Trusting My Internal Clock
|January 11, 2012||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Running|
I’ve talked about this before, but Garmins can be a mixed blessing. The feedback from them is great. And sometimes, when I look down and see a number that I like (whether it be pace or miles), it can make me feel on the top of the world. But other times it seems as though the watch’s sole goal is to crush my running confidence. I look down and see a pace that seems too slow for how I feel – and then suddenly, I feel even slower and completely out of shape. Or I see one that seems way too fast to maintain and then freak out. It’s a bit funny how one little watch can have so much impact on how we feel about ourselves and our running.
Running without a Garmin on Saturday was one thing that made the race so stress-free
In the spirit of being less dependent on my Garmin, last night I tried an experiment. I have been running with the watch more often these days (now that the training hiatus is over, it’s time to start getting my butt kicked by that thing again), but I still don’t want to be obsessing over the numbers on every run. I respect the watch as a helpful training tool, but there’s something to be said about trusting your body to tell you how fast/hard you are running, instead of a little digital computer on your wrist.
So last night, as I stood shivering on the corner in my shorts waiting for my watch to find satellites, I concocted an experimental workout in my head. The goal would be to keep a comfortably fast pace, without actually looking at my watch to make sure that I was doing so. I was just going to run at the pace that my body felt was quick but maintainable. I don’t know about you, but for me this can be a scary thing. Do you ever have those days when you feel like you are pushing hard and yet find out that your pace is actually really slow? I was afraid that after a sick day on Monday, my legs were going to trick me into thinking I was running fast while I was really just slogging along.
But I squashed the doubts. After the satellites had finally loaded (and after getting the most disgusted look from a woman walking by who saw me standing outside in shorts in January – do my shorts disturb you that much?!) I was off. I settled into a pace that felt quick, but still relaxed. I turned on my music and got into the zone. I had no idea how fast I was running, but it felt great.
I kept that up for about 4 miles. At that point I went around a corner and was blasted by an awful headwind. I felt my pace slipping and wasn’t sure I’d be able to hold on for the 1.5 miles home. It was time for Phase 2 of my experiment.
I finally let myself look down at my watch and realized I was running a sub-7:30 pace. Even with the headwind. Seeing that number displayed was the extra motivation I needed to keep pushing through. At that point, I shifted how I looked at the watch. Instead of a device whose data stressed me out, this was something that was making me want to run faster. I wanted to see if I could beat the times it kept displaying for me. My goal became to speed up for the last stretch and finish strong.
It wasn’t my longest run ever, or my fastest run. But when I finally finished in front of my apartment, I was so excited. Because the pace had felt relaxed and almost easy the entire time. Without seeing any numbers beeping on my watch, I had just run a pace that felt great – and that pace was quicker than I had expected.
Not only that, but after getting home and seeing my splits, I was surprised by how consistent they were.
Mile 1 – 7:31
Mile 2 – 6:41 (this number is a little suspicious. I went under a spot where I sometimes lose satellite reception, so I guess the real pace is a little slower)
Mile 3 – 7:32
Mile 4 – 7:31
Mile 5 – 7:15
Mile 5.5 – 3:24 (6:46 pace)
Sometimes when I don’t have that constant feedback staring me in the face, I assume that my splits are going to be all over the place. It’s easy to start thinking that I need my watch to keep myself on track. Who would’ve thought that my body could do something like that on it’s own?
I will still be using my Garmin for Boston training. I want to be able to keep track of my training paces, and having a watch is a good way to ensure that I am running fast on fast days and easy on easy days. But it’s time to start trusting my body more. I want to start doing more of these runs where I let my internal clock set (and keep!) the pace. I think that after so many years of running, it sort of knows what it’s doing.