Finally, one tracker I couldn’t test in person but have would love to try: BSXinsight ($299.99). This device measures how hard you’re working by focusing on the lactate threshold, which is the highest pace or intensity that you can maintain without an increase in blood lactate. Here’s how it works: your muscles shuttle lactate into the blood as you exert. When you cross the lactate threshold, which is different for each athlete, blood lactate levels rise, and lactate builds up faster than the body can remove it. At the same time, acidosis — the buildup of hydrogen ions — occurs. Acidosis is responsible for that muscle burn and fatigue you may have experienced the last time you really pushed yourself.
BSXinsight aims to take the guesswork out of what “pushing it” means by measuring blood lactate and calculating your limit. Then you can train to your threshold and adjust your workout’s level so you’re training at what is the optimal level for your body. Over time, the theory is, you’ll be able to move your body’s threshold higher and higher, helping you surpass your previous limits.
Previously, the only way to measure lactate threshold was to go to a lab and have bloodwork done … or purchase some equipment and practice pricking your own finger every time you trained. So a calf sleeve and a sensor the size of a heart-rate monitor really is a stride in the right direction.
The compression sleeve uses near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to detect and analyze data in the form of light as it passes through your muscle tissue. You can use the information to determine your training program, plan for events and competitions, track progress, and share data with your coach and teammates.
BSXinsight has an assessment phase, which it encourages you to retake every six to eight weeks. Currently the unit is aimed at cyclists and runners, with units designed to be worn by either type of athlete and a “multisport” option for both. As a strength rather than an endurance athlete, I’d love to know if this is of any use for my training … but it’s almost enough motivation for me to start running!
Don’t see your favorite tracker on the list? Let me know what you use in the comments! —Ali