Thursday, March 11, 2010

Nike made me do it

I’m not a gadget-oriented kind of girl. Electronically speaking, I’m the base model. I don’t do the DVR thing or get excited over the next amazing iPhone to hit the market. I consider myself to be one of the digitally challenged few to actually use the cell phone for talking only. Sure, I text on occasion, but only because it’s just another way for me to avoid talking to you. So, you can imagine my surprise when I totally flipped over a new toy that Nike and Apple put their minds together to create. I have become a slave to the Nike Plus, a running tool that takes obsessive/compulsive behavior in folks like me to a frightening new level.

You should know that, even though I have been running for nearly twenty years, I have hated it for about nineteen years and eleven months. I literally hate every minute of running except that last minute when I get to stop running. I completely despise each sweaty, breathless, painful step of my daily run. Do not even get me started on the “runner’s high”. It is nothing more than a hateful myth perpetuated by the running shoe industry in order to lure you into their cult. On second thought, maybe they are referring to that lightheaded feeling I get when I run so hard my lungs are on the verge of exploding just so I can squeeze my butt into a pair of skinny jeans. Either way, the only joy I get from running is taking off my shoes at the end. Simply put, I run because I’m vain. Period.

So, why on Earth would I be interested in a running gadget when all I want to do is sit in the recliner and watch “What Not To Wear”? The only plausible reason I can find is probably a little unhealthy: I just want to be better than you.

I came across the Nike Plus by accident. A friend on Facebook started using it to motivate him to get in shape and to run faster. When he suggested it to me, I laughed it off by telling him that the only motivation I need is to look at my butt in the mirror or go to Wal-Mart on a Saturday afternoon in July and people watch. I kept checking his progress through an option that lets the user broadcast the results of their runs on social networking sites. I saw his pace and distance improving which stirred up my very dark, competitive side. "He ran thirteen miles today? Damn it, I only ran ten!" (Note: He lives on the other side of the country, so it’s not like we’re racing…except in my own mind, of course. Oh yeah, I’m that competitive.) Not one to be out done by any one, especially a guy, I caved and bought one for myself.

The way it works is the evil little sensor attaches to your shoe and synchs with your iPod. While you run, it records your distance, pace, time, and calories burned. When you set a goal for your run, it even talks to you, “You have reached the halfway point, only four miles left” or my personal favorite, “Your run is complete.” When I finished my first ten mile run, Lance Armstrong’s voice came on and congratulated me for my hard work. I never knew he cared!

The problem now is that I’m a dangerous runner. My eyes are transfixed by the iPod screen, needing to see at all times how fast I’m going. I dart out in front of traffic against my better judgment because in my head, all I hear is, “Can’t stop! Can’t stop! Must improve pace! Lance is watching!” I even stepped on a dead squirrel the other day because I didn’t want to wait for a car to pass, so I ran in a ditch.

I know I have a problem. I decided to start setting my distance goal lower than I think I can go to take some of the pressure off myself. That helps a little, I guess, but in my pounding heart I know it’s a shallow victory. I’m hoping that as I obsess over this new toy, it truly is going to make me a faster runner, because the faster I run, the faster I’m done. And you say “obsession” like it’s a bad thing….

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