Gadgets and the Trail Runner

Gadgets and the Trail Runner

Hello there!

I hope you all had a fantastic weekend and are ready to tackle another week. I, for one, am kicking back and relaxing with my family today to celebrate the Canadian holiday – Family Day.

I had a fabulous weekend full of snowboarding, long runs and a delicious lunch date at Thrive foods with AngelaScreen Shot 2014-02-16 at 1.41.19 PM.


Alright. Let’s talk gadgets and running. 

As a trail runner if running gadgets are a help or a hindrance and you will get a flurry of opinions. Some can’t live with them, some can’t live without them! I think that gadgets are at odds with the type of people that trail runners are perceived as being. I have been told I am unusually sociable for a person who spends 5 hours on a Sunday in the middle of the forest alone. And it’s true. Being plugged in, dialed in and engaged to the world is often the opposite of what trail runners are trying to achieve in a long run, so bringing a smart phone can seem completely counterintuitive.

Because each gadget brings something completely different to the table, I have broken it down.

The Smart Phone:


I used to take off on an afternoon, leaving a cryptic note on the fridge “Be back in 4 hours…ish”. I would leave without road ID, without money and without a phone. 

Eventually my loved ones tuned into this and I began carrying my phone with my in my hydration pack pocket just in case.

Is it ideal? No. But considering some recent local tragedies, it makes sense to have a back up plan.

The IPod


Although I love listening to music as much as the next person, I can completely understand that it can be unsafe to not have all senses engaged while scrambling over rocks and hills in the middle of no where.

I often train at the hydro cut during the summer which is a local trail for mountain bikers so it is not only dangerous, but it is disrespectful of me to be tuned out of my surroundings because I am sharing the trails with other athletes.

When it comes to running with music, when I am on the trails, I leave the tunes at home.

GPS Watch

Meet my archaic Garmin Forerunner. It is so old that when I see someone at a race with one, we raise our wrists and do the nod.

When I am headed to train on the trails, I will never leave the house without this. Not only will it track my elevation during hill training, but it also has saved my hide many a time when I got lost with the map feature.

This is one gadget that I think every trail runner can agree is important for a run.



  1. Jodi says

    Great article, as always! Family Day is a real holiday but only in the provinces of Ontario, BC,, Alberta and Saskatchewan. Much needed break before Easter, especially this winter!!

  2. Leanne says

    I agree with the smart phone as a precaution, and no tunes on the trail. I’m fairly low tech, so the only other thing I never leave with out is my RoadID bracelet (not really a gadget I suppose, lol). And a good old fashioned paper map 😉

  3. says

    I’m a “whatever floats your boat” kind of guy for most things, but I think having headphones in while on the trails is not great, mainly for the reasons you mentioned. The other thing is that while on the trails the sounds of nature are part of the whole experience and I don’t want to block that out.

  4. Stewart says

    The only sport where I allow myself music is Cross Country skiing and very occasionally road running – on deserted roads. But trails require attention as you say!

    I have the Forerunner 305 as well! **nod** and it lately is bugging me because it isn’t recording the HRM or tracking my path….or at least it’s not sending it to my computer. Hope it’s not time for a new one….they’re expensive!

    As for the smart phone on the trail, it goes in the pack. With strict instructions to my family NOT to call me or text me unless it’s an emergency!!

  5. says

    Agreed on these gadgets! I don’t like running with my phone because it just feels too big (otherwise, I’m a huge iPhone loyalist and it comes with me everywhere!) but my Garmin and iPod are essentials for sure. Occasionally I’ll run outside with no music, and I’m actually sort of craving that having been on the treadmill all winter. Great to see you again this weekend (as usual) and lovely job on that first graphic! :)

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