How did we do this before?

Whilst out running this morning, I saw another runner who I knew was training for an ultra-marathon and I wondered to myself what tech she’s using to track her runs and progress.

The question that popped into my head was: “She has to be using some kind of tech, right? Do people still run without tech?”

The thing is that I would say that I’m a self-quantifier. What that means is that I use my Tom Tom Spark fitness watch to track as much data about my runs as possible. I then sync this data to Strava, where I can analyse my pace and heart rate during the run. And crucially I want to see my weekly / monthly / total kilometers increasing exponentially every time I go for a run.

In this sense I probably also need to mention that I sync my run data to Strava as soon as I get home after a run. I’m a little obsessive in that regard.

But this brings me back to my question about tech… Obviously I can remember a time when any kind of fitness watch was only an affordable option if you were an elite athlete (and this was before we had smartphones with built-in GPS and apps like Strava, Runkeeper etc.) How did I track my runs back then?

Firstly I had to find another way of determining the length of my run, which meant taking the car around my average routes. And if I was really diligent (which I was for a week or so at a time), I’d time my run and then enter the details into a spreadsheet.

But what actually happened though is that I mostly just went for a run. Without tech. Without self-quantifying. Just running.


The reason I’m thinking about this is that our world shifts so quickly and significantly that every day is almost a new normal. And it’s not just a new normal, the default perception seems to be that we can’t even remember a time when it wasn’t like this.

But that’s obviously not the truth. And not everything we’ve adopted as the new normal has been exclusively good (or good at all).

For one, all of us now work way harder than we did before even though we now have machines and technology that has sped up our work.

We love our smartphones and it’s enhanced the way we do many things. It’s also permanently fucked up dinner-time conversations, because a notification about a tweet / e-mail / text implicitly demands our immediate attention.

I then just wonder whether we’ve become so focused on moving forward and making things better that we’ve accepted all change and innovation as good.

I mean — do we really want technology to replace everything about ourselves and everything in our lives?


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