Free Yourself from the Numbers

With each passing day I gain the new friendship of a runner or triathlete. Since my first race, the NYC Mary in 2008, my life has taken quite a turn and I love it. I honestly don’t know what I did with my time before training for Ironmans and Marathons?

Look! I used to run in PANTS!

As my athletic endeavors became more challenging I found myself absorbed in the science behind it all. I hired a fantastic coach, learned about nutrition, heart rate, cadence, pace strategy and aerobic thresholds. This helped me tremendously! I saw improvements in my times and felt great about my training regimen. I had a sort of revelation the other day though, watching my twitter feed and everyone talking about their runs, bikes or swims and the mileage and pace associated with each one. (Funny how all my friends now are athletes says the kid who went to art school.) I got kind of turned off by the whole thing, the science of it all. Even I was guilty of over analyzing my training.

I had forgotten that at it’s core, the reason I run, or racing in triathlons, is that it’s fun. No matter what pace you hit, how even your heart rate was, or how many miles you put in, at the end you still feel great and probably really enjoyed yourself. You just forgot because you were too focused on numbers.

I set out to do a little test 2 weeks ago during the Grete’s Great Gallop Half Marathon. I was going to run naked (without my precious Garmin) and prove that it doesn’t matter. I raced my heart out and came within 5 seconds of a PR I set in 2010! I wasn’t looking at my wrist every 30 seconds, I was focused on how I felt and how fast my legs were turning over. It was very ‘freeing,’ similar to turning off your cell phone during a vacation.

The New York City Marathon is in 2 weeks and I am running that bad boy Garminless. I invite anyone interested to try it! Obviously first time marathon runners or people out to BQ might not apply, but everyone else, what have you got to lose? Who’s with me?!

Anyone want to make any Garminless predictions for my time? My course PR for New York is 3:00:48.

  • That’s awesome, congrats on a strong half marathon! I’ve actually been strongly considering running my half coming up in November without my watch. Sometimes I’m all about it and other times the thought gives me anxiety. But I’m leaning towards not using it and your post just encouraged me further. I want to run by what feels great and not worry about being too fast or too slow or how much farther I have in each mile. I don’t know if it will help me get out of my head, but it’s worth a try!

  • Congrats on the half! I think many of us are slaves to the watch, looking at it to tell us how we’re feeling/if we’re running fast enough (the two don’t always go together…)…when perhaps we should be just running for fun more often rather than checking splits.

  • hahaha I love those pants. I’ll be wearing my Garmin because I have a specific time goal i’m shooting for, but loved the recent half i ran without looking at the Garmin once. It was awesome. I hope to not look at it too often during NYCM, but we’ll see how it goes! I predict 2:58:25. Also, we need to start planning our excursion to Staten Island?

  • maura

    wow. this really hit home as i didn’t reach my time goals at this weekend’s marathon. i couldn’t stop looking at my watch and feeling like i was being crushed by those numbers.

    i’ve been feeling like this training cycle has been hyper focused on the numbers, the data, making every run count instead of the fun of it all. and that i lost sight of what i love about running.
    it’s inspiring to see someone like you, chris, step back and leave the data behind and run on instinct.

    (also, a NYT article on this in five…four…three…two…)