Running tech can take a toll

I’m sure we’ve all heard about the toll tech can take on many people, from teenagers who see impossible to live up to images and suffer self esteem issues to terrible stories of trolling and misinformation campaigns, these are just a few of the serious issues that I can think of off the top of my head.

Well, runners aren’t immune to this, even on sites designed by athletes, for athletes. Even tech that is designed to make us healthier.

Let’s start with a couple stories about that which I hope will serve as reminders to make sure you are using your tech to benefit you, not being used by the tech for the benefit of the tech company or others.

First, a story about Molly Seidel and a not so great experience with Strava. Some of what is referenced is surely just annoying, some of what is at least alluded to sounds downright scary and dangerous. The lesson from this: please make sure you are comfortable with what you’re sharing on Strava or wherever you might share your workout data with others. I know I probably over share my own workout data but I also know my audience is incredibly small so the chances of running into problems are minuscule, especially compared to someone like Seidel.

Next, a story about how your fitness tracker can become a negative. Look, I wear my watch essentially 24/7. I know the allure. I do think there is benefit to tracking data as long as you use it properly. But it’s definitely tempting to get obsessed with the numbers and that’s not a healthy relationship to have with your fitness tracker. Just be careful not to fall into the trap.

Have you ever noticed that you feel like you’re running faster when you run in the dark, even if you’re not actually running faster? A long time ago, it was explained to me that this is because you can only see things closer to you, which appear to be moving by fast. You can’t see things far away that look like they are moving by more slowly. This explanation always made sense to me and I just accepted it as the truth. Well, while that is surely a factor, there’s another factor that is likely also playing a role. In short, to protect against falls, we subconsciously alter our form in ways that make us less efficient. Makes sense when you think about it. So now there are two likely reasons for this effect.

Can the heavily cushioned shoes that are now becoming more and more common reduce injury risk? Well, it’s complicated. In short, we don’t really know. My take is that you’re still probably best off going with what feels right to you. Maybe even getting a rotation of shoes that are different so you can get some variety.

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