I tell you all this because I currently own more fitness related tech than ever before — and I’m dissatisfied with most of it.
There’s a long history to this. My relationship with technology can only be described as “it’s complicated.” I have a reputation for dropping things, losing things, and exploring the limits of how wet my technology can get without sudden death. Over the past two decades, my water/coffee spilling habit has killed three computers, at least three iphones, a client’s fancy speaker phone, a first generation $600 ipod, and pretty little red nano. The nano death was a spectacular episode of clumsiness where I somehow caught my earbuds in my hairbrush and swung the ipod into the toilet when I was taking off my running clothes.
I suspect I have some sort of undercurrent direct signal to apple as “client zero,” with a task force taking in all of my data to continually innovate for the chaotic user. And tech HAS caught up to my abuses — a few years I dropped my iphone4 off the s
Now my relationship has evolved in a different way. I destroy fewer things, but I seem to keep buying more things, and they do many more things, and they get more complex, and they never make me happy. Especially around fitness.
A few years ago, I “upgraded” to a simple garmin watch with GPS, that gave me distance a
This all functioned… okay. I was never really satisfied. The watch didn’t hold a charge very long — it couldn’t seem to do more than 7 hours of GPS, which meant it was useless on a long bike ride. It took forever to sync to satellites when I turned it on. And I noticed that although I’d trained well and run hard for years with very little info, I’d get edgy at not having more information. This tech created an insatiable appetite for something I wasn’t even sure I wanted.
Last winter, I got caught up in the social media swirl of tracking my runs and rides through a strava app on my phone, feeling satisfied as cycling distance added up over the year, enjoying the kudos and “thumbs up!” from my friends, a facebook contact I haven’t seen since I was 20, and even — weirdly — my bank manager. I don’t think anything actually changed because I was recording and sharing this info, but I sure felt virtuous every time someone patted me for getting out the door.
Around the same time, my unsatisfying garmin watch died. I had a cheap analogue computer on my bike that measured distance based on wheel rotations, but when the watch died, somehow the conflation of strava, the fitbits and step-counters dangling from everyone I knew, and shininess of fancy bike computers everyone on my bike rally team seemed to have made me decide that not only did I need a new running watch, I also needed a bike computer. And maybe a fitbit.
I am really bad at deciphering tech stuff before I purchase it. I seem to need to use it before I know if it will
I ended up going to MEC, which I thought had the best selection and prices, and bought a (pricey) mid-range bike computer (Garmin Edge 520) and a garmin forerunner 15 watch. The guy helping me didn’t really understand the tech that well, and I got the watch home and discovered that because it didn’t have bluetooth, I have to actually physically clip it to my computer to upload any data. But hey, if I wear this clunky watch all day instead of my pretty european “timepiece,” it gives me steps! Which means… something, right? (Nothing. It means nothing to me. I don’t change any behaviours because of this).
The Edge was a bit fussy to figure out, but once I got the hang of it, I mostly like it. I did spend one whole 105 km ride with the display shouting OFF COURSE! at me. People keep mocking me for leaving my $30 wheel-rotation counter on the bike as backup, but I was grateful for it that day. But the Edge does what it’s supposed to do, and when I sync it with strava, I get a certain satisfaction in looking at my kilometers add up over the year, looking at speed, tracking my mastery of Brimley h
The rest? Sigh.
Like the older generation Garmin watch, this one still takes forever to sync to satellites — at least 5 minutes in front of my building. Which is a significant chunk of time to bounce around waiting to start a 20 minute run. It doesn’t have a lot of storage space, so I have to physically hook it up to my computer frequently. And Garmin seems to upgrade the software constantly, and an occasional upgrade seems to render the GPS sync impossible. It’s… fine. But not joyful. (And I can’t be the only person who doesn’t understand these limits based on the specs on the website).
And then there is the whole matter of headphones. Back in the sony walkman days, I had the little set that fit over my head, never fell off and gave me tinny but reliable sound. Which was fine for the radio. This current generation of headphones has excellent sound, excellent no
But here’s the thing. The in-ear ones don’t stay in your bloody ears. And when I got my new phone, I got an iphone6, not a 7, for price and specifically because it still has a headphone jack. But the sleek, waterproof case I bought for it means that I have to add this … clumsy, inevitably-lost extender thing to use wired headphones. (I’ve already had to replace a lost garmin watch charger once). Again, this wasn’t clear until I pulled it out of the box.
So now my mobile tech looks like this.
Technology makes all sorts of things possible. But it also adds this crazy level of anxiety, mental tracking, irritation, dissatisfaction and unnecessary expense. That stuff up there? Not simple.
When I made my FB post about which running watch to buy, one of the guys I knew said “Don’t buy any. Just run. Run naked.” I keep hearing his voice when I pace around waiting to start a run because my GPS hasn’t shaken hands yet or wanting to throw suddenly dead headphones on the ground. And wondering what this really is doing to my brain. I know what it’s doing to my bank account.