I was hitting my marks. My pace was on target. My distance was met. I felt proud sharing my accomplishments with my coach. My running watch became an extension of me. It dictated my performance and gave statistics that categorized my effort. My interest in my results became an obsession.
As my training increased, I became so focused on staying on schedule that I was neglecting warning signs that my body was becoming worn. I disregarded the care I need to support my running. As my training paces dropped, in sympathy to my knee pain, my watch made sure to accurately track the decline. I became frantic as I studied the numbers on my wrist. My workouts became stressful and, as my intention contradicted my resolve, I became halted by pain.
Rest. A foul 4-letter word, that in this case, meant injured. I had to wait out my injury and give my body time to heal before I desperately got back into my training. I knew deep-down that resting and taking time off was the best decision for my recovery. Yet, I still studied the work-outs I was missing and wondered how I would be performing had I not fallen off track.
Eventually, I was given the 'all-clear' and I slowly worked my way back into cautious and modified running. My watch, that used to be a source of telling me how far I'd gone, was now it was a reminder of how far I still had to go. I felt so removed from the runner I had been. I felt betrayed by my watch, so one day - I ran without.
I listened to my breathing and proceeded by effort. I followed the pace my legs could comfortably keep, and when I felt strong, I let go and just ran. I didn't care about the distance. This time was spent on finding the rhythm through the movement of my body and its connection to my soul. The bond I had with the digital representation of my effort was severed. I was free to find my way back to the essence and sublime release of running.
It is rare to see me tracking my runs with a watch these days. I may use it at times to calculate my distance in a race, but my running now comes from purpose, not proof...and I've met all my goals.
Happy trails -