Every runner defines the word “improvement” differently. Some want to run faster, some want to run farther, some want to run higher. But all runners should want to run smarter. What does that mean, exactly? It means removing mental obstacles — things like training plateaus, muscle pain, dangerous roads and trails with zero cell service. Runner’s Zen, when sought naturally, can take years to attain. But there are shortcuts to enlightenment: gadgets to use, equipment to wear and online communities to join. They’ll make you a smarter runner and, therefore, a better one.

Suunto Spartan Ultra HR

It’s not the cheapest way to become a better runner, but it’s certainly one of the easiest. Built-in GPS keeps you on track (or, if you’re feeling adventurous, ensures you don’t get lost when you go off-roading). Its fitness metrics include heart rate, pace, training load, rest, recovery and more. The touchscreen display is made of super tough sapphire crystal and paired with a titanium bezel — which makes the watch waterproof, shock-proof… pretty much everything-proof, really.

Strava

Strava is the quintessential app for active people. When installed on your phone or paired with your GPS device (see above), Strava tracks your every move. Upon completion of your activity (running, biking, swimming, whatever), Strava displays your fitness metrics cleaner than just about any fitness tracker’s stock software. Where Strava truly stands out, however, is its social network. Thousands of like-minded Stravanites across the globe can view and provide feedback on your activty. The app also features an ongoing feed to help you discover new adventures, new toys and nearby adventure partners.

District Vision Nagata Sunglasses

These are pure, refined performance sunglasses. They’re featherlight, shatterproof, hypoallergenic, anti-reflective, oleophobic and vision-enhancing. They also look just plain awesome, and that’s thanks to District Vision’s roots in high-end fashion.

Marc Pro

Muscle damage is inevitable. Of course, muscle regeneration requires a number of things — proper diet, stretching, ice — but one hack to a speedier recovery is an electrical stimulation device. Operation is easier than you might think: simply attach the nodes to your sore muscles, plug in the cords, and crank the knob to a frequency that feels comfortable.

Stryd Power Meter

Stryd is a fitness wearable that tracks the one metric no other wearable does: power. Three-time Ironman World Champion Craig Alexander says power is the one of the most, if not the most, important metric for runners. Along with running power (which is measured in watts), Stryd also tracks distance, cadence, pace, elevation and time. The device itself clips onto the top of your shoe, and the recharagable battery lasts one month.

The Best Running Shoes of 2017

We tested 29 of the best running shoes on the market to help you make the best purchase you can. From road to trail, we have you covered. Read the Story