Yesterday, I tested out my theory about wearing my old Timex Ironman watch versus my Garmin GPS w/heart rate monitor.
So what was my theory?
That I was too concerned, worried, preoccupied or thinking more about what the data points were going to show me at various points in my run (in real-time and after) than I was thinking about running.
Yeah, I didn’t think that I really obsessed over the data that a GPS/HR watch can provide during and after a run, but when I ran without one yesterday, it became readily apparent that I was tuned into what the Garmin was giving me more than I thought.
I really started to figure this out at the first mile marker, I waited for the mile buzz, so I could look down to see what my time/pace were. There wasn’t any.
Then when I was going down the hill and hit the tar, I “knew” that the pace picked up and wondered how much I had picked up the pace after the first mile split. Then I remembered that nothing was being recorded for future use.
When I got to mile 2, there wasn’t any buzz again and I had to look about 10 steps past that point to see about what my time was. Yes, I could have hit the split button and looked at the split times after I got done, but I had forgotten that feature, since I was so used to it being done automatically.
At the Notta Road turn-around, I did hit the split button to see if the return trip was any faster than going out. It was, but I don’t have a clue about where/when I made up the time.
When I hit the flats down on Tiffany I did pick up the pace a little and then realized that I wouldn’t have a clue about what the pace was and shut it down. This was actually a good thing since this was supposed to be an easy/recovery run.
The only data points that I got out of this easy run were the turn-around split and the total time. During the run, I could have done mile splits, but I was used to the watch doing it automatically that none of them would have been semi-accurate. For this kind of run, I now feel that is probably more than enough.
I gotta admit that I missed being able to go back and look at the data during the run and see how my pace changed in various portion, in relation to how I was feeling during that section. How close to a segment did I get without trying, what my heart rate got up to going up the hills and all those other things I tend to look at after a run is over.
The reality is that
The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my running is not really about what the data points are, it is about running well, being healthy and enjoying my running.
I didn’t realize how data point driven I had let my runs become. I was constantly thinking about what the graphs would like after the run and I noticed myself peeking at the watch to see my time/pace/heart rate, etc. Then there is the whole issue of populating different websites with data from my running and giving them all that data in return for graphs and participating in social media. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much of a distraction my GPS/HR watch actually is to me during a run.
After the Tiffany Road flat area, I stopped worrying about what data points I was missing and just relaxed. Which is what I am supposed to do during a recovery or easy run. The rest of the run, I was able to focus on how I was feeling, monitor how a couple of issues were behaving and just enjoy the run.
So I learned a lot about how much I actually rely on my Garmin during each run and how much I tend to attempt to run faster when I wearing it. After all there are so many segments that I can sneak a faster time on around the house or on other courses. The purpose of easy and recovery runs are just that – to not worry about the times so much and wearing my Timex allows me to run more by feel, but I still have a pretty good idea of pace when I get done.
I am pretty sure that as a result of this little experiment and how it opened up my eyes on this issue that my Garmin will become more of a tool to measure certain workouts or when I run a route/place I don’t have a clue about the mileage. It doesn’t mean that I won’t use it, but I plan to use it more judiciously and not for daily wear.
Unfortunately, my Timex Ironman has an issue that could make it useless pretty quickly. The seal is shot, so I have ordered another one and will use that as my daily wear watch and the watch I use on the majority of my runs.