Tag Archives: watch

Run to Get Happy, Run to Get Fit

“SO WHAT’S THE MOST DEPRESSING SONG you’ve ever heard?” the girl at the coffee shop asked me this morning. Actually, she was in a good mood. She explained how neat it was that listening to sad songs like the blues are actually a way to feel better when you’re down. Running works well, too, I thought.

But if you ask me, things are turning downright positive around here. After what seems like years, the Ann Arbor Ice Age is finally showing signs of ending. The temperatures are rising and the glaciers are in full retreat. Today I saw my actual deck surface for the first time in months.

My deck, January 9.

My deck, January 9.

My deck, today.

My deck, today.

And last night, despite a threat of rain, I went to the PR Fitness run at the local lululemon. To my surprise, only four of us showed up. It was warm – mid-forties – and the sidewalks were clear of ice. What’s not to like? I put on shorts and lightweight shoes and hit the road, and boy, did it feel good.

One of our group was Dan, a new guy who’s just moved to Ann Arbor from Toledo. He’s running to get in shape and to help kick his smoking habit. “In Toledo, everyone smokes,” he said. “But everyone in this town is fit.” He’d only planned to run two miles, but stuck with us a bit longer, and ended up doing close to four. He only had one beef – our route began with quite a bit of uphill rise. “Is this whole route uphill?” he wondered.

Gee, what makes him think everyone in Ann Arbor is a runner?

Gee, what makes him think Ann Arbor is full of runners?

I told him this was his introduction to the Rob Morgan school of running. For those of you who don’t know him, Rob is one of the owners of PR Fitness (his wife, Coach Marie, is the other) and he has a particular knack for choosing running routes with challenging elevation changes. I’m convinced that one day he’ll discover a route that starts and ends at the same location, but will be uphill the whole way. It’s just a matter of time.

Ascending_and_Descending-Escher-Wikipedia

Why does this famous Escher come to mind… (Source: Wikipedia)

Speaking of time – in my previous post, I related that one of my little tribulations with pacing last Sunday’s ShamRock ‘n Roll was the expiration of my watch battery in the middle of the 10K. It had been on its last legs for some time, but finally gave up the ghost. So what to do?

Other people helpfully suggested a new watch, but I love my Garmin Forerunner 305. It’s an oldie but a goodie, with a nice big display and features I know how to use. But the battery is not easily switched out. It requires taking the watch apart, clipping off the old battery, and soldering in a new one.

My running watch and definitely un-smartphone. Yes, I am a caveman!

My running watch and definitely un-smartphone. Yes, I am a caveman!

Fortunately, I could turn to the fount of all wisdom – the World Wide Web (which is celebrating its 25th birthday this year), and found a terrific video that shows how to replace the 305 battery, step by step. I could buy a replacement 305 battery online, too, but there’s a better option – the iPod Mini battery. It’s the same size, has the same voltage, but twice the capacity. And it’s cheaper. Sold!

The toughest part turned out to be getting the watch apart, which involved about an hour of gently working the tight seam all the way around the watch face to break the adhesive. Replacing the battery was fairly easy, even with my barbaric soldering skills, and I put it back together and charged it up. So far I’ve put over four hours of use on it, with plenty of charge left.

Next up – Saturday’s No Frills All Thrills 8K trail run in Brighton. They tell me “the trail will be groomed.” I’ll settle for ice-free, which would be an improvement over last year. Hoping to defend my age group title, and earn the matching gold shoe!

2013 race finish. What am I supposed to do with one shoe - and spray-painted to boot?

2013 race finish. What am I supposed to do with one shoe – and spray-painted to boot?

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.