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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Running with Tech

Lots of people love to run naked, and by that I mean running without tech. I enjoy my naked runs now and again, but since I'm really motivated by goal setting and quantified self and also love to listen to music when I run. So I enjoy running with a little tech support. Specifically I like running with my smartphone, my heart rate monitor and some cool wireless headphones.

But running with tech can be so irritating. And I'm not talking about the actual runs. It's the extra support.

Running with my iPhone feeds my quantified self taste buds. I love seeing my step count pass 10,500 daily. But more than that, my iPhone also plays music and runs an app called iSmoothRun that measures my cadence for me. My Garmin displays cadence, too, but the app provides a metronome that keeps my cadence high and has helped me climb hills and get to the finish during some recent races at a good clip. I carry my iPhone in a RooSport Pouch and have for years.

These are my wireless headphones. The wireless headphones are my solution to the battle between wanting to run with the right tech but not feeling encumbered by the tech. I ran with Jaybirds for awhile, ones that hooked over and into my ears. Frankly I struggled getting them to stay in my ears. Finally I switched to the Audio X wireless headphones after trying them on at the CUCB expo and wanting them for over a year. I bought a pair before the 2015 Pittsburgh marathon and loved them - until the charger stopped working…and I asked for help on Twitter. Big mistake.

Back in June 2015, I tweeted to the makers of the Audio X headphones (RocknReverb) letting them know my headphones wouldn't' hold a charge. I received a pretty angry DM in response. They thought I was a blogger who received the headphones free in exchange for a review and yelled at me via DM for "blasting" their product on Twitter. I got defensive. They sent me new headphones. They still wouldn't hold a charge. So then I went to Walgreens and bought a cheap-o charger cable and it's been working perfectly ever since! See that bright blue cable? Works like a charm. Thanks Walgreens.

The next tech fix I tackled was my Garmin. I've run with a Garmin 310XT for something like 3 years. Frankly I can't believe how much trouble I put up with from that device. It was constantly freezing up, the buttons stopped working, the HR monitor wouldn't transfer the data if I had the auto-transfer toggle switched on, etc. Just a total pain. The breaking point was the day I ran the EQT 10 miler and the buttons stopped working and I realized I might not be able to download my race data. I know I still ran the race, but that data is a validator for me. And I paid good money for this tech! I hated how the disfunction felt like a sabotage of my effort.

Even though Christmas was two months away,  I couldn't wait. I switched to the 910XT and it felt like I had gotten myself out of a bad relationship. My running data auto-transfers! The buttons work effortlessly! When my tech works I feel free, like I'm running unencumbered but can review and reflect on my hard work.

As we neared winter, the cold weather brought a new challenge. (Yes, I know the weather around here hasn't been that cold. But still). The back of the headphones stick out a little from my head and an ear warmer didn't quite fit over them, so cold air was sweeping up into my ears and head! No thanks! So one day I cut holes in the grey version of this ear warmer I picked up at Target. It worked fine. Then came trouble. The grey one was in the wash so I grabbed this purple one, my favorite. I tried running with the headphones under the ear warmer but hated my cold ears, so mid-run I just popped the headphones over the outside of the ear warmer and guess what!!! I could hear the music, my timer, and my metronome! Success! Joy! Warm ears! I count this as a mixed tech-fashion-comfort fix.

I picked up a little multi-usb outlet octopus charger and keep all my running devices ready to go whenever I am. It might seem like high maintenance, but now that everything's running smoothly, I'm happy.

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