Bare-Wristed: Running without Gadgets


 When my Garmin Forerunner went completely blank during the first few miles of my last marathon, I briefly envisioned throwing the watch into the lake.
[Read about the Garmin tragedy here]
It was two years old, which seems young to me, but maybe it’s a lifetime in sweaty running-watch years?

After the watch fiasco, I decided to run for the simple joy of it.

I could talk about the romantic idea of running through the countryside, and letting my spirit become filled with the tranquility of the landscape without numbers telling me what I’ve done wrong–and I did that for many months. However, now that I’m marathon training, numbers seem to have some significance.

After all, how do I know if I can run my ideal time, if I’m not recording my training runs?

Thus, I loaded a few apps on my iPhone, hoping that I could 1) monitor my workouts and 2) not damage the bank account.

MapMyRun worked fairly well, until I went over a ridge, whereupon, it lost my signal and placed me at a variety of locations throughout middle Franconia. It said I went 41 miles in 2 hours, which if true, would mean I am, in fact, a SuperHero.

RunKeeper also worked okay…but it still lost my signal, thereby randomly teleporting me and skewing the results.

Searching for something that would track me live ( to avoid using my cell during the marathon to alert the cheer team), I came across MapMyTracks. The GPS signal is surprisingly strong out here in the middle of farm country, and it even followed me through the steep terrain. However, it quickly drains my iPhone battery–and unless I can run a 2 1/2 hour marathon, it won’t last.

I guess I’m not a superhero after all.

Another problem with the iPhone apps is user error, meaning, I always mess up something.

I forget to push a button or I push a button by accident. Or I leave the thing running until my phone dies. I also have the dreadful fear that it will publish inaccurate (or all too accurate) results without my knowledge.

Connect to Facebook? I think not. 

Honestly, the number crunching is taking some of the joy out of running for me. It doesn’t help that I’ve eaten atrociously the past two weeks, and I can feel it in my aging body.

In an attempt to salvage some running pleasure, I did a deliberately slow walk/run simply to mark the mileage. Then the next day, I ran without the gadget.

I don’t know if I was slow or fast, or if it should even matter.

I wonder if I can enjoy my run AND improve my speed at the same time? Because I seem to be the kind of person who gets distracted by the numbers.

Hopefully I’ll find a balance soon.

Or not. Maybe gadgetless training would be a good experiment for me, since I don’t have a ‘career’ or ‘reputation’ on the line?

But the real problem is that I am so self-competitive, I just don’t know if I can completely let go of the gadgets.

I guess I’ll work it out one way or another before July 22nd.

Do you use gadgets during your runs? Which ones do you find helpful? 



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