Sunday, February 23, 2014

Trail Running: Are Tech Gadgets More Help or Hinderance on the Trails?





February's topic for the TrailRunner Magazine Symposium is Tech Gadgets: Helpful or Hindrance?

Tech Gadgets. We all have them. Watches, smart phones, iPods, and the like. It's a personal preference to which type, if any, to use while running. Do these have a place on the trail? Maybe. The trails I frequent aren't typically in remote areas, are easy to moderately technical, and are more of the state park or high school cross country variety. A high tech gadget to track weather or direction isn't necessary.

I personally run, trail or road, with minimal technology on me. I traded in the iPod long ago for the music of my rhythmic breathing and the soundtrack of my environment. I often don't even carry a cell phone. I know that from a safety perspective I'm at a disadvantage. If I'm running in a group someone else usually has one. If I'm road running solo I may put it in my pocket or fuel belt. On the trail it's a toss up. If I do have it I make sure it's on mute and vibrate. Why do I choose not to carry a phone? I simply don't like it weighing me down and I don't want the worry of it going on the fritz if I get caught in rain. It's just my personal decision. I make sure that anytime I head out for a run my family or a friend knows my intended route and duration. I keep all of my personal information on a Road Id on my shoe.

I do, however, run with a GPS watch. This brings me to my next point. I've recently found that wearing a GPS watch can be both helpful and deterring. I like to know my position in miles but consistent beeping disrupts my thought process while in the woods so I turn the alerts off. I am an obsessed data nerd and I always will be. Could I trail run without a GPS watch? Absolutely. I still could manually enter the information for tracking purposes if I still felt the need to.

I think we tend to over complicate running regardless of terrain. In the recent weeks I've ran more by feel, both on the road and the trail. This practice has made running more enjoyable while in turn showing me that I, via a GPS watch and pace conversion chart, have held myself back. Running should be simple and pure. 

As a new trail runner, I seek solace from my hectic schedule in nature; on a single track path surrounded by the symphony of Creation. This is my time to simplify things. It is a retreat from the incessant sensory overload of email, phone calls, and noise. There is something raw and organic when in nature which is why on my next trail run you'll find my GPS watch safely stowed inside of my fuel pack with all alerts set to silent. I might even stop to smell the flowers along the way. 

I'm a newb to trail running and I hope to bring a perspective that is fresh. I have much to learn and I enjoy following others' journeys charted before me. Let's get dirty! http://www.trailrunnermag.com/

8 comments:

  1. I always carry my phone, and I usually have a GPS tracking app running, because I am also a data nerd; but I have gotten into the habit of turning off all the notifications, so I am "running silent"..I am learning to run by feel and the sound of my own heartbeat and breathing are music enough!

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    1. I find running silent is very therapeutic. Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. The connected world we live in ..... I bring my iPhone for emergencies (& I admit to take pictures) and I wear a Garmin. I wear my ipod for road runs. In the trails I don't bring music especially if I am alone.

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    1. Crystal I agree! We are too connected and I often regret my smart phone, as convenient it is. How unfortunately we have to actively unplug. Thank you for commenting!

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  3. I only run w/ my Garmin too. You can turn the beeping off! I like to know how many miles I've gone. I feel like I slow on the trail and as silly as it is, even if it doesn't matter, I like to know how far I've gone!
    I'd love for you to link up at my Fitness Friends linkup... it's great meeting other runners!
    Carolyn
    http://www.ccmcafeeperspective.com/2014/02/frozen-blood-and-better-swimming.html

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    1. I too find that I'm still mentally thinking about pace on the trail rather than letting go. We must truly retrain our minds to just enjoy the experience.

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  4. It was an interesting experience having my Garmin die right before the start of my first 50k. I had no idea where I was, what pace I was keeping, etc. It was positive because it made me focus on just taking the next step, asking at the aid stations where I was and really running by feel. The last 4 miles I knew I was keeping about a 15 min pace thanks to my interval timer (the only timing device on me) and I was right! I'm glad I didn't have my Garmin the last 11 miles or so of the race because I significantly slowed down and I would have been so hard on myself instead of just enjoying my surroundings. I'm on the fence!

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    1. I still like to know my mileage but not watching the pace has been such a boost to my overall pace and enjoyment to running.

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