I read a number of running blogs and they are full of statistics. Distance, time, heart rate, often with pretty graphs; its all there. There has also been a marketing push by Nike who have sent their Sportsband to a number of bloggers, to raise awareness. There has thus been discussion of its virtues, especially compared to a Garmin. Some people went about wearing both. I suppose if you are going to have statistics then there is an anxiety them being accurate and a need to check.
I look on and think I'm missing the runners' statistical gene because it all seems like a lot of trouble. It's not that I'm a technophobe, in fact I rather like gadgets and have always used a hrm. But I use it in a fairly loose way and have neither accurately tested my maximum heart-rate, nor based my training on exact heart-rate percentages. Instead over time, and a good number of runs, I have identified the the heart-rates associated with different levels of exercise (that is I used the feeling of intensity first, or Borg scale if we are getting sport sciencey, and then checked the numbers). I use this information from the hrm in two main ways: firstly confirming that things are going as expected, if there is a variation between what I feel and the heart-rate I know something is wrong and I can take action; secondly it is useful for holding the rate down on the long slow run, to keep it nice and easy.
Other than that the only thing I need is the watch part of the hrm. I have a paper diary in which I record time on my feet, type of session and random details such as weather, how I felt, problems, or any strange events. Mileage is a bit slapdash and often not recorded (a lot of my routes are on meandering woodland paths, which I have no way of measuring). I like writing it out in longhand, somehow it feels more in sympathy with the simple physical activity of running.
A couple of years ago I bought a Garmin 201 and at first thought it the bees roller-skates and loved playing with it but I soon gave it up. It took too long to get a signal ( I felt a bit of a ninny, all togged up but hanging around until the machine told me I could go), but more importantly it was not very good under the trees. It has gathered dust ever since and that simple action of rejecting a piece of technology made me think about the information I need and realise that it is not very much.
All I want is to chart progress (or more precisely lack of progress). Although I only have a rough idea of how far or how fast I have run, it doesn't matter because I have a number of standard routes and can compare them over time. That is good enough.