracked (but not coached), and you can happily customise the frequency of the coaching updates in your ear to avoid too much nagging.

Post-run, all your data syncs via Bluetooth to the MapMyRun app – though sadly not Strava – where you get neatly presented analysis and progress charts for the key metrics at a glance, over time. You also get virtual coaching tips with suggested drills, to help you work on your weaknesses.

After a refreshingly simple set-up, your shoes connect as soon as you fire up the app, so there’s no pre-run pratting required.

The battery is also built to outlast the shoes, so unlike other trackers, you never need to charge them, and they cost the same as a standard pair of running shoes, so you’re essentially getting all this additional capability as a nice bonus.

Features: 4/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Run-boost tech: 4/5
OVERALL: 4/5

Five running gadgets that make you a better runner Men's Fitness UK

Arion Run
£226, arion.run

The Arion system of sole sensors, tracker and app isn’t perfect, but you get a wide range of features, a strong web-based dashboard for analysing stats, and a seven-hour battery life.

The sole trackers are nice and slimline, and you get some useful form stats – including stability and ground contact time – as well as plenty of options for specific real-time coaching, focusing on cadence, stride length and foot strike.

You can also pair a heart-rate monitor for added insights.

Features: 3/5
Ease of use: 2/5
Run-boost tech: 3/5
OVERALL: 3/5

Five running gadgets that make you a better runner Men's Fitness UK

Podium
$9.99 per month, podium-coaching.com

A running app with a different slant, Podium tracks basic stats but also charts your training progress in five key areas: technique, endurance, strength, speed and execution.

If you want to add more structure, there are customised programmes catering for general fitness and distances, from 5k up to the marathon. Miss a session and the app automatically adjusts your plan.

Features: 3/5
Ease of use: 3/5
Run-boost tech: 4/5
OVERALL: 3/5

Five running gadgets that make you a better runner Men's Fitness UK

Power2Run
Free, inspyridon.com

It’s been used for ages by cyclists to manage consistency of effort in training, but power is still a fairly new idea in running.

It tends to require a foot pod or accessory, but if you’re an Apple Watch owner, this app now does power tracking right from your wrist.

You can set alerts for zone training, see your power performance against your splits and fire data to Garmin Connect and Training Peaks.

Features: 3/5
Ease of use: 3/5
Run-boost tech: 3/5
OVERALL: 3/5

Five running gadgets that make you a better runner Men's Fitness UK

Nike Run Club
Free, nike.com

The NRC app has been around for a while, tracking the basics you’d expect from any running app and providing tailored training plans for races, fitness or just getting started.

But the standout feature is the relatively new audio-coached Guided Runs that take you step-by-step through the different workouts you can use to improve your running, helping you sort your fartlek from your slower sessions.

Features: 4/5
Ease of use: 4/5
Run-boost tech: 4/5
OVERALL: 4/5