So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Friday, May 8, 2009

K.I.S.S.-ing To Be Clever

The middle of May, here in the FL panhandle, is kind of the tail end of the spring road running season & the height of the triathlon season. So, for the runners it's usually time to back things up & either build the base that should have been built in the chill, dark months of January & February or to recover, maintain & build a tolerance to the heat over the summer so the autumn race season isn't nearly as painful.
And I stress the need for easy-paced runs throughout the summer's heat & humidity. Even the track workouts I assign over the summer are based on perceived effort. This week we ended up with some partly cloudy, humid but not overpowering conditions, which is a good start for adapting. But I have one or two athletes who own Garmins and click them on & off on every repeat. That's not so much the maddening thing as much as when they check their pace during the warm-up.
'So, what's the proper pace for warm-up?' I asked one of the Garmin users last night at the track. He rattled off a pace about 30 seconds off what I try to run on one of my easy days. 'Let me walk you further down this train of thought; is there a single, right pace at which you should warm-up?' I think he got the message after that statement.
While I like GPS gear for the benefit of knowing more-or-less how far you've traveled, I think it places an undue dependence on technology. Don't we run to get more in touch with the inner workings of our bodies? While I can do the simple mathematics on my regular running courses to determine how fast my pace is, there are days when I am more labored at running an eight-minute mile-pace easy run; that's probably too fast for the day. Actually, that happened a couple of evenings ago out at the beach. While it was not much warmer than usual, it was a little breezy & humid (conditions that make my exercise-induced asthma kind of kick up).
'You're breathing heavy tonight. Usually I don't hear you that way for at least another mile when the pace picks up,' said my Garmin-guy. Considering the conditions & the fact I raced two races four days earlier, it was not supposed to be a sprightly-paced run. I mentioned what I thought the pace was, at which he told me, 'no, it's...'

Some days the "fresh" pace is slower than others. I'm trying to keep it simple.

Once we got about three miles into the run I began to feel a little better & the pace dropped; a few seconds here, a few seconds there. It probably didn't hurt to make an unscheduled boxen-stop (potty break!) at the 2.5-mile point. Give my training-mates 20 seconds to get up the road & I'm hell-bent for election to catch them. It's that simple.

Too much technology leads to too much dependence on numbers - useless data - in training. If you don't know what the numbers mean, or you can't figure out what a particular effort (pace) feels like on the day, what's the use? It's little more than mathematical self-abuse.

(I was going to use a more-adult term starting with the letter M, but in order to keep this blog post at a PG rating...)

Scarier, even, is if the technology cr*ps out on you on race day. Or you find your pace/power/HR isn't where it should be. At that point what do you do? Do you panic, bail out of your race, or do you (as Clint Eastwood in Heartbreak Ridge said:) 'adapt....overcome....improvise?' Batteries die. Satellites go down unexpectedly. Connections become disconnected.

That's why it's always best to keep things as simple as possible, but, as Albert Einstein was reported to have said: 'but not simpler.'

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