Running Gadgets: What did we ever do before Garmins and iPods?

Today’s Tuesdays on the Run topic is Running Gadgets and Technology.  If you have a blog, I hope you’ll link up with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, Erika from MCM Mama Runs.  Your post can be on the topic of the week or on any running related topic.  Check out the other blogs linked below to find some new favorites!  Tuesday1

There are two pieces of technology that I cannot imagine running without, although I did run for several years without either back in the BC (before children) years.  My two must haves for running are my Garmin watch and my iPhone.  If you’d asked the same question three months ago, I would have added my iPod to the list because I almost never ran without music.

Back in the 90’s, when I first started running, I would measure out a distance using the odometer in my car and then judge my pace by (I apologize in advance to younger runners who might shudder at the antiquated and basically cave-man technology about to be described) looking at the clock when I left my apartment and then looking at the clock again when I got back.  OK, I’ll wait a minute while we all digest that…  I didn’t even run with a wristwatch, I just ran based on feel and I actually learned to pace myself pretty well.  I ran the entire Gate River Run 15k without a watch and finished exactly in my goal pace, so it worked surprisingly well.

Now I’m on my second Garmin 10.  I originally got it because it did interval beeps for the Galloway method.  The first one broke right before the Glass Slipper Challenge and while I rigged it up to wear it for the 10k, I knew that my McGyver fix wasn’t going to hold up for the Half the next day, so I scooted over to the Fit2Run at Downtown Disney to get a replacement.  IMG_2083I probably should have done some research to see if I wanted to upgrade, but I didn’t want to mess with something new the day before a half marathon.  I did upgrade to the purple color though!

I’ve got a full review of the Garmin 10 here, but the basics are that it gives me my current pace, my total distance, and the time.  It can do one-mile splits or splits on demand (what I use when I’m doing repeats).  I think the GPS is very accurate, however it can take a few minutes to get the signal at the beginning of a run.  I guess it’s possible that I COULD run without it, but I really just never do.  I like knowing my current pace so I don’t start out too fast and don’t slack.  It’s also great for pushing myself during my speedwork.  I love that my runs are all uploaded and stored so I can go back and review them to see what my splits were, what the elevation was and even what the weather conditions were.


I also never run without my iPhone.  If it’s rainy, I put it in a ziplock bag, but I don’t run without it.  So far (knock on wood), I’ve never had to actually use it on a run, but it is so good to know I have a way to contact my husband or the police if I need to.  It’s my safety net and it gives me great peace of mind to know that I can reach out for help if I get injured or sick on the run.  It’s also great in a race situation for keeping myself entertained during a long wait in the corrals, taking pictures during the race (I am a blogger after all!) and for letting my family know I’m finished if they aren’t at the finish line!

I used to run with my iPod all the time.  The concept of running without music was absolutely inconceivable for me.  In fact, back when I ran in the past, I either carried a walkman cassette player (talk about old school) or later a special CD player that was super skip-resistant (that was really heavy and still skipped!).

cdSo, when I started running again a couple of years ago, the iPod nano seemed like the best invention ever (ok maybe after air conditioning).  I tried wireless headphones, but the cheap ones I got were crappy so I stuck with the wired ones.  I even figured out the best way to thread the wire down my back so it stayed out of my way.

About two months ago, when I really started to work on my speed, I decided to try running without any music (here’s the post that got me on that kick).  And I really enjoyed the freedom of just focusing on my form, my breath and my surroundings.  And then it got hotter.  And hotter.  And now that it’s July, I find myself dreading my runs and wanting the distraction of the music again.  So for the first time in two months, yesterday I took my iPod along and really enjoyed it.  It did help turn my attention away from the oppressive heat and humidity, the panting and sweating and the nasty yellowfly who decided to chase me for a block.

So, while I think I’ll leave the music at home once it cools off enough to do my repeats again (um…Halloween?), I am going to start using it again for the summer.  I figure that anything that gets me out the door in the Florida summer misery (sorry to be dramatic but I just hate the summer here so much) is a good thing.

So those are my favorite running gadgets.  What is it that you can’t run without?

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Running Gadgets: What did we ever do before Garmins and iPods? — 26 Comments

  1. I practically always wear my Garmin, but now that I do long runs with my group, I go without music. It actually is more fun to talk and the time goes quicker too. My sister is a “naked” runner and has no Garmin or any type of device. I am in awe of her speed too!
    Pam recently posted…The dog incidentMy Profile

    • I’ve never actually trained with a group, but it sounds like it would be a lot of fun. Thanks for linking up with us today!

