Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Heisenberg's Uncertainty Pacing

I'm really, really terrible at self-pacing. Basically, I would like a built-in speedometer or an app shouting at me approximately once per minute or every couple of minutes to either speed up or slow down to meet my goal pace. 

I've never owned a GPS fitness watch-and-thermonuclear-reactor thing, just various iterations of the iPhone, though I'm soon going to be the proud owner of a Bia and Go Stick combo, for I am a Kickstarter backer who is down with supporting the technical ladies and female entrepreneurship and the rather innovative idea of having a built in SOS button for all your "I'm being attacked by a bear, send help."-type needs. Heart rate training for me consists of clinging to those capacitive metal thingummies on the treadmill handles and wondering if it's even slightly accurate. Over the years, I've tracked time and distance on outdoor runs using, as the notion strikes, Zombies, Run! (regular and 5K training versions), Run 10K by Felt Tip, Run 5K by Felt Tip, Charity Miles, MapMyRun, and Nexercise.

Back when I was training for my first half, I did almost all of my training on the treadmill. Look, it was winter, it was cold, I was starting early and running long, and I did not have any desire to be a cautionary tale about dying of exposure after bonking or slipping and breaking a leg. 
Or being eaten by a bear. They just look all cute like that to make you drop your guard. Then they eat your face.
As luck would have it, around the time of my half, I also won a free month's membership to MapMyRun's MVP features. Now, most of the MVP features, I don't give a flip about (no one with a smartphone really cares to track my runs second by second, I like my interval training with a side of story and character and zombies, thanks, and I rarely run anywhere unfamiliar and need the advanced map features) but one caught my eye. Live Coaching. For a brief, shining moment, Live Coaching was just plain built into the paid MapMyRun app. It is, in fact, half the primary reason I bought the darned app. It lasted for about three weeks before they moved it behind the monthly paywall that is MVP. *shakes fist* I had barely gotten to test it out, but it allowed you to set a goal pace and have the app alert you at intervals how well you were doing in hitting that pace. I'm surprised they didn't also move the "control your playlists from the app" feature behind a paywall. The playlist feature simply wasn't all that great.  You couldn't just point it at a playlist and make the controls more accessible from the main part of the app, developers?

Uh... seriously, guys? This is it? You not only have to go into the Record screen to look at the controls, you have to go into Songs and pull in all the songs you might want to listen to individually? Even if they are on a playlist? Every time? You can't just load the playlist? And if you double-tap the plus sign next to a song, it gets played twice? With no real indication that you've added it twice until you start wondering why the song is playing again? You can't see the playlist you're compiling? Then when you start recording your workout you have to go into the screen again to get at the controls? I've definitely seen better designs...

So I did what any self-respecting cheapskate-who-can't-estimate-her-own-pace would do. I saved that free month for the half, activated it just before and used Live Coaching during the race. I was annoyed to find that, along with a move behind a "monthly membership" fee, it had very little flexibility. You could only set it down to intervals of 5 minutes or more. Helpful, but not as helpful as I might have liked for keeping me on pace. Works okay during a half that takes you more than 2 hours to run, not much help when it comes to keeping you on pace for a narrow 5K PR, right? 
When Zombies, Run! can also be set to let you know your distance and pace every mile or kilometer, that feature's not really worth a monthly fee all by itself. Also, this app gives me a serious case of The Feels. "Current Pace... Ten... Minutes... Per... Mile... Slow down!" doesn't really hit me right in the emotions or make me laugh the way the idea of naming a pet chicken Mildred Van der Graaf does, MapMyRun. Have you thought of hiring a better writer?
I've got another "free month" code thanks to another MapMyRun, which I may need to hoard and activate once more for the trail half, at least if I have no alternative for pacing. Worst case, I can get past denial and straight on to acceptance if it is not in the cards that my second half will be no speedier than the first well before reaching the finish line.
At least until the Bia watches ship, I'm just going to come to terms with the fact that I'm not so much bad at pacing, I simply cannot know where I am and how fast I'm going at the same time without breaking science. Heisenberg said so.

1 comment:

  1. That is the one thing I love about my new GPS, it does really help me stay on pace so I don't speed up or slow down too much. Hope your Bia comes soon.