Is Simpler Better – Sometimes

Sometimes you have to go backwards to go forward and while I do like GPS watches in general, especially when they automatically upload all that data at the end of my run or when I want to look back and see how I did graphically or what the splits were easily and of course upload the workout to Strava.

I am also a creature of habit, and I found it is easier and more convenient to wear the GPS/smart watch pretty much 24/7 (except to charge them) and since I am wearing it, of course I am going to use the built in functions as a matter of course. If it is on my wrist, why not use the device, irregardless of with who or where my data is shared. After all I am not a Luddite when it comes to using technology.

Unfortunately, my old Garmin 230’s battery now lasts about 10 hours before it needs to be re-charged and my Garmin 35 somehow interrupts how well I sleep. I know people pooh-pooh that idea, but there is a difference in my sleeping patterns when I wear the watch and when I do not, so I have taken to not wearing it to bed anymore and have been sleeping more deeply than I was before, which is very important to me.

Based on those factors, I knew that I was going to have to get a new watch at some point in the next few months.

Which led me to thinking about what I really do want from a watch – again. About every couple of years, I seem to go through and question why/if I need a GPS watch at all?

This time after thinking about it for a couple of weeks, I went ahead and ordered a Timex Ironman 50 instead of getting one of the newest or greatest GPS watches.

Timex Ironman 50

I know old school and all that stuff.

Yes, I was very tempted by a couple of the GPS watches out there, but it seemed to me that I would simply be spending a couple of hundred or more dollars and still be wondering the same questions that I had before.

The metrics or data points that I get from the Garmins are nice, but really do not change what I do too often during runs other than to distract me from what I want to focus on. Well other than the artificial pressure I get because I know that the runs will be shared to Strava, which has, does and will cause me to run harder than I planned, so that the “graph” or data points will look better up there.

Am I going to give up using my Garmins – hell no, but as far as them being my daily wear watch or using them for every run, that will change.

The Timex will be on my wrist most of the time and the Garmins will come out to play when I have a specific workout someplace other than around the house and need to know the distance run – I will be wearing one of them. Also I will be wearing one of them for those workouts where I do want to review the data points after or when I do get to race again, it is nice to be able to review the race data to see what happened, versus what you thought happened.

Otherwise for most of my workouts, having a general idea of how far I ran and the elapsed time is close enough. I am not a professional or even a very good runner and don’t have a coach, so having all the data available from every run is overkill.

Then there are the privacy concerns, at what point does giving away that data or sharing it on social media platforms like Strava become too much of a good thing and for who?

The reality is that

GPS watches are great tools to easily track your running, heart rate, cadence, all those other metrics and share your workouts with your friends. They are even great for simply looking down at your wrist to see who is calling or texting you and if you need to respond to the notification/call.

However, like all good things, sometimes they become too much of a good thing and using the device goes from something nice to have/do to feeling lost when you don’t have it. How many runners do you see out there (well at least before this year), constantly looking down at the wrist to make sure they are doing the correct pace, what their heart rate is, what the split is, who is calling, texting, fiddling with the volume controls and all those other things that these watches now do.

Were they focusing on their running or everything else?

Sometimes I wish that I had just kept my old Garmin FR10 and called it good.

Oh well, the GPS watches are tools to be used according to how the end user wants to use them. This end user has decided that his Garmin GPS/smart watches have become too intrusive into his daily life and will not be using them as daily wear, but for specific purposes.

I know that most runners will just look at this and say, he’s just another old fart who doesn’t like technology and being constantly connected to the big bad world out there. I will respond that they are half correct.

I love technology and will continue to use it when it benefits me, but technology is a tool to be used and should not be a crutch or distraction and certainly not for creating data points about you for the rest of the world to enjoy for their purposes.

For me I want to go in a simpler direction, where I don’t feel as though I am always a part of the matrix that is being built around us and focus more on the running part, not the technology I am wearing.

Plus who knows maybe I will relax a little more on my easy or learning to run runs, knowing that there will be no graphs, splits or sharing will happen when I get done. Just a time and distance being typed into a spreadsheet and me writing about what a crappy workout, errr great workout it was today.

There will be a transition period and I know it will be difficult to wean myself off the endorphin hits that I will no longer have from not being able to look at all the metrics and data points that I have gotten used to having at a glance or when sharing with other runners and their “liking” them. However, once I get past the initial jitters, I have a feeling that I will feel better without a GPS/smart watch on my wrist – all the time.

Now, if I could do something about not carrying the phone all the time I have a feeling it would be even more fun, but I like the camera and being able to call home for a ride too much to not carry the damn thing.

Ahhh and we all thought technology was supposed to make our lives simpler.

Better maybe, simpler no way.

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