Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Being watched

Runners are creatures of habit who derive comfort from routines, schedules, rituals, and mantras. Not candles, but specific pre-run sequences that go from eating and suiting up to warming up. And there's no mantra chanting, but if you could get in a runner's head during a hard stretch of a run, you'd hear the same thing repeated over and over again. It can range from common ones like "Pain inevitable, suffering is optional" to briefer ones like "one more" (step, block, or mile) to more motivational ones like "fried chicken."

Research would be needed to determine whether creatures of habit are more likely to become runners or if running acts as a personality catalyst turning otherwise normal individuals into sole obsessed maniacs who quickly become experts at Newton's First law of motion and consider distance and speed appropriate Happy Hour conversation.

I ran for about a year without a watch and finally got one last fall when I realized I had completed NYRR's 9+1 program and had some decisions to make. My running changed once I got it.

I have a hard time getting going. My body is slow to respond to my will to run. It takes me about twenty minutes or two miles to warm-up. So I tell myself I can't make any decisions before twenty minutes. I just have to keep going. If things are hurting, I can slow down as much as I need to. I listen to my body and adjust my gait. Relax. But keep it up for twenty minutes. Usually, by the end of that, the stiffness and aches are gone and I don't feel like stopping, which makes five/six milers my favorite distance. Two to warm up, by mile three I really start going, mile four I hit my stride, mile five and six are fun and by the end of that I'm pleasantly tired, but not burned out.

But I couldn't do that without my watch.

I lost my watch while Woodstalking last month. Sure, my legs hurt, but the real reason I couldn't run for the weeks after that was that I didn't have my watch. After looking for it for two weeks (I'm convinced it's somewhere in my apartment) I gave up and bought a new one, which was just the same as my old one. The better to avoid having to re-learn which buttons to press.

Oh, watch! I'm so happy to have you again!
Now at least I know how slow I'm going.

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