As I approach the final straight on the Chile Challenge I thought it was about time to talk about one of my favourite things: Gadgets.
As with all gadgets, these range from necessities to nice-to-haves. Some are actual life savers, whereas others are pure convenience (aka pure laziness). The one thing these do have in common is all of these have helped me out in one way or another during the course of this year’s challenge. Queue ‘Whole Lotta Love’ style countdown and cheesy voiceover:
5. Nespresso Machine – First up in the top five is the 21st century equivalent of a rocket fuel tank: perfect for early morning training. Less than 60 seconds for a spot-on caffeine shot to ensure there is no drifting off whilst on the move. I will be honest, I am not one of those 5-cups-a-day-or-I-feel-faint coffee clutchers, in fact as my workmates would attest I pretty much only drink water during the daytime, but I do like a decent coffee once in a while, and you basically cannot go wrong with these. Quick and easy to make even when half asleep, and guaranteed to work every time. Anyone from Nespresso who is reading this, feel free to comp me a machine for the plug…
4. Comfort Access System – A new entry (literally), which as mentioned is probably the height of laziness for me. This is basically an NFC key for my car, so I can unlock the doors and start the engine as long as I have my keys somewhere on me. Yes, I can hear the moaners at the back, it is totally unnecessary, but once you have it you realise how useful it is. After a long gym session I can leave my keys in my massive transition rucksack without having to route around the bottom with still-sweating paws, and just get in the car and move straight off. The same goes for getting into the boot when carrying all my kit back from transition. Yes, it infuriates my wife as I always forget to unlock her side, but as a new discovery this year I now can’t live without it.
3. Garmin Forerunner 410 – Halfway through the list is the gadget I have probably mentioned the most this year. This is a fairly mid-range Garmin which I bought heading into last year’s Birmingham Half Marathon in an effort to motivate myself to train for my first proper foot race. When doing my research to buy this I wanted all the features, such as heart rate monitor, foot pod for treadmill use, wheel sensor for the cycle trainer and so on. 12 months on I barely use any of these (although I like the fact I can if I want to) having realised that it is the core features, which much like Herzberg’s Hygiene Factors are the most important part of a gadget like this: How far have I run, How fast am I running, and How long have I been running for? It might sound basic, but whether training or racing this is the most important data to me, as it helps me pace myself and get the most out of a session. I do also like playing with the data and graphs afterwards, but do not (yet) get that into the quagmire of data it throws out. Maybe one day…
2 – SmartPhone – Narrowly missing out on the top spot, this has been part of almost every session this year, tucked away in my arm holster like some sort of futuristic six shooter. Music, photos, directions, safety, pretty much everything you could need when training for a 4000 km long challenge. 90 percent of the memory on my phone is taken up with music, split into various playlist permutations to cover all types of training. Hill running in the snow? Whack on the Rocky IV soundtrack. Long zoned out cycle rides? A bit of electronica like Madeon or M83 to go in the background. Something to get the blood pumping? A heavy metal playlist ready made for a bit of rage. You get the picture. As for pictures, well almost all of the ones I have put up this year (except the ones ‘borrowed’ from Google Images) were taken on this, as you never know what you will come across on a long run in a new spot (Cadbury Creme Egg Car anyone?). To be honest it is hard to imagine not having this, but who knows how far technology will go.
1. Suunto Zoop Dive Computer – As I hinted above, whilst the other gadgets on this lists are more nice-to-haves, divers will know that a proper computer really is a lifesaver. So it is only right that the top spot goes to my Suunto Zoop. Those who do not dive may wonder what you do with it, but it basically looks after you whilst underwater. Depth, time, air supply, ascent speed, gas mixes, safety limits… the list goes on. Of all the gadgets here this is also the one I have had longest, and (touch wood) it has never let me down, even when going down to close to 40 metres earlier this year. Yes, there are tons of dive computers on the market, ranging from tiny watches to full on touch screen monsters with all the bells and whistles, but this entry level model more than does the job and is always easy enough to actually read and operate underwater, which is kind of a big deal when your life is on the line. Enough said!