Electronics of Choice

I shudder to think of the  time when global positioning systems and all the information they provide were limited to only elite athletes, if at all. These ‘dark ages’ reflect an era of bare runner necessities – shoes, a pair of shorts, and maybe a watch that, horror of horrors, only displayed the time.

Obviously, this is no longer the case. We run with assorted GPS’s strapped to our wrist, arm, or shoe. There are heart rate monitors, lively English accented people reporting our distance, time, and pace through our aerodynamic headphones, and at the end of the run, we can see a satellite view of our route, its elevation changes, and our splits.

So this weekend, when my phone got doused in an entire aerosol can of SPF 30 leaving  a psychedelic smear underneath my screen, hindering it’s touch-screen capabilities,  my first thought was not what happens if I have an emergency and can’t call someone, but rather how the hell am I going to go for my run?

My name is Kate and I’m a dataholic. I have developed a need to know how far I’ve run and I need to know how long it took me to do so. I absolutely have to know my average pace, and it is dire that I know how many calories I burned.

This, of course, is information that is quite useful but not a necessity and I actually based my decision not to run strictly on the fact that I wouldn’t have my typical electronic capabilities. I’m so ashamed – but does a run really even count if it’s not logged into your GPS tracker program of choice?

Of course I’m being facetious (…sort of) and honestly, 70% of my decision was based on the fact that I wouldn’t have anything to listen to which, for slower-paced training runs, can result in distance-shortening boredom.

There are a few points to this post – the first one, is that there is a generation of people, myself included, that are absolutely addicted to running data. Not that it’s a serious problem (unless, of course, your phone breaks). Technology has evolved so we can run with cool stuff like this -who are we not to take full advantage of it? My second point is with the extensive options we have to chose from, which is best?

See, we runners have 2 options if we would like to listen to music and track our stats:

MP3, GPS (2 separate devices)

MP3 with GPS (ie, phone)

Since I began running, I’ve run with my iPhone strapped to my arm. This is handy because my GPS and music are built into one device. This is also beneficial due to the fact that at it’s basic roots, it’s a phone. I can call someone if, God forbid, something happens while I’m on a run. The disadvantages? It’s clunky and a pain to work through the arm band.

I’ve voiced these complaints to J and when he purchased me a fancy pink iPod nano (which comes in a box quite similar to that of a ring so ladies, be warned…) accompanied with a Nike+ gizmo, he figured I would love it.

Unfortunately, this purchase stressed me out. Now I would have to go buy some Nike shoes (and I love my Brooks…) and if I chose not to utilize the Nike+ I would  still want to log my runs (must.have.data) so I would have to carry around my phone with me or purchase an expensive GPS watch. The transition from phone to MP3/GPS is quite befuddling and I honestly don’t know which is best. I’m tired of carrying around my phone but am unsure if the investment in a watch is worth it.

So here s your question of the day – which device for running do you prefer? Any noticeable advantages to one option over the other? Most often I see runners with their phones, but as my phone is currently on it’s last leg, now would be a perfect time to transition. So from one addict to another, I want to know your thoughts. What do you run with and why?


9 thoughts on “Electronics of Choice

  1. Here is one of my first blog posts where I discussed my loyalty to Nike+…

    Since they released Nike+GPS on the iPhone running life has been much smoother. Add to that a new armband from Incase and you have an awesome combo. The armband/case combo has eliminated that stupid plastic shield so you can easily navigate the touch screen…it is slightly more bulky but much more functional…plus, it allows me to snap pictures on the run (literally) and then snap the phone back to my arm. Check it out here…

  2. I am in the same boat as you. I run with my iPhone and, between my mutant, acidic sweat and multiple thunder storms I’ve been caught in while running, it’s not going to last much longer. I really need something that is sturdy and easy to locate songs.

  3. I tried Nike+ with my Ipod touch and it only frustrated me. The sensor takes some time to get in sync with your step, so you can get inaccurate distances. The Nike+ data will sync with some other apps, but you are basically stuck with the Nike website. Which is better than it used to be, but I don’t find as good as some of the otheres. I still run with my ipod touch (but wish it was smaller, I’m getting a weird tan line on my upper forearm) but now I use a garmin watch for my run data. The watch is comfortable and light weight. Although I’ve only had it for a month or so and I get a little annoyed with it’s buttons… or lack of. the data is great. i’m thinking of getting a nano for music, and passing the touch on to my daughter — because all 8 year olds need their own ipod, right?

    • I know! That’s what I’m worried about. Reading the reviews left me feeling less confident that it’s what I want. I’m beggning to lean towards saving for a Garmin or Magellan (those suckers sync up to mapmyrun – my running app of choice) and the nano. As for the 8 year old with the ipod? I’m not concerned – its the 3 year olds with the Ipads that scare me…

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