Gadget geek checking in with news of her latest acquisition: I’m SO excited that I have a GPS for running. Even cooler is the resourcefulness I exhibited (usually Hubby’s forte) in obtaining it FOR FREE because the guy selling the older model his wife never used couldn’t find the charger and thus it is pretty worthless to either of us. Apparently it was easier to just let me take it off his hands than to throw it out himself once we realized it was missing. Thank you, Amazon seller who still had an old style charger, and $25 later I have a Garmin!! For those unversed in the runner gear world, that equates to about a $250 savings. So you can see why I’m so excited….
Okay, all gushing aside at the coolest thing since my Nike+ for a moment so I can update you on the insanity that I call Ragnar training…
First, I am totally behind. And I mean seriously behind. Like I should have run a sixteen mile run last weekend and I logged a mere five mile limp-fest instead. The reality of trying to run long distances even once a week with two kids and a husband, who I would really like to stay married to and see frequently, doesn’t exist in my universe. So, I’m doing the best I can and hoping that my training approach will be just as good as the one on the website assuming their training program is only one way of preparing. Sort of like how speed limit signs are merely a suggestion when I’m driving. It’s possible. My approach is this: Instead of stressing about my total distance of twenty one miles – yes, that’s five miles shy of a FULL marathon – and thinking I need to be able to run that in one long run, I’m focusing on mimicking the act of running my specific legs of the relay in relatively close intervals. Which means my “every day” run in the middle of the week needs to be about eight miles and I need to do two of those about twelve hours apart then throw in another four mile run twelve hours after that. Sounds do-able, right? I am capable of running eight miles at a time already, it’s just the challenge of finding the two hours to do it amongst the chaos of the rest of my life. If only I didn’t have to work all day… think of all the training I could get done!
Then there’s the limp-fest I mentioned. The last few weeks I’ve totally been babying my stupid knees that are fine when I’m not running and then are excruciating daggers of pain with every step while running. This is nothing new if you’ve been following my training this year but even when I’ve been diligently icing and resting and not trying to increase my mileage too fast it has still been a problem, like last week. I started my hill training and I wondered if it was because I was using different muscles – I KNOW I was using different muscles in my ass because for a few days after the first hill run I could barely sit without pain, but that’s another story. So I searched all the runner websites and all the blogs and I found a few references about re-training your gait in order to prevent recurring injuries. The theory is that it is because of the bio-mechanics of your stride and gait that you have the pain that you do and if you change the way you run you can prevent the pain and injuries. What the hell, after starting out last Sunday for an eleven mile planned run feeling awesome and then having to WALK most of the way until I called for a pickup, I was willing to try anything! Three runs later – one on the treadmill and two outdoor – I am happy to report that it seems to be working. I have even minimized my old nemesis plantar fasciitis while I was at it and I haven’t needed to ice my knee for a week. The secret? Realigning my pelvis so it isn’t tilted and engaging my core muscles differently plus making sure my feet are equal distance apart with my knees pointing straight ahead. Sounds so easy, right?
Which brings us back to the joy and agony of my new Garmin GPS. Remember, I am a numbers and data kind of girl who tracks every run and what my pace is and all the other stats with my Nike+. But, as my distances have increased I have noticed more and more of a discrepancy between what my mapping software says the run is and what my Nike+ says I’ve run when it is all said and done. Which is probably the real reason I searched long enough to find the replacement charger if I’m being honest. I was excited to have a GPS accuracy for my pace and distance tracking but also a bit nervous about what I might find out. My first outdoor run was canceled due to weather – I had cool weather gear packed but wasn’t equipped for sub-freezing temperatures in the last week of April. When I finally did get a chance to use it I was running an uphill route. The data was discouraging but hey, it was UPHILL. So I did a downhill run just to be sure of the accuracy AND wore both gadgets to compare them real time. Picture it: left arm strapped with my Garmin which is the size of a small cell phone. My right arm has both my heart rate monitor and my Nike+ band which is only slightly smaller than a regular watch. I looked like Madonna in the 80’s with her bracelets to her elbows. What I found is that I was right – the Nike+ was off in both distance and pace calculations. I ran 3.05 miles by the GPS but Nike+ said 3.48. I ran a pace of 14:30/mile by the GPS but the Nike+ said I was a 13:30/mile. Considering the Ragnar start time and logistics live and die by the average pace of the team, to know I was a minute slower per mile was disheartening to say the least. Plus the realization that my long runs have been about a mile shorter than what I thought which means now I’m even more behind in my training… It was another low point for me.
But, as I ran with my heart in my chest, the self-doubt thoughts swirling in my head, the strong and chilly headwind whistling past my ears and the obsessing about running the right way marching like a cadence to the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, I felt the sun warm on my shoulders. And for just a minute I remembered that none of that other shit matters. What matters is how I feel when I run – the freedom, the joy, the exhilaration. JUST RUN! My pace is what my pace is no matter how badly I want it to be faster but it doesn’t matter – because running is an individual sport and all I have to do is better than I did the last time and I win. And the more I run the faster I’ll get.