We have undergone a very extreme paradigm shift in the past couple of years due to this pandemic. Don’t click away, I’m every bit as tired of talking about the pandemic as you are of reading about it or contending with it, but it just won’t go away, so we really need to talk about this. This transition to a digital-centric lifestyle was inevitable, and had been gradually building up since the advent of the World Wide Web in the late 1990s. The true digital age, however, is when the digital approach to any given aspect of life is considered the default, rather than a curiosity or newfangled alternative. That was going to gradually be achieved by the middle of the century, if you ask most sociologists and futurists, it wasn’t really going to happen this quickly. However, a pandemic like this can really impact things due to desperation and necessity. Hence, we have left to digital versions of shopping, working, learning and other interactions out of absolute necessity. Old ways of delivering entertainment have been finally completely supplanted by streaming, e-books and other such things.

In most cases, the benefits far outweigh any old-fashioned satisfaction one got from traditional approaches. Shopping online is more pleasant in most cases, the other will always be a fondness among most for shopping and browsing through very specific things, and that’s never going to die off anyhow. Newspapers are horrible, cable TV is horrible, classrooms and office buildings are horrible. But what about running and other athletic pursuits? Is what we are giving up in order to do something like an online running club justified by the benefits once the danger of the pandemic has passed? What challenges do we face here that we may not face with the transition certain other things underwent?

Surprisingly few challenges, actually. There exist apps that run on both iOS and android, and that can work with a simple biometric smart watch to allow athletes to record their runs as well as fitness information during and after these runs. Smart software can even do things like virtual races, and the granular and very precise biodata provided to coaches gives them better insight than they could have had the old-fashioned way. With voice over IP systems like Skype, discord and various other modern phone communication apps I am too old to know the names of, you can still exercise real time at disparate locations as well.

No, the challenge with a virtual running club aside from making sure you have the app capable of running on both iOS and android with equal capacity, is a psychological one alone. Well, mostly at least. There is a special something, due to our conditioning as a society, when it comes to meeting up together and watching each other run and physically directly competing. This was already a diminishing sentiment in current generations, and I don’t imagine any generation after the current one would even miss this aspect, but those that remember the old way will just have to learn to cope with things feeling slightly more hollow until they have adapted. The only other real challenge is the fact that the different venues that people will be free to choose, as well as exercising and training on their own schedules, may make for some slightly skewed comparisons, for example, if one athlete runs on flat, paved ground while another does their training up a bumpy, poorly-cleared Hill out in the wilderness. However, smart enough apps can be slid and adjusted to account for this, and that level of granular precision is it really necessary in most cases anyhow!

 

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This Article panned by Lora Davis