Nine things only tech-obsessed runners will understand

The lengths we go to track our runs
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Ever since GPS chips, heart rate monitors and accelerometers rocked up and gave us the tools to track our runs, the relationship between pavement pounders and technology has been a bit love-hate. Most runners love stats. In fact, there's only one thing we love more than a set of splits or a cadence read, and that's sharing performance stats on Facebook and Instagram.

We're so obsessed with collecting our digital miles that running without a wearable strapped, stashed or secreted about our person can feel like it doesn't count. Still, no matter how often we think we've found the perfect running partner, it can sometimes feel like our tech is working against us. Here are the gripes that only the tech-obsessed runners really understand.

Doing the front door-dle

Nine things only tech-obsessed runners will understand

Finally, after what feels like hours of pratting about inside your house, you step across the threshold and you're ready to run. You're pumped, primed, champing at the bit.

And then you stand there for five minutes, wrists pointed to the sky, waiting for the GPS gods to give you permission to run. At which point your neighbours call the police because there's a hoodie with a buff over their face loitering outside your front door looking 'agitated'.

Falling into the booby trap

Because the laws of 21st century running stipulate untracked runs don't count (see below) – and you have to have that Instagram shot to prove you've run your miles – you probably have to carry your phone.

But where do you stash it? If you've got no pockets there's always the bumbag or arm wotsit. And women have the additional option of shoving it down their bra – at least that's the theory. It'll be fine, right? Sure. Except three hours later, boob sweat has killed your iPhone. Dead.

Chest straps going pair shaped

Nine things only tech-obsessed runners will understand

Having four chest straps and being unable to get any of them to pair with your running watch. It all worked fine last time out, but now your various pieces of tech are acting like they've never met before. So you spend half an hour lock-picking the backs open and replacing all the batteries only to find they still don't work.

To be honest, you're not really sure if the batteries you've just added are new or old, and you eventually grow tired of it all and just buy a new chest strap to add to your collection. Thus ensuring that at some point, you'll repeat this charade. Only now, it will take slightly longer because you have five.

Dealing with unfinished business

Only a crazy person ends a run when their running watch says something like 6.85 miles. Unless you've just blown your Achilles or someone's offered you £100 to stop right there and then, you must complete the mile or kilometre. Even if that means running in circles up and down the street outside your house.

Believing if it's not tracked, it doesn't count

Here's one for you: If a runner runs without wearing a tracker to log their run so they can share it on Facebook, have they really done a run? The answer is, of course, no. No they haven't.

Doing the start line scramble

Nine things only tech-obsessed runners will understand

It's race day, and you're about 200m back from the start line. You know that when the starting gun goes and the herd starts moving, your nerves are about to be tested and you've got the mother of all multi-tasking to do.

You need to hit start on your phone app, your playlist and your watch, stash your phone in your armband/bumbag/pocket all while shuffle running in that weird stop-start run-walk fashion you only ever do at this moment. Worse, you need to do it all as close to that start banner as possible, but not leave it so late that the human hobble wave has pushed you over the start. Leave it. Leave it. Leave it. Hold. Hold… NOW!!

Suffering mystery pause misery

You know you started your GPS when you crossed the start line because you did the start line scramble. But now, somewhere mid-way through your race, you look down at your wrist only to see pure horror staring back up at you.

Your watch has paused.

Your average pace stat is wrecked, you don't quite know how long you've been running because you didn't clock when you cross the start line (you were too busy pressing ALL the buttons), and now you've got to run the rest of the race trying to do impossible maths to know if you're going to hit your target time. For a minute you think about quitting altogether. Then instead you run the remaining 14 miles with one recurring thought: "I hate technology."

Forgetting to charge

It's 6am on a weekday morning and you've hauled your pert runner's buttocks out of bed to get in some smug early miles. You're buzzing with self-satisfaction because you laid your kit out last night to make this moment easier. Then you realise you've made one big mistake – your running watch is down to 29% battery. You forgot to charge it!

You spend five minutes debating whether this means you should bin off the entire endeavour, before convincing yourself that it'll be okay and you might just have enough juice.

Tech trust issues

You clock some miles on the treadmill and despite the running machine having a perfectly adequate distance tracker, you decide to use your running watch's indoor feature for good measure. It'll at least mean there's no gap in your monthly stats. All good. Until you finish, when your watch and the treadmill inevitably disagree on how far and how fast you've run. At which point you're not sure which to believe. So you just decide that the one that says you went furthest and fastest must be right.

Racing against the machine

It might be that you didn't charge before you ran or, worse, you started with a fully-charged wearable but for some reason today it's decided to use all the juice in double-quick time. Either way, you spot you've only got 15% battery to get you home.

And so you do what any normal person would do: Up your pace to Mo Farah levels to try and finish before the battery runs out. You do this despite knowing all too well that there's only ever one winner in this race, and it's not you.

TAGGED Sport Running

How we test

Kieran Alger


Kieran is a world record-setting runner and one of the UK's most experienced running journalists.

A constant tester of the latest fitness technology, he's always hunting for innovations that can make him run faster, further and generally be in better shape.

Kieran is often found wearing four GPS running watches at once. And to date he's tracked more than 50 marathons, 13 ultras and countless half marathons - including the Marathon Des Sables.

In 2022, he became the first person to run the river Danube from sea to source, a measly 1,830 miles in 66 days. And still had time to test running gear.

Kieran regularly takes running tech to the extremes for Wareable and the likes of Runner's World, Mens Health and Wired.

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