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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

When is too much technology, well, too much?

I've always considered myself a bit of a gadget guy, but I'm proud to say my worst days are over. No longer do I lust over the latest video card, the hottest camera or newest car. I'm proud to say that I can now find the perfect balance between cost and value.

And then I bought the nike+ running system. It was a toy/gadget for sure, but it was affordable. For $100 I could track my running progress and use it to motivate me to get out the door. Though it was a toy, it was money well spent.

Then, a year or so later I find myself running lots and I somehow convince myself I need more data, more accuracy, more toys to help me along. Cue the Garmin Forerunner 410. I had heard murmurs of this fancy watch online and one of my club members got one over the Christmas break. I was curious, so I did some research.

Finally in March I bit the bullet and plunked down $400 on this toy. I instantly fell in love with it. The accurate measurements fueled me and I could see my progress. I fell in love with the thing, and then I lost it in Italy (along with Melanie's Forerunner 110). Gah, I couldn't believe it...over $700 worth of technology left behind in some hotel room.

So I came back a little dejected and I couldn't believe I lost Melanie's Garmin. So we went back to running without a Garmin, and something amazing happened. We loved it.

We hadn't realized but the Garmins, as enabling as they were, were actually controlling us. I went by the pace on my watch and not how I felt on my easy and long runs. The moment I was forced to run by feel I found that my legs were telling me things I had been ignoring. I started to think about other things while running, I wasn't constantly thinking about running anymore. I can't believe I had cast aside such an integral part of why I loved running...the ability to let my mind flow freely from thought to thought.

So then I started to wonder, how much am I missing out on because of the technology I employ while I run?

Well after a bit of reflection, it turns out I don't use very much. I don't carry my phone, I don't run with music, it's just me, my watch and my basic running gear.  Then we were at the Milton Triathlon and discovered a booth that had the 410 on for an amazing deal ($289 versus the $349 we paid originally), so we snagged two up.

But now mine has the Heart Rate Monitor, which means I have to fight hard to not get sucked into it controlling me as well. But I think I have a solution!

So, how wll I make sure to continue enjoying mind free running while reaping the benefits of my Garmin GPS Watch with Heart Rate Monitor?

I've made the decision to no longer use my watch on my easy and recovery runs. That means I will only be using the watch twice a week for my key workouts and once on the weekend for my long run on Sundays.  Every other day I am running completely watchless and since I know my 8-10-12 km loops off by heart, I simply have to complete them to know I've done all I had to do.

Already I'm reaping the benefits. My free thoughts have returned and I am productive after my runs. I come back with new insight into old problems and I am better adjusted towards completing goals and tasks I've set.

It wasn't easy to change, and it cost me hundreds of dollars before I realized what I had done to myself. So if you're also surrounding yourself with running gadgets, make sure they don't take control of your habits, you'll find that sooner or later you need to listen to your body, not your running toys.

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