Whether you’re running to train for an event, lose weight, or just improve your overall fitness, tracking and analyzing your running stats helps you monitor your progress and identify areas of improvement. There are several ways to track and evaluate your route distance, speed, heart rate, and more, but if you don’t know where to start, these tips will help.
How can I gather statistics about indoor running?
First, you need a way to gather your running stats before you can analyze them. Below are some of the most common ways runners collect and store their stats for training purposes.
Running apps can help you get the most out of your run. They track all kinds of health and performance data, including mileage, pace, heart rate, and calories. Using a fitness app, you can store your personal information regarding your workouts, fitness, and nutrition.
Depending on the app you use, you may even be able to view your running stats in graph form, making it easier to see progress and make necessary adjustments to reach your goals. Many running apps also offer additional features like virtual running coaches, a support community with in-app challenges, and personalized running plans.
Some of the best fitness apps for runners offer virtual running routes, which help make treadmill running more fun and exciting. For example, with Vingo, you can run in locations like Iceland and explore real-world places without ever leaving your home. Say goodbye to boring indoor runs spent staring at the wall!
There are tons of running and fitness apps, but the best one for you will depend on your goals, budget, and preferences. Some running apps are free to download and use. Others require a paid subscription.
Smartwatches and fitness trackers
A fitness tracker is a type of watch that helps you keep track of your health and exercise. A smartwatch can do the same thing, but it also keeps you connected to your texts, calls, emails, and app notifications.
A smartwatch or fitness tracker is a practical and easy way to track your running stats during indoor runs. Most smartwatches and fitness trackers are equipped to track your stats on the treadmill and when you run outdoors. Instead of using GPS like when you run outside, they use motion sensors like accelerometers to track your arm movement while you run on the treadmill.
Depending on your watch type, it may provide several useful features for indoor runners. For example:
- It may have a dedicated treadmill mode and heart rate monitor. These features make it possible to train indoors with zones.
- Some watches may also allow you to broadcast your running data and stats to the treadmill screen instead of only monitoring your data from the watch itself.
- You may also be able to use your fitness watch or smartwatch to set particular targets for indoor training, such as your stride length, distance, time, and calories.
If you plan to purchase a smartwatch or fitness tracker so you can run indoors and track your stats, you may want to consider how well it will integrate with your compatible treadmill. Otherwise, you may be unable to take advantage of all its great features.
Just a warning: no smartwatch or fitness tracker will ever be 100% accurate when reporting your indoor running stats.1 Instead, it’s best to take the data they provide with a grain of salt when analyzing your progress.
A power meter
A power meter is a device that measures your power output. It measures how hard you’re working and how fast, expressed in watts. To provide this measurement, it uses sensors inside your shoe or on your body’s core (similar to a chest strap that measures heart rate).
Using a power meter has plenty of benefits for indoor runners:
- Unlike your heart rate, which is influenced by many other factors like temperature, stress, medications, and sleep, a power meter provides an objective measurement of your running efforts. That way, you can optimize indoor runs and establish and maintain a good pace.
- A power meter can also help you improve the efficiency of your treadmill workouts because you can easily compare the amount of power you produce to complete the same workout on several different occasions. Your results will help you understand whether you’re improving your efficiency or not.
- You can also use a power meter to improve your running form. As you make changes to your technique, your power measurements will also change, giving you more visibility into how your running form affects your performance (both positively and negatively).
- A power meter will help you understand how your power converts into speed.
How to use all your data to improve running performance
Although you can track all the running data possible, how you use all your data will have the most significant impact on your performance. Understanding what each metric measures will help you identify patterns in your performance and make changes to improve.
Here’s how to analyze some of the most common metrics runners use to measure and monitor their performance:
Keeping track of how long you run is one of the easiest ways to monitor your performance. For instance, when you first start running, you may only be able to run for 10 minutes without stopping. However, as you continue training and running more frequently, you’ll be able to run longer and faster without taking breaks. This is an indicator that you’re getting stronger and more fit.
When analyzing your running time stats, consider other factors like elevation gain, sleep, and nutrition. These factors can easily influence your time but may not always reflect an accurate picture of your overall training results or performance.
Similarly, new runners may not be able to run more than a mile or two at once. Regardless, with continuous training, you should be able to run further, more easily. Monitoring your running route distances will help you determine if your strength and endurance are improving over time.
If you regularly wear a fitness tracker or smartwatch, you likely already understand your resting and maximum heart rates. Knowing each will help you maximize your efforts with training zones and identify areas of strength and weakness.
For example, if your heart rate consistently gets lower during the same runs, you’re improving your efficiency. Additionally, identifying trends in your resting heart rate can tell you a lot about how well you recover from your workouts.
When analyzing your heart rate trends, consider other factors that can affect your heart rate, like medications, sleep, and temperature.
Your Vo2 Max tells you how much oxygen you can consume in one minute per kilogram of body weight while running at your hardest. The higher your Vo2 Max, the more efficiently your body works while you run.
Your Vo2 Max is based on your resting heart rate, age, gender, weight, and other personal factors. Many smartwatches or fitness watches provide an estimated Vo2 Max, but it won’t be 100% accurate, so take it with a grain of salt. (The most precise way to get a Vo2 Max reading is through a lab, but most runners don’t have access to that.)
Monitoring your Vo2Max will help you determine if you’re increasing your overall physical fitness. The more you train, the more your Vo2 Max should increase, meaning your body is becoming more efficient during physical activity.
Pay attention to your elevation gain stats if you are training for a hilly race or want to improve your strength and endurance. Usually displayed as a graph or with a set number of feet, elevation gain is the change in vertical height throughout your run.
Your elevation gain tells you how many feet you climbed uphill, which can explain why one 2-mile route may feel way more difficult than another 2-mile route. If you run the same hilly route over several weeks, it should start feeling easier, and your heart rate should stay lower.
After several months of running hilly routes with more elevation gain, you’ll likely find that you can run hillier routes faster without your heart rate going too high. This is an indicator that you’re getting stronger!
What is Functional Threshold Power (FTP)?
Your FTP is the highest average power you can sustain for about an hour without fatiguing, expressed in watts per kilogram.1 The easiest way to measure your FTP is with a power meter and a 30-minute timed test. To do this, wear a power meter and follow these steps:
- Warm up for 10 minutes.
- Then, run as fast as you can, consistently, for 30 minutes.
- Cool down for 5 to 10 minutes.
- The average power from the final 20 minutes of your time test is your FTP.
Monitoring your FTP is important for runners because it tells you how much running effort you can sustain for long periods and gauges your overall fitness level. This can be very helpful for runners training for a competitive event! It can also be beneficial if you’re trying to improve your running performance over shorter distances.
To track your progress, measure your FTP once a week. Ideally, your FTP will increase without your weight increasing at all.
Key Takeaways:Tracking and analyzing your running stats helps you monitor your progress and identify areas of improvement. You can use many different tools to get accurate running data, but understanding what it all means is crucial if you want to improve your performance.
- Degroote, L., de Bourdeaudhuij, I., Verloigne, M., Poppe, L., & Crombez, G. (2018). The Accuracy of Smart Devices for Measuring Physical Activity in Daily Life: Validation Study. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 6(12), e10972. https://doi.org/10.2196/10972