Go, Go Gadget Legs!

Last week, my friend Beth sent me a pedometer.  Her office is doing a month-long fitness contest where everyone’s put on a team and together they record the number of steps they take a day.  The team that takes the most steps wins.  I told her that I had gone for a run earlier in the week and resorted to counting steps to make it through that first mile where your legs are still figuring out what the heck is happening.  And by “counting steps,” I really mean “counted to 10 over and over again after I got to 70, until I passed the White House and had to deal with rush-hour traffic and forgot to count to 10.”

Somehow, this translated into “Stephanie needs a pedometer!” and sure enough, one arrived, and after walking to work last Friday, I put on the pedometer at 9:15am.  Apparently the rest of the day, I clocked all of 4,635 steps (1.64 miles).  Ack.  10,000 steps is what they tell people to aspire to.  I had a run scheduled for the next day, and I was thinking that if things didn’t improve, I’d have to reconsider calling myself an active individual.  Sure enough, Saturday consisted of 17,728 steps (7.51 miles).  Phew.  As for the remaining days of the week, they went like this:

Sunday: 13,530, 4.77 miles
Monday: 7,068, 2.51 miles
Tuesday: 7,521, 2.72 miles
Wednesday: 14,965, 6.21 miles
Thursday: 11,824, 5.31 miles

Now, I have no idea how accurate this pedometer is.  It’s digital, which is a step up from the analog one that my dad gave my brother one year for Christmas.  Don’t ask.  We’re not sure why my brother got a pedometer for Christmas.  I do remember us shaking it vigorously to make the counter go up, though… Anyway, this newfangled pedometer also purports to measure distance, but because I’ve never calibrated it, I have no idea how it knows how long my stride is.  And I’ve already thrown out the instructions.  And the biggest flaws are that the pedometer doesn’t count when you’re going up steps or steep hills, nor does it count the first four steps after a stop.  The latter makes a difference if I hit too many red lights — take Wednesday’s number, when I was 35 steps short of 15,000 steps.  35 steps could have easily been lost over 10 blocks.  And the walking up steps thing?  Well, let’s just say that I take the stairs often, and boy, would I be annoyed if I did a hill workout and it didn’t register on this pedometer.  Finally, the pedometer bulges on my waistline if I’m in work clothes, doesn’t clip onto a dress, and otherwise looks like a pager…seriously, who other than Search and Rescue volunteers have pagers anymore?

Pedometer, Timex watch, and RunKeeper app for Android

This all brings me to a nifty smartphone app that another friend, Jonathan, showed me today: RunKeeper.  Let’s get this straight.  I am not a GPS, Garmin or otherwise a gadget girl.  Gadgets require keeping batteries alive, and half the stuff that I do is in the cold, which isn’t known for battery longevity.  Also, I have been known to drive a particular running route to figure out its distance, even though I owned Nike+ running shoes and an iPod.  Instead, I’m a devoted user of gmaps pedometer, a Google Maps hack, and all of its lovable glitches…like not letting me automatically “run” down a one-way street or the C&O Canal Towpath (these things are no longer issues, although….they may or may not be the reason I was driving running routes), and my Timex watch.  And while I also don’t like running while holding anything bigger than my keys, one reason RunKeeper makes sense is that I run to/from work and my phone is already in my backpack.  Another reason is that the app keeps track of other activities.  Like downhill skiing.  I could probably rig it to track my hikes, too.  How rad is that?  Phresheez, you may have some competition here, especially if RunKeeper doesn’t kill my battery…