I’m Afraid To Stop Loving Running

First: I miss blogging. I really do. I have a lot to say, you know. All the time. Every day. But sadly, I don’t have a whole lot of time to say it and attempt to have it make sense. So things may be sporadic around these parts for a while, but I’m doing my best.

I’m also eating so many Cadbury Mini Eggs. Like a reasonably disgusting amount of them.

For breakfast.

I’ve been doing a bit of running lately, too, and that’s super fun so let’s talk about that!

I love running right now.

Every time I get to run, it feels like a super-special privilege. Every time I blaze (crawl) past a bathroom and I don’t need to use it, I feel like I’m on top of the world (or just…on top of Cat Hill). And when I’m hopping around the Reservoir in the morning, watching the ridiculous sun come up…

I took this photo while I was out running yesterday morning. Ready for it: I did not edit it at all. I think that's what all you people are referencing when you say #nofilter. But really, this photo is completely untouched and unedited. That's how good life was yesterday at 6:30 AM.
I took this photo while I was out running yesterday morning. Ready for it: I did not edit it at all. I think that’s what all you people are referencing when you say #nofilter. But really, this photo is completely untouched and unedited. That’s how good life was yesterday at 6:30 AM.

…I just feel really, really lucky.

I’m so glad I’m able to run right now.

That’s not to say things are necessarily going well.

I haven’t had a bathroom stop-free run in as long as I can remember. My stomach is in a strange place right now. I’m not entirely symptomatic of being in a flare-up, but I also don’t yet feel flare-free. Without being all descriptive and using colors and textures and stuff, I’ll just tell you I’m still spending ample time in discomfort and in the bathroom, but I’m not dying and I am well enough to take the subway to work. I feel great for hours at a time, and then things get rough for a little while.

This magazine — Crohn's Advocate — came in the mail last week. Brian and I both (separately, actually) freaked out because we thought I was the girl on the cover. Not only does my boyfriend not recognize me, I do not recognize myself. Do you see a resemblance? A little? Maybe? I don't know. I got excited about being on the cover of a Crohn's magazine. But it's not even me. Disappointing. But also fine.
This magazine — Crohn’s Advocate — came in the mail last week. Brian and I both (separately, actually) freaked out because we thought I was the girl on the cover. Not only does my boyfriend not recognize me, I do not recognize myself. Do you see a resemblance? A little? Maybe? I don’t know. I got excited about being on the cover of a Crohn’s magazine. But it’s not even me. Disappointing. But also fine.

And I’m well enough to run most of the time. Not all of the time. Not on Saturday. Oh boy, not on Saturday.

I may not have run, but I spent a good amount of time Skype-ing with this little dude. He went straight from crawling to running and I've never been more proud. He's all, "Why walk when you can do Yasso 800s?"
I may not have run, but I spent a good amount of time Skype-ing with this little dude. He went straight from crawling to running and I’ve never been more proud. He’s all, “Why walk when you can do Yasso 800s?”

But I ran on Sunday! And it was one of the best runs I remember having in a long time.

I set out without a plan and just let my shrinking feet shuffle their way around the park.

Really, my feet continue to shrink. Soon I’ll just be hobbling around on one Formerly Big Toe. How will I buy shoes? How will I ice skate?

I shoved my feet into these ski boots, came back from Colorado and BOOM...smaller feet. Did I leave the tips of my toes in there or something? Why are all my shoes way too big?
I shoved my feet into these ski boots, came back from Colorado and BOOM…smaller feet. Did I leave the tips of my toes in there or something? Why are all my shoes way too big?

There wasn’t necessarily anything special about this run or anything that made it stand out from my weekday runs. I think I only bathroom stopped twice, which is good for me (it helps when I can go later in the day instead of as soon as I wake up in the morning) and the sun was shining and people running seemed happy. I didn’t see anyone I know, which was unusual — though I did see Brian out on his new bike, showing off as he sped past me on an uphill — and I mixed up my route between the main road, the Bridle Path and the Reservoir. I hit up all my hot spots and then I ran home and then I ate Eggs Benedict and Cadbury Mini Eggs.

I felt euphoric the whole time I ran for some reason. I just ran and I was happy. I wasn’t stressed and I didn’t feel the need to hit a certain pace or a certain number of miles. I started when I wanted and finished when I felt done.

I ran because — as I wrote about recently — I just love running.

Another sunrise shot from yesterday's run. A hot pink start to the day. Can't complain.
Another sunrise shot from yesterday’s run. A hot pink start to the day. Can’t complain.

