I’m a gadget girl. I use a GPS watch on almost all of my runs these days. I follow a training plan where I log certain miles each day and complete workouts hitting specific times and distances. I panic when my GPS shows signs of a low battery before a run or when I get the dreaded low battery voice over my iPod.
Modern technology is a wonderful, amazing thing and can definitely help make us stronger, faster, more successful runners. But I know that I often pay too much attention to the numbers on my wrist and not enough attention to the real reason why I love running—the quietness of the mornings, the sound of my breath, the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets or the company I sometimes have with me on runs.
When I first started running, I ran without a GPS and often without even a watch. Running was just that – running. It was simple. I wasn’t focused on races, PRs or crossing something else off my bucket list.
The memories I have are not tied to paces or distances I was running. The memories are tied to running – in it’s purest form. I thought of the views I saw, how I felt and who I was running with. I think about completing fartleks around a man-made lake in Taji, Iraq with two good friends (one who would later become my husband). We were in the middle of a 12-month deployment and weren’t training for anything, but we kicked our butts once/week with a simple fartlek workout. Or my first run around Central Park after returning from Iraq where I remember crying through the 6+ miles. For the first time in 15 months, I felt free and uncontrollably happy.
These events were where my love of running took root and began to grow. I wasn’t falling in love with running because I was running a certain pace or logging a certain number of miles a week.
I was falling in love with running because I was just running. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other made me happy. I didn’t have concrete goals. There was no pressure. There was no pace glaring back at me every time I looked down. There was just me and the road or trail, my surroundings, and close friends to share them with.
I’m vowing to myself to forego any sort of watch at least once a week and just run. Will it matter if I run 5.8 miles or 6.1? Or if I run a bit slower or faster than I planned. I doubt it. I’m vowing to myself to focus on the simple act of running and not staring at my GPS every couple of minutes to confirm pace or distance. It is refreshing to leave it all at home once in a while to remind yourself why you fell in love with running to begin with.