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The best Apple watchOS 7 features for runners

The latest Apple Watch update includes several features to help you maximize your training and performance

Photo by: Apple

At its Worldwide Developers Conference last week, Apple unveiled watchOS 7, the latest update for the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch has always been a tremendous machine, but earlier iterations of the gadget were not the best for runners and athletes. A lot has changed with the last few versions of the watch, and now it is not just a good option for runners — it’s one of the best choices on the market. This newest update has improved upon the Apple Watch’s already impressive health and fitness features, and some new enhancements will help runners get even more out of themselves when watchOS 7 launches this fall. 

Photo: Apple

Workouts and fitness

If you have an Apple Watch, you’ve probably used the Workout and Activity apps. The Workout app can record outdoor and indoor runs, high-intensity interval workouts and so many different types of cross and strength training. Apple Watch users could always employ this app for a number of exercises, but some specific workouts weren’t monitored, the data was just based on the user’s heart rate throughout.

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With watchOS 7, you can now monitor core training, functional strength training and cooldowns. These are three imperative items on a runner’s weekly training schedule that can be easily neglected, but the watchOS 7 update will help keep you honest and completing each workout as planned. As a bonus, the Workout app is now equipped to monitor dancing, so if you ever do a happy dance after a PB or a good race, you can see how many calories you burn during that, too. 

The Activity app that Apple Watch users are familiar with has been renamed the Fitness app, and its watchOS 7 update now provides streamlined data for your daily exercise and workouts. You can continue to challenge friends to different fitness challenges through this app, which is especially useful during COVID-19, because although you might not be able to compete in person, you can compete virtually with your Apple Watch. 

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Sleep tracking 

Apple is getting into the sleep tracking game with watchOS 7, with the hope that it can help users get to bed on time, get enough rest and get the most out of their sleep each night. Sleep is important for everyone, but for athletes, it’s a crucial recovery tool. If you aren’t sleeping well, you aren’t recovering well, so any way to maximize your sleep will go a long way in helping you maximize your performance. By detecting micro-movements and monitoring your breathing, the Apple Watch can determine when you’re asleep and for how long. Each morning, you will get data on your sleep, including any times you woke up. 

Photo: Apple

Having a good sleep is important, and one big step toward that is getting to bed at a decent time. The watchOS 7 update has a “Wind Down” feature that will help users prepare for bed with customized night time routines. It will even take you through a meditation before bed if that’s what you need to drift off. 

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Washing your hands has always been important, but with COVID-19, we need to be even more vigilant when it comes to personal hygiene. With watchOS 7, your watch will sense when you’re washing your hands, and it will initiate a 20-second countdown to ensure you wash long enough. If you stop prematurely, your watch will tell you to keep going. This isn’t necessarily a runner-specific feature, but every once in a while, you’re going to have to stop for a mid-run bathroom break. With this feature, you’ll head back out on the road, trails or track knowing that you’ve cleaned up properly. 
Although watchOS 7 (along with other Apple updates) won’t be available until the fall, Apple users will be able to access a beta version of the update next month. This is the first time that Apple has released a public beta update for any of its products, and it will be available here