It wasnāt a dramatic break-up. We didnāt scream at each other or find out one of us was cheating. But small issues started to build up. Initially, I didnāt mind friends linking to my fitness tracking account. It meant we could see each otherās runs with the intention of supporting one another. Wonderful!
But the trouble started when I began to find it competitive rather than up-lifting.
For me, the comparison when I saw their achievements was self-inflicted or imposed. I didnāt feel like they were showing off, but I did feel like their efforts and achievements were better than mine. But in the āhappy going up to 5kā bubble I was in, seeing other people achieve up to 10k on a morning run made me feel deflated and a little like I just wasnāt doing enough.Ā
I would chastise my 3km efforts after friends posted long runs on the same day. While I was out running, I felt good. But other peopleās 7km sprints and 10k strolls sat heavy on my heart long after the endorphins wore off.Ā
A 2016 study by Marco Wittmann from the University of Oxford highlighted how peopleās judgments of themselves are inextricably linked to their perceptions of others. He warned people who are prone to comparing themselves to others should ātake the specific social contextā into account.
Maybe that was my downfall? I couldnāt separate my run from someone elseās in my mind. It felt like the competition was on ā and I was falling behind.
Then came the email that really broke down my relationship with the app: my monthly stats. As well as tracking runs using GPS, the app records your progress and sends a detailed breakdown showing how many days youāve been āactiveā for that month.
For me in May, that was a grand total ofā¦ two.
And right there, in my inbox, it might as well have said FAIL.
I knew full-well Iād been active for more than two days in May. If Iām not running, Iām walking dogs with friends, doing yoga or going to fitness classes at the gym. But you canāt track these things easily on an app. Sure, I could get a wearable, but I know Iād spend half the spin class staring at it.
So, I began to think perhaps life might be better without my fitness app life partner? I was going to break up with it.