I have read a whole lot on running how you feel, about ditching the heart rate monitors* and watches and relying instead on the stories our body has to tell. I have become a proponent of getting rid of the watch for the same reasons we should never own a scale. What we see on that watch face does not tell us how our body felt while completing the workout. And in many ways it holds us back. How many times do you check your watch while on a training run? How about when running a race?
My first marathon was on the Creeper Trail in Abingdon. It was a rails to trails and yet I remember studying my watch for the first 13 or so miles, finally giving in to the pace my body wanted to go and turning my watch upside down around mile 15. I was getting on my own nerves. Nevermind I hadn’t trained for any particular finish time, focusing only on getting in the miles so I could finish strong. That day taught me so much about trail running before I knew of such a thing, my friend K teaching me as I lamented my splits on Facebook that the trail controls us, we do not control the trail. In other words, shut up and listen with inside eyes. I like to think of it as Mother Nature giving me an attitude awakening.
The further I delve into training by feel, a larger question looms: How come we don’t do more life things that make us feel good, happy even? How come we are often the cause of our own unhappiness? How come we don’t make life choices based on how we feel?
Sure there are work obligations and the times we support the hobbies of our significant others and attending parent teacher conferences, the stuff we have to do because we’re adults, etc.
But I’m talking about those moments when we say ‘yes’ when everything inside of us is screaming ‘no’. If that sandwich makes us feel disgusting after we eat it, why eat it again and again? If someone is causing us more hurt than happiness, why are they still close enough to continue that practice? How come we often utter the words ‘some day…’ instead of making plans to live out our dreams? How come we do not trust ourselves to know what it is we know to be right and true?
When running, we check-in with our bodies at regular intervals, kind of like a mental body scan. This tells us far more than any gadget we attach to our wrists or strap onto our chests. We don’t need a heart rate monitor to tell us the thumping in our ears means we need to slow down a little just as we don’t need anyone else to tell us those gut feelings we ignore are trying to lead us to our proper path. We complete tempos, fartleks, steady state runs to push us beyond our comfort zone, to help us get stronger and faster. Those feelings in our gut is our intuition trying to get us to move in the direction of our true desires, to help us make our mind stronger. They are guiding us to the realization that to trust ourselves is never a mistake. We are capable of knowing our Selves and making the best decision at any given moment.
It’s not all that different than the phrases we runners tell one another before each race: ‘Trust your training!’, ‘Believe in the process!’, ‘Your body knows what it needs to do!’,
Sometimes we have to do hard things. Running fast will hurt. Running long will hurt. And yet each time you push against your own boundary just a little bit more, growth happens. It only hurts the first time. Your body gets stronger and faster and bolder and best of all, that confidence transcends to mindfulness. Allow the beast in your body to also live inside your head. Fire the Negative Committee who is trying to take up residence there.
So yeah, you already know what to do my lovelies. Have the courage to break your own heart.
Then watch yourself soar.
*Full disclosure: I’ve never worn a heart rate monitor nor had any desire. I also don’t know how to work the fancy functions on my watch, which is currently only being worn on B2B long run days. That too is about to stop.