A Love Hate Relationship

by Shamala Thompson

I finally succumbed. I am now among the legions of runners who anxiously wait for that beep before they begin their run, who need to finish runs at an exact distance and who pour over elevation and lap times. On my birthday, Paul got me a Garmin Forerunner 10 and a whole new world opened up.

I opted for the simplest and smallest Garmin as it had everything I wanted but there is a mind boggling selection to choose from. The Garmin Forerunner 10 shows shows how fast and how far you’ve gone without the bells and whistles of the other more sophisticated versions.

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Most serious runners I know – both fast and not so fast – have Garmin watches. But I never felt the need to know what pace or distance I was running. Just running for time was enough for me. The way I saw it those fancy running watchers were for competitive runners. Two months into becoming a Garmin runner I’m in a love hate relationship with my new running mate. And here’s why:

Love

  • Knowing how far I’ve run
  • Realizing that I can run faster than a 10 minute mile (and sometimes under 9 minutes!)
  • Having a record of my runs
  • Pouring over little maps showing where I’ve run

Hate

  • Getting confirmation that I crawl up hills
  • Constantly checking my pace (and often being disappointed by how slow I am)
  • Needing to run an exact distance
  • GPS problems – both finding it and inconsistent GPS in the city

My first few runs with my new toy were a disaster. Being able to see my pace made me run too fast at the start which led to having no energy in the last few miles. I quickly learnt that looking at my wrist constantly led to bad rather than good runs. I now keep the wrist flicking to a minimum and try and listen to my body more. Slowly I’m finding the right balance between wanting to go faster and knowing what my body can do right now.

It’s hard not to become Garmin-obsessed. I find myself doing laps around car-parks or trudging back and forth along a bridge just to get my Garmin to a particular number. I force myself to run without the watch some days, particularly on days when I know that my body needs an easy run.  Running “naked” takes away the pressure of having to keep to a particular pace or cover a certain distance. And it allows me to tune into what my body really wants to do rather than what those numbers on my watch are pushing me to do.

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Close to the finish in my last 5K in June.

But  I’ve also discovered that knowing my exact mileage and pace can be a good thing. I have a better idea of what a particular pace feels like and being able to measure my runs should help me if I decide to train for a longer race in the future!

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