Saturday, December 2, 2023

My GPS Watch and Me – iRunFar


I’m writing about one of the vital staying power runner’s favourite gear, the GPS watch.

Gulliver’s Watch

In “Gulliver’s Travels,” the 1726 satire via Jonathan Swift, Gulliver unearths himself shipwrecked at the island of Lilliput. There, Gulliver is looked a large, as he unearths himself towering over the Lilliputians, the population of the island who’re six inches tall.

In a memorable alternate with the Lilliputians, Gulliver pulls out his pocket watch — a device they’ve by no means encountered. The Lilliputians document that it’s both “some unknown animal, or the god he worships; however we’re extra prone to the latter opinion, as a result of he confident us … that he seldom did the rest with out consulting it (1).”

Gulliver consults his watch earlier than he does the rest, such that the Lilliputians suppose it’s his god.

Gulliver has this in commonplace with the recent staying power athlete.

My Watch

I really like my GPS stay up for the entire same old causes. As a nostalgic particular person, the information purposes like a receipt for my operating adventures. I will be able to revisit my metrics, poring over the numbers and making sense of them. In contrast to a reminiscence, which shape-shifts and fades, the numbers are purpose and loyal.

My GPS watch could also be a super responsibility device. It is helping me stay monitor of my coaching in order that my mileage is inerratic and good. If I say I’m operating simply however my heartrate says differently, I will be able to confront this truth truthfully.

Additionally, the primary yr I skilled with a GPS watch, I grew quicker. I used the information to attract closer to my limits via spotting I may just maintain quicker paces than I imagined, earlier than my frame entered the pink zone. Introspection on my own didn’t persuade me to probe my limits. I had to see the numbers to consider I may just run more difficult.

So, I really like my watch. However two issues will also be true, and it’s imaginable that I’m changing into somewhat like Gulliver in my conduct of consideration. There are causes to marvel about how my watch is impacting me — probably for in poor health.

Listed below are a couple of issues:

Sabrina Little - GPS watch

The writer together with her trusty GPS watch. All footage courtesy of Sabrina Little.

1. The Lack of the Creature

There may be an essay via Walker Percy known as “The Lack of the Creature (2).” Percy describes boundaries to “direct, sovereign belief in a global filled with mavens and packaged reports (3).”

For instance, Percy describes the impossibility of observing merely on the Grand Canyon. The sightseer does now not see the Grand Canyon in itself. Reasonably, the Grand Canyon has been “appropriated via the symbolic complicated which has already been shaped within the sightseer’s thoughts (4).” It’s mediated in the course of the lens of expectation, pictures, and knowledge. We’re abstracted from the revel in “in itself.”

Percy provides a 2d instance of a pupil studying a Shakespearean sonnet (5). The scholar does now not revel in the sonnet immediately. The sonnet is mediated via symbols and framing, or explanations presented via instruction. It’s not encountered by itself phrases.

Percy’s statement rings true of my reports with a GPS watch. It’s ceaselessly difficult to revel in operating instantly, immediately, and in fullness as a result of — along expectancies and an bought wisdom of the game — my runs are mediated via my GPS watch. My watch supplies a flow of numbers I take part in, mindful of as they spread.

I’ve written prior to now about an statement my husband as soon as made. He remarked that, once we run in combination, we’re by no means in point of fact on my own. We run with the entire folks, together with previous variations of ourselves, who’ve ever run that very same stretch of street and forged a virtual shadow. That is true. It’s not that i am absolutely provide.

Every now and then my watch malfunctions, and on some degree, I think as even though my exercise didn’t rely — as even though it makes a cosmic distinction if I don’t go away a hint of numbers in my wake. I think as even though my legs can’t have the benefit of a run that made no virtual affect. (How will my legs know that I ran?)

And even if I go away my watch at the back of (one thing I do once in a while), I nonetheless view my runs in the course of the conduct of consideration skilled via my watch. My perceptions of operating are mediated in the course of the display of numbers my watch has conditioned me to wait to as necessary.

So, that is the primary worry. I used to be first of all attracted to operating, partly, to revel in the outside in its fullness, and my GPS watch diminishes my standing as a sovereign knower. This present day I understand my runs in the course of the numbers my watch studies and the values I’ve assigned to them.

2. Good looks and Marvel

This worry is constant with the primary. The explanation the “lack of the creature” issues is that positive reports are forfeited in symbolic abstraction — particularly the gap to marvel, revel in gratitude, and recognize the sector past the quantitative studies my watch generates.

It’s fall in Virginia. A couple of weeks in the past, there have been a couple of pink leaves portending the transition of seasons. Day by day, massive swaths of leaves have modified colours (6). As of this morning, my group park is resplendent — like a fireworks show.

Every now and then I run via scenes akin to those, inattentive to the wonder and excited by my coaching targets. The explanation I spotted the leaves this morning used to be that my daughter (a red-headed infant who used to be using within the stroller) stored exclaiming, “The timber are pink like my hair!”

I wish to inhabit my runs like my daughter does. I wish to repair marvel and gratitude to my coaching — no less than on occasion. If my watch impedes those reports, perhaps I will have to run extra with my infant and no more with my wearable tech.

Sabrina Little - fall colors

Fall colours adorn the writer’s operating path.

 3. Is and Ought

A last attention is that this: A GPS watch can let us know what ‘is.’ It supplies an outline of coaching — the place we run, what we run, and once we run. However our watches can not let us know what we ‘ought’ to run. They can not let us know what we will have to prioritize or how operating will have to have compatibility into our lives.

I say this as a result of there’s a robust precedent impact in operating. Every now and then I’m attracted to run what I (or others) have run prior to now, just because that’s the precedent. Every now and then momentum compels me to position extra miles in as a result of I think like I will have to. However the numbers can’t inform me what’s necessary, or how I will have to construction my coaching on stability with the remainder of my existence. My watch can simplest inform me what’s, now not what should be.

Ultimate Ideas

As I mentioned, I really like my watch. It’s crucial supply of data and has facilitated self-honesty in my coaching. I don’t intend to eliminate it anytime quickly. However the usage of a device like a GPS watch can give a contribution to emotions of abstraction, and it could actually teach our conduct of consideration towards measuring and controlling, over appreciating and experiencing gratitude. And in the end, our watches can not let us know what is effective or how we will have to spend our time.

Name for Feedback

  • Do you teach with a GPS watch?
  • If that is so, do you ever favor to depart it at house?


  1. Jonathan Swift. (1902, 1726). “Gulliver’s Travels.” Undeniable Label Books, p. 33
  2. Walker Percy. (2000). The Lack of the Creature, in “The Message within the Bottle,” 46-63. St. Martin’s Press.
  3. Leon Kass. (2004). Advent to “The Lack of the Creature,” in “Being Human: Core Readings within the Humanities,” edited via Leon Kass, 541. New York: W.W. Norton.
  4. Walker Percy. (2000). The Lack of the Creature, p. 47
  5. Walker Percy. (2000). The Lack of the Creature, pp. 57-9.
  6. The leaves have modified colours like an autumnal model of blob tag. Do folks learn endnotes?


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