Back on April 25th, I began an experiment – to run without my FR 35 or any other GPS watch and not use the GPS or music from my phone either.
That running nakid thing.
Why would I do that?
After all, I have always been a techie kind of guy and enjoy using technology to “enhance” my life as much as anyone.
When I look back at the reasons why I started using GPS technology in first place, it was more about proving to others that I was actually doing the workouts that I had been blogging about. Back then I had a few trolls that continually were questioning my fantastical writing about workouts that I couldn’t possibly be doing at my advanced age. Using GPS technology was how I proved to the world that I was doing the workouts I was writing about and the trolls stopped bothering to comment after I started using it.
So using the GPS initially was not really for me, but after a while it became a part of the routine and I enjoyed the data that it gave me to mull over, dissect and think of ways that I could improve myself as a runner using all that wonderful data. Then I joined online Running Logs and used them to connect with other runners, by showing them my runs and they showed me theirs.
After a while, it became almost a daily competition to see who ran the most or how fast we were running and while I quit them a few times over the years, the compulsion to keep sharing my runs overcame any feeling that I was over-sharing what I was doing.
Yeah, my running became more about the data points that it created and “friendly” competition with runners I would never meet in person, than running for the enjoyment of running. I still enjoyed running, but it was not the same and became more about creating great looking graphs and splits.
Then when I got the Garmin FR-35, it took all those data points to a whole new level and it was too much. Yeah, the FR-35 with the wonderful heart rate monitor and activity tracker, it soon seemed as though I was focused more on making sure that I had a certain amount of activity, looking even more at all the neat graphs and data that Garmin Connect and Strava were giving me and worrying more about the sleep stats than actually how I was feeling in the morning after sleeping or during my runs.
When you add this to my almost obsessiveness about getting my mileage down to the nearest hundredth, well it became too much and instead of enjoying my running, I was running and living to create data points.
Mary felt the same way about wearing her Fitbit and we both stopped wearing our watches on the same day.
I haven’t brought them out any of the three GPS watches that I own or used the GPS tracking apps on my phone since that day. Actually I recently deleted the Strava and Garmin Connect apps off my phone, since I don’t use them anymore.
That’s right I have been running with no GPS, no music and only take my phone to use for taking pictures and to have in case of emergency – that is just being smart.
So how has it gone?
The first couple of weeks were very tough. It was almost as though I was addicted to all the information that I had been getting and was going through data withdrawal and a couple of times I almost, almost got the FR-35 back out, but I stopped and didn’t do it. I know it was all in my head, but initially I definitely missed all the data points, graphs and other information that using the FR-35 and those websites gave me.
I did make a major change in how I track my runs at the same time I stopped using the GPS devices. Since that day I have tracked all my runs by duration instead of distance/pace and that has made a huge difference in how I now look at my runs. The unfamiliarity and no personal baselines for that kind of tracking made many things that I used to think of as important – irrelevant.
Then something happened about the end of the second week, I went for a run and stopped worrying about how walking up the big hill by the house would look to everyone on Strava or Garmin Connect. The run was tough, the pollen count was pretty high, the temps were higher than they had been and I felt like crap when I decided to walk up the hill. One of those runs where you just don’t have it and you just run to finish the run.
While I was walking up “the bitch” that day, was then that I realized how much I had been running to always show good GPS data, not running according to how I felt. It didn’t matter that most other runners don’t really give a rat’s arse about some old slow guy going even slower up some stupid hill they would never see.
Those graphs and data that mattered so much to me, because I was making my personal running information public for the world to see and my ego wanted other runners to “know” that I was still a decent runner despite being almost 60.
Are really irrelevant to almost everyone else.
What I am doing now
Since that epiphany I haven’t wanted or felt the need to use my GPS watches or even post my runs to any public website. I still use my spreadsheet and blog about my runs, but those are more for me than anyone else. I am not focused on sharing data, wonderful graphs or anything else, it is more about how I am doing, feeling and providing a narrative of my running.
In other words, I have gone back to making my running personal again, instead of it being a public activity where I compare myself to so many other runners, many of whom are at vastly different stages in their running life, than this old fart is at in his.
My running in both the physical and mental parts are getting better, I am not always racing the GPS to prove how good a runner I actually am. I am much more in tune with my body and now run more according to how I feel during that day. The best part is that I feel more relaxed about running and don’t get all wound up if I don’t hit a certain pace or split, because I don’t have the data to worry about it.
I have also noticed that I have been running more consistently and don’t always feel tired, like I did before.
I will be honest that running without all the added tech doesn’t make it any easier to run, but it does make it easier to focus on just running, without all the other distractions. I am not worrying about what some graph is going to show me or someone else about all the different runs that I do, especially those that are easy or runs where I am getting some mileage on the legs.
Will I go back to running with a GPS device?
I don’t see me using GPS or an activity tracker type watch any time soon. I am very comfortable with the direction my running is going without all the tech and gadgets that I had been using.
My running now is much more simple today than it was. As a part of this I put my FR-35 and FR-10 up for sale to get rid of them. I will probably keep the 310 XT for a little while, but I do imagine that it will go away at some point as well.
So if you know of anyone who wants two GPS devices at a great price or I am open to trades for something else I can use – errr newish running shoes that would work for me, that don’t really work for you. 🙂
Yeah, I am enjoying running nakid. That is with no electronics, you really don’t want to see this old fart in his birthday suit, it might scar you for life….hehehehe.
It is nice to be running to run again, instead of running to create data points.