There is a level of “certainty” in an uncertain world that draws a particular type of person to our sport.
I spent quite a bit of time thinking about this on my “easy 8” this morning on the trail, counting off the things that I love about running instead of miles.
When you draw a pair of lines in the ground or on the road, set a clock to all zeros and fire the starter’s pistol the sport becomes extraordinarily simple. Attempt to move your body across both sets of lines in the least amount of time possible. Everything else is just noise.
My mind wandered from city to city, race to race. Boston to Denver, Austin to Virginia Beach, New York to Dallas, Charleston to Pittsburgh, Philly to Houston. 5K’s to half-marathons, 10 K’s and 10-milers to Marathons and I was able to visualize the final stretch to the finish line of literally dozens and dozens of events. Some performances were epic. Some quite ordinary. But all of them weave the very fabric of the runner that I have become.
The thing that struck me along the darkened trail, absent even a sliver of moon this morning is that my mind was completely free. Never once did I think about how far I had run to that point, how far I had to go, whether I was on pace, slightly ahead or slightly behind. My mind was 100% free from those thoughts and it was one of the more enjoyable summer runs in the Texas heat I can remember.
The reason my mind was so clear is that I was enjoying another “naked” run. Now before your mind leaps to a bad place, we’ve covered this before on the blog, by “naked” I simply mean watchless. I still had my runderwear, shorts, socks and Kinvara’s on. Just no timing device and of course no shirt, which will remain that way pretty much up until late October or early November.
When I started my Pre-Austin Marathon training schedule, a simple 10-week ramp up to October 14 when we log our first training miles for Austin, I decided that I would run without my Garmin 610 GPS watch ever single mile until the end of September. So far so good as I’ve logged just shy of 100 miles without really “counting” any of them.
A few weeks before marathon training truly begins I will head to the track and start to sprinkle in some speed work, which of course will require measured distances and pace. To prepare for battle on race day in Austin on February 15th I will absolutely need to “know” that I can tick off 12 400’s in 1:21 on 100 meters rest just as I will need to “know” that I can hold a 12-mile tempo run sub 6:40 if I hope to reach my potential on race day.
There is plenty of time for all of that.
But for now, I’m simply lacing up the shoes on my run days with an assigned distance to make sure I am building my base properly and I’m hitting my known routes to tick off the miles.
One of the things I am enjoying most these days is deciding on the run whether I want to add a particular turn, section of the trail or neighborhood loop to my runs. Do I want to run a few extra hills this morning? Would I rather run the flats and push effort a bit to work on turnover? Should I tack on the climb over the dam or just loop back through the lower trail back home?
All of these decisions are made on the fly. So what if my 7 miler becomes 7.34? Or if I decide that I’m going to run 8 today and 6 tomorrow instead of the 7 and 7 on my schedule? I am making choices now that I would rarely if ever decide to make during a training cycle? I mean what kind of type-A, borderline obsessive/compulsive marathoner would finish a run with an extra .34 miles on his or her watch? We would absolutely stretch it out to .50 miles at a bare minimum. Anyone worth their salt of course would run the full .66 additional miles to end with a nice neat round number in their training log.
See where I’m going with this?
If you need to recharge your batteries a bit and fall back in love with running. Leave the watch on the counter for a week and see how it feels.
Better yet, try it for 2. I have to tell you it took some getting used to, but I am rediscovering my love for running just for the sake of it. For climbing hills because they are there and for running fast because I feel like it.
When it is time to flip the switch in October, make no mistake, that switch will be flipped. The only difference is I am going to be mentally recharged and ready to count each and every last one of those 946.60 miles that will take us through the finish line on February 15th.
And I plan on crushing every last one of them.
Run on people.