I ran 10k, which is a longer distance than I’d ever imagined running before, so I thought using an app would help. Actually, I thought I would be so embarrassingly slow that later, when I’m better, I could look back and see how miserably I started off, and that would make me happy.
So you put in the distance you want to run and this running app tracks you as you go and lets you know your progress. It even plays your music through the app so you don’t have to worry about opening two things. Great, right? Yes. Until you realize the announcement of, “You have run 2 miles in not such a short amount of time. Your pace is not so wonderful,” isn’t so much helpful as it is an audible reminder of the kinds of things you’re actively trying to stop from running through your mind. You’re not fast enough to do this. You’re not good enough to do this. You’re not short and small enough to do this like the runners you know who are about half your size and therefore have only around 90 pounds to propel forward.
Because you’ve made it your mission lately to be more positive, your brain is trying to tell you, You are strong enough to do this. You are disciplined enough to do this. You are awesome and when you cross the finish line of the marathon in 2 years, which you can’t envision right now because it’s only 2013 and you’re not even sure what you’re doing next month, it will be a bigger accomplishment because you started from nothing, while this app voice is in your ear saying, “Your pace is something that real runners would probably laugh at to hear.”
Not exactly encouraging.
The other downside to the app was that it reminded me to keep thinking about my current status. Which is the opposite of the other mission I’ve taken on, to not be so mindful of the present. While mindfulness has its benefits, I spend way too much time and energy worrying about problems, whether I’m upset about a fight with a friend or a pickle that touched my cheeseburger bun. And no matter the current status of the fight or pickle, my mind decides this fight or pickle is life-ruining. Because of this nonsense, I decided to train myself not to wallow in whatever ridiculous thing I happen to be anxious about at the moment, yet also not get caught up in worrying about the future. So when that app voice tells me at this moment I still have half of the run left, my in-training brain gets confused.
Am I supposed to be thinking about how great it will feel to know I’ve run further than I ever did before, it asks, or am I supposed to be thinking about how I’m only halfway through this run? You and I know the former would be most helpful to someone who wants to think positively, but my poor brain is still learning.
The most unwelcome part of using the app for this run was that it counts down the distance left after you pass the halfway mark. There are 6.2 miles in a 10K, so after I ran 6 miles, the voice said, “You have .2 miles left.” Point 2. That’s hardly anything, you know? Sure, except when you’ve just run 6 miles and your hip joints are hurting and you feel like you’re pushing faster than at the beginning but the pace announcements say otherwise. In that case, .2 miles may as well be 25 miles.
And then! When you think the next announcement will be the end, instead, it’s someone you don’t know (who is probably a famous athlete so you’ll have to remember the name next time so you can look it up to check) telling you, “You’re almost there! Keep pushing!” At this point, you want to tell this person, “Listen, I know I’m almost there. That other lady just told me 30 seconds ago that I had .2 miles left. Thanks for the help and all, but can you please let me finish this .1 mile during which my feet are on fire and I’m not even sure there’s oxygen being filtered into my lungs anymore in peace?”
I think I’ll keep using the app, but I need to check the settings to see if there’s a way to turn off the voice. I already have plenty of voices in my head at any given time. (Don’t worry; they’re all mine. But they have bad manners and often talk over each other.)