As summer winds down and we active folk start looking at our last races of the season, it’s inevitable that our training will start to slow down too; in intensity and probably in specificity as well. I was headed out the door for my run early this morning, grabbing all my gear –my watch, the watch’s heart rate strap, the watch’s foot pod, my headphones and my iPod- and I realized that this is a lot of stuff. Especially for someone like me who sort of considers themselves a purist when it comes to gadgets and gimmicks. I’m a fairly spartan person. I hate keeping napkins in my car. I don’t like saving the glass jar that the peanut butter came in (but I do recycle it!). I can’t stand having old clothes in my closet that I don’t wear anymore.
So why do I spend an extra 10 minutes fumbling around before a run to find some lost piece of equipment I feel I need to make my experience meaningful? This morning, as I clipped on my HR monitor around my chest and waited for my watch to find it’s signal, I realized, this is weird. Today was an easy day. I have maybe one more race this season. I don’t need to hit a target HR for a specific amount of time and I don’t need to know exactly how fast I ran my recovery run. Why am I loading up with all this stuff? I remember being 16, just beginning to run, grabbing some old running shoes that my dad donated to me and just heading out the door. This was well before GPS and I had no idea what a heart rate was. I didn’t care. It was about getting out and seeing what I could do. If I wanted to know how far I ran, I’d have my dad drive me along the route and clock it on the tach of our trusty family veedub.
Fast forward 15 or so years. I feel like I need to know my splits, my elevation change, my HR at specific elevations, my cadence when climbing a hill, how many calories I burned, what my pace was, the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I love information. I do use this stuff when I’m doing specific workouts. But I don’t need it every day. Especially not on a recovery run.
What about an iPod? Do I need that? Not really. I love having music and it can be extremely motivating. But sometimes it’s nice to disconnect from that too and tune into the noises of the world around you. And I don’t run with my phone. I refuse to. I hate getting the beep telling me I’ve been texted or that an email has been delivered. It’s not what I want. I run to disconnect. I even wrote a blog about some ridiculous glasses that have the ability to update your exercise stats in real time on all your social platforms like Facebook. Lame. Don’t need that. Just let me be for an hour or so. I’ll come back to the world, but please, just let me have a little time to myself.
So there I was this morning, deciding whether I truly needed to slap the HR belt on and clip all my stuff in. I decided to take off the belt, slide my watch off my arm, and leave my trusty iPod Shuffle on my desk. I walked out my door, took a deep breath of morning air, and simply ran. It was nice. I felt free. I wasn’t fiddling with headphone cords or checking my watch at each stop light to make sure it had paused or to see my mileage. I focused on my form. I listened to the rhythm of my feet on the pavement, it felt good.
This time of year, as things wind down and you have a chance to back off the training a bit and give yourself some time to rest and recoup from a long season, think about just heading out the door “naked”. No phone, no watch. Just you, your thoughts, and the pavement for a few miles. See how it feels. Don’t skip the recovery shake though.
Active.com has a recent article about exactly this subject here. They go through a few gadgets and talk about when they’re useful and when to maybe leave them in the drawers at home.
Photo Credit: Dave Riley
Athlete: Joel Pino