Last Friday, my good friend Gene invited me to speak on a panel at the Social Media Club of Kansas City to talk about wearable technology and how it has affected my life, specifically, my fitness.
Before you laugh (which is what I did at first), the truth is that I’m actually a pretty good candidate to talk about a topic like this rather than some tech blogger or gadget blogger or fitness guru. I’m exactly who wearable fitness technology should be designed for: I’m somewhat overweight, a little nerdy and in need of some motivation.
Two birthdays ago, I asked Alli to get me a Nike+ FuelBand. There are lots of wearable fitness bands out there, but I’m a Nike loyalist so this seemed like a good choice. I liked that there was an app (iTunes) to monitor my progress on my iPhone and the design was pretty straightforward and cool. So in December, I began tracking my progress of how much activity I managed each day.
I set my goal at 2500 “Fuel Points” each day. “Fuel” is Nike’s proprietary way of tracking movement. While other fitness gadgets typically track steps (which the FuelBand does too), I liked the idea of tracking my overall activity. I didn’t have to know the science behind it, it just had to work.
So I started moving more.
At first, I would just move around the house. It was winter in Kansas when I got my FuelBand, so outdoor activities were out. I would get on our elliptical machine at home, or do a workout video…anything to get out of the sedentary rut that I was in. Over time, I became obsessed with watching my FuelBand get progressively more full and I would always feel a sense of accomplishment each day that I “got to green” (reached my daily Fuel goal).
Trying to “Be a Runner”
On a whim, I decided I would try running as one of my ways to get to green. I downloaded the Nike+ Running app (iTunes) because I wanted to see how far I could run and I just started running.
I quickly discovered that running is the worst.
BUT…I looked at my FuelBand after my run and I was already to green. I had run for about 15, maybe 20 minutes tops and I had reached my Fuel goal. This was a revelation to me. I could work out for a very short period of time and get to my daily fitness goal, which is all I really cared about at the time. If I could get to green faster by suffering through a couple of miles a few times per week, I guess I could try it.
So I started running a couple of times per week. I bought some new running shoes (Nikes, of course) and I even upped my daily goal from 2500 to 3000, feeling like I needed to push myself a little more. I entered into last summer and went on a streak of over two months in a row where I reached my Fuel. I was feeling good, so when Gene said to me, “Hey man, I see you’ve been running lately. Do you want to run a 5K together?” I agreed. It would give me something to aim at, even though I wasn’t running more than 2.5 miles at a time. (Adding another half-mile or so couldn’t be that hard, could it?)
“Training” for My First 5K
We put a race last fall on the calendar that was (thankfully) rained out. It was a busy time of year. I got out of the habit of running quite as regularly as I’d hoped. And then winter came again. There would be no 5K in 2013.
Fortunately, Kansas City has a bunch of 5Ks, including one that Gene was the race director for a few years ago. So we signed up for that one.
It was last Saturday.
It was cold and I still don’t feel like I am a runner, but I finished my first 5K, 16 months after I got my first Nike+ FuelBand (I say first, because I had to buy a new one last week when my old one stopped charging). Over that same period, I’ve lost about 20 pounds (I still have plenty more to lose) and I feel better about my health than I have at any time in my thirties.
The January before I got my first FuelBand, I hurt my back so badly that I couldn’t walk for a few days. I had herniated four discs in my lower spine. I went through rehab. I went to the chiropractor. Both told me I had to be stronger in my core. Now, running isn’t exactly good for your back, but it worked for me.
Fast-forward two years later: after I crossed the finish line on Saturday, I looked at my Nike+ Running app. I had run my first 5K at a pace that was almost 3 minutes faster than my original goal (don’t freak out, it was still really slow). I didn’t die. In fact, I thought to myself, “I could probably have run faster.” Which, if you know me at all, you’ll realize that these words coming out of my mouth is as unlikely as me buying season tickets to the Royals.
So I guess I have to find another race, keep training and keep improving. My friend Jake once told me not to focus on pace, but just worry about doing the miles. So I’ll keep running. Then maybe this fall, I’ll try a 10K. Making the jump to a half-marathon…don’t count on it.
And I’ll be tracking it all along the way.