Undeniably sexy in a practical package. She caught my eye in the third aisle of a Best Buy. There was a quick introduction, we exchanged a few pleasantries, and I sensed a mutual attraction. It seemed so quick, but I ended up taking her home that night.
It was the start of a truly serious relationship.
She was a Garmin Vivoactive HR.
My constant companion for years. On my wrist day in, day out. She only left my side for half an hour at a time every other week or so; however long it took to recharge her batteries. We did everything together. Running, biking, working, snoozing. There was nothing that I kept from her.
Two years and four days. 17,616 hours. That’s how long it lasted, until things took a turn for the worse. I was blindsided. One moment, we were happily dancing down a woodland trail; the next, we stopped for a swim in a mountain lake and she signaled distress.
Her screen went blank and she started an unstoppable shaking, a vibration that rattled her body – and me – to the core. I tried to save her. Bystanders offered help. It was no use. Fifty-seven minutes after her symptoms started, she was gone.
(Actually, I have no idea how long it was. She served as my only timepiece, and she was broken….)
Those that study these things tell us that there are five stages of grief when you lose a loved one. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. In the course of the next three hours, I experienced a rapid run through them all. I also discovered what many of us might know, but never really stop to consider: we (as runners, lifters, and active people in general) develop a possibly unhealthy codependency with our fitness electronics. I know that I’m not alone in finding myself building up or chipping away at my ego with information passed to me from my watch. There’s an undeniable boost when I’m notified that I’ve gotten a new personal best on a run. Or that my training has stayed perfectly in the heart rate zone for which I was aiming. Even just seeing completed workouts marked on the digital calendar reinforces my sense of well being. On the flip side, that watch records every negative performance I make. If a run unexpectedly turns into a walk because of that monster hill, or my poor conditioning makes a ride look slow, it can really eat at me. That hard data shows up on the screen, where myself and plenty of other people can see it. I want to be able to explain to everyone exactly what the conditions of that workout were. To justify why my run was so short, my time so slow, the weights so puny. If I let those negative whispers thread through my head for long enough, it starts to drive me into a downward spiral of despair. Life starts to lose its luster and my motivation for working at fitness slowly goes away. All because of some numbers that were thrown in my face by an uncaring box of plastic strapped to my arm.
It seems that there’s too much at stake. Too much of my emotional state, too much of my mental stability is at the mercy of the cold, emotionless, slave-driving bitch that has taken root in my ulnar vein. At the end of a long relationship…after she’s died, I know what’s best – to toss away my fitness trackers and running watches and free myself from the up-down cycle of misery that they lock me into. There is no reason to be so emotionally wrapped up in such a device. I must sever ties quickly and cleanly and flee into the night.
But not right now. Now, I’m too busy reading internet watch reviews and cruising the aisles of electronics stores, searching for my next relationship……