Over Reliance On Gadgets


These thoughts inspired by reading over an old blog and realising how easy it is to over rely on a gadget!

The old blog was titled “A non-programmed too scared to run week.” To cut a long blog short – I pulled out of a very cold and wet half marathon after about 4 miles because of a hugely increased heart rate that scared me rigid at the time and made me seek medical advice the following day. After a normal ECG and normal bloods my GP advised me to carry on running.

After about a month I was out on a HR zone 2 training run and looked at my heart rate and was shocked that it was showing over 200, shocked mainly because I was running down hill. As I started up the other side of the hill and started puffing, my heart rate dropped to 72 according to my Garmin, something was obviously amiss.

Ignoring my Garmin I trundled on and started thinking about the half that I had dropped out of. A couple of days later I was going to give the Garmin another chance. It would not start and had died. I placed it on charge and went for my run and on return, took the Garmin off charge – it was still dead.

Happy that it was the Garmin at fault and not my heart, happy that it was the Garmin that was dead and not me, it was confined to the back of a drawer.

Did it put me off gadgets? Did it put me off Garmin? No to both. The photo is my 310XT which I love. I think I might think twice about receiving a dodgy message from this monitor though. (note the photo is from the catalogue, I do not run 10 miles in 52 minutes)

One message I did get from my 310XT shook me a bit. I strapped it on for my first run in Cape Verde while on holiday (see below) and, after trying to find satellites for a minute or two a message appeared on the screen “Have you traveled hundreds of miles since your last run?”

I told it yes and all was well with the world.



A Non-programmed “Too Scared To Run” Week

I have read a lot, over the years, of runners who have injuries and are frustrated that they cannot run. Luckily for me this has only happened once to me and that was in 1987. But this week I developed a fear of running.

It all started at the Llanelli Waterside Half Marathon last Sunday. It had a 9am start, was held in rain, the rain was cold and the race was exposed to the sea. Meeting at the Llanelli Scarlets Rugby Ground I made a few fundamental mistakes. I decided, as did some other runners, that the weather may well improve later into the race and that I could well end up carrying wet and heavy clothing around the course. I therefore ditched my running tights in favour of shorts and then discarded my long sleeved top that I had under my running vest. Both decisions were big mistakes.

As the race of around 400 people started we headed the couple of miles down to the coast. I use a Garmin Forerunner which gives me time elapsed, miles run, present speed and, crucially, heart rate from my chest strap. For most of a race I ignore the first three readouts and concentrate only on heartrate. My zone 3 heartrate, at which I normally race, is around 155 bpm and this will rise very slowly over the 13.1 miles to 160-165 which is my zone 4. This means that I have lots of people overtaking me at the start of a race and that I jog past walkers towards the end of the race. Normally.

Except none of this happened at Llanelli. The first two miles were more or less 155 bpm and as we reached the coast I swore as my Garmin had obviously malfunctioned in the rain as it was showing 203 bpm. My breathing was sort of race day breathing and nothing was trying to burst out of my chest so I ignored the reading for around a mile. It got to the point where I could ignore no longer so I stopped and walked for a bit and got my pulse down to 190 as 186 is my max for working out training zones. As soon as I started to jog again, up went the rate to a maximum value of 210 and this time my breathing was heavy. Walking, I noticed my legs and arms a sort of bright red colour.

I made a decision and at 4 miles there was a water station run by four ladies who, luckily for me, were runners and understood everything that I told them about my pulse. Long story short, they sat me in their car, the St. John’s ambulance arrived, their HR monitor corresponded to mine, I went back to the first aid area, was well looked after, rang my wife who was at the venue and we left.

We had arranged Sunday dinner with friends so carried that through with me eventually taking my Garmin off after being told that I was getting obsessed about my pulse.

The following day my GP booked me in for bloods and an ECG and that night I was in the gym. I was going through my normal weights schedule and looking at everyone on the treadmills. I was too scared to run, but why? I was wearing my pulse monitor through my weights session as a precaution but couldn’t run.

I have decided that my fear of another 200 pulse is either a) it’s gone up again, it wasn’t a one off and I am ill or b) it’s gone up again and I am going to have to give up running – which I love doing.

It is the Friday after the half marathon and I do not discuss my ECG and blood results with my GP for another three days. I have decided to visit my gym tonight and go through my 2 hr schedule which is:-

Slow run treadmill 20 min

Upper body machine, leg machine

Medium speed run 10 minutes

Upper body machine, leg machine

Fast run 5 minutes

Upper body machine, leg machine

A sort of do or die attitude. Now, where is that Garmin?