Afterward, as I shoveled Hollandaise sauce into my face, I tried to force myself into figuring out exactly what made me run so happy-like. I came to the wise conclusion that it had nothing to do with what I did do: It wasn’t because I saw cute puppies (so many puppies!!!) or because I finally ran without feeling entirely out of breath the entire time. It wasn’t because there were no puddles on the Reservoir and it wasn’t because, when I actually needed to make a bathroom stop, I found myself near a clean and open rest area.

My Sunday run — and all my recent runs, honestly — was so good because I wasn’t wearing my watch.

Last Monday Sunrise Shot. Promise. But come onnnnnn, it's so pretty!
Last Monday Sunrise Shot. Promise. But come onnnnnn, it’s so pretty!

It has been months since I strapped that Garmin on my wrist.

I had been dependent on that little predator since the day I got it in January 2011. I ran with it every time I headed out, whether it was for a tempo or just easy miles. I tracked my easy miles as obsessively as I tracked my mile repeats. It was insane. Some people can’t leave home without their keys, Chap Stick or sunglasses. I never remember any of those things, and yet I rarely stepped out in my Brooks without slapping on that Garmin Forerunner 110.

But I was a runner long before I owned this piece of technology. In fact, my greatest speed gains came when I wasn’t running for time.

Life has been better since I ditched Mr. I Can Never Locate Satellites.

Remember when I was fast-for-me? I miss those days...but also, ignorance is bliss. So there's that...
Remember when I was fast-for-me? I miss those days…but also, ignorance is bliss. So there’s that…

I step out my front door in the morning and I start running. I don’t have to stand in the cold waiting for my watch to get a signal. I don’t have to hit pause at every traffic light (yeah I do that — this ain’t a race, yo) and I never ever know my pace or exactly what mile I’m at during my run. I never count the miles up and I don’t count them down.

I’ve just been running and doing my best, and it has been perfect.

OK, perfect-ish.

I can’t knowledgeably tell you whether I’ve been running 8:30s or 11:30s. I imagine I’m somewhere in between most days. I know I’m not going fast. Ever. I haven’t tried to go fast since I got sick.

OK, I haven’t tried running fast since 2011. I suck.

But these days, I just try to run, and there’s no little gadget on my wrist staring back at me saying I’m not trying hard enough.

Is that not what your watch says to you?
Is that not what your watch says to you?

I’m a firm believer in ignorance being bliss. For both my half-marathon and marathon PRs, I wasn’t yet a data freak. I wore my watch during my half-marathon PR (the National Half Marathon way back when in 2011) but somehow managed not to look at it often throughout the race. Then, during the Manchester City Marathon, Emily doubled up on watches…

Double your Garmins, double your fun. Doublemint gum. Double data. Double splits. I don't know where I'm going with this...
Double your Garmins, double your fun. Doublemint gum. Double data. Double splits. I don’t know where I’m going with this…

…and I was just along for the ride.

Soon I’ll need to start actually training, though, if I want to do well at the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May. I told Brian this weekend that I “probably wouldn’t train for it,” and his immediate response was, “Yes you will.” He’s so controlling. No granola bars for Brian.

I DON’T WANT TO SHARE MY FOOD WITH YOU. I JUST WANT TO SING LOUD FOR ALL THE DANCE FLOOR TO HEAR!!!!!! This photo is also a great example of how I was literally busting out of my dress by the end of this wedding. Sorry, party guests. Free show!!! (No, just kidding, Mom. No free shows for anyone.)

I don’t know if I’m ready to start wearing my watch again. I know I can just train by feel and oscillate between “hard efforts” and “easy runs.” I don’t know if I’m planning to try for a PR in Brooklyn. It’s hard for me to make a plan and hope to stick with it when my dang body is so uncooperative and unpredictable.

When I did the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2011, I had an awful race. My stomach was a hideous mess and as soon as I crossed the finish line I had to rush back to film for JackRabbit. That night, Brian and I went on our first date. It lasted 24 hours.
When I did the Brooklyn Half Marathon in 2011, I had an awful race. My stomach was a hideous mess and as soon as I crossed the finish line I had to rush back to film for JackRabbit. That night, Brian and I went on our first date. It lasted 24 hours.

I’m also scared to start wearing my watch again. It’s just a tiny accessory but it tends to hold so much power over me. I obsess over that dumb thing even when I know I shouldn’t, and that takes the fun out of running for me.

