As is the case with most runners, I am very routine oriented. In previous posts I have described how my Garmin has helped me learn how to pace myself so I don’t go out at a faster speed than I can sustain. While running, I adhere carefully to the several focuses of Chi Running, which I have recently come to realize helps instill mindfulness, as well as helping me not hurt. And for my longest runs, I have finally – and definitely – become a fan of bringing along my playlists of good-times melodies.
So when I came across an article in this month’s Runner’s World advising readers to leave their technology at home and run “blind”, I stopped short. The article implies that checking your pace and distance every few minutes induces additional stress. Here I thought it was relieving stress. Gee, sometimes I will look down at my Garmin and see that I have been running faster than I even knew was possible (for me). That is good stress as far as I’m concerned. And as for distance, when I see I have further to go than I thought, it helps me plan for it by slowing down. If I have less distance left than I thought, that is cause for celebration. Maybe I just react strangely to information. Or maybe I just don’t know when I’m stressed.
The author points out that “sometimes numbers motivate us, but sometimes they limit us.” Her idea is that by removing the numbers from our view, and hence these potential constraints, we might find ourselves achieving results we hadn’t thought possible. And, by removing the music we are better able to hear our breathing and our footstrikes. I think she also means we would be better able to be “in the moment”, or mindful.
I am pretty sure that this article is meant more for people who have some chance of breaking new records for speed rather than for a senior citizen who is lucky to be able to give it a try and complete a few races. And I’m pretty sure than my Chi Running habit of body sensing keeps me in close touch with my breathing and everything else my body is trying to do, with or without the music.
That having been said, I thought maybe I should give this a try. What the heck; nothing ventured, nothing gained! But when? It can’t be for my weekly technical run, because I need to know how fast I’m going (OK, fast should be in quotation marks). It can’t be for my weekly long run. I know I could go without music, because the joy of music while running is one of my newer delights, although it wouldn’t be as much fun. But how would I know when to take my walk breaks? I could count, I guess. But that seems dreary and stressful. Is a plain old watch considered technology, I wonder? That would work, but I’d be looking at it instead of listening for the beep of my Garmin. This no-technology approach is very complicated.
It looks like the best choice for undertaking this technology-free challenge is my weekly 10K easy run. I’ll use a route for which I already know the distances and see how it goes. I’ll check the time before I leave the house and then again when I get back. I’ll try to engage in mindful running throughout. This won’t happen for another three days and I am already stressing over it! I’ll let you know what happens.