Are You Plugged In?

Are you plugged in?…..


One debate among runners is the pros and cons of using an electronic device while running.  The devices can be as simple as a small iPod Shuffle that plays a steady stream of your favorite songs to a complex GPS system that not only plays music but tells you where you are on your run, your pace, heart rate, elevation, etc as a well as alerting you when you are not meeting your goals.

Do you have an electronic device that you can’t run without?  Or do you run ‘naked’, as my running friends say, meaning you are not plugged in.  Using an electronic device is a personal decision, so I won’t try to tell you which is better, but I will share with you what I do and why.

I personally am un-plugged in when I run and have three main reasons why.

  1. Spirtuality: Running is something I do to clear my head and sort through things that are on my mind. It is my prayer time when I give thanks as well as ask for help. The longer the run, the longer the prayer list. Having prayer or meditation time is one facet of overall good health. By combining the two activities, I’m maximizing the health benefits achieved during that time.
  2. Safety: I also like to be unplugged so I can hear traffic and be more aware of my surroundings. There have been times when I’ve pulled my running partners out of traffic, so this is a very real concern. You never know when cars, motorcycles, bicycles, animals, or other runners will appear on your route and you need to make adjustments quickly.
  3. Enjoyment: My third reason is more about ignorance. I like to base my pace on my perceived rate of exertion (PRE) instead of a number that an electronic device determines. If I knew my pace after every mile plus all the other numbers, I would probably get discouraged or try to push myself too hard.   I prefer to complete my miles and either feel good about the run or figure out what I need to do differently next time. If I can’t enjoy my running time, then to me it’s not worth it.

Many people have good reasons to wear their electronics.  They can be a great training tool, help you get your mind off what your body is doing especially on those long run days, and certain songs can keep you motivated and keep your pace steady.  If you choose to be plugged in, try unplugging one ear.  You can still hear your music and GPS alerts, but also allows you to hear things around you.  No matter whether you choose to be plugged-in or unplugged, enjoy your running time and be safe.

Sherry Smiley is a running enthusiast who has run a 5K in 30 counties (and counting) in Iowa. Check out Sherry’s free running group at ITC downtown at 5:30 pm on Tuesday nights through October 2014



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