I’m afraid I’ll start wearing my watch and it’s going to tell me I’m barely breaking an 11-minute mile, even though I feel like I’m sprinting. (You know I’m not insulting you if that’s what you run. Don’t go getting offended here, people. I just know that for years I was able to run easily and comfortably at an 8:45 pace, so to me that is a big change. Got it? Cool.) I’m afraid it’s going to tell me that all along, while I’ve been fun running, I’ve really been power walking. I’ve been watch-free running for long enough now that I really can’t guess the pace at which I’m hustling. I’m not an experienced enough runner to be able to blindly differentiate between an 8:20 and a 9:45 some days. Judge me. I’ll wait.

OK, STOP JUDGING. You're making Tyler uncomfortable.
OK, STOP JUDGING. You’re making Tyler uncomfortable.

I also fear that putting the watch back on will strip me of my fun running freedom. I don’t want to obsess over numbers. I don’t want to stare at paces or be psycho about my splits.

But…I do want to get faster.

I don’t want to suck in Brooklyn.

I want to put forth a proud effort, with or without my watch.

So for now, I’ll keep running blindly. When I feel strong enough to start working speed drills back into my training, maybe I’ll reconcile with my Garmin, wherever it is. It may deliver brutal results at first, but you have to start somewhere I guess.

Not running...but still having fun. I don't know...this photo isn't related I guess. I just like the sparkly background.
Not running…but still having fun. I don’t know…this photo isn’t related I guess. I just like the sparkly background.

My point of this post?

I love running. And I plan to keep loving it, whether my wrists are dressed up or naked.

ARE YOU A DATA FREAK OR A FREE-FEELING RUNNER? How Garmin-dependent are you? And also, have you ever trained for a race Garmin-free and then miraculously whipped out a 6:10 pace and won the race? Just curious. I like it when we are friends.



36 Responses

  1. Hi! I just came across your blog while I was looking through photos on the web for crohn’s. I’m the girl on the cover of the magazine! It’s nice to see that you’re getting your story out there! If you would like to be on the cover of the magazine- they love hearing people’s stories and how they’re fighting back against crohn’s- there’s a paper each magazine comes with that gives you an email to send your story to so they can review it an see if your story makes it into the magazine! Good luck and I hope you’re feeling well!


  2. It sounds simplistic, but you could just be very intentional on both when you wear and when you don’t wear your watch. I love not wearing my watch, and even if I’m in full-training mode, I only wear it if it’s necessary for pacing purposes. Maybe just map your whole route ahead of time so you don’t need to worry about tracking distance? I would say that although a little Garmin is necessary on certain workouts, overall you can definitely get away without a watch. But most importantly, keep running happy! Obviously the most important thing.

  3. I have a love/hate relationship with my Garmin. Last year I raced without it for the first time and had a huge half-marathon PR. These days I don’t bother to use it for easy and recovery runs. I recently used it in a race but covered it up by putting electrical tape over it. This way I wouldn’t see the data during the race but was still able to get my splits afterwards.

  4. I only wear my garmin for track workouts, tempos, and sometimes long runs. I don’t race with it. If you want to know the distance of runs without your splits until the end, try an app on your phone like Endomondo (turn the voice off or it will announce your splits).

    I actually race better without my Garmin. It’s all very mental for me, and if I get down on a run it’s hard for me to bounce back. All my PRs have been Garmin-less!

  5. Data person…but only after a run or event. I click start at the beginning and don’t look at the G until I finish/click stop coz it freaks me out. So why not a simple stopwatch eh? Coz I like to ogle and gloss over the splits, maps etc after my run.

  6. Ali,
    I’m pretty dependent on my Garmin watch depending upon which kind of workout I’m doing. If I’m running a tempo or a track session, then I definitely use Garmin, but if I’m doing a recovery or easy run, then sometimes I’ll do it by “feel.”

    I wanted to encourage you through your Chron’s experience while running. I think you have a very positive outlook and attitude despite what you’re feeling. You’re an inspiration to many because most people would simply complain about their condition versus actually doing something about it. Kudos to you Ali… =)

  7. I am still pretty much sidelined from running after an IT band ickiness, but when I was running and training I was all about the data. I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that because I was new to running, each run as a chance for a PR or even a slight improvement which helped keep me motivated. Also, I’m a Virgo, so…I like organization haha.

  8. I like a bit of data but I don’t think I obsess over it. If running without it makes you happy, then do just that – no point stressing. If you’re not busting for a PR at Brooklyn then just enjoy the ride.

    I am deeply jealous of you busting out of your dress. My chest has never busted out of anywhere.

