During my last workout, I went through a mental exercise while running. I counted how many of the runners who I met actually had either a smartphone or any other piece of wearable technology (fitbit, sports watch etc.). As you probably have guessed, the vast majority was equipped with technology. I only saw one single guy who did not seem to have any watch or smartphone with him.
Track your progress
Personally, I always run with my smartphone. If it happens that I forget it or the battery run down, something important is missing in my running routine. I have always used technology on my runs. Before the smartphone area, I would run with a sports watch. I know at any time for long I have been running, my average pace and distance. With smartphones, there are at least 10 apps available which allow you to reflect your training plan, track actuals against plan and connect a heart rate monitor. And all this while you listen to your favorite playlist.
I have friends who run in order to be outside, to enjoy nature and do not understand how you can listen to your latest powersong instead of listening to the singing birds. Personally, I love listening to music while I run. It allows me to switch of, to daydream and to be in a different world. It relaxes me. And if I am on interval training and have to push hard, there are a couple of songs which make it easier.
However, there are downsides. What I am listening has an impact on my speed. The songs are not always aligned with my workout. Let’s say, I am heading out for a long run with low speed, my workout playlist may be too rock and roll and unconsciously, I am running too fast. It is necessary to ensure that I keep the slow pace.
Another downside is that you may not hear what is going on around you. I already run by friends who I did not notice. They would call me but I do not hear them. That is less of an issue than safety, e.g. not hearing a car coming behind you. Adjust the volume of your music to the environment, so that you still can hear a car horn and you will be fine.
Is it too much?
The main objective is to run, to progress and to have fun. If during your runs, you are more occupied to check your average pace or to switch songs than to run according to your plan, leave the tech stuff at home. Especially for beginners, it is challenging to listen to their body and their playlist at the same time. Beginner sessions are quite short (typically under 40 minutes), there is nothing you can not track after your run in an excel sheet (time, distance).
However, if you are able to focus on your runs without checking your smartphone all the time, this technology can bring huge benefits. The most obvious is the distance tracker. For exemple, your next session is supposed to be 2 miles. Without a smartphone app, you need to know a circuit of 2 miles or to measure it on Google Maps before you start. However, any app will give you this information in real-time and allow you to execute your training session as accurately as possible.