Electronic Gadgetry – Run with or Run from?

I’ve always considered myself a “minimalist” or, maybe, “throwback” runner.

Thick cotton sweatshirts to insure a good sweat – no “Tech T’s.” My shoes are usually whatever was on sale at the discount outlet, and they’re worn way past the “300 to 500 mile” turnover date. I never listen to music when I run, either.

However, I recently inherited my son’s iPhone, and my wife set up the MapMyRun app for me. I like getting the exact pace of each mile and split time of my training runs. As I innately knew, my “six mile runs,” are really 5.85 miles, which means my pace per mile is that much slower than I thought (although the Somerset Hills area of New Jersey is very hilly!)

My normal Sunday “7.5” mile run? only 6.86

Also, you can run the same course multiple times, and depending on how you cut the corners or traverse the curves, can add or delete at least a tenth of a mile off an average length run. Something to think about in a race, as well!

I kept the phone in my sweatshirt until it fell out and skidded on the pavement. Now, I just hold it, which isn’t as inconvenient as it seems – you can put it to your ear to hear the splits. I kept it with me for one run on all my regular courses. Once I have the exact distance down, I don’t feel I need it – I have a Runner ID in my shoe, in case of any worst-case scenario situations.

running id

For trail runs or running in unfamiliar territory I think it’s very valuable, however, that you have a phone for emergencies, a gauge of how far you’re running, and an instrument to get home if your lost.

We went to California for a wedding recently. I ran from just north of the famed Santa Monica pier to the Venice pier and back each day (all flat). My distances ranged from 6.85 to 7.02 miles, and it was amazing how my pace improved when I had someone in front or directly in back of me. The app backed it up with science, but my miles were at least 30 seconds a mile faster when pacing off someone. I also had my MIO watch on, streaming my heart rate. Everyone out there has at least two electronic gadgets with them when running, so I blended right in. Now I just have to get some funky tattoos!

Santa Monica boardwalk

Ed Halper has been part of the New Jersey road-racing community since the late 1970’s.  Ed competed at Monmouth College from 1977-1980, and coached the Monmouth track and cross-country teams from 1980-1983. His marathon best is 2:43.06 at Jersey Shore in 1981.Ed is the proprietor of Mountain Fitness in Warren, NJ and holds a Master’s Degree in Education (concentration in Physical Education) from Trenton State College. He is also a certified Personal Trainer and an accomplished running author. Be sure to check Ed’s blog at: “Let’s Get Fit”

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Ed Halper

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