  9. I feel the exact same way. I really think this is a runner’s struggle in the modern world. I took the entire week after my half marathon and ran data free and I’m so glad I did. Because I know that instead of enjoying myself I would’ve obsessed over how I wasn’t running as well or as fast as I did in my half and it would’ve just been awful. I really think that maybe in the future (way far off future) I’ll try to implement one data free run a week. I say that. But w’ell see 🙂

  10. I don’t think I’m addicted to my Garmin, in fact, I sometimes forget to pay attention to it – preferring to run on feel rather than data. I do like to know after the fact so that I know if my feeling was accurate or not (If I felt it was hard does the data support it) and to know exactly how far (and for how long) I ran.

  11. I got my first Garmin two weeks ago! I held out so long A) because of price B) because I knew I would become a slave to it.
    I have only been able to use it a few times due to injury, but when I HAVE been able to, it has actually be helpful to make sure I’m not pushing too hard and bringing back my stress fracture!

  12. I have this fancy garmin, and I do not use it to it’s full potential, but I do use it. Mostly I use it for mileage; to know when to turn around, and also to track how far I ran down to the hundredth of a mile because that’s fun. And then, I don’t even hook it up to the garmin website, I just type my distance into an excel spreadsheet and sum it at the bottom. My goal this year is 1013 miles, (and 13 half marathons because I like the bling) and I don’t really care how quickly I achieve that, as long as I achieve that. I’ve never been much into speed, though, since my very first days in XC when I finished last a lot (I just got “the most playing time”). Sometimes I get a PR, and that’s nice, but I mostly run because I like to run, and I don’t like speed work and don’t want to hate training for races so I just don’t do speed work. Whatever. I’m fine with my 2:08:52 half.

  13. I have to say that I wear the Garmin for races only. I like to see my splits, I like to see the pace and where on the road I was when I did my sub-6 minute (HAAAA!!! Ya right!) mile. Other than that I’m good not knowing. I feel like I’m flying and thats usually good enough for me. 🙂 Hang in there there friend, run like the wind and enjoy it.

  14. I don’t have a Garmin, but do use the RunKeeper app on my iPhone during runs – mostly just so I can know how far I’ve gone & so I won’t wimp out & stop running before I should, ha ha.

    This is my first time commenting on your blog (love it!), and maybe it’s because I am new to running & not very fast (& I don’t have a Garmin, etc.)… but I would venture to say that any time you’re completing a half marathon, no matter how fast or slow, it’s impossible for you to suck. You’re out there doing something good for you – that’s never a negative & should always be something to be proud of! 🙂

  15. No data freak here but I do wear my garmin, just casually look at it when I am curious, push my pace when I feel like it, and run easy when I feel like it. It works for me and makes me love running with no stress and I am slowly getting faster.

  16. I feel compelled to delurk, finally! I literally lol’ed at the “You suck” Garmin, haha. Ok, so, take my advice with a grain of salt because it’s possible all of this is easy for me to say — I’m still in that n00b phase where I am still seeing a lot of running improvement and basically all of my races are PRs because I haven’t raced much at all yet. Anyway, it seems like you have a disconnect between how you actually measure running (by how happy it makes you feel) and how you think running should be measured (how much you’re improving). Just to rant very quickly, I think we (as Americans) have this bizarre obsession with constant self-improvement. Everything needs to always be headed toward bigger, faster, stronger, more more more. That’s not to say there’s no place for that — there are lots of areas of my life in which I care about self-improvement, like my job. My entire enjoyment of my job is based on whether or not I believe I’m getting better at it. But there are other things that I love outside of any metrics of improvement — yoga and biking are two examples. I couldn’t care less about whether my Warrior 2 is technically correct. My measure of a good yoga class is how it made me feel. Biking is the same. I have zero desire to ride faster.

    I don’t know, I think it might be worth it to really figure out which type of activity running is for you. I know stats and racing are all over blogs, but they don’t have to take over your life if they’re not your thing.

    As a practical tip, I am very much in the habit of wearing my garmin but not looking at it. You could also put it in a jacket pocket, in a spibelt, or shorts pocket and let it track your miles without it reminding you of your pace.

    This was so long, sorry!

  17. Running is a gift – it’s a gift you give yourself. Why make that gift into a burden? Train without the Garmin for now.

    Just because the Garmin works for some people…doesn’t mean it’s right for you. Your data already says you do better without it. Perhaps your Crohn’s helps you stay even more in tune to your body than the rest of us mere mortals. 😉 Maybe the data = subconscious stress = less fun. Whatever. People ran fast for plenty of years before Garmins were invented.

    You run for you. Keep it that way. Maybe you’ll eventually cycle back around to Garmie again. But only when you’re really ready for it.

    Until then, rock the nudity!

