Like most every other runner I know I am a number’s freak. Even before I started running outside in May and using the MapMyRun app I constantly broke down numbers. When I was a sports journalist I kept statistics of every sporting event I attended, including those I attended as a fan.
I know for a fact I got this trait from my father. Even before his untimely death in 2010 I watched my father fill out his daily log of the miles he rode his bike or walked around the neighborhood where I grew up. When he rode his bike he had three different routes he rode. Each time he would circle the route when he had went faster than the previous time he did it. There were a lot of circles.
And similar to my father, I also analyze numbers for major purchases I make. Not to mention the “Benjamin Franklin” chart to weight each thing I was comparing’s positives and negatives. When I was putting together my training plan my home office looked like I was back in my dorm room at Butler. I had running books and magazines all over the floor and I had one laptop with multiple windows opened to websites and another laptop with multiple spreadsheets opened to finally put together the plan I would use to train. It was a prime example of why some of my friends call me “spreadsheet.”
It drives my wife insane at times when she wants to make a simple purchase of a mundane product and she catches me in one of those moods where I am crunching numbers just to be crunching numbers.
A prime example of this – from about the middle of July until the middle of October three of our four sons have birthdays. My wife would come into my office and want to discuss a purchase for one of their birthday gifts and find me evaluating my times of specific workouts as I trained for the Indianapolis Half Marathon last month.
Let me tell you there were a lot of numbers to be examined. Easy runs, mailbox fartleks, pyramid intervals, regular intervals, hill repeats, runs when the humidity was above a certain percentage, runs in the rain of any kind, runs on the “hilly route” I had put together, comparing times of runs of the same routes, runs on days when I marked I didn’t feel like running and of course long runs – I logged it all. Without using the MapMyRun app on the iPhone I would not have known during my last mailbox fartlek workout during one stretch I had sped up to a 4:43-mile pace. Didn’t keep long but still something to remember as a highlight of the training although it happened on a day I ran like that because I was having self doubt about my speed.
I logged it in MapMyRun and the log provided on the Runner’s World website. MapMyRun is great for the routes and times and to give you a somewhat decent account of splits. The Runners’ World log is great because it allows you to break it down to what type of run and the conditions along with adding the splits. Both allow you to add comments about the workout. Before a certain workout I would look at what I had done previously. Then I would do my best to go either faster or farther in a particular workout. It also was based on what the mileage was for the certain workout depending on the training schedule I put together.
To be honest I have surprised myself by not over-analyzing my splits from the half marathon almost two-and-half weeks ago. I was right in the middle of both my goal times with a 1:35:00 finish. My obtainable goal was 1:40:00 and my “out there I would be content to NEVER train this hard ever again” goal was 1:30:00.
I spent sometime trying to figure out where I needed to be faster to get to the 1:30:00 on race day. So far through my calculations I could have got it down to 1:33:00. Even with the amount of training I determined the course at Fort Benjamin did not lend itself to make 1:30:00 possible for me.
It was pretty simple to analyze – the first mile was the slowest and was made that way because I didn’t want to come out of the gate too fast. For the rest of the race if the splits were between 7:10-6:54 I was on the flat part of the course. If the times were between 7:20-7:30 I was on the hills especially mile 11, which was incline after incline until you get to the small bed of rocks between the bike path and Lee Road and were heading to the finish line.
Finally after five days of multiple ice baths, foam rolling and stretching I was ready to hit the pavement to see where my legs were since the race. As I dressed I saw my iPhone and my stop watch. For the previous 18 weeks I had ran using one or the other or both.
Back on July 17 during my first hill-repeat workouts on Skyline Drive I used my phone with the Belkin armband. It was one of the hottest days mixed with humidity of the summer at that point. By the time I got home my sweat had soaked through the armband. My phone was overheating and the indicator light was on near the ear piece.
A lot of my running friends run listening to music. I did that as well as I started running outside back in May. Most of my music was on a MP3 player. I transferred my favorite songs to my iPhone and I also listened to one of my favorite radio stations on its app. I became frustrated with the stream of the radio station app constantly “buffering” and I was not able to listen to the music I wanted to hear. I also was getting somewhat tired of my favorite songs. I eventually dropped listening to the music and only having my headphones on to hear “Jane” give me the time, distance and split on MapMyRun. As the summer progressed and I continued to sweat even more I ended up going through three sets of earbuds. I decided to not use the headphones and at all and to hear “Jane” through the regular speaker on the phone.
I looked at the iPhone and the Timex Ironman watch and I said to myself out loud – “I’m running NAKED!”
I had read an article from Jenny Hadfield and in other places about running without a timing gadget. At somepoint in every article it was referred to as “running naked.” The premise of course is let your body tell you what you can and can’t endure at any point in a run.
With the half marathon behind me and no race to train for in the near future I believe now is the best time for me to go out and quite frankly run and do it “naked” I know the distances of most of my routes and through the training I learned a lot about my body. I can tell when I can push the limit and when I need to tone it down now.
I headed out for my first-post-half-marathon run the Thursday after the race. I did my 5k route around my neighborhood and I felt very relaxed after it. It was like I became liberated not having anything attached me. I did not for one instance feel pressured to beat a time. There was no worry to know my pace. There was no hesitation to speed up or slow down because of what the workout called for me to do that day. This day all I wanted to do was run easy and enjoy being back hitting the pavement for a few miles.
I have ran five more times since and each time I have “ran naked.” And I have thoroughly loved EVERY SINGLE RUN more than the previous one. With my legs finally getting back to normal – the training of 486.14 miles for four months and then pushing my body to its ultimate limit during the race took more of a toll on me than I originally thought – it’s nice to go out and run. Even two of my sons have ventured out and ran with me. My oldest son, Andrew, commented Saturday after he ran 3.12 with me, “Dad, now that time isn’t a factor I like knowing you’ll go slow with me and we can talk.”
To be honest (you’ll come to find I use this phrase a lot), I don’t think it will change for the immediate future. I am quite content with going out and enjoy running without having to worry about time. About the only time I will use a device – most likely the “Happy Birthday to Me” present I am getting myself next week – will be once I have solidly put a race on the calendar. Right now that looks to be ways away.
Besides the fact allowing your body to dictate how you run being beneficial the other advantage to running “naked” at least for me is I won’t have to worry about damaging my iPhone anymore than it already has been because of my sweat or using it while running in the rain as I did during a couple of training runs and on race day. Not to mention the fear of the armband slipping and dropping my phone and cracking it. Whew let me tell you that was a big fear I had especially when I couldn’t hear “Jane” and constantly was taking the armband off to check my time, distance and splits.
So to all my running friends out there or to those who are thinking about beginning to run (New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner) my advice to you is if you must run with your music so be it but keep the timing gadgets at home and – “run naked – it does the body good.”