Back when I was a runner in high school and undergrad, I didn’t wear a watch of any sort. My coach used his stop watch to give my team mates and I split times on the track or various information on other runs. I certainly didn’t have a gps watch and the only way I knew road distances was from the car or running race routes that I knew.
When I started running again I was resistant to join the “Garmy” of runners. Aside from the cost, I figured I was just old school and wouldn’t enjoy timing myself, let alone figuring out how to use the thing. Most of the runners I met swore by their various watches and when I got a coach I finally caved in and bought a Garmin at my (almost) local Running Room.
It didn’t take very long and I was a convert. Besides being easy to use, its presence didn’t bother me and I found it interesting to check on my pace at various times during a run. I was very surprised to see that I wasn’t a really good judge of pace – at times I felt like I was flying only to see I had actually slowed down. However, I was just as likely to feel like I was really dragging only to check and see I was ahead of my planned pace. The best part of this was it taught me multiple ways to really get a feel of pace – my breathing, my footfall, how relaxed my shoulders on, etc etc. I learned I couldn’t just use one factor to judge how I was doing – it was most accurately done with a larger amount of information.
Somewhere along the way, I think I forgot how much the Garmin had taught me and I really think that I have become over reliant on it. With that in mind, I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in a very long time – I left it home. It was difficult. I felt like I was abandoning a friend or leaving my dog at home when I was going to his favourite park. I didn’t need it for pacing, as it was supposed to be a long, easy run. And I didn’t need it for distance, as I’m well versed on which routes are what distance locally.
My first indication that maybe this was a needed experiment was the sheer number of times I looked at my bare wrist in the first few kilometres. As my run continued, I found that I was more aware of my route than usual. I noticed little changes in my pace and found myself just enjoying the run completely. I enjoy even my hard workouts, but this was a different kind of enjoyment for me. It was very freeing to find myself completely running for pleasure and not “training” – even though, I really was doing both.
I’m not going to lie – literally the first thing I did when I got home was still a glance at the clock to get a ballpark figure of how long my run took (and yes, I still figured out my average pace). But it was nice not to think about making up “lost time” from one kilometre to the next or doing any math at all during my run.
My Garmin is definitely an invaluable tool, but remembering that I don’t need it to run was just as valuable. I definitely want to improve and to see how far I can push myself. I just don’t ever want to push myself so far that I lose sight of why I run in the first place – enjoyment!