Feel the Flow

We’ve all been there – frantically looking for our watch, GPS and/or heart rate monitor that we have misplaced because there is no way we could go for a run without these crucial training and timing tools…or could we?

While knowing proper pace is an important factor in running an effective race or workout, I think many of us get truly beholden to the watch or GPS. How many of us have run another .13 miles just so you can say your ran 6 miles instead of 5.87 miles as our GPS shows? (I know I have) But why? Does running another .13 miles more or less really going to make or break your training plans? No. And Why is it so important that we run exactly 1 hour instead of 58:27 of 1:01:54? Again, it’s not. Yet many of us do all our workouts in just this fashion.

I’m here to liberate you from the watches and GPS devices that bind you my brother and sister! Can I get an Amen!

I’m of course joking to some extent, but I really want you from time-to-time to head out for a run without any sort of timing or tracking device – you’ll be surprised what occurs on this “freedom run”. I know many of us are so anal about running our hard workouts just right, so try one of these runs on one of your easy or recovery days.

If you have been running for a while you have a sense of what your body can handle for a certain amount of miles or time. So instead of checking your GPS every 30 seconds to see if you are running your 10 min/mile pace for your 4-mile run, you are now just going to listen to your body and run at a pace that feels good to you – crazy, I know! If you do a particular loop for your run then do that one and simply check the kitchen clock as you walk out the door. One of three things will occur when you finish your run and check your clock at home.

  1. You’ll run way faster then normal – Usually your 4 mile run takes your 40 minutes or so but today it took you around 38 minutes! Somehow you managed to run faster without the use of a watch or GPS? How can that be? Because you were running on how you truly felt that day and not by an artificial pace you “have to run” or the workout isn’t good (according to you).
  2. You’ll run slower than normal (or did you?) – The run today took about 41-42 minutes instead of the normal 40. (But remember you simply checked the clock when you left and returned home – you don’t have the luxury to “stop time” at intersections, water breaks or a quick stretch like you do when you are wearing your watch).
  3. You’ll run the same time as normal – Who needs a stinkin’ watch! You still are running 40 minutes for your usual 4 mile neighborhood loop trek.

I think doing this sans watch run allows your body to run at a pace it feels like going that day. It could be faster, slower or basically the same pace as you usually run, but your body is dictating this pace not you fixating on your watch or GPS during the entire 4 mile journey. This is good for you body because you are not pushing it harder than it wants to go – especially important on easy and recovery days.

Look Around and Take in Your Surroundings

Now that you are not so concerned about your exact time or distance you may find that you are observing more on your runs. You’re no longer just staring at the concrete sidewalk, but looking at people as you pass them by, noticing signs you never noticed before and seeing the world around you. Smile at your neighbors, kiss a baby and pet that old lady’s dog you always see on your runs – you’re now concerned with the experience of your run today and not about the time and distance.

A Calm May Come Over You

Whenever I ditch the watch and go for a run, I just feel a bit calmer. I’m not worried about time or distance but just being – I know a bit existential for a running blog, but hey what can I say?

In the next week or so be daring and go for a run without a timing or tracking mechanism. I think you’ll find that these runs without a watch are far more enjoyable. It’s like having your senses heightened because you are no longer focusing on time and distance but just you, your body and your surroundings – simply enjoy the moment of this run.

Just be.

Because sometimes it is good to just be.

Happy Running!

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