In last month’s edition of Runner’s World, there was a page entitled Beyond the gadgets which discussed what happens to your running when you leave technology out of it. As my iPod has basically given up the ghost after so many miles, I have been running Nike+ and music free for months now. I figured it made sense when I was training for Cruce de los Andes, as there was no way Maria and I were going to run together without nattering on. And now, at week four of our half marathon training, there are still no gadgets for me.
For Martin, it’s a different story. He’s using his iPhone and an app called Endomondo. He loves it. He loves hearing the mile markers pass, listening to the times for each mile, knowing his maximum speed of the run and collating all this information easily so he can compare with previous runs. And throughout all this he has his music blasting as well. Even just writing that sounded like overload to me.
But I get it, we’re in training. We want to get stronger and faster, that’s the whole point of it, right? So, I have been mapping runs prior to setting out and taking a watch. But even this can be misleading. If I head left out of my road, there are hills. If I turn right, it’s flat. Surely it’s not fair to compare routes like this? I must be slower with hills than with flats… But then, the other day I beat my flat 3-mile time on the hilly route. What would the gadget say about that?
There’s something to be said for the competition and motivation that gadgets can provide. But then we can come to rely on them too much. They aren’t perfect, and this was shown to us once when a running app routed 4 miles, but unless I had suddenly increased my pace by a minute a mile, there was no way it was the full 4 miles and I had to keep running past my house to make it up, judging the time on my regular watch. Because that’s the other great thing about just using a watch; you become far more in tune with how you are doing and feeling if you’re running slower or faster, especially when you are an expert at the routes and roads you run so often around your neighbourhood. Sometimes, I can feel it’s a fast run and I force myself to not look at my watch; to wait until I get home and check the time to see if what I am feeling when I run is right in the results of my times.
And it usually is.