  18. It’s totally fine, I have Cadbury mini eggs with breakfast too. Whatever, eggs are eggs.

    On the Garmin note, when I was struggling with my relationship with running, I stopped with it completely while I eased back in. Now that I’m training for the Long Branch half, I wear it for long runs (most of the time-ish) and speedwork (or, will wear it for speedwork once I start doing that outside again) and that’s it. Easy runs are untimed, and then I check my distance when I get home. It’s a nice compromise.

  19. I just got my Garmin for Christmas 2012 in prep for my first half marathon (in 3 weeks – YAY!!) I’m a data freak and love it. But like many others above, while the pace is fun to see, I’m mainly concerned with distance (and when to turn around!)

  20. Ha. I’m the same way. I want to be faster, but I don’t actually want to train. I always feel a lot faster without my Garmin. Maybe I am? But as soon as I charge that lil devil up, I can hardly get the pace to drop below 9. I am happier when I run without it…. especially now as I still feel like I’m “making my comeback.” Just getting some solid miles in right now makes me happy. Speed will return. Oh and re: your fast 10 mile gargmin shot: once I ran a 10 mile race im 1:26. I felt like the fastest human ALIVE.

  21. I’m new to the Garmin and am loving it so far. It motivates me to run faster. But I purposely leave it home when I’m doing “therapy runs” that have nothing to do with training and everything to do with just getting out there and clearing my head.

  22. I feel naked without my watch. The battery was dead on Sunday so I ran with out it and aside from poking myself in the wrist trying to stop start my watch I felt like I was missing an arm or something. I also hate that I didn’t know my pace…I guess I’m a little obsessed

  23. I don’t think I’ve run without my Garmin since I got it way back in 2007. I’m getting better about not checking it constantly during every run, but it is a hard habit to break.

  24. I always wear my watch on training runs. I’m not so concerned with my pace like you are (that will likely change when I start training again this summer…) but because I always look to see how much I have left.. I don’t love running. I like it, but what I love is racing. When I’m running I’m just thinking about how much more I have to go. And when I am racing, I am very obsessed with my pace. Anyway, I forgot to wear my watch during the Richmond Half and it was the BEST half marathon I ever ran! I had an amazing PR, the miles (especially the first 5) flew by, and I felt so free from obsessing and trying to hit any certain times. I plan to use my watch during training runs and ditch it during races when possible.

  25. I do the same thing. When I run with my garmin on, I stare at my wrist so much that I literally run into trees, and get freaked out if I think I am going too slow.
    Garmin free runs are so much better.

  26. I am kind of addicted to my Garmin when I run.. I actually just ordered the 10 because my 305 was spazzing out more and more which of course freaked me out.

  27. running blindly…hands down. I wear the Garmin only if I need the data for something – a tempo, a long run where I don’t want to come up with the route before hand. Otherwise, its either the ol’ Timex to track the minutes I run. Or during the downtime between Richmond and start of Eugene training, it was often run til you feel like it then stop.

    And, yes, have trained for many races Garmin free. I didn’t get my Garmin until summer 2011 so my first two marathons I trained without it (and got it for long runs so I wouldn’t have to map my run the route beforehand anymore). When I was studying for the boards in 2010, I did all of my runs watch-less. I ran by effort and I actually got a lot faster without knowing it and ran a race in July 2010 that was much faster than I ever thought possible for me at the time.

    So, yeah, I’m a Garmin user only if need it and otherwise a “freedom runner.”

    I asked a question on garmins a few years ago here –> http://asklaurenfleshman.com/questions/2011/06/05/do-fancy-watches-like-the-nike-sportwatch-gps-or-garmin-help-you-train-better/

  28. I’m a new data freak…. I got my Garmin for Christmas 2012, and now I obsess over everything. When I started half marathon training, I didn’t have a garmin. I just knew my approximate distance; I didn’t know time or pace. I think that helped a lot. When I got my garmin and saw my pace, I was able to set realistic goals with about a month and a half left of my training plan!

  29. good to hear from you, i’ve missed your wise words!

    i’m a little of both – if I’m about to go out on a training run that I’m just not feeling, I tend to leave my garmin at home and just bring my $10 timex from walmart 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

listen to the podcast

about ali

I’m the creator of the Ali on the Run blog and the host of the Ali on the Run Show podcast. I’m also a freelance writer and editor, a race announcer, a runner and marathoner, a mom, and a huge fan of Peanut M&Ms, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (way better than the first one!), and reliving my glory days as a competition dancer in the early 2000s. I’m really happy you’re here.
  • Post Date

related posts



Answering questions about my dream home, dream podcast guests, and dreams for the future.

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website.