30 Days of Gratitude – Day #14, The Tech-ification of Running


Continuing with my 30 Days of Gratitude, I am thankful for the ways that technology have improved the sport of running and in particular the ways they have helped me improve and be more efficient through the years.

Day #13 – Most Expensive Free Sport Ever

I was scanning my Buzzfeed RSS feed and came across this post, which reminded me that the first GPS satellite went into orbit in February 1989, the same month I started running and my weight loss journey.

That same GPS technology would come into play in 2012 when I went for my first GPS tracked run with my brother – which showed that my distance was much lower and pace much slower than I thought. Ugh – but it was also a wake-up call. I mean, *I* had a smartphone – time to use it! So began my quest for the marathon! 6 months, 1900 miles and nearly 100lbs later … I did it. Wearing a Garmin FR-10, my second GPS watch (Nike+ was first).

Now I mostly use Wahoo Fitness app for GPS run-tracking, and wear the Garmin vivoSmart on my wrist to track steps, sleep, and also keep synced with my phone (review coming soon). I also have the Garmin FR-15 that I love.

Technology has played a huge role for me in other ways … well, mostly clothing. When I started running, there were no affordable tech fabrics, no wicking, no ‘cold-gear’ re-radiating layers. Just piling on the clothes. I remember running in the winter meant a thermal layer, then a sweatshirt layer then a outerwear layer, with thick bulky gloves and hat and scarf … and I wouldn’t go out in sub-zero air temps or sub -10 wind chills. And I was only running a few miles. Oh … and the smells … that was the worst of it I think. You couldn’t wash the stink out of that stuff!

This week when it got down to the 20’s with some wind, I was wearing a thin top layer, mid-weight hat, light gloves, normal running socks, running tights and ‘runderwear’ for the wind (we’ve covered this) … and I was perfectly fine. And newer tech fabrics are quick to wash and hang dry and much more resistant to odor accumulation.

How do you feel about the influence of technology on running?

Technology! 80s! Rocky!

19 thoughts on “30 Days of Gratitude – Day #14, The Tech-ification of Running

  1. Don’t forget the hi-tech advancement in shoe materials and design. We all give the brands a lot of crap about their shoes, but the materials and many of the designs (while some are recycled and a few should be brought back Adidas Blue Marathon Trainers with the Dillinger web 😉 ) are better today than they were back in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

    I love my GPS watch capabilities and while I might not love all the design features and some of the “updates” of the particular brand I am presently using, it works well enough for me and since I track my running by miles (always have), I love it. Not so crazy about using my watch for GPS when running, but works in a pinch.

    Gotta remember that being able to run with a smart phone and all the gizmo’s, gadgets and things you can do with one while out on a run…Phone calls, photos, maps, music and on down the line.

    The other big thing is the online running logs, where you don’t have to use tables and charts to figure out pace, etc., along with the online social aspect that was missing from the sport for many of us, who ran a lot, but didn’t race a lot.

    While the simplicity of the 70’s & 80’s is appealing to some, the reality for me is that as someone who actually lived through those time, I prefer and love living in the age we live in. The technologicial advances in running gear, clothing and accessories make running more fun for me.

    • Very true – pretty much everything we deal with has improved with technology through the years. I just didn’t pay as much attention to shoes back then, and tried to keep the hobby cheap … now I actually care much more!

  2. I love my Garmin and Listening to books on my iPhone when running. I love Loki at my run stats on SportTracks. I recently started using a Mio Link heartrate monitor on my wrist.

    But I also have started practicing not looking at my pace until after the run is complete, even when doing workouts. I’ve run a few races without looking at my watch at all, to run by feel. I’m foregoing my iPhone for races.

    I think the more confident I become in my running, the less reliant I am on technology. I still think stats are fun and help me track improvement. But at the end of the day, it’s not the numbers that make running so joyous for me.

    • Very much agree with all of what you said – after I started tracking I got very heavily into it, and found that I was getting better but not getting a better feel of what I should be doing. Only by letting go of ‘within run’ tracking and checking afterwards was I able to regain control of my pacing.

  3. I’m pretty old fashioned when it comes to tech! I honestly still don’t love my garmin. After this marathon I’ll most likely ditch it for a good long while! I ran for 5 years without any tech stuff at all and part of me wants to just go back to how that felt.

    • I think a big thing is not letting it have too much power … which is hard. I am happy now where I switch on Wahoo Fitness on my phone and stuff it in my Spibelt, and look at it … well, really about once a week. That way I am ‘running by feel’ yet getting tracking info later as I want it.

  4. I so agree about technology. For people like me who aren’t naturally sporty and find enjoyment in sport hard to come by, being able to see ‘better’ numbers makes it all worthwhile and is motivating. I love being able to track what I’ve done. I bought an I pod purely for that purpose and then found that I ‘needed’ a smart phone! Now I’m so lazy that my bathroom scales are wi fi linked to my phone and I don’t need to plot chart!

    • haha – that reminds me of my wife … from ‘why do I need a smartphone’ to ‘crap, running low on battery, need to plug in’ … 🙂 And I totally agree that tracking can really help us as we make progress!

  5. I remember for the first few years of running I wore cotton t shirts and I had no idea the difference it would make to wear sweat wicking clothe and real cold gear. I love using my garmin and analyzing all the numbers, but I know that is has its pros and cons, for sure!

  6. I never ran before my first iPhone. I didn’t want to have to carry a phone and music player. If only I had realized how much stuff I would end of running with years later! But I started running in cotton shirts and those warm up pants that swish when you walk. You could hear me coming from a mile away!

    • Totally had ‘swishy pants’ for years! It is funny today running in the snow and slush and thinking how noisy I was, remembering back to when I had ‘low tech’ gear and would run in the snow and it would be silent except for the swish-swish! 🙂

  7. Pingback: 30 Days of Gratitude Revisited | Running Around the Bend

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