Putting the Stopwatch Away: Running Bliss

I’m putting my stopwatch away.  Not forever, mind you.  I will get it out for track workouts a couple of times each month.  Other than that, I don’t want to know.  I run for fun.  I run because I enjoy running.  Paying attention to the stopwatch is sometimes fun, but more often than not it has been the source of stress and disappointment.  This was not the case a few months ago.  I have trained for two marathon in the last two years and my times at all distances are gradually improving.  All of that was done ignoring the stopwatch and enjoying the run.

stopwatchSo how did I get into this negative cycle of setting my sights too high and having them torn apart by the reality of the stopwatch?  Success.  I have not won anything recently (not in the last 25 years), but my times have steadily gone down.  In large races, I am now “in the hunt” for age-group glory.  I may be 46, but I am kind of fast for a 46 year old.  I have gotten close a few times and started craving more success.  Worse than that, I started craving it faster.  I want it now!  This is NOT a healthy mindset.  It is not the kind of thinking that allows for enjoying a good long run.

I am going back to:  “Enjoy the run and the results will come.”  This is what brought the meager success that I have had recently.  I will still wear my stopwatch at the track and try to get faster, but not on the long runs.  Not on the pace runs and tempo runs.  Not on the hill training.  No.  I will listen to my body.  I will enjoy the freedom that running offers.  I will bask in runner’s high.  I will run with friends and family without pushing too hard.

I still expect to get faster, albeit very gradually.  If the results don’t get drastically better over time, then so be it.  At least I will have enjoyed the ride.

Happy Running!

Park

  1. I always wear my watch, as I like to have data to parse later. But I have broken the addiction of constantly looking at it while running. I pace 100% by feel these days.

    • That sounds smart, Joe. I just haven’t learned how to not look at the watch. Perhaps I will try it again after a while…

  2. Great post. I agree; hard to enjoy running while worrying about time. Even running by feel was hard for me because I’d feel great at the start of a long run then be dying by the end because I started too fast. Then I got a heart rate monitor. Now I just glance at it occasionally and make sure I’m staying around my target for the whole run and its great!

  3. With the watch and age groups we are always competing, we forget that we run for the run, not the medals or glory. I like my GPS app so I have a better idea of how far I run (at least a reasonable idea) and the only place in my life that I like to delve into statistics is running. I enjoy knowing how much time it takes me to run a certain distance. This knowledge doesn’t rule my running, but enhances it. At some point for us all the time becomes less important than just being able run and enjoy it.

  4. Nice post! In the beginning I needed the small pat on the back that the stopwatch can give as motivation. After wearing a GPS and heart monitor for a season, you get to know how your body feels at different speeds. I don’t look at the HRM any more as I know my HR within a few beats. I also don’t sweat the stopwatch because it can be very distracting. My battery died and was forced to do the marathon by feel and I PR’ed. Anyway, I agree we should let loose and enjoy running, but lets not forget the struggles when we started out running. It wasn’t ‘fun’ for me until I could run at least two miles.

  5. Patricia NEWBIE Hemcher

    … now that’s my kinda post. No time. No pressure. One foot in front of the other and breathe… enjoy! :0) :0)

  6. “Enjoy the run and the results will come.” That’s a great running mantra. If you don’t mind, I’m going to quote it on my blog post about matras. Just found your blog, can’t wait to read more posts!

  7. That was me this weekend. I needed to get in 12 miles and I was SOOOO not wanting to go out. The weather was cold and rainy, I didn’t feel 100% and I was setting myself up for failure by saying the run would suck before I even put on my shoes. I decided to go out with no timing abilities whatsoever. I knew my route so I knew I’d hit 12 miles on the nose. I left my Garmin home and didn’t start any apps other than music on my phone. The run went great. I walked when I felt like walking, but still mostly ran. I enjoyed the changing leaves and the crisp fall day. I sang along to my music. I ran into a girl on the trail who was doing her last 12 mile run before her first half in 2 weeks (the same half that was my first) and it felt great to encourage her along. I hit my farthest run since getting injured and finished with a smile on my face. It was exactly what I needed.

    I don’t know that I’ll do all my long runs watch-free. But I might. It was so freeing to not look at my wrist every 2 minutes and be stressed that I wasn’t running fast enough.

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