Watch What Happens

If the new Transformers movie has taught us anything, it’s that technology is a terribly dangerous thing — primarily because it allows us to create more and more Transformers movies.*

*Full disclosure: I have not actually seen Transformers: Age of Extinction, but due to my firmly held conviction Mark Wahlberg may only play blue-color men with Boston accents and/or ape slaves with Boston accents, this Texas casting call is not at the top of my list.

Sure, penicillin and hot water heaters and World Cup streaming are wonderful things, but ever-expanding technology also has its dangerous side: it ruins our employability if we’ve ever posted questionable content, it keeps us working well after we’ve left the office and it cuts into our sleeping hours when we’ve accidentally stumbled on an obscure acquaintance’s 32 albums of must-see wedding photos.

Technology also encourages once-athletic canines to forgo the great outdoors in favor of a lazy morning spooning with the electric fan.

What? I'm helping dad study for the bar!
What? I’m helping dad study for the bar!

But while technology brings its fair share of challenges, there’s at least one place it’s been instrumental in my adult life: making me a runner.

At risk of sounding a bit like Holden Caulfield, I can pinpoint the exact moment I started feeling like an authentic runner instead of a phony. Contrary to popular belief, it wasn’t when I crossed my first finish line. It wasn’t when I placed in my first (fine, only) local race. It wasn’t when I learned the hard way that pre-race portapots are more often than not BYOTP.

The first time I felt like a bonafide runner was in summer 2012 when, after months of tech-free training, I went out and bought myself a running watch. A Garmin Forerunner 210, to be exact. It was big and clunky and took 10 solid minutes to locate satellites. I was in love. And out $250.

Now, I know one doesn’t NEED a fancy running watch to be deemed a real runner. Heck, some of the world’s greatest train without watches — or even shoes — in the hills of Kenya and the canyons of Mexico and the loops of Central Park (seriously though, barefoot dude, what’s up with that?)

But if you’re like me — results-driven and number-oriented and uninterested in running unless you can log exactly how far you’ve gone — a watch is a crucial accessory when it comes to setting your fitness goals and meeting them.

That’s why when my watch stopped charging over Easter, I found myself at a bit of a loss.


Also tough that week? Learning Keira had eaten the Easter bunny.

I’m not averting your gaze because I’m guilty, I swear.

Without my Garmin, I no longer knew how far I was running if I went off the beaten track, so I started to stick exclusively to familiar routes with known mileages — a good trick for getting out the door without thinking but an easy to way to fall into a quick rut. I also gave up all speed work and interval training once my Garmin went the way of the Treasure Troll because 1. It seemed pointless to run fast without knowing just how fast that was and 2. I’ve been looking for an excuse to give up speed work for years. Let’s be honest here.

Needless to say, my training during Pentecost has been lazy indeed.

Lazy is not always a bad thing. My Garmin-free second quarter meant weeks of low-impact easy runs and carefree miles, but with marathon training just around the corner (well, weekend), I knew it was time to finally rectify the situation and get a new watch.

I’ve heard for years that Garmin customer support is superb, and unlike Ken Follett novels or New Years Eve plans, this one actually lived up to the hype. After the technician walked me through all sorts of failed restarts on my dead watch, she determined there was no saving it and offered to send me a new one for $89 — or a fraction of what a new Garmin would cost me at the store. It was going to take 6-8 weeks to arrive, which I said was just too long (you know, after I waited three whole months to call and complain…), so she offered to charge me double, expedite the order and reimburse the remaining $89 when my old watch arrived at their warehouse for processing.

Not only that, but when it arrived a few days later, it had a sweet green border on it. Lucky!


Unfortunately, I tested it Sunday and learned that the 3-mile route I’d plotted from my new apartment was really only 2.5 miles, so Mr. Watch and I are already in a fight. But I’m expecting we’ll make up after spending the next four months together for upwards of 40 miles a week. Stockholm syndrome does great things for friendships.

How do you incorporate a running watch into your workout? Counting down minutes until you’re done totally counts.





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