super generic girl

the awesomely average life of a girl like all others


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If you didn’t record it, did it really happen?

When the TomTom watch crashed right at the start of the Adidas Auckland Half Marathon last weekend, I panicked for a second or two before realising I had my iPod on me and could still track my run. Had I not taken it that day, though, my stress levels would have probably turned that run into a really bad one. And why, really? The course was gorgeous, I felt good the whole time, the day was beautiful. All of that is true but if I had not been able to add that run to my Nike+ profile, I would have been one unhappy runner (and an unhappy runner in a tutu is not a pretty image).

Now before you think I’m weird, the concept of the quantified self has been documented for some time now (since 2007, in fact). There are companies dedicated entirely to tracking devices capable of helping us cope with this newfound need to track our every movement. Last year, both the US and Europe even held Quantified Self conferences, the type of event that makes my nerdy hormones jump up and down with excitement.  Obsessively tracking everything is now a thing. So no, I haven’t completely lost my mind. Compared to some, I’m actually mostly normal (stop laughing. No, seriously, stop it).

I don’t track my sleep patterns, or my food intake (well, sometimes), or my mood or the number of steps I take every day. I don’t track these mostly because I don’t currently own a device capable of tracking them all in a hassle-free way, like FitBit) but I’ve got all the symptoms of someone who would totally get addicted to one of those. The analog expression of my self-tracking needs is in my constant diary updates (I have religiously kept a Moleskine diary for years now).  I’ve always used that diary to keep track of things like movies watched, books read, recipes tried, restaurants/cafes visited, or albums listened to.

More importantly, I track every single one of my runs. I know my stats well and, at times, analyse them to the point of exhaustion. I once turned around and ran back home after 400m because my iPod ran out of battery and couldn’t track the run. I know it sounds terribly lame but, in my head, if I can’t add that run to my total numbers, then what’s the point of even getting my clothes sweaty?

In a way, self-tracking helps me feel like I’m in control, especially during particularly stressful times. It ties in with my obsession for making lists (and lists of lists) and helps me feel organised. The time I trained for a 35k trail run was, so far, the height of my quantified self. On top of tracking a number of non-running related things (websites like Good Reads have helped simplify the process), I tracked my training runs, gym sessions, most of my meals and even my water and caffeine intake. Have I ever sounded more like a freak to you? Didn’t think so. But you know what? It helped. Mostly mentally, of course, although I’m sure tracking my progress also indirectly led me to make adjustments to my training and end up with better physical results. So, in the end, it’s as much about how much data you obsessively gather about yourself as it is about what you then do with all that information.

The good folk at Slimkicker have contacted a number of fitness bloggers, yours truly included, to try out their new device that will come out early next year (their iPhone app has been around for a while now). I had a look around the website and, as much as the feminist in me has a problem with their branding (slim does not equal fit, people!), I’m more than a little excited about trying out the gadget. It is one more in a pool of connected heath devices (or ‘health 2.0’ as some people call it) and even though I’m not big on counting calories (there just aren’t enough zeros to quantify some days), anything that gets people excited about getting healthier and fitter is good in my book.


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RIP iPod, hello new running gadgets!

This morning, I went for my first run in five days, which is, in my world, an abnormal number of days without running. My last run had been on Thursday last week. My iPod stopped working on that same Thursday. Coincidence? Don’t be silly, of course not.

I had an amazing 10km run by myself after work that day, complete with pukeko sightings and everything. It was sunny and not too warm and I got to try out a new running playlist. By the time I got home, I hit the ‘stop’ button on my iPod and it gave up on life. The screen went completely white so I can’t do anything with it. I tried restoring it as the website suggested but it didn’t work.

Apple has refused to fix it for me, despite admitting that it is a known issue and completely unrelated to the crack on the screen (that the iPod has had since January). Eleven months, a few running events, hundreds of kilometres of training and two half-marathons later, I’m iPod-less.

I’m not sure why it had such an impact on my running schedule but, if I’m running by myself, I really can’t run without music. I almost feel bad about this handicap – it sort of reminds me of the joke about the blonde who died when they took her headphones away (yep, I really did just google that joke so I can link you to it).

Lucky for me, I have a new phone capable of handling all manner of apps and whatever else the cool kids are using these days. Yesterday, I loaded it with a few of my favourite songs to run to and downloaded the MapMyRun app. The phone is considerably bigger than my now broken iPod Nano but has one particularly great advantage over the iPod: it works.

It’s a good short-term solution and it may even be a good long-term one. Now I need to find out how long the battery will last for while simultaneously playing music, tracking my time/distance and stopping to take the occasional photo. If it’s anything less than two hours, I’m going to have to find an alternative because there is no way I’ll be able to run a half-marathon without music.

In the future, I may just have to suck it up and invest in a Garmin Forerunner (what I really mean by this is: hot damn, I want a Forerunner and now I’m just coming up with an excuse to justify it to myself) and a small mp3 player of some sort (maybe an iPod Shuffle, if I’m ever able to bring myself to give money to Apple again).

Tell me, what gadgets do you take out with you while running? Anything you really can’t run without? 


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saturday

   

I woke up later than I wanted to and with a stupid headache that felt like a hangover. Except I only had one glass of wine on friday, after pretty much crashing a wine tasting at work (don’t judge, you would have done the same) so it couldn’t have been a hangover. Anyway, I tried to nurse the headache with coffee and crumpets, pretty much one of the best breakfast combos ever. It only sort of worked but I felt like I needed to go for a run. The weather was nice outside, for a change, and the next half marathon is only 34 days away (!).

   

Apple has updated the software for the ipod nano and now I get to have the Nike+ integration without having to add any extra gadgets to my running shoes. With that new software, I get to tell the little app how far I want to run (or for how long) and it then tells me how I’m doing. I’ve been using it for a week now and I’m still not sure whether it is amazing or stupidly unhelpful but it’s definitely one of those. On one hand, I like being able to track how I’m doing during the run but, on the other hand, the voice always tells me how far I’ve gone just at that very moment when I’m about to get my mind off the running (which is when it supposedly gets easier).

I told it that I was going to run 10km and set off on my run. I decided to take my camera along because the weather was nice and, since I wasn’t feeling 100%, I wanted an excuse to take it slow. By the time the app lady interrupted Feist to tell me I’d reached 3km, I was already thirsty and feeling my body overheating. It was all downhill from there and, unfortunately, I’m not talking about the terrain.

I kept thinking to myself “what an idiot, you remember to bring your camera but not your water bottle. you retard!”. I had to alternate between running and walking a couple of times which really sucked because I’ve been trying to get better times when I run. At the 8km mark, I decided it was time to stop. I’m meeting my running partner tomorrow for what is supposed to be our “long run” for the weekend so used that as an excuse to drag my sorry self back home.

Lessons learnt today: always take your water bottle/ hydration pack, especially if the weather’s warmer. Don’t tell Nike+ you’re going to do something and then give up. Might as well set the bar a bit lower instead of having to see on your profile that you chose the 10k workout but only logged 8km.

   

Well, at least there were daisies.