Friday, September 7, 2012

The Naked Runner

For the past week, I have been doing something that I haven’t done… ever. I’ve been running naked.

No, I haven’t been causing bouts of blindness with my bare posterior. Instead, I’ve been running sans electronics. Neither an iPod nor a Garmin has accompanied me on my training runs through Uptown New Orleans. This is uncharted territory for me, and I’m not sure where it may lead.

Since I started marathon training nearly four years ago, I have always used an iPod. Even if I was running and talking with a partner, I would have one headphone in with music keeping me on somewhat level 3-minute interval paces (the average length of a song). Over that same timeframe, there’s been a consistent playlist that has had few deletions and some major additions, and those tracks have been my most dependable training partners. Granted, I’ve gone through five iPod shuffles and an iPhone, all of which fell victim to my profuse sweating during the summer months; however, I’ve maintained my dependence on some tunes to keep me motivated and focused on my training.

A little over two years ago, I bought my first Garmin GPS-enabled watch. It COMPLETELY revolutionized my training. The first time I wore it to race was at my first Boston Marathon. I was amazed by passing the mile marker flags and simultaneously hearing the beep of my Garmin. It allowed me to keep an even pace, to know when I was pushing the pace too early in the race, to know when I needed to speed up to stay on pace, and to know where I was with finishing within a goal time. I swear by my Garmin as a training aid, and it’s a must-have during marathon season. The uploads of my runs to a personalized website, with maps of my routes, complete a great overall picture of my race preparation and serve as a mental reminder of what effort I have done in getting ready for race day and reassures me of my preparedness. Also, it leaves a fancy wrist tan line that never seems to go away.

Both of my training aids died this past week, so I’ve been on multiple shorter runs (4 miles) without them. It’s interesting how I have responded. My pace has not dropped any. In actuality, it has sped up some and become more even. I’m starting to think that I may have been relying on my 130 beats per minute music too much and it was hampering increased speed in my training. I’ve missed my Garmin immensely, but the farmer’s tan has evened out a bit and I’ve gotten some at-home remedies from a friend on how to reboot it. In the meantime, digital streaking will be in my future.

What do you depend on when training, and what must you bring beyond your front door?

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