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I’ve fallen out with my watch.

I class myself as a carrot-crunching nerd. Someone who loves nature and wants to do their best by planet earth, but who still gets a little excited by technology’s shiny lights. I have had to teach myself not to look at the newest adverts for the latest gadgets as it doesn’t take a lot for me to be taken in by the spell-binding extra knobs and whistles that promise to enhance my life. I am aware of my failings.

But this week, I had an argument with my Apple Watch. Well, it was pretty one-sided. Not even Siri put up a fight.

I’d had a tough week. It’s been a long month. The kids are now back at school, which is great, lockdown is starting to ease, but the last few months have definitely taken their toll. I was tired. My mojo had done it’s time. I decided to head to bed early. And just as I was getting into bed, my watch decided that it was an excellent time to remind me to stand. It didn’t think getting up at 5am, running 5 miles, getting the kids to school, working the day standing-up, sorting out the evening routine and (admittedly) sitting for an hour in front of the TV was enough. It thought I needed to do more.

I told it to do one.

Unfortunately, in no uncertain terms and out loud, which kind of shocked my partner.

Technology is often meant to be a help to us. And, my word, it is awesome to track our every mile, our every heartbeat. It’s given us some great insights. But I do wonder if we’re wired to cope with all that it has to offer us.

The most recent scientific studies have shown that humans have approximately 6200 new thoughts a day*. Search Google, and it will tell you that 80% of them are negative. Now, I’ve done the trawling, and I can’t find a source for that figure, but I do know from the depths of my own mind, and working in advertising for years, that worries about our health, our self-worth, our abilities, our relationships; they take up a lot of mind space.

And then we add in our wonder watches, our step-trackers and our Strava ratings.

In these past few months, my watch has informed me that my pace is slowing (I’m trying heart-rate training, so naturally it’s slower), that my VO2 max is declining (it doesn’t like long, slow runs), that I haven’t exercised every day (rest days are meant to be built in, aren’t they?!). And finally, this week, I wasn’t standing enough (because standing at a desk makes it think I’m sitting at a desk unless I do some significant arm movements every hour).

It can bring you down. It felt like I was losing my mojo, and from the various running groups I follow on social media, I’m not alone. Like one half of a pair of socks heading into the wash, it would seem mojos are disappearing at an alarming rate.

So what the heck is a mojo?

The nerd side of me did a bit of research and discovered its supernatural origins. “Mojo” originally referred to a magical charm or amulet of African origin. A little bag of magic created by witch doctors to bring magical powers to the person who wore it. It came to the fore in the western world by early blues songs and seemed to hit mainstream once Muddy Waters created the masterpiece, ‘Got my mojo working – but it just won’t work on you’. The lyrics perhaps notwithstanding the test of time, seeing as he wanted to use his mojo to ‘have all you women fetch under my command’… perhaps his mojo understood what a pillock he was being and withheld its magic from him. We can only hope.

So, mojo – a little bag of magic. That’s what we’re missing.

Or maybe not.

Perhaps we can just be tired of trying so hard. It’s been tough, and measuring ourselves against past results or the results of others may not be so wise right now. This time last year, I was running my fastest ever half marathon. But that version of myself hadn’t faced a global pandemic, home-schooling and self-isolation. My watch can compare the results as much as it likes, but it has no context. Last years me was a totally different person.

Being tired is OK. It’s allowed. Like rest days (or I prefer the less passive term, ‘recovery days’), our body and minds need that time to recover.

We all meet resistance at various points in our life, tough times that we face and have to overcome. Sometimes we have to allow ourselves time to recover, and other times we have to drag our sorry backsides out and make ourselves move forward – however far or fast – so as not to get lost in the darkness. But it’s not our technology we should be listening to to tell us when to do this. It’s trusting ourselves to know what’s best for us. Humans have, after all, managed to work out when to eat, sleep and drink without a reminder for thousands of years. Mother Nature seems to have given all living things it’s own inbuilt watch to do what’s needed at the right time, without the need for technical intervention. The trees don’t seem to mind if their VO2 max shows a downward trend; they grow when they can, rest when they can’t. It’s beautifully simple.

Results will come and go, we’ll be faster, we’ll be slower, some runs will feel epic, others, meh. But trusting in ourselves will allow us to keep moving forward when we can and resting when we need to.

Lemn Sissay wrote a verse that I love for times like this:

“How do you do it said night
How do you wake and shine
I keep it simple said light
One day at a time”

I’m taking it one day at a time, I’ve put my watch on mute for now. I get out on walks and runs when I can. I recognise the mojo hasn’t actually gone; in fact, it never left; it just got drowned out by the stats and alerts. When I run without the reminders, I have time to see the real magic around me. I have time to hear the thoughts. And for someone who runs for themselves and not to beat records or compare with others, that’s actually where the real mojo lies. I don’t need to wear a bag of magic; I just need to believe in my own.

I hope you have a great week; listen to that inner magic, do what you need to do. Trust yourself.

All the best,

Founder / Nerd / Personal Witch Doctor

*Number of thoughts (there are higher estimations of this figure on the internet but I haven’t been able to find any scientific source for them).


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