Stepping into the Future

As someone who’s slowly moving into middle age, I find that I sometimes avoid  technological advancements in favor of older, simpler ways of doing things. This doesn’t mean I’m a luddite. I have a deep love for my DVR and am really looking forward to the eventual arrival of self-driving cars. But when it comes to running, I definitely tend to kick it old school.

I’ve been a “serious” runner for almost five years. In that time the only technology I’ve adopted for training is an IPod (which I was using before I started throwing around the word “serious”) and the Map My Run website. That’s it. I don’t need a smartphone strapped to my arm or a GPS watch the size of a saucer on my wrist. I have no desire to share my exercise breakdown on social media or track every measurable biological metric in an attempt to optimize my fitness.

For me, part of the allure of running is the simplicity; plot a course, lace-up the sneakers, run.

If I had a watch timing me, I’d spend the whole run looking at my wrist.

However, I have recently let a small piece of technological sophistication enter my life. A couple of weeks ago, after purchasing the new Galaxy S7 (the Samsung smartphone that DOESN’T blow up) I decided to start using S Health. This pre-loaded app can help me track my caloric intake, monitor the amount of caffeine I’m consuming, and, of course, measure the aforementioned biological metrics. I will NOT being using any of those features. However, I will use the app to measure one thing: steps.

The S Health pedometer is the only part of this app I truly have any interest in. And it’s not because I plan on re-thinking my approach to walking in an attempt to burn more calories. I simply want to use the app because it gives me credit for walking, something I’ve been doing regularly since I was a year old.

For most of my life, I’ve been a pretty serious pedestrian. However, this walking was less about exercise and more about getting around. As a teenager I’d walk long distances to friends’ houses and a full mile and a half to school. (No, I didn’t walk uphill both ways, but I did walk uphill one way.) In college walking continued to be my preferred method of travel, especially on drunken weekend nights. A decade of living in Los Angeles saw my walking reduced a bit (nobody walks in L.A.), but since moving to the Pacific Northwest I’ve gotten back on the walking train.

And now this app can further confirm something I already knew… that I’m an awesome walker. For years I’ve been doing things like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or walking to the bus stop instead of driving and getting absolutely no credit for it. Now I have a big number I can view at the end of each day that says, “Good job!” It doesn’t literally say, “good job” but that’s clearly the subtext.

I won’t be a “serious” walker until I get a pair of these bad boys.

There are other things I can do with the app to proudly proclaim my walking prowess, like challenging friends to step milestones or measuring my weekly step count against the entire S Health community. And maybe someday when I’m seeking a new kind of self-affirmation I’ll do these things. But at this point, I’m happy just knowing my step count is strong.

All that being said, I do have one request for the developers at S Health… if possible could you please push out an update that allows me to translate the calories I’ve burned walking into the amount of beer I would need to consume to replenish them?

Now that would be a technological advancement I could get behind.

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