The jury is still out on this one. Santa (aka Tom) got me a Garmin Forerunner 110 for Christmas this year. The poor guy was tired of seeing me either cuss at my blackberry when I accidentally reset the gps without looking at it and/or recording it, or seeing me drive my car around to check the mileage of certain runs that I did. Both methods seemed inefficient to him. Because I seemed to be insistent about knowing how far I ran (no, I'm not one of those free running types that doesn't care -- I WANT CREDIT!!!), he decided I needed a GPS gizmo that I could wear.
Yes, I have a Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering. That is a fact. However, I got my degrees in 1985 and 1989, which were way before all of these personal electronic items hit the streets. I used to take my computer cards to the computer center and give them to Randall (my pal that worked there). I would head off across the street to Town Hall (a local watering hole near University of Maryland) and have a pitcher of beer (or two) and then head back to the computer center to get my printout. I would make the necessary corrections (Randall was kind enough to fix some things for me!) and then repeat the process. Needless to say, I am quite clueless about techno geek things. Ask me to compute the Electromagnetic Field of a coil of wire and I can give you a lovely equation. Ask me to program my phone and I need to call my college age daughter or one of the lovely children that I tutor. Now you get it, right?
Tom asked me what my requirements were for a gps device. I told him that I wanted to know how far I went, how long it took me, if it calculated pace that would be nice, and it had to be SIMPLE to operate. I mean SIMPLE. After careful research, he settled on the Polar Forerunner 110. A very simple device that has an awesome gps capability (works MUCH better than my blackberry roadrunner gps) and has only 4 buttons. One is a light. I run during the day, so we can forget that one. One is a menu button. You use that to ask it to find the satellite, which is does in under a minute!!! Some days my blackberry NEVER found the satellite. What's up with that? The third is Start/Stop. You press it to start your workout and press it again when you are done. The last is Lap/Reset. I have no idea what "Lap" is for, but I know you hold RESET to save your run and reset the gizmo. Very easy. Even a clueless 49 year old "has been" engineer can operate it.
Now, another thing about me (and a lot of runners and a lot of people who do Weight Watchers - I'm both) is that I tend toward obsessive behavior. I've been a bit concerned about tracking my miles. I'm the sort of person that if I buy a bike, I become Lance Armstrong. It sort of sucks the fun out of it when you are riding your bike in frigid temps to get that last 10 miles in so that you can meet your yearly goal -- which doesn't matter to anyone but you. That was before I tumbled off the bike and decided to run. I cancelled my membership to bikejournal.com (a site the feeds mileage counting obsessions).
It didn't take me long to want to chart my running. I decided that I would do it, but not get all knotted up about it. I would use it to gauge my progress. So far, so good. I joined dailymile.com, because a bunch of my Weight Watcher C25K Graduate buddies log their miles there. It makes it easy when we do "piles of miles" challenges. So far, I use the data to feel good because my times are getting faster!
Well, I strapped on my new gps wrist watch and put on a few layers of clothes (we are still talking about wind chills here) and off I went. I didn't have a lot of time for a run today so I decided I would stop at 5K. 5K is better than nothing, right? My goal was to have a nice run and to not look at my watch every 10 seconds like I do the display on the treadmill. I pulled my sleeve down over the display (a trick I try on the treadmill with a towel that never works -- I still peek). My "deal" with myself was that I would only look at it at the "usual times". I have points in my run where I checked the timer on the ipod. I managed to do just that, however, it calculates that pace so I didn't have to do math in my head.
I found a few things interesting. My mileage for the 5K was right on (my car and blackberry were correct). Also, I find I run faster up hills than downhill or on flat stretches. What is up with that? After pondering that fact, I came to the conclusion that I see the top of the hill and decide that the faster I get there, the quicker it's over. I also run faster at the end of my run than in the middle. Same principle, I would think.
I have lots more to learn about my running. Maybe using a gps will be a good and healthy thing. Maybe it will be a bad thing. Only time will tell. Do you use a gps and if so, how do you curb obsession?