If you’re a marathon runner, the sense of accomplishment that you feel looking at your fitness watch as you inch closer to the half-way mark is incomparable to well, anything else. But, have you ever wondered whether the watch could actually be slowing you down? With fitness gadgets and trackers crowned the darlings of social media for a long time now, the idea of running “naked” can seem like a joke. But spare us a moment and let us explain why running with your tech gadget might not always be the best idea.
1. It Reduces Your Pace
Well, this one’s rather obvious. Think of all the time you could save if you’re not constantly calculating the distance you’ve yet to cover. You might complete the run a lot faster if you’re not bogged down with numbers and racing against yourself. Also, most fitness trackers don’t consider variables like the terrain of the running track, weather conditions, and your mental headspace. We know how running up a hill burns more calories than running on a flat field, but your fitness watch probably won’t take that into account. So, you end up overworking yourself to keep up with the “numbers”.
2. It Makes Running Less Pleasurable
If you enjoy a good run, fitness trackers might just suck the pleasure out of it. When you’re preoccupied with all the data that your tracker gives you access to, the process of running becomes less enjoyable. If you run to clear your mind, the numbers might do the opposite of what you actually want. When you’re constantly looking down at your gadget and thinking numbers, you might miss out on the simple joys of life – be it the chirping of birds or the beautiful sunrise.
3. It Disturbs Your Internal Stress Cues
Your body understands you more than a gadget. When you run, it’s important to understand the cues that your body is sending. You need to be aware of how your body responds to the workout, and that’s something your gadget won’t be able to tell you. When you’re overly dependent on the tracker and ignore your body’s response, your internal stress cues are disturbed. Again, this might lead you to run at an intensity that your body can’t withstand or respond to.
4. It Makes Running A Task
Everything in life is bound by “deadlines” and “results” anyway, so why make running a similar task? If you’re counting the number of calories you’ve burned with each step, it’s easy to become a little too obsessed with the instant results, develop performance anxiety, and lose focus on your long-term fitness goals. Also, being preoccupied with a gadget could make you feel like running something that you “have” to do, instead of something you “want” to do.
5. It Reduces Mindfulness
When you exercise your body and let your mind be consumed by numbers, your exercise might not be all that effective. As you run, if you’re thinking about the distance you’ve yet to cover, then you’re forcing your mind to be less attentive to other, more important things. According to spiritual gurus, mindfulness is an important part of running. When you run, be mindful of your breathing, feel the way your feet land on the ground, and the way you swings your arms. Integrating exercise with mindfulness will make you running an almost therapeutic experience. In fact, studies have begun to experiment with running therapy and have recognized it as an effective form of psychotherapy.1
This being said, we’re not telling you to entirely get rid of your fitness trackers and become a Luddite. If you love your fitness watches and enjoy tracking your every move, you don’t have to stop using them. But once in a while, leave behind your gadgets at home, go “naked,” and run wild!
|↑1||Hays, Kate F. “Running therapy: Special characteristics and therapeutic issues of concern.” Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training 31, no. 4 (1994): 725.|