A friend sent me this piece from Outside Magazine contributor, Sam Robinson, discussing how his use of the fitness tracking app Strava has fundamentally changed the way he experiences his runs. He found that the social and competitive features of the app, while invigorating took away from some of the introspective solitary experience of running that makes it a unique sport, and he mourns the loss of that “loneliness.”
For me personally, running has never been a strictly solitary and lonely practice. I never would have started running if not for joining Team in Training and finding a wonderful group of a running partners to keep me motivated. So for me, running has always been social and communial. And yet, I do believe that one beautiful thing about running is how running goals are individual and personal achievements. I can “race” a race full well knowing that I’m not going to win, or place, or even finish in the top 1,000. My “race” is for a win against myself; for my own PR.
Its always been hard though when running in a group, virtual or real, not to focus on the folks going faster or longer. Its also been hard in the past not to get obsessed over data, even when it wasn’t being thrown up on to a socialmedia wall. I think going on totally unplugged runs now and then is probably the answer, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who has forgotten my Garmin on a run and had the thought, “Oh no! This run won’t count! ” Of course, those often are runs that feel the best, so that’s probably a sign.
What’s been your experience with running apps? Do they enhance your runs or detract from your experience?