I HAVE MOVED

After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.

Harold

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Who’s Running Data is It?

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: August 2, 2012.


Over the past year, I have tried online websites, iPhone Apps or a combination of the two, to track my running, to see which one best fit my personal needs and preferences.

During all of this searching, for some reason or other I maintained my own spreadsheet to track my running.

It might have been a very good choice to have done that looking back with 20/20 hindsight.

Since last year, I have tried a dozen or so apps/websites and while a couple have really “interested me” me, none did everything I wanted, so I kept searching for the perfect combo, until I gave my iPhone to my son-in-law a few weeks ago.
Moot Point

Now which website I use is pretty much a moot point, because I have to enter my data manually and there are no GPS files to upload to a site. Since I no longer have the GPS device/app capability, I am looking at how I log my running data and how that data is used, a little differently.

Auto-sync let’s you conveniently forget, how much data you are actually providing a website whenever you upload your data:
  • Personal Information
  • Location
  • Running Habits
  • Type of runs
  • Running Times
  • Distance
  • Weight
  • Activity
  • Usually shoes and the mileage they have on them
  • What kind of weather you are willing to run in
  • and whatever else the App/site collects
This information provides a great deal of information to the site about your running and they can do a lot with it. No I am not trying to scare anyone, but we give away a lot of data when we sync to that free website – don’t we.

I also noticed

There were a couple of things that I noticed while doing this search for the perfect running app and corresponding website:

1. Certain sites do not allow you to manually enter data to their site or correct the data entered by your GPS device into their system. Also in some instances, you have to have either one of their GPS devices or their current iPhone App. They have complete control of what is in your data files.

I have a major problem with this type of system, since it is a completely closed system that does not let you choose the data being collected (but do you with any of them?).

Of more importance to many runners is that GPS is not as accurate as many would have us believe and what happens if your GPS device isn’t working, is lost or heaven forbid the battery isn’t charged, there will be gaps between your actual running and what the site says you have (which could be a lot or a little).

2. How difficult it was to migrate my data from one site to another.

It is almost as though some sites make it purposely difficult to leave their site with your data. Either they had no way to download my data, make it difficult to find how to do a bulk download of your data or you could only export your data as a certain type of file (usually not one that allows you to upload your data quickly and easily to a different site).
You don’t have to use the service!

Oh I can hear it now, well you voluntarily signed up, provided your data and used those sites, which are usually free to use, when you didn’t have to provide them with your data. Very true and I have no argument with that.

However, many of these sites are really quite awesome, help motivate you and provide you with your data in ways that is far more useful than simple numbers on a line. I guess you have to make a choice whether their site provides enough benefit, to make it worth you giving them your running data.

It sure would be nice when for when I find that “perfect” combination of App and Website that meets my needs that I would be able to transfer/move/upload all of my data to that one and not have my running log spread over a dozen websites.
Read the Terms of Service

Like a majority of the users out there (shame on me), I haven’t bothered to go through and read the Terms of Service agreements that govern each site that I have used for my running data – I just wanted to use their damn site. I am sure that the companies that are providing these websites and apps, cover their butts, quite nicely with the legalistic terms therein their TOS, regarding how they use and how I may access or export my data.

The reality is that

I tend to believe that my running data is my running data, even if I “signed” away my “rights” to my data, in exchange for the privilege of using their site. If I wish to export my .gpx or similar files, it shouldn’t take an act of you know who, to make it happen or that I should have to go on a grand quest for the hidden check box and download command, that might be buried within the site.

Sure some websites make it easy to find these things, but others do not and that is when I have to ask the question:

Who’s Data Is It?

Questions

  • Has anyone out there ever wanted to switch your online running log, but found to make the switch, you would either have to start over at the new site or that transferring the data was such a hassle that you just stayed where you are?
  • Do we own our running data or once we agree to use “their” site?
  • Does our data, become their data?
  • Is that just the cost of using their apps/websites in today’s online world?
  • What do you think?
I am Glad!

All this makes me glad that I maintained my old Spreadsheet running log as well as the online versions. This means that I still have my data in one place and don’t have to go back and re-create the wheel, plus I know that I can access that data pretty much when I need to.

Otherwise I wouldn’t have a clue about how many miles I have run this year. Not with all the different apps and websites that I have tried out since last November, because I can’t either export the data out of some sites in a useable format or there is no way to manually enter or correct GPS data.

Sometimes I do wonder if we do give up too much, to use these “free” things that are so easily available to us and convenient to use.

When I stopped and thought about the data that I so freely gave, to so many sites, during my search for the perfect app/site combination, it made me stop and wonder.

Was it worth it?

I don’t know.

That is the honest answer, but I will be a lot more careful about who I give this information to in the future.

Sometimes, I wonder if it would just be easier to go back to the Pen and Paper log that I have sitting on the shelf of my desk. Naw – I am too much of a geek for that, but it sure is tempting sometimes.

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