Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Technology These Days

In the course of my preparation for the 2010 Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, my training runs have naturally increased. So far, my furthest run has been 14 miles (Update: 18 baby!) and I could tell a difference. These aren't my normal 3-5 miles. I began to think that I may need more than just me to get through the runs.

This is causing an inner conflict to build up inside me. And, it is causing me to question who I am as a runner. I have always considered myself to be someone who plays sports, and then runs in order to get in shape for those sports. If I had to give myself a label, it would have been "recreational runner." As I am getting older (some would say decrepit), I am still "playing" sports on occasion for "recreational" value, but find myself running more than anything.

Especially now that I am upping my miles, I'd like to have some idea of how far my runs are and how long it took. This is not something I have done in the past. On the rare occurrences I remember to check the clock when I head out for my run, I forget to check it when I get back. And yes, I have never worn a watch and timed myself (see hippie runner admittance below). Needless to say, I am having an internal battle with somehow professing to the world that I am a "runner." I feel that the world (yes you!) has instilled expectations in the word "runner", as to some level or degree of competency that I just don't have.

If I run past someone in a cotton t-shirt and soccer shorts (probably a size too big)-they definitely know I am not a serious runner and so when I stop to stretch or look like I'm dying with a bright red face, they think: "Yep, that seems about right."

Now imagine me running by you in a super polyonderated $80 tank top, flashy high-tech rocket shoes, a $800 watch that can land planes, and a vest full of gels, water, and an espresso maker. Now imagine me running by you at the same pace as the red-faced girl above.


Not only does it instill expectations in others, but also in myself. I have to remind myself that if I buy a $300 watch, it will not make me go any faster. It will just put in writing exactly how slow I am going. If all this fancy technology automatically made me faster, stronger, more fit, generally all around more awesomer...well then sign me up! Forget food, forget shelter, forget medicine....I am going to spend all my cash and win a freakin' marathon!!!

And yes, I know that technology IS supposed to help you improve your running. But again, I have been in this happy stage where I "run for fun", and am worried to get into a more competitive level where it is more of a chore or competition than fun. At what point does running to relieve stress become stressful? And as a Crohnie, stress is not something I want more of.

I would also describe myself as a hippie runner (minus the pot). I'm sort of a hippie in a lot of areas of technology. I am one of the few people I know without an iphone, blackberry; I don't even have a pager! In fact, my cell phone can't even check email or connect to the internet!! I know, it's amazing-I didn't even know what four-square was, or connect four? Or...yeah, see. My phone sometimes sends and receives texts, and it only vibrates for a phone call if it feels like it (which it often doesn't). Stupid crappy phone...

So back to hippie runner. I run for freedom and peace of mind. I have never worried about my pace or if I am going slower or faster than yesterday or someone else. I run at a pace my body feels good at. Sometimes it feels like I'm running in place and other days I swear I can fly.

Now I have never seen a Hippie with a $400 watch on. However, the idea of a breathable shirt sounds sooooo good on those 80% humidity days. Also, I am innately directioanally deficient (yes, I made that up). So having some sort of g.p.s. system would probably save me countless hours and frustration when I undoubtedly get lost in the woods and have to build a brush-fire to send smoke-signals for help (it's hard finding all that brush). Okay, I only got lost in the woods once...............maybe twice. But that's it!....................(that's not it).

In conclusion, now might be the time for my "runner" denial to be over. I hope I can make the transition to a runner as seamless as I can do anything. Which means I will most likely break or lose the watch in a week.

Having said how anti-materialistic and everything technology I am, here is my current Wish List!! Enjoy the irony:

1.) Foam roller (stupid IT band)
2.) Watch that allows for distance, pace, possibly heart-rate monitor and lap times (and preferably with some sort of flare gun for when I get lost and/or near dead)
3.) Knee band thing--needed?
4.) Breathable shirts/shorts with pockets
5.) An amazing sports bra that makes me feel like I don't have a chest and also doesn't chafe half my skin away
6.) New kicks that make me lighter than air and faster than the Flash!
7.) Possibly some sort of "support in a can"-and no, not a jock strap. When you open it or push a button, you hear all sort of supportive cheers: "Yay Nadia! Keep it up! Oh my! When did you get so fast and skinny? etc."

Update: Having actually started to look at watches, I have realized I am really out of my league. My price range of thinking you could get an awesome watch at $100 (hence the exaggerated $300/$400 above) is actually a bit low. Well, maybe you can get a good watch at $100, but you can also get one for $600+. For that much money, the water better do a lot more than tell time. If I am spending that kind of dough, the watch better be able to improve my form, immediately cut my mile splits by 2 minutes, heal any injury, cook me dinner, and do my taxes. And it wouldn't cheat on me and tell someone else how fast they are going or how great they look! (And it does all these things because it likes doing it because it cares about me as a person, not because it feels obligated).

Is that too much to ask?

1 comment:

  1. I completely identify with your inner conflict about whether to give in and buy the latest $$ runners' technology. When I began training for my first half marathon (in 2008), it seemed everyone wore a Garmin / iPhone / GPS / chip-in-your-shoe to capture every last data point from their runs. As someone who never has owned or used any such devices (don't even wear a watch … gave that up in grade school when I kept breaking them), the temptation to go high tech was nearly overpowering. (Oooo! Shiny objects!)

    But what I discovered was that by training and running alongside the OTHER Team Challenge folks and their devices, I could usually find out my time, distance and pace quite easily. ("Hey, Becky, when you finish singing that Hannah Montana song, could you tell me what mile we're on?") During training for the Napa-to-Sonoma run this past spring, I actually toyed with the idea of printing a tee-shirt that said something like "Running device-free".

    The only time I've given in to the runner tech temptation has been to buy good running shoes, because those really do help me run better, stronger, faster. (And at least my feet look hip 'n' trendy …)