Fitbits and garmins and jawbones, oh my!

Do you use fitness gadgets? There’s a lot of chatter about all these doodads. David Sedaris wrote a hilarious essay about his FitBit obession recently. They make a gold-plated version of one of them (I saw it in vogue or something). I guarantee someone in your office wears some kind of activity tracker (FitBit, Up, Nike. . . ) And lots of people have opinions about them. Life-saver? Glorified pedometer? Status symbol? I was curious about them myself, and I bought a Jawbone Up back in January. I haven’t tried the new version (Up24) or the other ones like the FitBit, so I can’t and won’t comment on which device is best, but more just on the general coolness of such a device.

yes, it does match my nail polish, because i'm awesome.
yes, it does match my nail polish, because i’m awesome.

True to predictions, I wore it regularly for about 6 months, and I thought it was very interesting. I realized just how far I have to walk to get 10,000 steps, and I realized that a short morning jog doesn’t guarantee I’ll make it. I realized that I should walk when I’m doing errands less than a mile away (duh). I realized that I should go to bed already because sleeping 6 hours or less makes me feel crappy. I also really dig the feature that lest you set an inactivity alarm– hey, dumbass, you’ve been sitting still for 30 minutes, get a move on! I think that might have been the most informative for me. I still wear it sometimes, but not every day– because I learned those things. I might need the extra motivation if I know it’s a week when I’m busy and might not fit in all the moving I want, but in general, now I know. Did I get my 99 bucks worth, even if I never wear it again? I’d say yes. I did feel a little goofy wearing it to work sometimes. . . depends on my outfit, I guess?

I also have a Garmin GPS watch (the Forerunner 10, to be exact), that was a gift from Yammy a while back. She’s my de facto running coach 🙂  I like it for just regular old running, because it definitely motivates me to go a little farther or a little faster (I just can’t bring myself to post a run less than 2 miles!). I’ve definitely tacked a coda on the end of a run to finish the last mile. I’ve definitely run a lot faster trying to beat my PR. So it’s fun for casual stuff. But where it’s really pulling its weight is in race training. Now, I’m not Usain Bolt. I’m actually super slow. But since I’m training to run this 8k at a slightly less slow pace than usual, the data is priceless. I need to run particular distances. I need to run at a particular pace. Knowing where I’m at in real-time, and then being able to see how I’m doing compared to myself, is pretty key. My only complaint? Garmin changed the interface for their “connect” service, and the new website hurts my brain. Which leads me to. . .

if your EKG looks like this, call me, STAT.
interval training data from Garmin via Strava.

Social-style fitness websites, like Strava and Fitocracy. These sites have apps for your phone (to enter your activities, or, for Strava, get GPS data). They give you a feed with your friends’ data. And they let you see your own progress. I used Fitocracy for a while, but now I’m on to Strava– a favorite among cyclists, even the pro-types– because it somehow magically yoinks the data from my Garmin! Wooooah. You can also use the phone to gather data, so when I’m out riding my bike and I’m not rocking the watch, I can just use my iphone. How cool is that? It’s pretty cool. Just like my outfit.


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