A few months ago, I stopped turning my watch on for runs.
Like many athletes, I have a love/hate relationship with my Garmin. For years I thought it was a necessity, that my workouts or forays into the hills didn’t “count” unless they were meticulously logged into my wristwatch computer, and then downloaded and dissected in my laptop’s training program.
However, I stopped enjoying my runs/swims/bikes/skis/hikes. I felt my heart skip a beat in anticipation those first few minutes into my workout, waiting for telltale ‘beep’ and watch readout regarding my current fitness level for the day. Some days when I felt fantastic I got an abysmal ‘poor’ fitness measure, and other days after a big mileage push my watch would have nothing to show for it. It would stay at ‘0’ and remark that I was merely ‘fair’.
And then there were the days when I would be rushing around the house making lunches, locating kiddo boots and packing my work bag, only to have my watch chirp, “MOVE” when I knew I had overslept through my morning workout time and due to a calendar full of meetings I would be unable to fit in a workout to silence my wrist-Cookie-Monster…never satisfied and always demanding more.
Granted, I also had a rough year with racing goals…while I did log a few decent finishes I also had one very looming ‘DNF’ for a triathlon I’d trained extensively for – and was forced to let other life demands slide slightly unavoidably – with nothing to show for those sacrifices at the end of the day.
Thus, began the anger directed at the aqua and black computer strapped to my wrist 24 hours a day. I hated the “MOVE” reminders at 8pm while trying to get my daughter to sleep at night, and I detested the confirmation in a slow time and short distance when I had to dig deep to make my workout happen. I felt like I never measured up to my wrist-Cookie-Monster…and he always wanted more.
So, I turned him off.
For the past year, I’ve just been running. I still wear my watch, but I no longer log my workouts. I just wear it so I’m back in time to pick up kids from soccer, or to get on a conference call on time. I just run. And think. And laugh. And sometimes cry. And I’ve stopped letting competition – with others but mostly myself – ruin a perfectly blissful morning jaunt through the hills.
As a woman/mother/wife/business owner/sister/daughter/friend, I constantly feel as though I’m letting someone down. I’m late mailing birthday presents. I’m on conference calls during school pick-ups. I fall asleep at night in flannel pajamas with zit-zapping toothpaste on my face (likely much to my husband’s chagrin). I occasionally miss a work deadline. I’m a terrible cook. Throughout the course of each day, I felt a continual piling-on of disappointment.
I’m a human who finds sanity in the insane. Climbing mountains, skiing mountains, running rivers, and running long distances through mountains…I was able to balance the disappointment that life brings. The focus, silence, and drive needed to move through the mountains and rivers kept me centered. Yet in my drive to be better, to do better, to race better….I lost the balance I’d worked so hard to find.
Ladies, retake the rare moments of time when you aren’t stuck in the school pick up line, or churning out grant reports, or negotiating with a toddler about vegetable versus dessert ratio. Tune out your watch. And tune in the world.