This year’s London Marathon is on Sunday 23rd April 2017. Jo Maude, our producer and gym/sport fan, talks about some of the innovative new kit that makes running and keeping fit a joy. Learn about recycled trainers, cool clothing, smartwatches and more sports gear innovations.
It’s marathon time again in London, when elite and amateur runners from around the world take on the iconic 26.2 mile course.
Inspired by one of my school friends coming over to the UK from New York to run in this challenging event, I began thinking about the incredible range of new sportswear designs for running and fitness.
There has been a real surge in innovation and technology in sportswear of late, whether it is in trainers, clothing or beyond.
Here are some of my favourite examples, all great designs borne out of thinking differently:
What do you do with old bits of plastic polluting the oceans? Well, how about making them into something useful. Adidas and clean ocean campaigners Parley have come together to produce trainers made from marine plastic. You can use them in and around water, which seems apt.
Big brands like Adidas, Nike and Peak Performance are also bringing in new products that are eco-friendly in other ways. They’re working with a revolutionary company called DyeCoo who can now dye textiles without using water and chemicals as part of the process. DyeCoo claim to have R&D in their blood, and sound like they could write a design thinking manual: “From fibre to fashion, we oversee the entire chain. Not just focusing on hardware but also taking fabrics, dyes and the finished product into account, always pushing for the best solutions adapted to the industry.”
Many people love Rapha, the popular cycling brand and winner of many awards. I do too. I particularly love their classic women’s jerseys. I admire their mission to carry out ‘tireless R&D’ and their use of innovative technology. They try to make their clothes as light, breathable and cool as possible. I also like the fact they care about the look and feel of clothes and make things that people actually want to wear. Alongside the kit, there is also a whole sense of community around the brand, with a cycling club, cafes and events.
According to Running Shoes Guru, creating a women’s running shoe used to mean designers would “shrink ’em and pink ’em.” Not any more. Manufacturers are looking at women’s biomechanics (which are different to men’s) making trainers that are right for them. Here is their list of top ladies trainers. None of them is pink.
Technology and innovation also feature strongly in sporting accessories such as headphones, sunglasses, fitness trackers and running watches. Fitness trackers have been a revelation for me and many people I know. I’ve been wearing one for several years and find monitoring my steps and activities a great motivator. There are so many good trackers, it’s hard to pick one that’s best. I love my trusty old school Fitbit (Fitbit Flex and I’ve had it since September 2013), but there are all sorts for different needs.
Some people want to track their fitness activity, but don’t want something obvious or modern looking on their wrist. There are some amazing smartwatches now that look like a traditional watch, made by companies like Skagen, Mondaine, Timex and Withings. This one by Withings looks great and monitors your activity, sleep and heartrate.
I look forward to more new products like these, where clever thinking can have a positive impact on sport and life in general.
Meanwhile, I’m off to download the London Marathon App (another great innovation) so I can follow my school friend during the race.