Friend or Foe?

Once you decide to take up a running program you need to focus on a couple of things, most importantly your running gear.

Of course the prime focus should be on comfort. That means comfortable running shoes, shorts/pants, and a top that wicks the moisture away from your body. Can’t forget the socks.

Comfort rules.

It may take time for you to figure out what works best for you. I have some advice”¦TAKE THE TIME!

Before spending hours grinding out the miles you need to be 100% sure that you will be as comfortable as possible with what you are wearing during your workouts.

That’s half the battle…being comfortable. If you start off comfortable then you will insure that your workouts will start out enjoyable as well.

Once you have your running gear all selected and have found everything to be just right for you, my guess is that you may be thinking about getting one more piece of equipment.

This piece of equipment is a key component in your training. It might help answer a few questions for you like, “I wonder if my conditioning is improving.” or “Am I making any progress with my training?”

Let me guess. Is this component a runner’s watch?

You’re thinkiing, “Of course Mike! The watch will help me train.”

Well, yes it should.

However”¦keep in mind that the watch can also serve as a double-edged sword.

Imagine those old cartoons where the main character is trying to decide on a path to take. On his right shoulder is a reduced image of himself all dressed up in white with a halo hovering over his head. That angelic version of himself is trying to point him down the right path.

On his left shouilder is another image of himself this time all dressed up in red and sporting a set of devilish horns. This particular image is not in his best interest and is trying ever so hard to push him down the not so right path.

Well, your watch could very well serve as either angelic or devilish in your pursuit of training to get healthier and aim for a particular race.

Now the good watch, the one who would reside on your right shoulder with the halo is saying, “Okay now let’s be sure that we do this right and not to be too overanxious.
What we will do is just start me when you begin your workout and then just forget about me until you finish and then stop me at that point and I’ll be happy to tell you how long you have been ruinning.”

That sounds like a plan…the right plan.

Then there’s the evil wicked watch figure on your left shoulder and he is whispering some bad advice into your ear.

“This is gonna be great. Once you start me we’ll really be rocking. I want you to constantly check in with me as much as possible. Keep track of how far you are going and how fast you are going. Now remember, you want to get better so if when you check me and I tell you that you’re not going fast enough I want you to pick up the speed and try harder.”

“Remember, I am here to help you.”

Uhhhhhhh,,,,no!

Don’t believe him.

The worse thing you can do is become too buddy buddy with your watch. That’s a buddy you don’t need because it could lead to problems.

If you constantly monitor your watch while you work out then you may find yourself subconsciously pushing yourself to perhaps do that first mile a bit faster or cover a distance that much quicker or just do something too fast too soon.

Over time your conditioning will bring you to the point where you will run faster and stronger and feel better at the end of the run. You, and not your watch, will do that for you.

If you are constantly checking your watch during your workout and figuring out how fast or how slow you are going then you will add unnecessary stress to your workout.

Worry about your watch at the end of the workout.

The watch should be used as a tool to help you gradually improve your conditioning.
Use it to help you properly assess your workouts and to prevent yourself from overdoing it.

Here’s an example. If you start out in a walk-run combination type of workout use the watch to time your walks and runs”¦For instance”¦you may want to use a 4 to 1 ratio of running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute. Use the watch for that purpose to time how long you’ve been running or walking and not how quickly it has taken you to get from point A to point B.

Also, use it to measure your overall workout time. For instance, today you will workout for 30 minutes and tomorrow you will work out for 32 minutes.

Constantly change your course. This will prevent you from subconciously keeping track as to how far you have gone within the workout. Worry about that later and measure it later.

I am not advising you not to use a watch”¦I am advising to not use it in a way that results in you taking two steps forward and one step back because it may push you to an unecessary injury.

Next time we’ll take this further as I will get into the reason why I have brought up the subject of the watch as being friend and foe…it’s known as the Walt Disney World race pacing requirements.

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