March 8, 2011

Winter Can Really Hang You Up

Remember the waist-deep snow? The scything winds? Maybe gumption has its own weather patterns, but whatever you call it, my running's been stuck in a ten-week deep freeze.

Just to pile on, my fancy watch died around the turn of the year. No point in running if you can't get credit for it. Did you know a Garmin battery lasts only two years, and you can't replace it? True story. That's a $200/year subscription to the fussiest device in the world.

Hang on: running is supposed to be simple. Remember?

Behold! A few bright days with air warmer than 20 degrees have lovingly forced themselves upon me, begging to be taken advantage of, with or without a watch. Wang dang doodle, I'm running regularly again, with a little cross-training in between. (Now the permanent ache in my hamstrings feels earned rather than imposed.)

Spring's like waking from amnesia. Two jolly runs and you remember things forgotten in hibernation. I'd even forgotten how much I like the gym.

But you wake to a changed world. Or the world's exactly the same, but your body's different. Your legs are pasted on backwards, and your training logs are senseless scribbles in someone else's writing.

Well, nothing can stay the same. For two years I've been hooked on training plans and GPS data. Who cared how I felt, as long as I nailed the plan? I was the guy shivering on the sidewalk while my device sniffed out a satellite. I winced at stoplights because they screwed up my stats.

New plan: no plan. Ditch the stupid watch. Get back that feel.

Like the newly blind who learn to feel space, a runner without a watch learns a lot about how time churns. I've never run with an iPod because for me, running is the music.

Now I remember what running was like back in the day, before I got so busy trying to impress my watch.


  1. Yes yes yes! I love this. Free yourself from the shackles of time. Experience the run and your mind/body running without the distraction of measure or goal. Something to keep in mind in many areas of life. Inspiring.

  2. I've had my Garmin for just about exactly two years now. I hope that doesn't mean it's about to crap out on me. As liberating as your plan to run without data sounds, I don't think I could do it.

  3. Robert, your PR at the Brooklyn Half was the inspiration for this!

  4. Ha! Well, it worked once, hopefully it will work again for you. I'm wearing my Garmin on Sunday though.

  5. Frightening (but fitting) picture. A simple stopwatch is a good halfway house if/when you need it. Plenty of time for sin curve oscillations in training before the big race in 2016.