Wednesday, February 22, 2012

RECOVERY: Go Naked! Leave the GPS and Monitors at Home this Off-Season

Would you be willing to go for a bike or run naked?  I don't mean naked without clothes...I mean naked without your GPS, heart rate monitor, bike computer, or whatever other piece of technology you use.  For some of you, I'm guessing you'd probably rather go without clothes...

All last year during Ironman training I was tied to my Garmin GPS and heart rate monitor. And I mean tied.  Every single bike and run workout was based on my heart rate zones and sometimes also speed/pace/distance.  I felt like the success of me finishing Ironman didn't just depend on doing the workouts - it depended on doing everything in the correct heart rate zone to build up the appropriate endurance level.  I felt so dependent on my Garmin data, that there were a few times I was absolutely livid when I'd set out for a run or bike and my Garmin wouldn't work or wouldn't be charged...How would I ever know what heart rate zone I was in or what pace I was doing??

This is pretty much what I looked like some nites when my Garmin wasn't working...
Once Ironman was over, the off-season kicked in, and I finally recovered from my calf injury, I started running again...but without the Garmin or the heart rate monitor.  I only took my regular old Timex watch so I could time myself to make sure I didn't run too long.  The first night I set out on my short run I left my Garmin and HRM at home...and I felt almost naked...but free!! 

Running naked without the technology...and that's about what I feel I look like in the off-season!
I did the same thing when I hopped back on the my indoor bike trainer....I hooked it up to the computer on the Computrainer just to control the resistance, but I kept the laptop off!  And I enjoyed riding my bike just for the pure pleasure of riding my bike....

It's been a long time since I've enjoyed running and biking as much as I have lately without being tied to the technology...It's very freeing not to worry about heart rate zones, pace, etc.  I just go with how my body feels.  

Believe it or not, we're actually much better at knowing how our body is functioning than we give ourselves credit for.  Even on the nights when I was training last year and my Garmin crapped out on me, I could go out for a run or bike ride and know what heart rate zone I was in.  Sometimes when I had the Garmin on, I'd play a little game to try to guess my heart rate...I was always either right on the nose or just one beat off.  All of the training hadn't just trained my body...It had trained my mind to be more in tune with my body.  Sure, the Garmin showed me where my heart rate zones and pace were; but, once I got that down, I actually didn't need the Garmin all the time to predict how my body was functioning.  

What all this has taught me is that sometimes the technology can turn a positive into a negative.  When you start to feel too tied to something - to the point that you don't feel like you can't function or perform without it - chances are you need to step away for awhile.  If we can take a page from yoga, it's to learn to put our minds and bodies in learn to listen to our bodies to know what's too much or not enough. 

On top of that, the positive benefits of the technology can lead to more negatives when we start to assign value to our workouts based on what the "data" says.  You go out for a run and feel pretty good, only to get back home, download the GPS data, and realize that you were slower than you thought.  So what?  Why does the Garmin data have to ruin your good vibe about your run?  It's like working out really hard, feeling great about yourself, and then seeing a picture of a super model in a bikini and telling yourself that you should have worked out harder.  We allow the external data to replace our internal feelings.  

The off-season is the perfect time to get away from the technology.  Leave your GPS, heart rate monitor, and bike computers at home.  Focus on listening to what your body - not the technology - is telling you.  Rejoice in the exhilaration of finishing a run on a chilly winter night just for the sake of having gotten outside.  Or seeing the sunrise as you set out on an early morning bike ride.  Enjoy working out for what it is - your ability to get out and do something that makes you feel good.  You'll have plenty of time during training season to be slave to the for now, break free...Go naked!!

Can you try to go naked for your off-season workouts?


Jen said...

Huh. I cannot remember the last time I ran without my Garmin, but I have been pretty good about ignoring it while out there. I might have to give this a shot, just to do it. You have such a point about the data ruining your vibe, and the dependency though. Lately my HRM is flaking out and I've been so ticked off not to have that dataset. Maybe I really do need to give this a go. :)

Life Through Endurance said...

Hey Jen! I was the same way w/ my HRM when I was training...if you're training for something it might not be the best to leave it behind, but even on the nites that I did when I was training, I realized that my body knew more than I thought it did! Plus, I've heard so many stories of people's Garmins & HRMs crapping out on race day, so it's always good to have some practice w/o them! Good luck!

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