Struggling to slow down in our hyper-connected world?

Since I started using the Apple Watch Ultra several weeks ago, I thought more of testing the highly appreciated Stryd app (more details available here) because I constantly use the Stryd foot pod, even if I don’t guide my training on running power anymore (that’s another story, maybe I’ll elaborate it in another post) but just use it’s consistency in measuring distance and pace – so I said, why not try it?

While waiting for Steve Palladino’s training plans to be available on the Stryd platform (more details here), I added one of the higher volume 6 day/week marathon plans to my schedule and started the daily suggested workout with the Apple Watch app. The solution works fine, it’s intuitive and the audio cues are there (a bit too intrusive to my taste, but anyway), but I was taken by surprise by the fact that I couldn’t keep the prescribed power interval, it was just too low for me to comfortable run like that.

I dropped the session after just 1.5km, unable (unwiling) to keep the slow pace

Knowing that my CP (Critical Power) didn’t change since I used (and enjoyed) the Stryd power based plans, the structure of the workouts looked similar, I was puzzled … I just couldn’t accept the slow pace, even though from the previous plans execution I knew that going easy during some sessions is just part of the bigger game and at that moment it just worked fine.

After 1.5km I gave up and stopped the Stryd app, started the native workout app and continued my running session running decently slow, but at a more acceptable pace – 6:20 min/km instead of 7:10 min/km before, with Stryd.

Two years ago, I was perfectly fine with running 10k at the same slow pace

While I could dig into the details and reasons why the higher pace was just more acceptable for me (I actually was able to run 50 sec/km faster with an increase of just 3 bpm on the average heart rate, compared with the session from 2021), the event just made me spend more time thinking about the broader challenges we face in slowing down amidst the influences of all external factors – technology, targeted advertising, and the trend of instant gratification.

The rapid rise of technology has led to an onslaught of devices that demand our constant attention. Our smartphones, tablets, and wearables are designed to keep us connected and informed, but they also serve as an ever-present source of distraction. A simple buzz or notification is enough to pull our attention away from a meaningful conversation or quiet contemplation. These devices are incredibly effective at capturing our attention and time, delivering bursts of dopamine that can make us numb to the simple pleasures of life and unable to slow down. This constant barrage of digital stimuli makes it increasingly difficult to find moments of stillness and introspection, a necessity for emotional and mental wellbeing.

The second factor contributing to the challenge of slowing down is the pervasive influence of targeted advertising. As companies invest heavily in understanding consumer behavior and preferences, the advertisements that reach us are tailored to our interests, making them even more alluring. These ads are designed to tap into our desires, making it difficult to resist their siren call. This constant exposure to consumerist messages can lead to an insatiable desire for more, leaving little room for us to appreciate what we already have.

Finally, the instant gratification trend exacerbates the difficulty of slowing down. With services like same-day delivery, streaming platforms, and social media constantly updating with new content (you can add the power of AI and big data to it), we have grown accustomed to having our needs met immediately. This cultural shift has led to a decrease in patience and an increased focus on short-term satisfaction. Consequently, activities that require time and patience, such as reading a book, practicing a musical instrument, or engaging in deep conversation, are often cast aside in favor of quicker, more superficial experiences.

Despite the challenges presented by the digital age, it is important to recognize the value in slowing down and cultivating mindfulness. Research has shown that being present and mindful can lead to increased happiness, reduced stress, and improved mental health. To counter the external factors that promote a fast-paced lifestyle, we can practice mindfulness techniques, such as meditation and mindful breathing, to create moments of stillness amidst the chaos. If you need some support (and merge technology and mindfulness somehow) you could try the audiobook “Why we meditate” by Daniel Goleman and Tsoknyi Rinpoche (available on Audible here)

Moreover, setting boundaries around technology use and consumption can help mitigate the effects of digital distractions and targeted advertising. This might include scheduling device-free time, silencing notifications, or limiting exposure to certain types of content.

In conclusion, while the external factors of technology, targeted advertising, and the instant gratification trend make slowing down a considerable challenge, it is an essential pursuit for personal well-being. By embracing mindfulness and setting boundaries, we can regain control over our lives and find the balance necessary for a fulfilling existence in a hyper-connected world. Inspired by my own experience during that running session, I have realized that the simple act of slowing down can have a profound impact on our overall quality of life.

Take time to slow down and enjoy it!

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

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