Beep. Beep. Beep. Like an inconvenient alarm clock, the Garmin heart rate monitor watch on your wrist alerts you that you are now out of your target heart rate zone. As if conditioned, you ease up.
Technology now commands a greater presence in our daily lives and our training than ever before. The “quantified self” movement is in full swing. An athlete now has the power to collect huge amounts of data to track every detail of his or her health and performance: heart rate, speed, distance, heart rate variability, sleep, nutrition, calories burned, water intake, steps, power, cadence, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Individualized blood testing is a whole different ball game.
The roughly $5 billion market for personalized data from so-called “wearables” is growing fast. There are now some 50,000 health apps available.
Now, I’m not going to argue many of these don’t serve a valuable purpose or that many find huge benefits in using them. There’s a time and place for using technology. It can provide helpful, real-time feedback to help us tailor our daily habits or improve our training.
But are we too reliant on them? In the case of running, does our GPS watch or heart rate monitor entirely control our training? Does technology command so much control that it’s stripped away some of the fundamental reasons we started running in the first place?