I am cyborg.
More than a few of you have noticed recents tweets from me along the lines of: ran 5.18 mi on 1/31/2010 at 4:43 PM with a pace of 7’40″/mi http://bit.ly/caBEXv . Actually, the tweet didn’t come from me; it was automatically generated from NikePlus.com after plugging in my Nike+ SportsBand to my PC. I authorized Nike’s site to connect to my Twitter account and so now every run gets measured by the SportsBand and the data (distance, time and pace) uploaded to Nike where a beautiful graph and running tweet get generated for your amusement. Why would I do this? Why would I want to share something as mundane/vain as my training log with everyone on Twitter?
Knowing my run training is transparent and my stats out there for anyone to see is a great motivator during the inevitable times of a run that I want to ease off, catch my breath, relax a little. It’s not that every run I do is a full-on sprint, but I do have a goal in mind every time I put on my running shoes. Sometimes it’s to complete a certain distance, sometimes it’s speed and sometimes I just want to stretch my legs. In any case, the knowledge that you’ll get the results of every run keeps me very goal oriented. You’re watching and that’s motivating.
Along those lines, I’m also fascinated by that black and blue device in the photo – the FitBit. You attach it to yourself (I keep mine on my belt) and it uses a motion sensor to track your every step. During the course of a day it counts the number of steps you’ve taken, the distance you’ve traveled by foot and the approximate amount of calories you’ve burned based on the level of your activity. It connects wirelessly to a base station attached to your computer and uploads the data to FitBit.com. You customize the algorithm in the device by specifying your age, sex, height and weight on the site and the FitBit adjusts accordingly. From all the data, FitBit calculates your daily Activity Score and then compares it to everyone else using the device. I’m sorta competitive, so knowing that raising my activity level will raise my rank turns fitness into a game that I get to play with everyone else using a FitBit (Nike+ offers similar comparisons and motivating challenges on their site based on their gadget). After two weeks of use, I’m scoring right at the 50% level among all FitBit users. Grrr. How annoying! Must be better than the masses!
OK, that last sentence was perhaps a little too revealing, but really that’s the point in using these things. They motivate me by sharing my performance with you and frankly, by doing that, these gadgets make training fun.