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352: Is Technology Hurting or Helping Your Performance?

Mar 27, 2024

Navigating the High-Tech Tides: Balancing Technology in Your Running Journey


In the rapidly evolving world of running, technology has become a central figure, boasting gadgets and apps that promise to optimize our performance, track our progress, and even alert us when we're falling short of our goals. But does integrating technology into our training enhance our running experience, or does it detract from the purity of the sport? In episode 352 of the Real Life Runners podcast, titled "Is Technology Hurting or Helping Your Performance?", hosts Angie and Kevin dive deep into the whirlpool of running technology—exploring its benefits, drawbacks, and the fine line between use and overreliance.


The Promise of Technology: An Overview

Technological advancements in running are not inherently detrimental. They offer a plethora of information that, when used judiciously, can indeed contribute to our running endeavors. For instance, devices like GPS watches can provide insights into our pace, distance covered, and even our heart rate, offering us tangible data to gauge our progress.

Significant too, are the apps and gadgets that evaluate our sleep quality, nutritional intake, and overall recovery—factors paramount to an athlete's performance and well-being. Similarly, innovations like continuous glucose monitors, initially designed for diabetic patients, have found their way into the athlete's toolkit, aiming to offer a granular view of one's metabolic status during training.


The Pitfalls of Overreliance

However, the convenience of technology comes with its shadows. A constant focus on numbers can lead to a disconnect from our own bodies. Angie and Kevin reflect on instances where reliance on technological feedback—be it sleep scores, heart rate zones, or GPS accuracy—has overshadowed the innate ability to "listen" to one's body.

For example, a GPS watch might indicate that we’ve run a certain distance, but discrepancies due to signal loss or device inaccuracies can skew the data. Similarly, devices measuring sleep quality or recovery might not always reflect how we genuinely feel, leading to decisions based on potentially flawed data.


A Middle Path: Integrating Technology Mindfully

The crux of Angie and Kevin’s discussion orbits around the concept of mindful integration of technology in running. The emphasis is laid on using technology not as a crutch but as a supplement to our inherent capability to understand and respond to our body’s cues.

The dialogue encourages runners to periodically "unplug" and engage in "naked" runs, devoid of any electronic devices, promoting a reconnection with the body's natural signals. It suggests relying on perceived exertion levels and being attuned to how various elements—like stress, sleep, and nutrition—affect performance in a nuanced manner not always captured by technology.


Running in the Age of Information

The episode culminates in a reflection on the essence of running in today's high-tech era. The underlying message is clear: while technology in running has its place, it's paramount to maintain a balance. By harnessing these tools judiciously, we can enhance our performance without losing the connection with our bodies or the essence of running itself.

As the world of running technology continues to evolve, Angie and Kevin underscore the importance of staying informed but grounded, ensuring that in the pursuit of metrics and milestones, we do not lose sight of the joy and liberation that running offers—reminding us that at its core, running is a journey not just of the body, but also of the mind and spirit.

This thought-provoking episode from the Real Life Runners podcast invites us to reflect on our relationship with technology in running, advocating for a balanced approach where we lean into the advances without letting them overshadow our innate capacities as runners.

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