The running around here is beautiful. Oddly, although I’ve moved to an area that’s got forests everywhere, I run more on the roads than I used to in the middle of a village. The forests are lovely, and I would love to run in them more, but every one requires that I drive there and I just don’t have the time to spare during the day to do that.
I was thinking on my run today (3.11 miles / 5 k and it was lovely with 1 short stop) about Garmin watch statistics. I read several running blogs and follow runners on Twitter and there are always the shots of watches showing how far they ran in whatever time. I spent a long time feeling bad about being slow because of these pictures (I still do, but not because of other people, because I want to run further and faster and I’m frustrated!) and then I realised something. The stats don’t actually tell you the full story of their run.
See this chart from my watch for the run I did just before Half Term:
That double dip just before 29 minutes looks like I was moving out of the road for something to pass by like I did just before 25 minutes. What you wouldn’t know by looking at this was that I turned a corner onto the road that goes downhill, relaxed and them promptly tripped and fell down grazing my left knee and calf and ripping a big patch of skin off the palm of my left hand. Yep, I carried on running, that little rise between the big dips are me figuring out if I’d twisted anything (first time I fell I ran home on a twisted ankle thinking it was nothing and was out of action for several weeks) and then deciding I was ok to carry on.
What I’ve noticed on a lot of running blogs, alongside the watch pictures, are lots of photos of what they saw on their runs.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I can’t run and take a photo at the same time. First I have to get my phone out, swap from the music to the camera, take a shot, make sure it’s ok, swap back to music, put my phone away again and then I can run. It hit me that these bloggers are stopping multiple times during their runs, which of course gives you time to catch your breath and recover a little before carrying on. The photo above, by the way, was taken at the end of a run, it’s the bottom of the hill I live on and I walk back up as my cool down if I go this way.
I’m not saying that stopping is bad, I walk when I need to walk (or when I can’t convince myself to keep going) but if I’m able to keep running, I keep running and if things are going well I don’t care how bloody pretty it is, I’m not stopping (there were some views today I’d have loved to show you, Northumberland does great things with mist and there were some very curious calves). Also, to me, and this is a very personal thing, running a distance means running the whole thing. When I say I can run 5k I mean I can do the whole thing without stopping. Today I did run 5k, but what my stats won’t tell you is that at 1.05 miles I stopped for a wee (I’m 41 and it was raining, plus I drink too much coffee…) because I stopped my watch and then started it again when I got back onto the road. That information goes in my training diary and when I’m comparing times and distances to see how I’m doing I take that information into account.
I ran down that steep hill in the distance today, it was rather scary as it is a 10% grade and it was wet. So if I do post pictures, like the ones above taken before it rained and rained and rained and rained, you can rest assured that I was having a horrid time, or couldn’t make it up a massive hill and I had to stop running, there are no pictures of the good runs, just nice memories and motivation to go out there again in the pouring rain.