In defence of gimmicks?

Posted: November 25, 2015 in running
Tags: , , , , ,

Gimmicks. Exercise. Motivation. Sticks. Carrots.

I used to think that if you needed a gimmick to get you exercising, then it was taking something away from the enjoyment of exercising for its own sake and you might as well not bother.
Apart from that, I thought, gimmicks were a waste of money. 

Quick image search for exercise gimmicks…


Sheesh! Yup. This is still the case, I’m sure, for a lot of things. But can they work too?

I barely use it much now, but I found the Wii-Fit was great for getting me (and particularly my son) active on a rainy day. And yes, all the arguments about getting outside, getting wet, getting fresh air, etc. are indeed very valid.  We both still enjoy getting outside of course, but occasionally it’s a laugh to see him attempt a rowing race (and in the process, do approximately 50 sit-ups whilst barely being aware of it).

Do you remember those bracelets, worn by sportspeople, that harnessed the magnetic powers of the atmospheric chi lines of powerful nature magic causing ions that flow around the chakra plexus? Well… clearly they didn’t work…

Trion:z bracelet link

Triniton (‘trying it on’) spoof version link

[Edit: oh my goodness! Even the original version reads like someone has written it as a spoof!]

But did they work? A placebo effect, for all of its placebo-ness, is still an effect, is it not?

Now I’ve been losing a bit of weight recently. Not tons (obviously) but enough to feel that at the start of a 5k run, I should, all other things being equal, be able to run faster for the same effort. Result was, I did. PB. Thank you very much.

But did I put the same effort in? Or did I just have a bit more belief in myself?

A few weeks later and I have purchased a cheap Garmin (with Heart Rate monitor strap) via a well known online auction site. I run a 5k again. I get another PB. Thank you very much.

Now clearly, a Garmin doesn’t make me run faster. Maybe, it was that I could leave my phone (and therefore my run app tracker doobrie-wotsit) at home, thus saving me from carrying an additional few grammes around the 3.1 mile route? Maybe it helped me stick to the required pace better? I think it’s probably this.

Another week, a bit more weight loss, a bit more belief, another PB, and before I know it, I’ve gone from struggling to break 23:00 minutes for a 5k to now be only eleven seconds away from a time beginning with 21:something.

The same is often true of the weeks I run when I have bought a new pair of running shoes. They turn out to be PB weeks. Anyone else find this?

(Obviously you don’t necessarily know which week I’ve bought new running shoes. I was thinking more of you and when you have new shoes.)

I am still using my various running points accumulators too Bounts and Running Heroes . The same run, tracked via GPS app, gets me points for both of these. After approximately a year of use, I recently exchanged my Bounts points for £15 in gift cards. For runs I would have done anyway. Bonus.

If you haven’t yet signed up to this and you already use a tracking app then you really are missing out on money for nothing. (P.S If you do sign up then using the code Avery1132 when you do will get us both additional points)

The points are also still building for Running Heroes too but the rewards aren’t so good, I find. However I have found the weekly challenges very motivating. They vary in difficulty/effort, but if you complete them, you get entered into prize draws for various goods. This has sometimes meant that I’ve been out for runs I might otherwise not have been motivated to do. I’ve still never won anything yet, mind you and I doubt either of these reward schemes would interest me if I had no interest in running in the first place.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and I’ve barely run at all. Darker, colder nights and a chesty cold that’s been hanging around have resulted in just a half hour walk/run last weekend and a very leisurely parkrun with my son (which was great) the week before. The Garmin has sat on the sideboard, gradually running out of battery and the only points I’ve been accumulating have been of the sort counted by dieters. 

So what will get me back out there? I tell you what… It’s very unlikely to be a bracelet or a games console or a fetching silver space-sauna-suit, and it won’t be an app or a watch or the promise of points or a high-protein flapjack or beetroot juice or the lure of a sub 22:00 5k*.

(*mmmm….actually, if I’m honest, it might be that last one, at least in part.)

  1. Chris Dahl says:

    Anything that keeps you moving!

  2. justinesq says:

    Get that wii fit board back out and do the game where you sit on it and pretend to be a cow on a sledge. ( I’m loved that one best……. Obviously a glass of red wine makes it even more amusing ) . Nice to see you back on the blog !

  3. plustenner says:

    oh my goodness! what is that contraption the lady in the long dress is wearing? well done on all the PB’s! can only dream of a 22 something 5k

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