Fitness Trackers Fuel Motivation for Grandma’s Marathon Runners

Apps and wearable devices help runners achieve training goals.

By on July 11, 2014

Road racing is booming in the U.S., and a record number of runners are expected to hit the road this summer participating in races ranging from 10Ks and marathons to mud and obstacle runs and family fun runs. According to Running USA, there are more than 26,000 running events in the U.S. each year, with 15.5 million finishers.

Once viewed as a solitary sport, runners today are using mobile technology to track, share and celebrate every step of their journeys – from daily training strategies, routes and times to race-day highlights and photos.

“Running is peaceful and contemplative, and it’s been my escape for nearly 40 years,” said Paul Horan, owner of Gear Running, a favorite store of runners in Minneapolis. “Technology has really changed running over the last decade. My favorite device is my Garmin watch. It tracks and stores all my running information, like an uber-logbook, helping me focus on enjoying the experience of the run.”

Many runners hit the road with their smartphones and accessories like the PowerBeats by Dr Dre headphones and the yurbuds Ironman Series armband. They listen to music and other content to support their workouts.

Amy Cimperman from Duluth, Minn., finished Grandma’s Marathon in June with her smartphone in hand. “I run with a smartphone to listen to music, track my run and for safety if something were to happen. Technology just makes running easier.

New wearable devices also help runners achieve their training goals. Fitness trackers like the Garmin vivofit and Fitbit Flex track progress and keep motivation high.

"Technology just makes running easier."

Grandma’s Marathon finisher Jenn Gist from Cloquet, Minn., said, “I started using a Fitbit One to track my steps. Wearing the Fitbit and tracking my steps actually motivated me to start running because I could reach my goal faster than walking.”

After months of training, event day is the big payoff for runners, and technology enables a connected and shared experience live from the course. Runners and spectators take and share videos and photos in real time, and text messages between runners and their supporters help coordinate meeting points during and after the race.

Finish line and post-race celebrations are the time runners bask in the glory of completing their races. Finishers at Grandma’s Marathon used their smartphones to share their “Grandma’s Selfies” via Twitter using the hashtags #GrandmasSelfie and #Verizon. One lucky winner received a LG G 8.3 tablet and nine winners received a Fitbit Flex activity tracker.

“Running makes me feel good, from the people I meet to the positive benefits of being healthy,” said Grandma’s Marathon finisher Jay Marshall from Richmond, Ill. “Technology makes it so easy to share and see what other people are doing. It’s a great way to support other runners and to be supported.”

Verizon Wireless has sponsored Grandma’s Marathon for more than 20 years, including the popular Runner Tracking text and email notification service. This year’s race featured more than 200 selfie submissions.

Tags: wearable technology, fitness, apps, Fitbit Flex, #GrandmasSelfie