Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Running Smiley with technology

[Reposted from my blog]

This Christmas, Santa brought me a Garmin Forerunner 210.  Yep, not quite what the Plenipotentiary
 of “The Run Smiley Collective” should have had under her tree I admit.  I should have a TUTU or a funny hat, but not technology.  Isn’t that against everything the collective is about?! Have I abandoned my values?!  Have I become a runner?!

In other news, I was talking to my good friend Jesse over Facebook a while back and aside from the usual nonsense we spout, like spy penguins taking over the world and Boobies, we talked a little bit about how as minimalist running has become more popular, people have decided to take minimalism a little TOO far in their running.

Minimalist runners are now abandoning watches, Garmin’s, iPod’s and anything else electrical as they run.  I applaud this, however, my applause depends on their reasoning behind ditching the technology.

When I advocate ditching the technology, the reasoning is so that people are released from pace times, distances and weekly mileages and they experience the run for what it is.  A joyful way of connecting to the way you move.  If you are ditching the tech for THIS reason, then I say, “welcome to our merry band of misfit’s, please enjoy your stay”.

If you are ditching the technology because you feel it makes you better than everyone else –that by taking off the Garmin, you are becoming purer than your fellow minimalist runner- then please take a chill-pill and re-evaluate what’s important.

This seems to be a bit of a trend.  People ditching the gadgets, not so they can connect with their run, but to be “more of a minimal runner than X”.  This is just as wrong as wearing the Garmin and concentrating SO much on your pace that you ignore the flowers on your trail.

As Jesse said, (and I am paraphrasing here), “why can’t people just let everyone run the way they want to?”

And do you know what?  He’s right! 

So I am going to admit it.  I like to run with an iPod.  I have a play-list that I like to run with.  Most of the time I only have one ear-bud in, but the music is still there.  I may find a bit of fun trail and both ear-buds come out and I will have a blast, sometimes the ear-bud may be in for all of the run.  Do I care?  Not really. 

This is the reason.  I run with music, not because it makes me a better, faster runner.  I run with music, because the songs I pick allow me to connect with my inner fun and with my friends.  I will explain.

I have songs that remind me of friends, i.e.
“The Cave” by Mumford and Son’s, is my connection with Angie B. 
“5 years time” by Noah and the Whale, reminds me of Shelly and Jason Robillard, and the rest of the “Hobby Jogga’s”
“Pirates of the Caribbean” by Lonely Island (currently) reminds me of Jesse.

I have songs that make me smile.  The  “Run Barefoot Girl” “Tick Tok” song always makes me laugh and I do a little dance in the middle.  The “I am the Doctor” soundtrack makes me feel like I am being chased by aliens and I can’t help but do this without a grin on my face.

So has technology meant I fail to connect to the fun on my run? Nope.  In fact they add to it.  My friends are there when I want them and they don’t interfere when I am enjoying where I am on my run and if I am having too much fun in my run, they step away.

As for the Garmin?  Am I going to use it to increase my VO2 Maxy thingie? Am I going to run harder and faster than everyone else?  Am I going to brag that I run 3.2728 miles in 23 minutes and 45.3883 seconds? Nope.  

I am getting the Garmin as an experiment.  I want to see what the fuss is about and see if it’s truly useful.  I want to play with it and see if it can add something interesting to my run’s.  I want to see if some training plans work and if some don’t.  I am being inquisitive and trying new things.  I LOVE doing that.  So why is that a bad thing?  The Garmin is allowing me to be an engineer on my run; allowing me to tinker and test new solutions.  I am adopting the same principles when I made my hacked minimal shoes, or when I retro-tweak a pair of minimal shoes so they fit how I like.  Heck, it's either a Garmin on my run or a CISCO router, and trust me a Garmin is easier to carry.

So despite my “don’t let technology rule your run”, I think I agree with Jesse.  If you want to wear an iPod or a Garmin, go ahead, just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.  


  1. Santa also brought me a Garmin this year and as a total map geek, i absolutely love it. I love maps and geek out on stats, what can i say?!

  2. First, I love Jesse'e comment. There's a lot of "you aren't minimal enough" street cred posturing out there, and it bums me out. Second, I gave up running with music almost a year ago; it makes me feel more in the moment when I am running. My Garmin? You'll have to pry it from my cold dead hands. I love that thing like it's one of my kids...

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