A few years back fitness tech was focused heavily on those people who card about the numbers. A lot. Watches that bombard you with various stats covering everything from heart rate and pace all the way to body composition. In those days the market was dominated by some pretty damn expensive kit. They were essentially athlete tools used to micro-analyse multiple aspects of a training plan in order to knock off milliseconds. For the rest of us it was largely just something we wanted, even though the only information we used from them probably covered about 3% of the functions.
For the past few years we’ve mainly been using a TomTom Multi-sport. Lovely piece of kit in fact. Simple to use, attractive, the functions are stripped down to the ones we actually want to know. Still quite expensive though and the analysis is focussed on quite specific parameters, mainly around pace and heart rate. We use it largely to check our time during a race.
The MilstonePod is a bit different from any kit we’ve used in the past (we’ve never actually tried any sort of cdence sensor). It’s basically a little plastic device which attaches to your shoelace and measures a whole bunch of information as you move around. Without including GPS, the Pod serves back information on stride length, ground contact, leg swing, pace, distance, duration, cadence, foot strike and something it calls a runficency score (basically combining a load of them together, we think). It also acts as a rather useful odometer for your shoes, working out how much distance you’ve actually done in them without you having to think about it. To view the data you just need to link it to the smart phone app via bluetooth.
First of all, the design. To be honest there isn’t a great deal to say about the pod itself aside from the fact it’s a tiny, unassuming black box. The top half of the device carries all the electrical bits and pieces whilst the bottom section is merely used as a fastener to the underside of your laces. Simply slip the bottom bit under a couple of laces, pop the top bit on and turn it. Done. Once you have it on you won’t actually notice it’s there. Which is a very good thing. You don’t need to untie your laces.
The stats are the main thing to talk about here. Once the pod is on your shoe it’ll start registering your stats whenever you start moving. It doesn’t matter if you running a marathon or walking to the shop, it’ll record it in separate little chunks within the app. We just leave it on our trainers all the time now.
When you want to update your analysis you just need to open the app and sync it via bluetooth. After a few seconds you end up with something that looks like this.
It’ll tell you your total pod distance, your most recent activity and your best cadence to date. Cadence is a pretty big thing here by the way, if you’re not sure what it is, essentially it’s your stride rate i.e. how many steps you make a minute when you run (or walk). Although a relatively simple metric, it can be used to highlight issues with running efficiency and stride technique. If your cadence is off then you may be landing badly and making yourself more prone to injury.
From here you have a few options. Probably the most useful is to look at a detailed overview of your previous run or walk. You’ll be given a run through of each measured movement against, in most cases, guideline benchmark figure. So here you can see that our cadence is pretty much perfect, although our leg swing could do with a fair bit more work. It’s important to mention that your optimum stats will depend upon a number of factors including height and weight. So it really is just a guideline.
You can also look at historical activities against your own benchmark. Which is kind of handy to help see improvements quickly, without trudging through loads of reports.
Sure, you’ve probably seen a lot of these functions before using other systems. The main selling point of the MilestonePod however is the price. Okay, it’s not released in the UK yet (it’s coming out here at the end of August) but when it does it’ll cost just £25, which is ridiculously cheap when you compare it to the other options available.
Twice in the past week we’ve forgotten to charge our TomTom before a race. Before we’d probably hold off for a bit until we had some juice, the pod however works as a nice little backup for it. We’ve checked the stats afterwards and they pretty much always seem to match up with the GPS. If it is out buy a little bit, all you need to do is calibrate it afterwards and it’ll readjust the analysis.
For more information on the MilestonePod, head over to the US website here.
Picture Credits: MilestonePod