The advent of microtechnologies has opened up avenues of function, commerce and study that make the old cordless phone an anachronism from the previous century. Whereas making a phone call once tethered you to the wall, today you can hike the Rockies and tell mom in England you’re feet don’t even hurt. In real time!
Likewise, in fitness, whereas you once had to lift a piece of metal off the ground or rack to get stronger, then move a lever which lifted the metal in a prescribed arc, today you can….well, you have to do something similar. Sorry, but microtechnologies allow us to miniaturize the resistance electrically but essentially you still have to tug and push against a resistance to get stronger.
But your heart only needs to get the whole body moving. And that is where we are seeing the real influx, or some say benefits, of technology. Sneakers made a big leap when Nike came out with their waffle-soled shoes in the 1970s, but running was always about putting one foot in front of the other. Whether in a pair of $150 running shoes or totally barefoot, running is still just running.
For some of us, those who trained in the so-called purist days of unencumbered-by-batteries and wires, running was about hearing, feeling, even tasting the breath and sweat that paid such dividends as fitness, endurance, speed, power and health.
Then some soulless person decided to run with a miniature source of music, initially held in the hand and eventually driven directly to the ears via wired headphones. It wasn’t long before we got wireless although you still had to keep those little buds in the outer ear through bouncing and sweat.
Or, not quite yet.
Once the soul was nicked, runners sought out further assistive devices, things that would measure how many steps you took, how fast, how far, how much altitude, etc etc, and even heart rate! Downloading this info onto a computer and creating a graph helped techno-runners figure out that, alas, they went out for a run.
The advent of the iPhone and other portable micro-technologies offered a running coach that tracked all these things but never really told you how to progress toward your goals. You had to go on line and search out ways to, say, run further, harder, longer, faster or to lose weight. God forbid you simply added more steps or sped them up….and ate slightly less. Now we have portable, micro-technology coaches!
So this article in Bloomberg News struck my fancy, not because I object to the devices themselves but to the long lost art of feeling the run, feeling the burn, feeling the fellowship of fellow runners and exercisers and experts in exchange for the sweet tones of an electronic voice telling you how to do your exercise better.
I’m a personal fitness trainer, and I happen to be highly educated in matters of fitness and wellness, so I’m offended by a computer program muscling in on my turf. If I’ve learned nothing these past 30 years as a trainer it’s that we’re all individuals, capable of some baseline programming but essentially requiring individual attention to our idiosyncratic concerns. For most modern, i.e. millenial, trainees, technology may get you going, up to a point.
But once past that initial point, expertise and camaraderie will ultimately make your training experiences more fun, more productive and even safer.
For, unless your device knows that your knee is hurting and your shoe is worn out on the outer edge of the heel, all it will tell you is “Good job; now do it again only harder!”