Training: A Change of Perspective

Running Without Garmin or Runkeeper

The windmill at Golden Gate Park.

Every year, about this time, I start checking the McMillan pace calculator and obsessing over projected finish times and average paces. I could tell you how fast I could expect to run a mile, or a 5k, or the half marathon that I’d been training for.

This year, to put it bluntly, I have no effing clue.

Between my nearly two month winter hiatus with my viral malaise, to my slow and lumbering season start thanks to my IT band, I’m nowhere near my normal level of fitness. Add in the fact that I haven’t been using either my Garmin or Runkeeper on track nights because I don’t want to bother with stopping and starting the timer. Now take it one step further and consider that probably 50% of our long runs have been in GPS dead zones, or have registered wildly incorrectly with my Runkeeper app.

So here I am, less than two months until race day, and I have zero data.

This is weird.

On Tuesday night, we did 6-minute tempo runs at track. I had no timing device and ran on feel. Since then, I’ve been wavering between feeling very liberated (We don’t need no stinkin’ Garmin!) and feeling completely adrift (Can you hear me, Major Tom?)

Discovery: it’s impossible to hate a run when you can see the ocean.

I don’t think I really appreciated the strangeness of the situation until I got to our Nike course preview in San Francisco. Mind you, we all had to get up long before the crack of dawn to drive our butts — and in my case, overloaded car stocked with water stop supplies — to the ocean side of the city, so perhaps “appreciated” isn’t the right word to use in this context.

But I digress. There was a group discussing pace, and for the first time since I joined Team in Training in 2010, I had absolutely nothing to contribute to the conversation. I’m slower than I’ve been in the past two years, but what does that mean, practically speaking? I have no pace; I run until I’m done.

This is equal parts zen liberation and overwhelming stress.

The run went well, though, on a course starting and ending at Lake Merced (photo below right) and running along the ocean to Golden Gate Park. I ran with one of our running newbies for the first 6 miles or so, following her 4/1 run/walk ratio, and felt great. Then she sent me ahead and I fell into pace with two other people who were much faster than I was.

The effect was something like running an easy six miles, and then finishing off with a 5k.

This picture turned out to be lovely. Yes, the water was really that color. No, I don’t want to know why.

I wasn’t exactly prepared for that.

At any rate, I have my last single-digit run in the bank, and have my 10-11 mile run to look forward to (???) after Labor Day.

Less than two months left to go before race day. I think I’m ready.

How is your race training going? Are you watching your pace, or running free?

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2 Responses

  1. I’m trying to obsess less about pace. I my case, I was so concerned that if I ran too fast, I wouldn’t be able to finish, that I think I was holding back. Now I’m trying to run with two other women in my training group. They’re a little bit faster than my ideal pace, but it’s so much better to run with someone and also, I’m finding that while it’s not easy for me to maintain their pace, it’s possible. I’ve never used a Garmin – just Map My Run on my computer and a watch to time myself. And sometimes on recovery runs, I skip the watch.

  2. Alisa says:

    I always worried about that, too. (Coach’s “go out fast, die like a pig” ringing in my ear.) And yet, now I’ve done this long enough to know that I’ll get through it even if I crawl, so… just go. And maybe it would be different if I had scheduled a race that I could run for speed, but Nike just isn’t a pace race.

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