Sometime overnight, a ransomware attack on Garmin put all of your data under lock and key, with an indefinite timeframe for release. Like most large-scale hacks, the events and consequences are of utmost importance and time is of the essence.
After all, you ran this morning and it must be known, as per the rules of running in 2020. There is data to be uploaded, smoldering in the bowels of your Forerunner circuitry. But here you sit post-run, attempting to connect your Garmin to a computer via an actual cord, like some poor time traveler from 2014. A desperate Luddite who lost their digital crutch somewhere on their 3-mile “tempo run” this morning.
So you turn to Twitter for help, something no therapist ever would recommend.
“Okay, okay, so this guy says I have to connect my watch via USB, then download the GPX file from the Garmin activities directory, then manually upload to Strava*,” you relay intently to the unresponsive brick wall behind your computer screen. “Right, got it. Good.”
Your family stares at you from the other room, concerned at this individual behaving like the Kool-Aid man in the fourth day of a Keto diet. They hadn’t seen you act this way since the great Alphafly drought of Spring 2020. “Are you okay? Can I help you at all?” Knowing full well that they have no clue what you’re going through. Or the difference between a TCX, GPX, or FIT file.
Meanwhile, you’re trying to convince yourself and everyone else that you’re not the lateral base of a love triangle between your GPS watch and its Strava side-piece.
“I’m fine, I don’t really care,” you say, shooing your adoring children away as you attempt to understand a web interface on the fly. They wouldn’t understand the importance of your running data; after all, they can’t even walk yet. Your foot taps at 200 bpm (your max foot rate, incidentally) while the syncing takes longer than expected.
“Come on, come on…,” you whisper through clenched teeth, the way people at casinos talk to dice at the craps table, their kid’s college fund clinging desperately to the pass line. You pull your thumb down on your iPhone screen, incessantly refreshing, until suddenly… jackpot!
Your activity is ready.
The endorphin rush is real and it has nothing to do with the pair of Saucony on your feet. Relief is sweet as your data is finally secure in the hands of Strava. Every line of code in that uploaded file has finally been parsed, processed, and presented into the beautiful display on your iPhone screen. Map and route finally united, heart rate and GAP perfectly aligned.
Was the cord-to-computer method not your instrument of choice? No, and for the next few days, you won’t be able to sync it into your veins the way you used to. But it’s okay, you’re not a data or kudos addict.
After all, you’re the kind of runner who only “syncs when he drinks.” You check the “occasional” box on the “Refresh Strava” section on the doctor’s office intake form. Even if you do need your minute per mile pace with your morning coffee, after a meal, or any long drive.
You need it, but you don’t, you tell yourself.
And you know what? You’re right. You don’t.
You run the same three routes every week and know the turnaround points to the tenth of a mile. (We all know this because we see it every day on Strava.) You know your easy pace because you don’t have to mouth-breathe while running it. (And we thank you for not dragon-blasting your could-be COVID germs everywhere). You also know that races are canceled for the foreseeable future, so tempo workouts are as useful as, well, you know… that watch on your wrist. (Sorry, Garmin).
All that to say, if there ever was a time to take a break from the data dumping, it’s now. Maybe you’ll hate it. You probably will. We’re running alone most of the time already, so seeing each other’s runs every day unites us in some way. But maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll pay more attention to your body, and see more of the world around you, even if it is the same route you run every day of the week. So take the next few days and pretend your pale-ass watch tan is your real watch. There’s no harm in trying something. After all, the worst thing that could happen is that you become addicted to it.
And if that’s the case, well– kudos to you, even if you can’t see them.
*This actually is the correct way to upload your data to Strava via your USB-connected Garmin, so you’re welcome.
Robbe is the Senior Editor/Review Manager for BITR. He lives in Baltimore with his wife and two sons and runs with the Faster Bastards. When he’s not running in weird places or getting injured in odd ways, he can be found hiking, camping, bikepacking, or hanging with friends.