Friday, February 3, 2012

Fragments of Family Life: the Garmin

The Garmin
Basically it’s a computer for your wrist. It’s a very clever computer, with GPS and stuff. It’s my husband’s, purchased as a ‘treat’ after completing his second marathon, in Paris. His first marathon was the famous London, a marathon that is now so popular that it’s massively oversubscribed and wouldn’t be a marathon to go for a PB (Personal Best in runner speak). His third and fourth marathons were Dublin and London again, with lots of half marathons in between when we were living in rural Derbyshire/Staffordshire, so plenty of lovely hilly climbs!
Whilst we waited for husband at the finish line, I was always amazed at the variety of shapes and sizes and ages of people completing the marathon – a number of old and wiry looking men and women as well as large people who looked more like rugby players than marathon runners but all seemed to enjoy the experience (we were usually watching at the finish line where the enjoyment is probably at its peak, as opposed to at the ¾ point where everyone is hating the run and their bodies and wishing that it would all end!)
His next marathon is going to be Madrid and, using his Garmin, he will have a pretty good idea of what sort of time he can hope to run it in, although it seems that marathon running is not an exact science as you cannot always factor in the ‘human nature’ element of the race: how you will feel, if you’ll need a poo, if there are thousands of other runners, how you will feel when you are running your heart out only to have a person run past you wearing a womble outfit etc.
I only know all this because I am married to a keen, if not devoted runner. I can barely run a kilometre. I could probably walk about 10kms but running has never been my favourite sport. In fact I dislike running intensely and didn’t mind at all when a boyfriend at university pointed out that I was built for comfort and not for speed because, for me, it’s the truth. I’m an advocate of this School of life: why run when you can walk? Why walk when you can sit down? Why sit if you can lie down? I’m not averse to a bit of exercise, but I like it to be a walk, perhaps followed by a nice pub lunch or a lovely ice cream at the end as a treat.
I do like a good old competitive game of netball or basketball or rounders. Nothing like a bit of team sports to get the adrenalin going but I am pretty rubbish at sports in general and feel sorry for any team that may have me in its midst because I’m not that good. Not too good at tennis or badminton either. I like a swim, particularly a swim with flippers that let you skim through the pool like some magic woman from Atlantis. I think my favourite sport at the moment is a squash and a squeeze with my kids. This involves me tickling them heartily and sometimes ends in a pillow fight and wrestle – it’s good aerobic exercise. Unfortunately, my children, now 6 and 8, are almost strong enough to overpower me, so that work out may disappear soon as being a dangerous sport.
My son loves football and is also showing an interest in running, something his dad is happy to encourage. They have recently embarked on Sunday run together and to my shame, my son can run 5km now, an easy 4km more than I would be happy with. My daughter has the energy of a 6 year old and just runs around everywhere anyway, from the moment she gets up in the morning to her reluctant bedtime. We should really strap the Garmin on to her wrist one day to see how many kms she covers.
When husband first got the Garmin I considered it as a possible toy to get me motivated to start running, I was, for a long time, an aspirational runner, thinking that I could and would grow to love it with perseverance. Now I just accept that the Garmin is my husband’s toy. He is the marathon runner and I am proud of his achievements and will be happy to cheer him on at the finish line in Madrid. Next time you watch the start of the London marathon, watch the runners on the starting line, a good percentage of them, on starting, will push the little buttons on their Garmins to start inputting the data - some of them will have little bleeping reminders throughout the race to remind them to slow down or speed up and will use the Garmins throughout to monitor their progress and aim for a P. B.
They're all setting their watches!! Possibly Garmins!

I am happy to observe without participating; I am a woman of many talents – running just isn’t one of them.


  1. Running - you are either in or out, there are no inbetweens! Many do it because they have been told it is good for them but some of them love it and the rest hate, really hate it. And as for toys, choose one you want, that turns you on, that you wil look lovingly at like he looks at his Garmin (You know what I mean - when he first got it and couldn't stop looking at it every two minutes!) yet again, it''s all about love - do what you love and enjoy it.

    1. hmm, can think of a few toys I would play with but none that I would want to discuss on my blog!

  2. Garmin- like strapping an iPad onto your wrist. In my recent 50k I was struck by how pseudo technical the sport of running has become- all these things which claim to make you run faster. One of the reasons I like running is that you need relatively little 'specialist gear' to do it.

    On my room 101 runner list:

    1) compression socks- there is a lot of 'literature' on it, but as yet I am not going to look like a St Trinians schoolgirl when I go running. Apparently you can avoid DVT whilst wearing them.
    2) compression shorts / shirts- ditto here- more for the concern about people being able to see my testicles and man boobs in them. Baggy is better.
    3) Vibram five fingers barefoot running stuff- sounds like a sex toy and whoever would run barefoot needs their head examining for the amount of dog dirt there is on most streets in the world.

    I will of course forgive Steve if he has any of these, as he no doubt will be able to convince me but anyone in Hong Kong who I've seen with them is usually a) loud b) pushing me out of the way in a race.

    I have had to invest in a 'water carrier' thingy for my longer runs and have learnt the benefits of electrolyte drinks (ones that are not advertised by John Barnes) and gels- although have realised nothing tastes nice after 50k.

    With watches I can't stand the beeping thing as it just informs me that I haven't yet run that next km- so have found them counterproductive. I have a trusty old polar watch which looks a bit like the things you used to get free from Esso Garages in the 80s.

    On the recent 50k race I realised that the kind of people who do 'ultras' (said in an american accent) tend towards the kind of people I would shun in real life. Derivative traders/ A type personalities/ people who engage in conversations whilst wearing headphones and consider this normal/ people who invade your personal space in bars / People who talk about enjoying 'the powder' when they ski. It's a shame as I am sure there are some quieter nicer people who also do these kind of things. As yet, I've to find them.

  3. I'm also the other half in a running couple, and like you would probably just manage a km. I read about these people who start running and then become hooked and live to run, but just can't imagine it myself. I think I'll stick to the cheering on role too Sian.
    PS thanks for introducing the garmin- will have to put on the possible present list.


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