A little over 12 months ago, I decided I was turning into a proper runner. You see, I reckoned that as I’d stuck at consistently running at least a few times a week for at least a few weeks, I’d more-or-less cracked it and was over the hell and torment of ‘getting started’. Over the previous couple of decades or so I’d never really got beyond this stage so it was quite an achievement, especially as I was managing to lug around a couple and a half stone of excess weight.
So I rewarded myself. I brought a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS, heart rate monitor etc etc etc (I still don’t know what all the functions are). Deep down (in fact not even as deep as the hole it left in my wallet) I knew that I didn’t need this gadget to be a runner but I convinced myself I had to have one – somehow my life was not going to be complete until I’d purchased this space age microchip-filled lump of plastic with a face the size of an oil platform heli-pad.
I know why I did it. Throwing money at my running was a good way to convince me that I was definitely serious about it, and that same money was a sure way of convincing me that I’d better keep at it, or my wife would be asking far too many questions about the unused wrist-worn luxury I’d purchased while the kids were walking round in rags.* Nothing like a bit of guilt to make one turn-out for a jog on a dismal Autumn evening.
I should perhaps write a review of my adventures with my Garmin at some point, but for now there’s something else I’d like to share. It’s true that I don’t know how to do everything of which it is capable but in the early days I managed to figure out the basics. I even managed to upload some of my ‘runs’ from the device to my computer. I then forgot the password to the software and gave up on that. Fortunately I remembered how to stop and start the thing, and how to charge it.
Today I was having a play with the 305 when I stumbled on the data from when it first accompanied me on my runs. And this was the fasciniating, and to me quite exciting thing. As I’d only ever kept comparisons of times/routes in my head, never successfully keeping a running diary, I’d never really had accurate data to be able to see how I was doing over time. However, staring me in the face today were some hard facts about my running.
Last year on 27th October (a Wednesday I think) I ran 10 miles. I remember the route because I’ve run it on several occassions since. It was a fair morning, I dropped the kids off at the in-laws, then set-off shortly afterwards (and no – the Garmin does not hold this type of information). According to the data it does hold, I completed the run in 1 hr 51 mins 31 secs. My average heart rate was 150bpm. I remember that the run felt like hard work and afterwards I was absolutely knackered.
I did exactly the same route in very wet weather on 8th October this year. So I compared the two runs in the ‘History’ file on the watch. My time was 1 hr 39 mins 30 secs and my average heart rate was 150bpm. More impressively from my perspective was that it felt like a very, very easy run.
Considering I’d managed to miss lots of training last winter beacuse of snow, ice and too much merriment over the festive season, and that my weight and training suffered terribly over the last month or so of last football season (too many beer and bratwurst-fuelled trips** to watch 1.FC Nuremberg play in the German Bundesliga), I am more than happy with the improvement I’ve clearly made.
The £100 plus seemed completely justified in just a few moments. Now I wonder what technology I could use to force me to run for the next 12 months?
* The bit about the ‘kids in rags’ is not strictly true. The rest is.
** This is a sort of lie too. I do not actually consider*** it possible to have too many beer and bratwurst-fuelled trips to watch my beloved Nuremberg play. Although any self-respecting liver would probably disagree. And it turns running into torture.
*** Or maybe I’ve just not managed to reach a limit when even I have to say ‘that’s enough for now’.