Thursday, September 26, 2013

I Have Control Issues

Just Tuesday I was telling a friend how addicted I am to my Garmin.  I specifically mentioned that I am obsessive about keeping track of pace and distance and went so far as to say that running with anything else is crap.  And, because life is hilarious in this way, Wednesday I started warming up for a run and my Garmin absolutely refused to find my location.  I stood in the driveway with my arm lifted up towards the sky hoping the satellites would find me (have you ever seen anyone doing this?  We look ridiculous!) and nothing happened.  I probably would have stood there like that until the blood flow to my arm ceased to make it up to my fingers, but my family was holding dinner for me.  So, against every fiber in my body (I REALLY rely on my Garmin), I turned on the Map My Run app on my phone and headed off. 

When I say I am obsessive about keeping track of pace and distance,  I mean it.  I keep constant track of how fast (err...slow) I'm going and I can't help but check every tenth of a mile.  So, the thought of freely running without constant feedback was not something I was happy about.  But, off I went.

You know what?  It ended up being one of my fastest runs this year.  I found I was flying (err...going slightly above a crawl, which is fast for me) and I wasn't slowing down.  Sure, I was dying to know exactly how fast and how far I'd gone, but I was going and I wasn't stopping.  It felt great.  I was reminded by something I'd written back in November of 2012:

" I really struggle with pace during long runs. I'm always looking at my pace and telling myself to slow down because I'm going to get too tired. I get now that I am often struggling to keep an unnatural run pace in the hopes of "conserving energy." This week I decided to just turn my mind off and let my body takeover. It was a great run.  The lesson is - don't limit yourself by holding back because you are afraid. You are capable of achieving more than you can imagine!!! But you'll never know if you don't let yourself fly."

So, it turns out, I need to learn lessons over and over again before actually "getting" them.  I never claimed to be a quick study (or runner).  What dawned on me yesterday though, while I was running free without the Garmin is that maybe we too often constrain ourselves by the idea of what we are supposed to do or how we are supposed to do things and we end up limiting what we CAN do.
Don't get me wrong, when my Garmin fired up right away this morning, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.  Part of training is monitoring each run.  We learn from the patterns in our running.  Seeing where we struggle and where we excel can only help us get better in the long run.  But maybe, just maybe, every now and then, it's okay to take the chains off and see just what we CAN do.  Try it.  I bet you surprise yourself.

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