I Will Be Running Without the iPhone

Navstar-2F satellite of the Global Positioning...Image via Wikipedia  //  
Since I returned to running on June 15th, I have used my iPhone and several running apps (see my Three iPhone Apps for Runners Review post) to track how my running is going and to see which one I liked best.

I love being outside and hearing the sounds of nature when I am running.  I prefer to focus on the run and know what is going on around me, than tuning out to the tunes.

To be honest, the more that I run with my iPhone outside, the less that I like it for that purpose. It is too big, bulky and heavy for me while I am running, whether it is in an armband, on my waist, it just doesn’t feel comfortable bouncing around.

When you add in not being able to easily see the screen when it is sunny or because it is not easily visible, it made it difficult to use for running. All the runner apps I used were very “busy” and you had to go through multiple screens with most of them to get to the main tracking screen and then use the data functions.
The main reason that I was running with an iPhone was for the GPS function of these apps, so I would “know” how far I was running each time. None of the runner GPS “apps” (including ones that I haven’t reviewed here but have used) have been all that accurate. They each had their strengths and weaknesses, but there wasn’t one run or app that had the same distance, on the same course, which defeated the purpose of using GPS to track my distance accurately.

I liked some of the functions and how they sync with a website, but none of them are I what I would consider indispensable to my outdoor running program.

In fact I was so disappointed in how the iPhone worked for me while running today, that I went out back of the garage this morning and dug around for my old Nike Triax wrist watch/heart beat monitor. I found the Triax in my old gym bag and discovered it had kept perfect time and was even on the correct date.

This was very surprising since the watch is over 3 years old and still on the original battery. It is just a lot simpler to use than any of the iPhone runner apps I have tried, a lot lighter and has the added advantage of tracking my heart rate if I choose to wear the chest strap.

I have a feeling that I would feel this same way with every “smart” phone and its runner apps. The size of the phones are probably the major reason and not being able to easily see the screens figures in prominently also.

However, I am intrigued by the Garmin Forerunner, but that is even rather large and I wonder how accurate its GPS would be compared to the smart phone apps. For me to be happy it would have to be about the size of the new iPod with a wrist strap and reliable/accurate GPS functions.

Many times we make things more, no a lot more complicated than it needs to be when we try to incorporate too much technology into what we do. The iPhone is great for working out in the gym, “just in case” I need to call home or some other emergency while running.

However, based on my experience over the past few weeks, I think I will go back to just using a watch while running outside and carry the iPhone in my fanny pack if I am going for a longer run or on a trail.

Technology is not always the answer to everything we do, sometimes we just have to do it and keep it simple. In my opinion it is more important that we need to enjoy what we are doing, instead of worrying about how to set this app up, stop that or if it is accurate or not.

I guess not using my iPhone (or other smart phone) for running is another one of those things that I am doing to simplify my life.

“Are you doing the right thing for the right reason.”

Originally written by Harold Shaw published at Veteran Runner © 2011 – All Rights Reserved. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Harold Shaw and Veteran Runner with appropriate and specific directions or links to the original content.


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