Why I Stopped Running With A Fitness Tracker

I’ve been a runner for more than 13 years, but over time, my running motives and styles have changed and fluctuated. There was a time when I ran solely for a set amount of time: The distance or pace didn’t matter; I would always run for 50-60 minutes. Then there was a time that I ran solely for distance, just trying to cover the miles. Finally there was a time, after I got my Garmin, when I started to try to do both and was overwhelmed.

After using the device consistently for a long period, I decided I prefer to run without it. Here’s why:

1. If I didn’t meet my goals for that day, I felt discouraged.

I started to get upset when I finished a run and didn't think my pace was good enough. Or if I was aiming for distance, I would be disappointed to learn that I was running for a long time, but only did a certain amount of miles. All of this was because of this strap attached to my wrist. The watch made it way too easy to keep tabs on myself.

Sure, that's a good thing when you're working toward a goal — but when I wasn't training for a race, it just felt like the watch was judging me for not doing more miles at a faster pace.

2. The watch doesn’t know all of the facts.

Your fitness tracker doesn’t know that you are tired on any given day or sore from your non-run workout yesterday. It doesn’t know that these trails you are running are really hard and that for, hardly ever having done a trail run before, you are doing a great job.

3. It took the fun out of running for me.

Somewhere along the way of wearing watches and tracking distances and counting steps, we’ve lost the simplicity and importance of just running and listing to our bodies.

I originally ran because I loved it, because I needed it, because it was part of who I was. I ran every day. It was my thing and I was always proud of just going out and doing it — it didn't matter what the numbers said. Suddenly though, I was running and finishing with disappointment. Self doubt. That "you're not good enough" attitude toward something that had I always been good enough in before.

I realized I don’t need some piece of technology or wearable tracker around my wrist to tell me I’m doing a good job. I can feel it in my body when my legs are tired from a longer distance run or I'm out of breath because I've been running so fast. So lately, I don’t wear anything.

I've taken back my running. Yes the watch has it's time and it's place, and I still wear my Garmin a couple of times a week. After all it helped me qualify for Boston, reach new personal records for a 10K and half marathon, saw me log some of the greatest trails I've ever been on and complete runs in too many countries to count. But sometimes I leave my Garmin at home. And we're both OK with that.

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