How to be at your best, without the gadgets

Man Running in a Balconi Hat

GPS’s, Heart Rate monitors, pacers, etc are just a few of the new and improved gadgets that you will find on any runner these days.  When I started running a few years ago, I just went out and ran.  I thought I did pretty well.  Then I got all excited to start training for my first half marathon.  As any runner would, I wanted to track my progress, so I got a watch and found out I wasn’t the runner I thought I was.  It was pretty disheartening to see that I was slow and my heart rate was really high.  I worked hard to change these things, but I was glued to my watch, rather than the run.

After another baby, I wanted to get back in shape and try out another half marathon.  This time – no gadgets!  I remember when our little family took a GPS on a trip to San Diego.  We drove from our hotel to the city center several times during the trip, but we really still had no idea how to get there.  We just listened to the GPS.  What if it went out?  Same thing with those gadgets.  Have you ever been on a run when your watch looses battery life and shuts down?  Makes you really mad.  Instead of enjoying the end of your run, you worry about what information you are missing.  Stop worrying and look around!

I signed up to run the Bryce Canyon Half Marathon and I really want to be able to enjoy the scenery, so no watch it is, but without a watch, how do I train?  As I run, I find that listening to your body is the most important aspect of any training program. Frank Webbe PhD says that “Training without a watch lets you run with a greater sense of comfort.  It helps your performance because you’re paying attention to your body rather than to the watch itself.”

How do we go about listening to our bodies?  How hard is too hard, or are we doing enough to get a great workout.  Gabriel Sherman from Runners World Magazine had some great tips.  He says “your body is amazingly programmed to tell you when you're doing it right. Your heart, sweat, and breathing rates naturally indicate when you're working too hard (or not hard enough) for any kind of training run. Breathing is by far the most effective and easiest-to-read indicator of effort. If you're running solo, count your breaths with each step. On recovery runs, you want to take three to four strides for every inhale and the same for every exhale. If you're training with pals, you should be able to carry on a conversation.”  I tried this method on my last run and it worked out great!  It seemed to be a natural way to measure my perceived exertion.

Renee’ Balconi, Fitness Expert, former pro athlete, current Co-Owner of Balconi Top Training, has a given me a few other awesome tips that she uses on her top athletes.  To be able to tell if you are working out too hard, test these tips.

1. You should be able to state a word or two, but not hold a gossip session.
2. If you’re light headed and feeling tingly, stop.
3. Seeing spots or feeling a little woozy, stop.

Last of all, she, and all other athletes will tell you simply use your good judgment and instinct.  Renee’ says, “Here’s the deal; we are born with instinct, if something in your gut tells you something is not right, and then stop. You don’t need a beep to stop you, at the same time; you don’t need a beep to make you go faster. “   Run with the confidence that you are your best coach.  Whether you are running with gadgets or not, train wisely and enjoy the run!

For more information you can check out the article by Gabriel Sherman and also Balconi Top Training site.