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I'm Afraid To Stop Loving Running
First: I miss blogging. I really do. I have a lot to say, you know. All the time. Every day. But sadly, I don’t have a whole lot of time to say it and attempt to have it make sense. So things may be sporadic around these parts for a while, but I’m doing my best.
I’m also eating so many Cadbury Mini Eggs. Like a reasonably disgusting amount of them.
I’ve been doing a bit of running lately, too, and that’s super fun so let’s talk about that!
I love running right now.
Every time I get to run, it feels like a super-special privilege. Every time I blaze (crawl) past a bathroom and I don’t need to use it, I feel like I’m on top of the world (or just…on top of Cat Hill). And when I’m hopping around the Reservoir in the morning, watching the ridiculous sun come up…
…I just feel really, really lucky.
I’m so glad I’m able to run right now.
That’s not to say things are necessarily going well.
I haven’t had a bathroom stop-free run in as long as I can remember. My stomach is in a strange place right now. I’m not entirely symptomatic of being in a flare-up, but I also don’t yet feel flare-free. Without being all descriptive and using colors and textures and stuff, I’ll just tell you I’m still spending ample time in discomfort and in the bathroom, but I’m not dying and I am well enough to take the subway to work. I feel great for hours at a time, and then things get rough for a little while.
And I’m well enough to run most of the time. Not all of the time. Not on Saturday. Oh boy, not on Saturday.
But I ran on Sunday! And it was one of the best runs I remember having in a long time.
I set out without a plan and just let my shrinking feet shuffle their way around the park.
Really, my feet continue to shrink. Soon I’ll just be hobbling around on one Formerly Big Toe. How will I buy shoes? How will I ice skate?
There wasn’t necessarily anything special about this run or anything that made it stand out from my weekday runs. I think I only bathroom stopped twice, which is good for me (it helps when I can go later in the day instead of as soon as I wake up in the morning) and the sun was shining and people running seemed happy. I didn’t see anyone I know, which was unusual — though I did see Brian out on his new bike, showing off as he sped past me on an uphill — and I mixed up my route between the main road, the Bridle Path and the Reservoir. I hit up all my hot spots and then I ran home and then I ate Eggs Benedict and Cadbury Mini Eggs.
I felt euphoric the whole time I ran for some reason. I just ran and I was happy. I wasn’t stressed and I didn’t feel the need to hit a certain pace or a certain number of miles. I started when I wanted and finished when I felt done.
I ran because — as I wrote about recently — I just love running.
Afterward, as I shoveled Hollandaise sauce into my face, I tried to force myself into figuring out exactly what made me run so happy-like. I came to the wise conclusion that it had nothing to do with what I did do: It wasn’t because I saw cute puppies (so many puppies!!!) or because I finally ran without feeling entirely out of breath the entire time. It wasn’t because there were no puddles on the Reservoir and it wasn’t because, when I actually needed to make a bathroom stop, I found myself near a clean and open rest area.
My Sunday run — and all my recent runs, honestly — was so good because I wasn’t wearing my watch.
It has been months since I strapped that Garmin on my wrist.
I had been dependent on that little predator since the day I got it in January 2011. I ran with it every time I headed out, whether it was for a tempo or just easy miles. I tracked my easy miles as obsessively as I tracked my mile repeats. It was insane. Some people can’t leave home without their keys, Chap Stick or sunglasses. I never remember any of those things, and yet I rarely stepped out in my Brooks without slapping on that Garmin Forerunner 110.
But I was a runner long before I owned this piece of technology. In fact, my greatest speed gains came when I wasn’t running for time.
Life has been better since I ditched Mr. I Can Never Locate Satellites.
I step out my front door in the morning and I start running. I don’t have to stand in the cold waiting for my watch to get a signal. I don’t have to hit pause at every traffic light (yeah I do that — this ain’t a race, yo) and I never ever know my pace or exactly what mile I’m at during my run. I never count the miles up and I don’t count them down.
I’ve just been running and doing my best, and it has been perfect.
I can’t knowledgeably tell you whether I’ve been running 8:30s or 11:30s. I imagine I’m somewhere in between most days. I know I’m not going fast. Ever. I haven’t tried to go fast since I got sick.
OK, I haven’t tried running fast since 2011. I suck.
But these days, I just try to run, and there’s no little gadget on my wrist staring back at me saying I’m not trying hard enough.
I’m a firm believer in ignorance being bliss. For both my half-marathon and marathon PRs, I wasn’t yet a data freak. I wore my watch during my half-marathon PR (the National Half Marathon way back when in 2011) but somehow managed not to look at it often throughout the race. Then, during the Manchester City Marathon, Emily doubled up on watches…
…and I was just along for the ride.
Soon I’ll need to start actually training, though, if I want to do well at the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May. I told Brian this weekend that I “probably wouldn’t train for it,” and his immediate response was, “Yes you will.” He’s so controlling. No granola bars for Brian.
I don’t know if I’m ready to start wearing my watch again. I know I can just train by feel and oscillate between “hard efforts” and “easy runs.” I don’t know if I’m planning to try for a PR in Brooklyn. It’s hard for me to make a plan and hope to stick with it when my dang body is so uncooperative and unpredictable.
I’m also scared to start wearing my watch again. It’s just a tiny accessory but it tends to hold so much power over me. I obsess over that dumb thing even when I know I shouldn’t, and that takes the fun out of running for me.
I’m afraid I’ll start wearing my watch and it’s going to tell me I’m barely breaking an 11-minute mile, even though I feel like I’m sprinting. (You know I’m not insulting you if that’s what you run. Don’t go getting offended here, people. I just know that for years I was able to run easily and comfortably at an 8:45 pace, so to me that is a big change. Got it? Cool.) I’m afraid it’s going to tell me that all along, while I’ve been fun running, I’ve really been power walking. I’ve been watch-free running for long enough now that I really can’t guess the pace at which I’m hustling. I’m not an experienced enough runner to be able to blindly differentiate between an 8:20 and a 9:45 some days. Judge me. I’ll wait.
I also fear that putting the watch back on will strip me of my fun running freedom. I don’t want to obsess over numbers. I don’t want to stare at paces or be psycho about my splits.
But…I do want to get faster.
I don’t want to suck in Brooklyn.
I want to put forth a proud effort, with or without my watch.
So for now, I’ll keep running blindly. When I feel strong enough to start working speed drills back into my training, maybe I’ll reconcile with my Garmin, wherever it is. It may deliver brutal results at first, but you have to start somewhere I guess.
My point of this post?
I love running. And I plan to keep loving it, whether my wrists are dressed up or naked.
ARE YOU A DATA FREAK OR A FREE-FEELING RUNNER? How Garmin-dependent are you? And also, have you ever trained for a race Garmin-free and then miraculously whipped out a 6:10 pace and won the race? Just curious. I like it when we are friends.