The London Underground is one of the best places to witness the effect that 21st century technology is having on the population. Immersed, blinkered, isolated amongst hundreds, yet connected via the swiping action of the first finger and able to communicate through the jabbering of two thumbs.
I have the fortunate experience of growing up in an era of landline communications and terrestrial TV. Yet, also live in an era to reap and recognise the benefits that have emerged from high speed internet, smart phones and advances in sport & wellbeing sciences. To know what it’s like to live life without does help to administer respect for what we have at our fingertips. It also encourages me to spend as much time in the training bubble away from it.
Within the training and fitness spectrum, technology has been promoted and inserted into every faculty. Much of this advanced tech being filtered down from professional and Olympic sport where marginal gains are the difference between happiness and failure. ‘Marginal gains’ are important to all of us, it’s human to want to be better, stronger, faster and happier. Though, at what point in the search for improved performance, does it come at the cost of your happiness?
It’s not just the phones, apps, GPS watches, stats and visual stimulants. Nutrition and wellbeing is increasingly being hijacked by the media savvy. Independent thinking is becoming a luxury rather than a necessity. For all the benefits, especially the sharing of knowledge in sciences and research, there is a risk of losing the ability to perform to how you feel, creating unique adventure that is yours, and yours alone.
When it comes to staying in touch with the surroundings and combining tech, here’s a couple of the tips that work for me.
- keep the watch display screen on “time of day” instead of the numerous breakdowns of stats that can be monitored. OF COURSE, when the session demands a specific output/ speed then referring to the watch is important. However, particularly with trail running, getting used to covering the ground by listening/ feeling/ coaching the self is a skill worth building on.
- Take the earplugs out and listen. The wind. The wildlife. The surface. The silence. The attention to perceived exertion. Music and podcasts are always motivating. To be without digital sound creates your own space and observations that deliver motivation, usually post session. “I want more of that”, “I can’t wait to do that again”.
- Look back often. It always helps to know what the path looks like in case the need to back track. Always a positive ‘pat on the back’ moment when you can see a point in the distance that has been overcome. Take the memory forward.
The greater the fun in session, the less I have referred to tech. There’s something to be championed and celebrated there. No day will ever be the same. No session will ever be the same. No amount of tech and numbers will ever be repeated in the exact order that is planned. Flight mode is all about following your intuition, letting go of schedules, breaking away from the tech once in a while to press the most reliable button there is.
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