Tag Archives: Luddite

Running Tech: Luddite vs. Gadget Man

I was at my desk, innocently trying to get some work done, when GadgetMan came into my office. He had something to show me. Something he was sure was going to improve my running experience.

We all know a GM, right? He who must have (and show off) the Latest and Greatest of all things, especially with technical toys like phones, tablets, and cool apps. I find GMs harmless, if a bit annoying, and I can usually avoid or ignore them. But our company’s GM is one to whom I owe fealty and obeisance, so I had to pay attention. Besides, he couldn’t accuse me of wasting company time.

RunKeeper ProGM knows I am a runner, and that I keep track of my split times and distances with a Garmin ForeRunner watch. He runs a bit himself and once used a watch, too, but when the RunKeeper Pro app for the iPhone came out, he threw it away. And that’s what he came to “sell” me. The watch would screw things up on occasion, he informed me. And if he forgot to pause it at stoplights, or forget to restart it, the information would be (gasp) inaccurate. The iPhone app, he said, performs flawlessly, and I should ditch my obsolete piece of junk and get this app.

Perhaps RK Pro does work well – I’m not disputing that. But there are two problems with adopting his suggestion. First, I’d need to get an iPhone, which I have no interest in. I don’t even own a smartphone. (Which, by the way, GM and my loving wife are in active and gleeful collaboration to change.) Second, my Garmin suits me just fine. Most of its features I don’t even use; with the iPhone and RunKeeper there would just be more stuff I wouldn’t use.

Now even though I have no smartphone or fancy apps, (and despite my wife’s claim) I am no Luddite. My degree is in computer science, and I have spent my entire professional life in high tech, including 12 years developing software. And I love reading Gizmag and seeing how fast technology is improving. But I tend not to invest in it until I have a real need for it. I didn’t even get my watch until I began training for my first full marathon. And even then it’s an older model watch. (I like the big display.)

An oldie but a goodie: the Forerunner 305.

An oldie but a goodie: the Forerunner 305.

I use the Garmin for distance, pace, and split times, mostly. I have also used the heart rate monitor occasionally (and probably should use it more often). Every now and then I upload the data to Garmin Connect. I suppose I should actually check my accumulated run data now and then. I might learn something. Until then I’ll rely on my Excel spreadsheet, where I’ve recorded every run since April 2008.

So I don’t feel the need to update my running tech at present. (And I take a certain perverse pleasure in playing contrarian with GadgetMan.)

Question for you all: What technology do you use for running? And could you live without it now?

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P.S. While Gadget Men can be a bit annoying, they actually tend to have many good qualities (which includes the one to whom I owe fealty and obeisance). See this article from Digital Crossroads for the good news about gadget hounds.