Running with Technology

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I am no Forrest Gump or Usain Bolt when it comes to running, but I have grown to enjoy it. I ran my first 10K when I was 17 years old at the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston, South Carolina. I didn't really prepare and had no idea what I was getting myself into. I was just happy to finish and earn the t-shirt. I ran that race for 5 years in a row but gave up running races as I got slower (and heavier) every year.

Fast forward to 2009. I was invited to run the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta, Georgia. I did it for a girl. I was not in any shape to be running, but my girlfriend (now wife) invited me to run with her and her father. I accepted and made it through the race with my worst time ever in a 10K. Again, I earned my t-shirt. It was after that, I decided I wanted to do more than just earn a t-shirt, I wanted to get better and faster. I ran the Peachtree again in 2010. This time I actually trained and used the Nike + app on my iPod Touch with a sensor in my shoe to help me track my runs. This was my first time using technology along with running. The cool part was it made me want to run more. The more I ran, the better I ran. I didn't set any records in my 2010 Peachtree, but I did cut 5 minutes off of my time. 

Later in 2010, I decided to run a half marathon. I ran the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day. I trained extensively and managed to survive my first half. Again, I used the Nike + app to keep track of my runs. It motivated me to run and run often. I completed two half marathons in 2011 and one in 2012. I hit a lull with my training and got progressively worse in each one.

2013 has been my best year for running since I was 17 years old. I have found a new passion for running and technology again has been a part of it. I have had fun running indoors using the Zombies Run app. It has a game feel with missions and definitely makes running on a treadmill more interesting. I have switched from the Nike + app to using the Runkeeper app on my Galaxy Nexus Android phone to keep track of my runs. If you are one of my Facebook friends or follow me on Twitter, I am sure you have seen my running updates. The support I get from friends and family on social media is another great motivator. My favorite new running tech is my Pebble watch. It allows me to keep track of my time, distance, and pace in real time as I run. It connects to the Runkeeper app via Bluetooth to keep me informed as the app tracks me with GPS.

This year isn't over, but I have already set a personal best for a 10K at the Cooper River Bridge Run in April. I beat my time from when I was 17 by over a minute and a half. I beat my time in that 2009 Peachtree by about 17 minutes. I also set a personal best in a 5K and approached running under a 10 minutes mile for the first time. I have a goal of setting another personal best in this year's Peachtree Road Race on July 4th.

There are so many other watches, gadgets, phones, and apps out there that help track runs with GPS and add a social component. What technology are you using to motivate you and track your runs?

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