Earlier this evening I went for a run with one of my Team LUNAChix teammates. We had a really great run, and it seemed like everything was perfect. Our pace was nice and relaxed, the conversation was good, the miles flew by, and the temperature was ideal. At one point we started talking about our Garmins, and the relationships we’ve developed with them.
The conversation forced me to reflect a little bit on how much I depend on my Garmin. If you follow me on Dailymile, you may have seen that on Sunday, I was having some trouble with it (the Garmin, that is). I went out that afternoon for my long run, and turned it on to acquire satellites as I usually do. Except this time, it wouldn’t even go to the “loading satellites” screen, and there was nothing I could do to get it to acquire. I ended up just using it as a watch, without the mileage tracking. When I got back home, it basically crashed. I couldn’t get it to switch from the workout screen, or charge, or do anything. So I did the only thing I could do: let the battery die, then charge it back up, and cross my fingers. This has happened before so I knew there was a possibility that it would work, but because I’m really not in a position to afford a new one at this point, I couldn’t help but worry that my Garmin had tracked its last mile. This worrying got me thinking about what I would do if my Garmin did die. Would I just bite the bullet and buy a new one, then eat ramen for a few months? Would I find a cheaper version or go back to the Nike+ system? Beg Nat to let me use his 305, which just sits on his desk collecting dust? Or would I (gasp) try to run without it?
I’ve gotten so used to having it all the time that facing the possibility of not having it was really nerve wracking. While running tonight, I realized how much I rely on it, and how much I take it for granted. I also realized that it’s not always a helpful tool. For instance, the other day when it just wouldn’t pick up satellites, it really annoyed me, and the last thing I want to do before going for a run is get all worked up and annoyed. At times when I’m not in the best mood while on a run, and I look down and realize my pace is slower than I thought, my mood drops even lower. There are also times when I can feel great on a run, then find out that I was running more slowly or covered less distance than I thought, and instantly feel like crap about it. And where does all that get me? Nowhere. I mean, now that I’ve actually articulated the way I sometimes get with my Garmin, I see how silly it is. A great run shouldn’t turn into a bad run just because it was slower or shorter than I thought it was–neither one of those things affects the way I felt while I was running. But that’s the problem: too often, I let the Garmin become a distraction from the way I feel during the run, or a tool to use to beat myself up a little bit. I mean, I also have great times and a lot of positive experiences with it, so I should be clear about the fact that it’s not all bad. But it may be time to think a little bit more about how I’m using it.
My running partner said that she had put hers away for the winter and only recently taken it back out and dusted it off. She said it felt really good to run without it, and I know that other runner friends of mine have gone for runs without their Garmin or a watch, and said that it can be really peaceful and liberating. The idea of leaving the Garmin behind every now and then and taking time to tune into my body and really get a chance to get into the run completely is really appealing. I mean, one of the reasons I love running so much is that it gives me a chance to connect to my body physically and emotionally and yet I’m taking that away from myself when I get hung up on my pace and mileage. So I’m thinking about leaving the Garmin at home once a week, and seeing how that feels. The idea makes me pretty nervous, but then again, most things that have to do with stepping outside of my comfort zone do.
I’m interested in hearing about your experience with your workout tracking system. Do you find yourself getting too caught up in the numbers to enjoy the activity, like I do? Have you tried taking a break from tracking?
Embrace:Me 30-day challenge, day 12: I’d originally planned to just do 5 miles, but felt so good while running tonight that I decided to extend it to 7. I’d had a somewhat long, rough day and really needed the brain break. Of course, we’ll see tomorrow if my legs agree that this was a nice thing to do!