A great run meant that my previous post was something of a departure from my usual self-deprecating waffle (while still maintaining a solid core of regular waffle of course) and it looks like this one’s going to be more of the same…
This was to be my first run since I took delivery of my shiny new toy. You see, I’m now the proud owner of a Garmin Forerunner 305 which, for the uninitiated, is a big orange watch that shouts at you. Who wouldn’t want one of those? Basically it’s a doojummy that you wear on your wrist and it measures pace, distance, rough direction of the nearest patisserie and all manner of other useful information. I’ve mentioned my scales before on this blog, and in particular how they’re much, much cleverer than me. Well by comparison the Garmin makes my scales look as intelligent as Wayne Rooney after an evening of solvent abuse and Hollyoaks. If the Garmin were a person it would wear a tweed blazer with leather elbow patches and read calculus for fun.
Up until now I’d used my phone combined with a running app to do pretty much the same thing, but found that it often crashed whenever I tried to check it mid-run, especially if I tried to toggle out of the app in order to take a quick photo. Also, as the warm weather is coming in, my running clothes are becoming less and less pocket, forcing me to carry my phone in what I’d like to call a “tactical running belt” but which I feel compelled by honesty to admit is really just a bum bag*.
So, after giving up with the instructions and instead getting some basic set-up tips from a runners forum (thank you Gruff Eddie) I set off with the Garmin on my wrist. It basically looks like an oversized, brightly coloured watch, and as I started my run I silently promised myself that at no point would I imagine that I was Ben 10**.
One of the things I’d never been able to manage so far was a sub 10-minute mile, but as I set off at a gentle warm-up pace I looked down at my wrist and saw that my pace was in fact 9-something. Intrigued by this, I kept going at around the same pace and soon settled into a comfortable rhythm. Before I knew it I’d cleared the first mile, and although I was only running a fraction faster than usual it really felt like I was flying along. Halfway through the second mile I felt a stitch in my right side – the first time I’ve really had it since I took up running – and had to slow to a walk for a couple of minutes. Once recovered, I stepped up the pace again, glancing occasionally at my little orange taskmaster to see how I was doing. As I’ve said before, I’m really not too bothered by results, but I have to admit there was something about this that was spurring me on a little, and I felt genuinely surprised (and a little ecstatic) that I was managing to comfortably maintain a sub-10 pace after it had felt unattainable for so long. Now, the question is, what was it that made all the difference this time? Was it simply that the GPS in my phone app wasn’t as accurate and had been selling me short all these months? Or was it rather that I was being motivated by having a constant indication of my performance rather than a surprise at the end? I’m more inclined to go with the latter – it really did seem to make a difference, or at least put into context some of the stuff I’ve been reading about pace and splits and other arcane phases. Every now and then it’d beep at me, or occasionally boop. But where others heard beepety-boop, to me it might as well have been the voice of a drill sergeant from the American deep south, spurring me on with name-calling and casual sadism. I made a mental note to find out what “ornery” meant and why they kept saying it, and to find out once and for all what the difference is between a “critter” and a “varmint”. If I had to guess, I’d say that a critter is something furry and a varmint is just a persistent critter. It took me a few minutes to remember that the thing on my wrist was a sophisticated piece of global positioning technology and not an angry moustachioed army person trying to make me do press-ups by shouting at me, at which point I decided that I should really concentrate a bit more.
I finished my run a hundred metres or so from my house to allow for a bit of a cool-down walk, and as I slowed my pace right down I momentarily felt a little wobbly on my feet, so I’m guessing I probably overdid it a bit. Either that or someone’s been sneaking eggnog into my water bottle again. I looked down at the Garmin and couldn’t help grinning from ear to ear*** when I saw that I’d done just over three miles at an average pace of 09:44 minutes/mile – well below the ten I’d been aiming for all this time. My overall time was 29:48, and I was momentarily gutted to realise that I’d missed my first ever sub 30-minute 5k by unknowingly stopping just a few metres short. I say “momentarily” because I was on such a high from this great run that I was happy to have something to aim for next time.
The key thing that occurred to me during this run was the fact that I tend to focus on things I’m not able to do and things I want to do in the future, rather than enjoying the things I’ve already achieved. I’m not the fastest or the most graceful, and I can’t run as far as I’d like, but in my own little world I’ve managed a lot over the last six months. Six months ago I couldn’t run more than half a mile without thinking my legs were about to fall off. A 5k run at any pace seemed impossible, and the mere mention of five miles would have seen me phoning for a taxi. If you’d asked me six months ago whether I considered myself a runner I’d have said “no, just someone who goes out running”, whereas I became a runner the first time I laced up my trainers and got out there.
3.06 miles (4.92km) 00:29:48 🙂
*The sharp ones among you may want to point out that if I want to carry on taking pictures while out on a run I’ll still have to take a phone or camera out with me, thus defeating the object. You may even wish to point out that I could replace said bum bag with a snazzy little arm-pouch. My response to this would be “shut up, I wanted a shiny shiny gadget, so I’m bloody having a shiny shiny gadget”.
**Those of you who know me will be unsurprised to learn that this promise was broken several times within a minute of leaving the house.
***Which is the best way to do it, really. For example, I wouldn’t advise trying to grin from ear to chin. Grinning from nipple to knee is also frowned upon, and quite possibly illegal.