  2. Ok, I believe I took this “technology” theme to literally. When I saw the theme last week, I didn’t realize it was suppose to be something that helped us run faster. In any case, I agree with you 100 percent! I never run without my Gaarmin, (how on earth will I know exactly what i’ve accomplished…lol). I like to run with music but it’s not the end of the world if I don’t, especially if I m running with a partner. I can’t believe I ran 13.1 miles at the PHM without my ipod but of course there was enough to keep me entertained!
    Ps: I remember how stinkin heavy those discmans were!
    Meranda@fairytalesandfitness recently posted…Blogging Tips: How to Keep Things Simple for your readersMy Profile

    • LOL, I loved your post! I am always on the lookout for new tips on blogging. One of the reasons I hate the treadmill is that my Garmin won’t work on it and I am not sure how to manually enter my runs on the online Garmin site. Those discmans were so awful! 🙂

    • So glad you found us, hope to see you link up with us in the future! I started with the green and got the purple after my unfortunate incident with the green one!

  3. I run with music, 99% of the time!
    A few years ago at a race expo (of course!) I was persuaded to get the *new* Sony Walkman — this is a wireless set of earbuds that you load your music onto. I love it because it is SO easy! And the charge holds for a whole marathon (which for me is a VERY LONG TIME!!)
    And, I need a new timekeeping device – that I can do intervals with. My Garmin is a bazillion years old and starting to act up. I don’t mind using my phone for short runs but haven’t used it for a long one yet!
    I used to carry a walkman too — it died in the middle of the Dublin marathon though so I took out my precious mixed tape and tossed the device!!
    Anne recently posted…And so it begins…My Profile

    • That sounds like a great invention, I’ll have to look into it. Tossing the walkman in the middle of the marathon is hilarious, I can just picture it!

  4. I always use my Garmin when I run outside. I enjoy knowing my time and pace as well, and mentally it doesn’t really distract me. I used to run with music all the time too, but now I am like you, I actually prefer without! My mind keeps me occupied with thoughts and has helped me worked through so many things in life! It is amazing what can happen during a run without the distractions of music :0)
    Lauren @ Lauren’s Glass Slipper recently posted…Weekly Recap X2 6/16/14 – 6/29/14My Profile

    • I like knowing that I can run without music. For the first year or so of my running, the idea of my ipod breaking or messing up in the middle of a run or race would freak me out.

    • LOL, yeah I figure I’ll be so fast in 50 pounds down that I won’t need distraction anymore!

  5. I run with my iPhone, but it also plays my music, so it’s a two-fer. In addition to helping me stay entertained, I use the PaceDJ app that picks out songs from my playlist that have the right BPM to keep me at my desired cadence. Without that, I have a really hard time keeping consistent in my running, I just naturally tend to match the beat of whatever music is playing.

    I have the Nike+ app on my phone (and a separate app to beep intervals), but I’ve wondered what “more” a watch could offer that might be helpful, that I don’t even realize I’m missing right now.

    • I like the idea of a BPM/cadence based playlist. Speaking of which, I really need to update my playlist because it’s more than a full year old!

    • Back in the day when I ran without a watch I was so good at keeping a steady 10 minute/mile pace. I wonder if my Garmin has made me actually worse at keeping a natural pace (the way that the Garmin maps on my phone has made me terrible at finding my way to places because I’m so reliant on that voice telling me “in 1.5 miles, turn left”).

    • Haha. I put in one earbud, then tuck the other under my brastrap. I drop the ipod down the middle of my back over the bra, under the tank/shirt and then I put it in the back zipper pocket of my sparkleskirt. Somehow it keeps the wires from annoying me and stays put pretty well.

    • I really need to break out of my shyness and look for a local running group. I know it’s safer, I’ll be accountable and it will be so much more fun.

  6. I used to never run without music, but now I sometimes run with others which has required me to leave the headphones at home. I haven’t run a race without headphones, but I am considering running without them at my next big race so I can hear the crowd, other runners (in case they are trying to pass me), and on-course entertainment better. I completely understand needing music to get through this heat and humidity. It’s been bad these last few weeks!

    • I kind of am liking the freedom to run with music when I feel like it but knowing that I can run without it (and enjoy the quiet) just as easily.