Technical Difficulties

Ok, Ok, I know I've been a bad blogger lately. I've sat down and started three blog posts over at least as many weeks. So, over the next few days (1 week tops) I'm going to try to edit them and publish them to bring my blog up-to-date. This is the first of those entries. It's about how I've made running complicated:

When did running become so complicated? I think it happened when I became dependent on, nay obsessed with, the technology and gadgets that make recording and logging and relaying all of the data from my runs easier. Even so much as to rely on the gadgets during my runs to tell me in real time what I SHOULD be doing. This is a huge departure for the guy who used to forget to look at the clock when he went out for a run, and might eventually drive the course he ran for measurement when he got around to it. I used to just go out and run however I felt like running.

Then I began my marathon training in earnest, andI realized I needed to keep a training log in order to keep track of how far and fast I ran. Once I started my log on RunningAHEAD (http://www.runningahead.com/logs/bc0dcb5550b34a5da6571a06cc8d28d2), I started paying closer attention to the clock as I left the house and when I walked back in the door. I'm not a watch person. I've never worn one. I own a couple, but I don't know why. They were gifts, and thus sentimental, but I really don't wear them. When I asked my friend Jeff (http://www.breakthroughperformancecoaching.com/index.html) to help me set-up a training plan, he became my de facto coach. Jeff started asking me all sorts of questions about my runs that of course I had no idea of how to answer (foot cadence, pace, heart rate, etc). He suggested I get a Garmin or some sort of training watch to help gather all of the information about my runs that we needed to keep track of. This was the beginning of my technical difficulties...

After my birthday I used the money I got from my parents and my in-laws and bought a Garmin Forerunner 405 and heart rate monitor from eBay. It was a "factory refurbish," so it was a steal at $250. I started mapping-out my runs before hand and using the Garmin on all of my outside runs. Only problem was I couldn't use it on my treadmill runs. As weather and time constraints increased, I was running on the treadmill more and more. I soon realized that entering in all of the information from my treadmill runs into my log manually was a pain in the butt. I decided I needed a foot pod! My wife said she had no idea what to get me for Christmas, so you see where this is going... In the meantime, my Coach suggested using the training software he uses (http://home.trainingpeaks.com/) in order to streamline things. Prior to using Training Peaks, I was sending him the .tcx files from my Garmin and he was uploading them on his side and analyzing the data, etc (of course AFTER I already uploaded everything to RunningAHEAD).

So, now I have two training logs. For Christmas I got my foot pod. Now I can upload all of the information from all of my runs to both training logs in no time! Sweet. I know, but I have been unable to move away from the RunningAHEAD application. I really like it's functionality and the way it links to facebook. After all I've created a group on facebook (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=169237438478) where friends and family and friends of friends and their families can keep-up with my training and fundraising progress. I often link my training log and the blog that you are reading to that group. So, now I've got this blog, RunningAHEAD, Training Peaks, my facebook group, my fundraising page (http://howtohelp.childrenshospital.org/bostonmarathon/pfp/?ID=WD0030), and my Twitter account (@reallynotarunnr).

Just before the Boston Prep 16 miler that I noticed a problem with my foot pod while doing treadmill runs. The foot pod started telling me that I was running much slower (and thus shorter) runs than the treadmills were. I had turned-off the "auto-lap" feature which I used to time my mile splits during my race week preparations because it made it easier to do my pre-race facilitation workouts by just lapping splits manually. I realized just how bad my problem had become during the BP 16... Right at the 1 mile marker I noticed that I hadn't turned the "auto-lap" back on, this made me extremely frustrated. I couldn't figure out which menu it was in, let alone how to turn it back on while I was running. So, I resigned myself to not knowing my splits for this race. Then it occurred to me "I can manually enter my splits!" Duh. Only then I found that I was obsessing over each mile marker and whether they were placed in the right spot or not. Eventually I was cursing the race organizer's for putting the markers out at all. It was getting ugly.

Somewhere on that long, tortuous run I began trying to figure-out why my splits and times had become so important to me. I mean, it's not like I'm actually fast, or that I'm going to be competitive in this or any other race. Even in my age group. Even in the Clydesdale division I had entered this race in. Not. Going. To. Happen. I decided I need to get back in touch with the "natural" runner in me. The guy that just went out and ran, no matter how ugly or painful it got. The guy who could go to the dark places he needed to go to in order to push himself through the pain. The guy who didn't care about all the superfluous stuff, but only cared about how it felt to run, good or bad. When it was all over, I was looking forward to a day off. Then I checked Training Peaks and saw that Jeff had entered a recovery run of 4 miles and three more days of running before I got a day off. How did I go to 1 day off per week from 2-3 days off? Ugh. I thought this might just break me. It didn't. However, because of my work schedule, weather and other variables, all of my runs were on the treadmill that week until my long run on Sunday. I was still having issues with my foot pod, so I was running further and faster than I was supposed to, and very nearly burned-out.

On Sunday, I headed-out for my long run and decided I would re-calibrate the foot pod and just run. Run like I used to run, and not even look at my watch. Of course, at about the half-way point curiosity got the best of me and I checked. It was a good thing I checked because once it was done calibrating, apparently it stopped. For a moment, I got really angry, then just said "Screw it! I'll just run and forget about it for now..." I started the watch again, and didn't look at it the rest of the run. I even stopped and found a tree when I had to (which I've never done before). From that point on, no matter how painful it got (and it got really painful with some GI distress, but that's for another post) I just relaxed and enjoyed the scenery. I focused on my breathing, let the sun shine on my face and took it all in. I remembered what I was doing and why. It was a great day for a run. And when it was all over the sky didn't fall because the data from my watch was screwed-up.

I eventually figured-out the foot pod calibration. I was finally able to get it right by manually calibrating it. Just when I got it figured-out... The battery died! I've stopped obsessing over my Garmin and it's accessories. Now I  just hit the road or treadmill with the intention of just running naturally and basing everything on how I feel and guess what? I'm still hitting my paces (mostly), heart rate, foot cadence and everything.

However, now I've added a profile on the Daily Mile (http://www.dailymile.com/people/DouglasW#ref=tophd) because I noticed most of my Twitter friends were on it, and I like the social/support aspect of it. I know, it's essentially just another training log to add to the mix, but I'm not obsessing over it. I swear. My poor wife. Ugh.


  1. Very relatable! Keep up the good work.
    ps - I love my Garmin!

  2. Don't get me wrong, I love my Garmin too! I think I'd just become to reliant on it and forgotten what running was really about for me... Feeling!