A Runners Journal: Running Watch Free & The Comeback

I’ve been blogging for two years and just this week realised, I’m not really blogging. Yes I am writing about myself to an extent, but the blogs content has drifted to that of a website with static, unoriginal posts. I have drifted away from my original purpose of  chronicling the journey which in turn would offer support in its own right.

So, I’m starting a trial. I will be keeping a diary, or journal as they’d say across the pond and any useful excerpts will be shared. For those casual readers who prefer the longer, more topical posts I will title each entry ‘A Runners Journal’. Hopefully some will find the entries useful or at least interesting and if not, it will certainly help me process the cocktail of crap that builds up over time. And my first entry brings with it a real breakthrough on a personal level.

Saturday, 8th December

Park run day and my first one back after injury. Its been 5 months since my last race, the Scafell Skyrace and training has been less than ideal. Only a  month or so back into running and just two weeks into moving a little quicker. I have done zero speedwork and yet, my mind keeps switching to thoughts of closing in on my personal best time, 18:02. I need to let go and accept things for what they are. I’m not running half my usual mileage, so why am I obsessing over a Park Run time.

My anxiety about the result was obvious on Thursday night. A nightmare in which I did park run, but in my old secondary school gym, many a bad memory are held there and this was no different. I couldn’t move my feet fast enough, my mind was willing but my legs just wouldn’t budge. You know the dream, chased by a monster with legs trapped in treacle! I guess this was a subconscious fear of failure but I was working myself up and for what, what would have equated success anyway? This was my first blast out after five months on the sidelines.

The race went as expected, hard work and a real shake up. I managed 6 min/mi for the first mile then eased off to around 6:27 min/mi and finished on 6:23ish…my time, 19:06. I was disappointed, but why? On reflection I secretly hoped my work in the gym, my dedication, would reward me with the impossible.

I did find one real positive and what I think could be a breakthrough for my mindset going forward. I hid average pace on my Garmin – as per Jaysons instructions – and it felt good to run without pressure. Last year I was a slave to my watch, constantly glancing down to be surprised by my speed and ease off or disappointed and push too hard. Its a simple Sport, run as fast as you can from point A to point B, start to finish. So why should a number on a watch have any relevance?

Because I want control, control over the result. This insight evaded me completely before some honest words from coach. My Garmin offers security, it tells me if I’m behind pace but isn’t that silly, what is behind pace after all? On that particular day in the varying conditions what is a good time? Surely if I run as hard as I can sustain for the distance that should be enough. And that right there is the breakthrough, if I can learn to let go of the result and enjoy the process then nerves can’t take over, I won’t blow up under pressure and truly enjoy racing for what it is. After trying the new approach – running on feel – it now seems so silly that I spent so long changing my pace because of 3 digits on my wrist. I was a bitch to my watch ? 

I’m seriously revved up for the year ahead and can’t wait to see what it may bring.

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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