This post could just as easily been written by me. I started running for the purpose of running about 2 years ago and I also did the Runkeeper/podcast/music/gps-watch thing. At the time, I was training for my first marathon, often going out of 2 hours and longer so at those times an iPod and a podcast were good company.
Fast forward to marathon day. I had my little iPod shuffle with me but didn’t listen to it from the start. I wanted to soak up the atmosphere, the other runners around me, the city (Stockholm, Sweden). About 27 kilometers in the race, I ran into the wall, a moment feared by runners when both your legs basically go on strike. I had to stop, stretch, eat and drink for a good 5 minutes. And then the hardest part: get going again. People were passing me left and right and I had no clue how I would possibly get running again, let alone finish the race. So I took out my iPod, put on Jimmy Eat World’s Pain (skipping back to the beginning when the song was almost over) for the next 30 minutes and started moving again, step by step.
At about 3 kilometers before the finish, the crowds along side the road got bigger and louder, so I stuffed away my earbuds and iPod and depended on the people’s cheers to keep me going. As I turned the last corner before entering the Olympic stadium where the finish was, I felt a sense of relief, it couldn’t possibly go wrong anymore, I had made it. As I entered the stadium and ran across the finish line, I was still repeating the words to Pain in my head.
After the marathon in Stockholm, I found that I liked to do most of my running without any technology (getting back to the point here). I’d leave everything at home: no phone, no iPod, no gps watch, no heart rate monitor. I’d just check the time before I left and head out, with the route I planned on running roughly in my head. This gets back to what running is for me. (and largely: why I even bother to run at all) It’s a chance to clear my head after of stressful day at work and to let my mind wonder and think about whatever pops up, a chance to spend time with my own thoughts and to “get my ducks in a row”.
So running with technology can be great and can keep you going. But be sure to try a run without all of it at least once a month.