Un­plugged

How I ben­e­fit­ted from ditch­ing my gad­gets

Canadian Running - - CROSSING THE LINE - By Mark Bhalla

There is some­thing spe­cial to me about my rit­u­al­is­tic Sun­day morn­ing run. Par­tic­u­larly af­ter a long week, the time that I get to spend in “my zone” is recharg­ing and ther­a­peu­tic. It is my chance to dis­tance my­self from the world and take a break from the stresses that are an in­evitable part of life.

Over the years, I have de­vel­oped a rou­tine around my Sun­day morn­ing runs. I en­joy them most of all be­cause they are not as con­strained as those dur­ing the week be­fore head­ing to work. While I do not re­ally have all the time in the world to spend jaunt­ing about on Sun­day morn­ings, it can cer­tainly feel that way. I strap on my watch, put in my ear­buds and off I go – for a brief mo­ment, feel­ing as though I do not have a care in the world be­yond pound­ing the pave­ment and get­ting my heart rate up.

My playlist means the world to me. It keeps me mo­ti­vated, helps me es­cape and can give me that ex­tra push I need when the right song comes on when I’m strug­gling. I do not have to worry about my pace or dis­tance, as that in­for­ma­tion gets cap­tured au­to­mat­i­cally and is eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble. I do en­joy modern run-track­ing tech­nol­ogy and al­ways feel ex­tra ac­com­plished when I “pad my stats” by run­ning that lit­tle bit longer on a Sun­day morn­ing.

So, there I was, reg­u­larly mak­ing full use of the tech­nol­ogy to record my runs and en­joy my tunes when one Sun­day my watch would not charge.

At first, I fig­ured I would just give it a lit­tle ex­tra time, maybe head out for my run a lit­tle later than usual. Af­ter all, it was Sun­day, so my sched­ule was re­laxed. Some time passed. Noth­ing changed. My watch re­fused to show any sign of life. I started to worry that I would waste my whole morn­ing wait­ing, so de­cided to go on with­out it.

While dis­ap­pointed that my run would not make my elec­tronic record book, I still had my phone and ear­buds to get me into the zone, so off I went.

I can­not say for sure if it was di­vine in­ter­ven­tion, a bad tech day or a fail­ure on my part to pay ad­e­quate at­ten­tion to charg­ing but, would you be­lieve that my ear­buds died dur­ing the first song on my playlist? For a mo­ment, I was dev­as­tated. With no tunes, no way to track my pace or dis­tance and the week­end morn­ing hours slip­ping away, I had to make a tough de­ci­sion: pass on my favourite run of the week, or run it in a way I never had be­fore. I de­cided to go for it. As I ran about my neigh­bour­hood that fate­ful Sun­day morn­ing, I put time, dis­tance and mu­sic out of my mind. For once, I paid at­ten­tion to my sur­round­ings. I felt breezes I had never no­ticed be­fore, en­joyed na­ture all around me and ven­tured around parts of my com­mu­nity I had never ex­plored. I had a blast!

I al­ways bring along my gear when trav­el­ling, as I find go­ing for a run is a good way to ex­plore a city. I do this armed with my tech­nol­ogy. With my tunes in my ear, my route is recorded as some form of elec­tronic souvenir. This ex­pe­ri­ence was dif­fer­ent en­tirely. At one point, I won­dered to my­self if this is what run­ning in the ’80s felt like.

While I do not think that I could whole­heart­edly sug­gest we all ditch our tech­nol­ogy and run un­plugged all the time, my “off the grid” ex­pe­ri­ence rekin­dled some­thing in­side of me. It made me look at run­ning dif­fer­ently, ap­pre­ci­at­ing the sport in a new way. So, I share my ex­pe­ri­ence and en­cour­age fel­low run­ners to con­sider, just once, ditch­ing your tech­nol­ogy and just go­ing for a run.

Marc Bhalla is a me­di­a­tor and ar­bi­tra­tor from Toronto. He is not ca­pa­ble of part­ing en­tirely with his run­ning tech­nol­ogy but found the ex­pe­ri­ence he shared to be em­pow­er­ing.

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