What is this cancer on my wrist?

So I’ve been wearing a Garmin watch to try to get a feeling for what kinds of things people who actually run marathons think. I’ve been trying to embrace the constant weirdness of all the shit it tells me,1 and the feeling that I have a small tyrant strapped to my wrist, constantly monitoring me.

It’s a Forerunner 935 which I named Archimedes, because I can already tell that I’ve started to hate this watch, and I tend to like things more if I give them names. And if I just picture it as Archimedes teaching me to be a falcon or do something valuable, it makes it more bearable. I am trying to see Archimedes as my familiar, not my master.

Anyway, it’s just the same mid-range Garmin every fancy runner I see has, but it’s the first time I’ve actually had serious smart technology on my wrist. I really hate it. I had a fitbit previously, but it was the absolute most basic fitbit I could find (emphatically without a screen), and its sole purpose was to let me participate in oddly competitive pedometer challenges at work and break me out of “hyperfocus” once an hour.

This particular Garmin screen cancer makes me feel pretty solidly like I am moving away from my life goal of becoming a bear in Shenandoah National Park.2

I’m not hostile to outsourcing things that are weighing on my mind to technology. I have a few “trusted systems” in the GTD parlance. My brain basically runs on Omnifocus, and there’s no way I could have survived my years of ridiculous overcommitment3 as long as I did without that particular cyborg adaptation.

But, like, my heart rate is never something that has weighed on my mind, so I don’t particularly like having it strapped on my wrist. And the whole point of moving things out of your brain and into a trusted system is that you can let your brain do other things. Wearing a smart watch feels like adding a worry, not taking one away. Maybe it’ll fade into the background in a little bit.

But, on the positive side, it is actually much nicer to run with Archimedes than with my phone. I’m learning a lot about running from research, like all this zone crap, and it’s nice to be able to try it out myself. A lot of the numbers it throws at me are just completely meaningless to me right now, but I think I just have to trust in the data collection wisdom of the actual runners who use this product. From what I’ve seen, these nerds know their metrics. In theory, it could mean something to me later, I guess. And it’s giving me lots of fun words to weave into this story. I mean, I never would have come up with the phrases “Lactate Threshold” or “Vertical Oscillation” if I hadn’t seen them in a report I can’t understand.

I hope I am never an armchair author, and that I always find ways to get first hand experience of the things that I write about.4 But I also hope, someday, that I stop writing YA sports romance books because eventually my shitty knees are just going to throw up their metaphorical middle fingers and leave.

But not today. Today we go running.

  1. What the hell is VO2 max and why does it keep telling me that number? The number is 42. WHAT IS IT AN ANSWER TO???
  2. Although, actually, bears often wear trackers. And having now become obsessed with bears in Alaska, I’m wondering if they have it better and would be more willing to let me join them.
  3. Survive is maybe being generous here. I clearly made myself pretty sick towards the end.
  4. My detective stories are a thinly, thinly veiled excuse to travel.