I had the opportunity to attend the group run on Saturday December 27th, and despite 3-4 inches of snow falling overnight, there was a confident (or maybe crazy?) group of runners who met at the usual spot at the store. While I really enjoyed getting to talk with all of the individuals there, I had the opportunity to talk with two attendees, Lindsey and Ben, about the idea of "running free". Unfortunately the topic didn't come up until about mile 4.5 of 6 so we didn't get to discuss it in-depth, but we talked about the idea of running without a watch (or "running free").
When I started running in 7th/8th grade, it was a matter of survival. I didn't run cross country, I hated track and I dreaded having to go to practice every day in the spring. Even after that, for the longest time, I ran purely based on time. I would take my Target watch and just estimate my mileage based on time, and of course I rounded up like all good runners/accountants/mathematicians. Even in my later high school years and into college as I developed as a runner, I would either a) round my mileage based on time or b) go off the predetermined mileage markers that had been established by someone before me.
When I was a junior at Nebraska Wesleyan (athletically), I became OBSESSED with splits, and I needed to know every mile, 400, 200 and even 100 split during the race to make sure I was on pace. If I wasn't on pace, I could speed up (I told myself), but more times than not, it took me out of rhythm. I became totally and utterly dependent on my watch. I had to buy a new watch when I started marathoning after graduation because my old Target watch could only take 10 of the 26 splits, and everything culminated to this fall when I purchased my very first GPS watch (Tom Tom brand) and spent time analyzing pace, speed, heart rate, etc.
When I looked at where I started with running and where I was this fall, I realized that I had become controlled by my watch. There were times where I would just put on my shoes, run however long I pleased, and then figure out the distance later (either map it online, estimate based on time gone or actually drive my course). In my opinion, this is the most honest type of running that can be done.
I'm not writing this blog to discuss the pros/cons of GPS watches, but just to incite the thought about "running free", with or without a watch. If you go without a watch, it's easy. If you stick with your Garmin, Tom Tom, Timex or Adidas brand watch, try not to get tied to it. The easiest way to do this is to wear the watch, start it, but don't look at it until the very end of the run. Whether you ran 3.9 or 4.0 miles does not matter, nor does whether you ran 6:00/mi or 8:30/mi. What matters is the act of running.
Run Free and run happy in 2015!