My Own Worst Frenemy

Meet my new Frenemy:

She loves me...She loves me not...

She loves me…She loves me not…

I have a love/hate relationship with this little gem.

I got it for my birthday, and let me start by saying that it is one of the best gifts I have EVER received, despite the dramatic ups and downs of our relationship. I was looking online at Garmins and called my husband at work to ask his opinion on models. He said he would get back to me, and lo and behold, it turns out that he had already purchased the perfect model for me for my birthday. He would rather poke his eye with a stick than run a mile, so it meant even more that he ventured into my world (and called upon Colby’s uber-athletic boyfriend for advice) to purchase me the perfect gift.

Starting with the positive – I cannot believe how freeing the Garmin Forerunner is. Until I got this baby, I would have to hop onto www.mapmyrun.com before lacing up any time I wanted to try a new route of a specific distance. While I sometimes like to run without a set route, that free-to-be-you-and-me nonsense just doesn’t fly when you are training for a marathon. So, in recent months, I have had to map my routes and check the distance before venturing out. And even on days when I might run without a plan, I still would need to map out the distance when I got home.( I can only act laid-back for so long and there is no way I could let my head hit the pillow without knowing how far I ran. And entering it into a spreadsheet. What can I say? I’m a lot of fun.) Using mapmyrun is not  difficult, but is somewhat of an inconvenience, especially when I’m on vacation and have no idea where I’d like to run and might not have access to a computer. Or when I just want to get up and run, and don’t want to get onto the computer first (which inevitably results in checking e-mail and facebook, and, possibly, hours of lost time).

I’d like to mention as an aside here, that I have been running long enough (25+ years) that – forget Garmins – the vast majority of my running days took place before mapmyrun and even pedometers. For the first 20 years of my running life, I would get into my car and map distances by driving the route before running it. In fact, when I run at my parent’s house, I still run several routes for which I know the distance only based on driving them in my ’86 Ford Mustang many moons ago. Next to that, using mapmyrun certainly doesn’t seem inconvenient. But time, and technology, march on, and here we are. Satellite guided running routes. Who woulda thunk it?

So, the Good. No, the Great! The Garmin has made my running so much more fun because I can wander and still stay within the parameters of whatever mileage I have set for the day. I love being able to take random turns and check out unfamiliar streets and neighborhoods without feeling like I have to commit the route to memory so I can map distance after I get home. I don’t get bored, because if a route is boring me, I switch it. Mid-run. I was not easily able to do this before, and it is awesome. For control freaks like me, this is as crazy as it gets. A seemingly random run that is in fact perfectly calculated? An anal-retentive’s dream. Garmin gets two thumbs up for letting me run without a map. In a very controlled way.

I also love how it alerts me every time that I complete a mile. For long runs, it is great to hear the miles buzz, one by one (by one by one), letting me know how much progress I’m making in real time. It has also given me a great sense of how far a mile takes me on some of my neighborhood streets, so I am better at estimating mileage on some of my familiar routes.

But it’s a frenemy, not a friend, so there is obviously a dark side. The dark side is represented by the display on the lower left. The pace display. Ugh. It’s killing me.

At any given time, I can look down at the display and see what my pace is. And it rarely brings a smile to my face. Worse, when the mileage alert goes off, the center of the face displays my pace for the previous mile for 5-10 seconds. So, when I look down to see what mile I am on in my run, I see my snail’s pace staring me in the face.

I have written before that I have been running more slowly than usual lately. Not sure if I am overtired, overtrained, re-adjusting from cycling a lot this summer or if I’m actually always this slow on regular training runs and just was blissfully unaware of this fact before I got my Garmin. Whatever the reason, it stinks to feel like you are running hard and then look down and see that you are, in fact, jogging (at best). And the evil Garmin won’t let me forget it. Ever.

I’m interested (well, partly dreading, but mostly, interested) to see the time on my next race- the Diva Half Marathon on October 6 – to see how much I have slowed. I’m hoping that I’m not off by much, but I think only a race will tell. Because I have never timed a training run before, I have no idea how fast I usually run – I only have my race times to go by. My paces for the half’s I ran during the past year were in the 7:54 to 8:12 range, with low 9’s for 2 half’s that I ran during heatwaves. My Garmin insists on telling me that lately, I have been running at least a significant part of each training run in the 9’s even during cool weather runs. Bah, Humbug.

Admittedly, I haven’t done much speedwork. OK, I haven’t done any speedwork except during part of one run last week after Getgoing-Getrunning suggested it to me in a comment to my post on wiping out. (And thank you for that – I did knock back some 7:40’s by specifically targeting speed during that one run). Given that I have avoided speedwork, I really have no standing to complain about my pace. I realize that. But I’ve never done speedwork, so I’m not sure what is screwing me up now. I’m blaming Garmin. Kill the messenger, I say.

Yes, I am fully aware that I can just choose not to look at the pace info. Correction: some other type of person could just choose not to look at the pace info, but I am definitely not that person. It’s like a train wreck and I simply can’t not look. I just can’t. I’ve gotten better about looking at it – I do not look at current pace on a real-time basis – ever; but when the alert goes off, and the previous mile pace is flashing, and the Garmin is buzzing and practically ordering me to take a peek…well, it would take willpower that I simply do not have to avert my eyes. And it is a crushing blow, almost each and every time.

Garmin Forerunner. The Best Worst thing to happen to my running. Ever.

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12 thoughts on “My Own Worst Frenemy

  1. Pace shmace. You ran two half marathons at an 8 min pace this year…your body is probably just a bit tired but you’ll be fine come race day. I fell victim to the pace concerns in my data driven running world after weeks and weeks of being ok with hearing slower than desired paces. My body is exhausted this week so I have no doubt I will be happy to see 9 minutes+ on my 20 miler this weekend. Thanks for the review on the Garmin, my brother in law doesnt use his at all, I think I may start using it and deploy it on race day.

    • Please borrow it and use it if for no other reason than being able to commiserate with me about the Good Garmin and its evil twin. 😉
      I’m not even really a pace junkie – I never even wore a watch while running before last year, and I still didn’t time my runs – but it is demoralizing to work harder and feel like you are doing worse, you know? I think all of us who run distance and enter races want to keep going onward and upward…and hope that a PR is still ahead, not behind us. That said, I didn’t peek at my pace this morning and had a very relaxed run! I’m sure it was slow, but I was none the wiser and enjoyed it.
      Good luck with your 20-miler this weekend! I ran my last one earlier this week – I have one more week with a mid-teen miler, a half on Oct 6, and then it will be time to start tapering for me!

  2. Hey! Thanks for the shout out, and really happy you smacked out some fast miles!
    I love my Garmin. She can be cruel at times, but I know she’ll never lie to me. However, I feel like a real jerk at the moment. I’m contemplating an affair. With a new 620. She caught my eye the other day with her svelte curves, slim figure and radiant face. My Garmin will be SO pissed when she finds out…
    All the best!
    Bernie

    • I’m sure my ’86 mustang feels the same way.
      Just checked out the 620 and she sure is pretty. No wonder you are thinking of straying. Your Garmin is tough; she can handle it. Tough chicks always bounce back!

  3. i don’t have a garmin (it’s on my christmas list), but my runmeter app makes me so sad in the same way. I feel as though I should silence the voice (a lovely australian man, btw), but i don’t, and then I get even sadder.

    • It’s maddening, isn’t it? I cannot imagine having to hear my sad pace announced in a cheery Aussie accent.
      But I do love the Garmin (when I don’t hate it). Definitely keep it on your list!

  4. Pingback: A Burpee for You and a Burpee for Me | It's A Marathon AND A Sprint

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