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Running with apps, Mark II

I wrote about running with apps before, when I was still fairly new to running. I’ve also written about the Apple Watch, which has been my companion day-in, day-out since I bought it when it was first released. Yesterday, I had a painful experience with both that left me wondering whether health and training apps, and the gamification of fitness, might have gotten a little bit out of control, at least for me.

I took my iPhone in to have its screen replaced, and aside from hideous customer service (a given at Apple’s Covent Garden store, it seems), the staff were oblivious to the implications of the phone running the iOS beta. The upshot was that, once repaired, the iPhone was running an old iOS and couldn’t restore from my iCloud back-ups. I was left with my iPhone as it was 8 months ago. Eventually, I managed to figure out how to fix this snafu, which the Apple “Geniuses” had mentioned nothing about, but not before I’d almost given up hope and reset my Apple Watch in order to re-pair it.

This meant two things: first, my Apple Watch’s log of my day’s activity was completely wiped; second, the new training app that I’m experimenting with, Fjuul, had logged my morning run (along with Strava) but had completely lost all summary of activity throughout the day. This month I was trying for the first time to achieve Apple’s month-of-activity achievement, and I had just started trying to calibrate Fjuul to my fitness level so that I could use the training function properly, which includes recovery advice and evaluations of the training effect of particular workouts. So aside from the inconvenience and hours lost trying to restore my phone, I really felt as though I had lost some things that were simply irrecoverable.

I felt ridiculous even in the moment when I was feeling furious and frustrated, but I feel even sillier this morning. The health and fitness benefits of the active day I had yesterday, running (if only a little) and wandering around London, weren’t wiped out along with the Watch’s data. I’m not that closely paired with it! One day lost isn’t too much of a delay in training Fjuul to understand my fitness level, and next month will be another month that I can try to reach Apple’s arbitrary achievement. But it was oh-so-easy to lose perspective and feel that the data, the achievements, were the thing that mattered most.

If a run goes unlogged, did it happen at all? If I can’t prove the day’s activity to Apple or Fjuul, did it happen at all?

I think it might be time to start running without my phone now and again….

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