Beep. Beep. Beep.
As we rounded a corner at halfway another guy who I’d heard breathing behind me for the past mile ran past and stayed half way between me and the Garmin-wearing trio. I kept the distance the same and carried on with my ‘comfortably hard’ pace.
I wasn’t wearing my Garmin. I haven’t worn it for weeks. The last time I strapped it to my wrist was Manchester marathon. I’d been glued to it for the previous four months, running every session to a designated pace. Spending more time looking at that 2cm diameter watchface than I’d spent looking at my own face.
It worked. I got the time I wanted in the marathon. Then I stopped my watch, took it off and it has sat on a shelf ever since. When I lined up for my first triathlon the other week, I left my watch at home. I didn’t care how long it took me to finish. I cared that I finished.
Last weekend I headed out for a trail run. I ran until the path ended, then I turned around and ran back home. I ran at a pace that was comfortable. I stretched out my legs and instead of looking at the square inch of digital display on my wrist, I looked at the trees, the sky and where my feet were landing. I had fun.
On Wednesday night I overtook the group of guys running ahead of me. I continued running comfortably hard all the way up the slight hill to Speakers Corner and then I stopped with the rest of the group. There was no watch to stop and look down at, so I spoke to my clubmates.
The guy who’d overtaken me at half way finished moments later and said: “I was trying to catch you for that last bit but I couldn’t. How fast were you going?”
I shrugged. “I don’t know. I’m not wearing a watch this month.”
I’ll put my Garmin on again. I’ll soon be looking for another PB at some other race. But until then I’m enjoying running without looking at the clock and without pawing over various numbers and stats when I get home. It doesn’t mean I’m not pushing hard on the runs I do. I’m just listening to my body’s definition of what’s hard, not what’s showing on my watch.