Helping you to understand and use technology to improve your life and get an edge over everyone else is one of the major goals of this website. Everyone has different goals and a different life.
That is why I’m starting a new series exploring how various people with different lifestyles, goals and hobbies use and rely on technologies. This week we hear from a mother and ultra marathon runner on how technology improves her game, take it away!
For those of us born in the 70’s and early 80’s we had an analogue childhood that began to turn digital around the end of high school, and because of that it seems my fellow Generation X-ers exist on an extreme spectrum when it comes to adopting today’s technology, depending on when that digital change kicked in.
Me? Well I heart tech and have no wish to go back to ‘the good old days’. If you can balance the siren calls of social media and 24/7 information with your own version of quiet time then the digital age is nothing but a blessing as far as I am concerned.
My quiet time is usually a run, swim or ride, and with that in mind the below items are my top 5 tech faves for getting the most out of my leisure.
1. GPS Sports Watches
GPS sports watches have come a long way since I started running in 19 dickety 3. I remember having to do so with only a pair of sneakers and a map to get around because back then the only company that even came close to tracking your run/ride properly was Garmin, with the Forerunner.
Only problem? They were huge, ugly, cost upwards of four hundred dollars and didn’t really do that much. And what they did do wasn’t done very well. I did eventually buy a secondhand Forerunner 305 for about $250 in 2009 which, to its credit, worked for many years, but its interface left a lot to be desired.
Until about 2010 I was still driving around marking run lengths with my car speedometer to get my mileage right, because I found uploading my runs from the Forerunner so time consuming and inaccurate.
Enter the Suunto Ambit2S. I got this beauty in 2012 and right off the bat I loved it.
Waterproof, pretty yet not girly, tough as nails, and with a fantastic interface at Movescount that I could then upload to Runkeeper. With it you can run, swim, ski, ride, yoga, golf, whatever the hell you like, including a combination of them all, and the Suunto Ambit lets me track everything.
After about 4 years the HR strap on it started to get a bit dodgy and I happened upon a great deal for a new Suunto, the Suunto Ambit3 Sport with HR. Not much different to its predecessor except in looks and a more streamlined HR strap, I will be sticking with the Suunto range for the foreseeable future thanks.
2. Strava Fitness Tracking
Still on the subject of running, welcome to my hands down favourite fitness tracking app, Strava.
Developed in 2009 and with a membership base that has snowballed in the past few years, Strava is an extremely well laid out, intuitive and easy to use app with a side helping of social media.
It has handy features other apps don’t offer, such as their segment trackers. Got a nearby hill you’re fighting to conquer? Make it a ‘segment’ and watch your progress improve, as well as track other people in your area when they run/ride it!
Other unique features include the ability to join clubs and create leaderboards. This allows you to compete against each other, and then there’s the very motivational ‘kudos’ function. This allows your followers to give you a thumbs up for that early morning run or late night hill reps session. It also lets you comment on another athlete’s workout. There are heaps of elite athletes on there too if you feel like giving Lance Armstrong some encouragement, for example.
Premium vs Free
I’ve gone for the Premium version and love the Fitness and Freshness tracker, the goal option and their training plans.
Sure, there are a lot of other sports related apps out there – Runkeeper, Moveslink, Nike+, MapmyRun – but none of those have ever actually made me go out for a run when I didn’t feel like it.
Now maybe you’re not very competitive. Maybe you’ve mastered the elusive art of not caring what your peers think about you. But I haven’t. I will lace up and get out there if I can move a couple of places up the club leaderboard by smashing out another run before the week ends.
I’ve also pushed harder on segments and hill reps trying to beat people I don’t even know in my neighbourhood.
Silly? Perhaps. But all that extra effort adds up to some actual training gains. So to me it’s worth it.
3. Online Shopping
Online shopping. It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking groceries, clothes, alcohol, birthday presents, cosmetics or just paying that darn electricity bill, I do a LOT of online spending and it always surprises me to find out how many people still have misgivings about this.
I suppose I shouldn’t be too shocked, after all it was only very recently that the number of Australians shopping online tipped over the 50% mark. As of 2016 approximately 65% of Aussies use online shopping though, so that number is going up quickly.
I use Ebay and Paypal, book medical appointments and parent teacher interviews, flights and holidays all online and would no sooner spend all day physically wandering around the stores in the city than fly to the moon.
It saves time, gives me the best possible price and can be done from the comfort of my own home. What’s not to love??
Headphones. I don’t like the over the ear design much (does anyone?) so the unique circular ‘plate-style’ ear bud of the Sol Republic Relay Sport In-Ear Headphones are perfect for both comfort and staying in while jumping up and down.
The sound on these is crystal clear. They also allowing you to hear traffic or other runners/cyclists passing you. Oh, and they cope with sweat. I’ve had them for 6 months so far and haven’t killed them yet. Pretty much a record for me!
Spotify – oh how I love thee, let me count the ways…let’s see….for one thing, it really ‘gets’ my music taste.
I had a 90 day freebie with Google Play music at the start of the year. Some of its suggestions for me really came out of left field. I couldn’t ever trust it to randomly play something I’d probably like.
Not so with Spotify. Plus it learns faster, and better, than Google Play did.
Now I can play new releases immediately. They also offer downloadable tracks so you don’t zap your phone’s monthly data allowance. It has playlists for everything from my beloved running to “Best Britpop housecleaning tracks” (music to keep you cleaning for longer).
Plus if a playlist does finish before you’re ready to stop listening, the odds are you won’t even notice that the songs are added for you, so like your own preference will they be.
The benefits include: 1) How to get those silky smooth videos that everyone loves to watch, even if you're new 2) How to fly your drone, from taking off to the most advanced flight modes 3) Clear outlines of how to fly with step-by-step instructional demonstrations and more 4) Why flying indoors often results in new pilots crashing their drone 5) What other great 3rd party apps are out there to get the most out of your drone 6) A huge mistake many pilots make when storing their drone in the car and how to avoid it 7) How to do all of these things whilst flying safely and within your countries laws.