TO TRACK & SHARE OR NOT TO TRACK & SHARE, THAT IS THE QUESTION. Kelly O’Mara addressed an issue that runners may not have considered to be important in her Competitor.com article of January 2016, “Can Social Running Apps Hurt Your Training?” In it she suggests that tracking, communicating, sharing, and competing digitally with the universe of runners might be driving behaviors that can lead to injury.
O’Mara notes that, “as social running apps become more ubiquitous, and the technology to enable them more sophisticated, sharing your runs online is getting to be the norm.”
It’s a ‘two-edged sword’ situation however. Social apps are a wonderful source of motivation that, when participation becomes extreme, can be physically and mentally exhausting. Such is the case when we neglect recovery or easy days in advance of tough workouts and run or exercise harder than is prescribed by our training plan to post ‘amazing’ results every day.
After raising the question and causing some runners to examine their own app-using tendencies, the piece goes to suggest ways to make safe use of this modern technology. All in, the article promotes social posting. “The key to making whatever app you choose work for you is making it as social as possible”. One of the quoted experts, Sage Canady says, “The benefits totally outweigh the risks”.
What about opting to stop using digital and cloud technology and go more in the direction of ‘analog’? I quit using apps abruptly about 5 months ago. Not sure that gentle weaning is realistic because every bit of data logged sets up the temptation to compare or share results, which requires continued usage. Prior to quitting I had tracked/logged activities but did not post results online. However, even this moderate bit of usage and feedback was enough to set a serious habit-hook into my daily exercising.
Confession: I was forced to stop using apps because my phone would not hold a charge if I ran one while running. A semi-panicked trip to the Apple store helped save a bit of battery charge but not enough to return to my app-junky days. There was the option of buying new phone+gadgets that would take the load off my one device and provide even more and new physical monitoring capabilities. But, in considering this course of action I began to question whether I was being helped or hurt by constant awareness of my physical effort and activities.
There were financial considerations to go cold turkey off apps as well. Premium versions of simple/free apps were likely to use less phone charge because there would be no or minimal advertising intrusions, noted the helpful Apple team member who investigated my case. There would be costs associated with adding cool, technologically wonderful wearables as well.
Surely there is a reasonable tech solution to my app problem that would require additional thought, expense, and time to set up. The issue that would NOT be settled by immediately adding more technology was whether the benefits outweighed the costs.
The O’Mara article clearly voted IN FAVOR of TECHNOLOGY. I decided to test the other course of action by quitting high-tech and going back to the old-school ways of yesteryear. I have not yet developed a totally satisfactory replacement for tracking and logging workouts; am still working on a system that motivates AND promotes healthy habits.
Please comment with your thoughts, advice, or experiences.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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