Thursday, April 9, 2009

TIART: Running Technology Tips

Today's TIaRT post is about technology and running.

I started out running by just throwing on my sneakers and heading out the door. That's what running was (or so I thought).

One of the first signs of technology creep was the web site I could go to the site, plot my route, and get all sorts of cool information, from mileage to elevation charts.

Another site I use is Google Docs. I keep my running log there, obsessively tracking every mile, how many miles per pair of sneakers, pace information, etc.

I also started running with an iPod. A little musical boost. My silver one died, so I was running with my wife's pink one. (Yes, I'm comfortable enough to do that).

After doing that a few months and obsessively plotting each turn and corner in MapMyRun, I opted to buy a Garmin Forerunner 305. That is the bomb. I really turned into a running geek then. Real time pace information, mileage, all that stuff. I still don't even use all of the features of it, but I love it.

You can then offload the data to your computer using various software. Garmin has some, and I also like this SportTracks software, which integrates a nice sexy map to show you where you've been.

Along with the Forerunner, I got a heart rate monitor. That was something I didn't know much about (and admittedly still don't).

Oh, and a cell phone. On long runs. Just in case. (Plus, it doubles as a camera to take pictures for later posting)

After a while, I looked at myself, and I felt like some sort of bionic creature. All sorts of crap strapped on, just to go out and run a couple of miles. And so, the shedding began..

The first thing to go was the heart rate monitor. It was strapped against my chest, and I couldn't get used to it. My male mind felt like I had some sort of bra on or something (although I'm told that would be a completely different feeling).

Next up was dropping my iPod. I would just go out and run, and let myself get immersed in my thoughts and enjoy the outdoors.

Occasionally, I'll go out now without my Garmin, and just run. (I still wind up going back to MapMyRun, just for OCD's sake and keeping my running log up to date.)

Now, I'm back to using my iPod occasionally (my wife bought me a new one, so I'm back to a manly color). It's not one that does the Nike+, another potential technological running obsession, so that's both good and bad. :)

Technology is a double edged sword, in my mind. It does help to some degree. It makes running more enjoyable and trackable.

...But in the end, it's still all about putting your shoes on and getting out the door.


tfh said...

I love this post-- the building up into the bionic creature, and then the shedding. I have that OCD tendency of going to MapMyRun too, which is why I try to run on trails that are impossible to find on the online map. :)

Cindy said...

that's so interesting! i think it may be part of the who process- acquiring the gadgets and then whittling back down to what's really necessary. and you're right, the beauty of running is that all you really need are some shoes.

Lacey Nicole said...

haha "sexy maps" that was my favorite part. i really want to get a garmin! ah!

i never thought to use google docs to track!!!!! i LOVE google docs, have one for budget, and also my project team at work uses them. as far as running, i have a running journal tho that is essentially the same thing. question: how many miles do you put on sneakers? great post!

Denise said...

I'm so not up to speed! I didn't even know about all the stuff you mentioned. It's a wonder I can blog.

Glaven Q. Heisenberg said...

I need my iPod. I envy runners who say they can "enjoy" the run without music, because every run, to me, is a struggle to take my mind off the fact that I'm running and hating it and still have, 45, 40, 30 ... etc. more minutes to go.

Technology HAS to help me here because my poor brainpan alone is not up to that task.

Shannon said...


I'm feeing a "freedom run" is in order for me this weekend. I'm not training for anything right now, just running to stay fit and because I can.

aron said...

sounds like we use a lot of the same stuff :) lol at the bionic creature... so true!

X-Country2 said...

Someone will have to pry my iPod from my cold dead hands, but that's the only thing I'll use.

merrymishaps said...

I'll use MapMyRun to plan a route when we need a certain mileage, it's a great tool.

I do run with both a Garmin and a Nano -- and I'm usually not even listening to music -- I'm tracking it on Nike+. But I won't wear it around my arm. No bionic runner! It fits nicely in the pouch on my water bottle :)

The Happy Runner said...

I'm OCD about my mileage, too. Whenever I run a new route, I have to measure it and log it!

Love the ending of your post.

Xenia said...

I really need music. Occasionally not having it is okay but it's got to be only for short runs. I'm still holding off on the Garmin. Like you, I have enough OCD going on with MapMyRun and my running log. :)

Marcy said...

Ooooo I'm going to have to look into Google Docs! I swear I'm always the last person to know about things :P

Jes said...

One of the best things about running (for me) is the lack of gear you need to get the job done. A sports bra and sneakers are all I need, which makes it convenient anywhere in the world.

I do prefer to have my ipod, though.

I stay away from sites like mapmyrun cause I know I'd be addicted instantly. I'd end up spending more time online mapping my run than actually running it.