As sports technology advances over time, I feel we’re becoming increasingly dependant on our techno fitness gadgets. Fixated on the figures, zoning-in on the minor details. Perhaps a little too dependant, to the point where the term ‘obsessive’ begins to sneak in.

Since acquiring my swanky Garmin watch last Christmas (see post: ‘GARMIN’S GADGETS & GISMOS’) I, too, have become hooked on the stats. Forever clocking up the step count, addicted to the buzz gained from clearing a dreaded move bar, heart rate checks mid-stair climb. Living life in sync with the regular bleeps of its rule.

I wish I could say I took the initiative in deciding to experiment by ‘going Garmin free’, but in actual fact, it was confiscated. Always up for a battle, I decided to embrace this fresh challenge as if it were my own carefully conceived experiment. In it to discover what life is like sans fitness watch.

Day one without the watch and I felt as if a part of me was missing. No longer was the day structured by its step-count, elevation gain or the periods between bleeps signalling ‘move!’ The regular theme tune of notification buzzes streaming in from my phone (also confiscated) replaced by sheer silence, I felt an utterly different person. My motivation to get up and walk around the kitchen several hundred times instead began to be replaced by slightly guilty thoughts of ‘if it’s not being tracked, it doesn’t count’. Heart-rate checks went back to old school (thank goodness for those PE and biology lessons), I ended the day utterly unaware of its harsh number crunching, and felt rather disconnected from the outside world, without – in essence – a phone at my fingertips 24/7.

The Saturday morning run was certainly a novel experience (not least because I’ve been banned from running …but that’s another story). Rid of the GPS signal buffering and familiar pacing bleeps I felt like I was striding in freedom. Intrigued by how my pace would compare, I ran a route I knew the distance of and kept a keen eye on the clock to measure my time. Surprisingly, I ran quicker than usual, and enjoyed basking in every refreshing footstep. This time, I focused solely on my surroundings, taking in every detail, in tune with my body rather than some machine strapped around my wrist. Strava barely got a look in, all I knew was time and distance…and that I’d relished every second of the mud coated endorphin rush.

As time has grown between me and the once inseparable Garmin, feelings of ‘non-tracked activity = no activity’ began to blur. Studying, blissfully free from ‘move’ alerts made me more in-tune with my body. Feeling stiff? Probably time I got up and walked around. I feel a greater satisfaction when this is done of my own accord, rather than simply abiding to the robotic algorithms of a bulky device strapped to my wrist.

By no means am I dismissing the world of sports technology; I genuinely enjoy life with the Garmin and am thoroughly convinced by its somewhat tactically sly abilities to keep you on your toes. Its power to motivate, drive and fuel cannot be doubted. However I have learnt that activity does not have to be tracked, counted or examined for it to be beneficial; simply ‘doing’ is positive. Whilst I admit that the ‘digital detox’ has been refreshing, I’m certainly looking forward to the security of it being snugly looped around my wrist once again…that is, if my family ever agree to give it back.



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