Thursday, August 5, 2010

Running Naked

My Garmin Forerunner 305

No, not that kind of naked... running naked as in without a GPS device or (gasp) even a common wristwatch.

Back in olden times (aka, oh, the '90s) road running was simple and pure. Maybe I wore a stopwatch, maybe I didn't. If I wanted to know how long a run was, I drove it in my car. It was the good-old Encyclopedia Britanica version of distance running.

Then I started to get serious, in a layman sense. Running with a stopwatch was non-negotiable and every route was pre-mapped for distance via online mapping programs. It was the day of Encyclopedia Britanica CD version. I completed three marthons training this way and didn't know any better until...

My Garmin Forerunner 305 entered the scene. Hellllloooooo GOOGLE. Running would never be the same. Instant pace per mile, instant distance completed, splits, virtual partners... all only as far away as my wrist. Obsession with numbers took on a whole new meaning. I couldn't run half a mile without checking to make sure I was on pace. My Garmin battery died once during a half marathon... I almost had a heart attack. I know runners who have named their Garmins.

Imagine my dismay as, over the last  few months, those little numbers on my Garmin slowly climbed in the wrong direction. I know I'm not supposed to be going fast or far. Yet, seeing pace per mile numbers climb consistently into the double digits (and I don't just mean 10) stressed me out. The final straw was when I had to take walking breaks and realized I was concerned about the impact on my final pace/mile.

So, I returned to the days of Atari, climbing trees and looking up information in books. I completed my last two runs without a Garmin or any other timing device. You know what? It was NICE. Since my left wrist isn't nearly as captivating as the Garmin, I spent a lot of time actually looking around my neighborhood (when did that building get there?). Flowers were open, birds were signing and, most importantly, I wasn't stressing about how fast I was going. I even took a few walking breaks without stress. I'm sure I'll still use the Garmin frequently (I couldn't even go a full day without GOOGLE) but it's nice to be back to reading books some too.

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