From Phile to Phobe

What better day to explore relationships (especially the complicated ones)?  I’ve found no more on-again-off-again relationship than the delicate thechnomance between weekend warrior athletes and their toys.

Jacked From: Runner's World | Tech Time Out by Jen A Miller. Image CJ Burton
Jacked From: Runner’s World | Tech Time Out by Jen A Miller. Image CJ Burton

By toys I mean all the extras beyond just your shoes, your bike, your swimsuit and your grit. The stuff of Christmas Lists, torn out Self Magazine columns, Pinterest boards, and garage shelves of weekend warriors everywhere. The stuff you may want to make your training better, but you somehow (and rather handily, I might add) convince yourself you NEED to make your training better.

The first real training I ever did was for a one-mile fitness test as part of a military internship while I was still in school. (I could go on almost endlessly about what it took to overcome my Presidential Physical Fitness inadequacy from elementary school to get that first no-stopping mile down. I won’t. But, man, I could.) While it may not look like much now, that was one of the hardest fitness goals I’ve ever achieved, and the keystone of that entire effort was the discovery of and devotion to Nike+. For the first time I realized that I needed more than just background music. It notified me when I was halfway there, let me know when there were just 400 meters left, and gave me the possibility of the Power Song. I could never have run that first no-stopping mile without it.

Jacked From: via Pinterest
Jacked From: via Pinterest

And thus began my technophilia.

From there, it wasn’t far to an odometer for the bike. No longer freewheeling the back roads, I took great (ok, obsessive) joy in besting my prior pace, topping my top speed, and knocking down mile after mile after mile.  Once I got into triathlon there was true technophilia the likes of which I’d only mocked. Caught lasciviously leering at a cyclometer with cadence computation in transition set up the morning of a race, a fellow age-grouper shot a sly barb: “This is no time for tri-perving.” Perfect term. Totally busted. What IS is about those toys? Of course, by this point I was well on my way in hot-pursuit of the weekend warrior LBD: that which goes with anything, is always appropriate, puts you at your best, and is “totally worth the money.” The Garmin, of course. Stuck in mid-air between “totally worth the money” and “you want WHAT for that thing?”, I got myself a simpler cheaper Timex that would calculate splits, indiglo in the dark, and withstand about 10m of underwater pressure.


I liked the Timex, and even managed to maintain a training log where I manually dumped the date after every run and swim. But feeling like a 15th century monk transcribing all that data got old pretty quickly. I finally nabbed a Garmin, only ever recorded one official race (a 5k), struggled with satellite positioning, profuse wrist sweat and constriction, and incomprehensible watch-to-PC interface, before dropping it entirely. On the ground. I mean, it was an accident, but a happy one.


And thus began my technophobia.

Since then, I’ve decided to forget the tech toys and JFR (just f’ing run), or JFB(ike), or JFS(wim), and not sweat the data. Two years ago I got to build my TT bike and the thing has never had a computer on it. This rarely fails to draw a comment during tune-ups, everything from askance glances as an over-geared under trained girly-girl to purist pride and upsellers looking to unload a Brooks saddle. It’s not that I’m anti-computer it’s just that, ok I’m kind of anti-computer.

I like to see a little data: speed, time, pace, and total distance. That’s about it. I don’t much care about elevation, because I mostly measure that in leg burn. I don’t much care about splits because the only times I’ve ever run negative splits were near vomit-inducing, so I figure I’ll know one when if I get one.

But now I’m up against a pretty tough PR goal this weekend. I’m going to have to really work the plan if I’m going to best my downhill half marathon time on a much more up-hill course. And I just can’t figure a way of making sure I’m on-pace other than using the Timex splits function. I’m afraid I’ll become fixated on it and relive my SAT nightmare of wasting all the precious time not penciling in the bubbles (or in this case knocking down the miles) but instead obsessing over minute after precious minute ticking away. I’m afraid I’ll spend the entire 2+ hours mumbling my mental math about how many 360ths I have left to run. I’m afraid I’ll look like a newb at the start line: A Timex among Garmins. Ha, no, that last one was a joke. I’ll haughtily set my Timex with pride knowing i’m no newb.

Jacked Form:
Jacked Form:

I’m now officially retro.




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