I became totally and completely obsessed with my Garmin watch in July of 2011. It tells me pace, speed, distance, heart rate, elevation change and all kinds of important numbers related to triathlon training and racing. It can provide constant feedback, alerts and information during a workout as well as even more data to review after. I have always had a fondness for this watch and a previously healthy love of the data since I started in triathlon.
However, after my first post wreck race, I was putting myself under a tremendous amount of pressure to continue to perform to a certain standard. My reliance on the data to make me feel satisfied about a work out, became very unhealthy for me. I had very big goals and they were so very lofty that I am still pretty sure that I was the only one that actually believed when I set out to do so that I would have the ability to actually achieve them. Due to a chain of events and circumstances, I'm pretty sure some aspects of my support system to get me to those triathlon goals were contingent upon performing at a certain level. I clung onto that watch as it was the very tangible measuring tool to prove both to myself and externally, that I was doing great. The data from the Garmin was my ability to prove that I really was making the "comeback" that I had set out to do and that all the struggles and sacrifices to get to my sub 5:30 half ironman 2011 goal and PR in each leg of each distance were worth it. I had a lot to prove and some things important to me at the time were especially dependent on good data.
I was extremely scared to fail! I liked the watch's numbers reassuring me during each work out that I was doing fine. I set every alarm and alert on that watch possible and looked at it constantly during training. I flat out refused to train with out it as I didn't see any benefit to giving up the numbers. There were many intangibles working against me during my season. My watch obsession became an ongoing joke, but looking back at the season and where I am now, the reasons for the dependency aren't very funny.
The residual affect now that the goal has passed is the habit that was formed in my desperate cling to constant data feed during training. I found myself mentally crippled at the thought of data free training. However, over the past few weeks, I have been pushed to rely less and less on the watch. This week, I'm happy to report that I ran about 6ish miles with no watch... at all in the middle of the week. It felt really good, focusing on my form and being in the moment and I'm sure I held zone 2. I was curious though on how consistent I could be with out the data feed. Today, I ran 9 miles and I held a consistent pace in a nice steady heart rate and I didn't have the pace/HR etc screens on. I just looked at the time and had the watch vibrate every mile for motivation. After getting home, I realized I know my body and perceived exertion far better than I had imagined. I'm proud of today's run and I'm happy I had the data to look at in a healthy way, AFTER the work out to see that I know my body better than I thought. This is a huge "mental fitness" breakthrough and a big confidence builder too. A huge part of triathlon is that mental edge.
I'm happy that I'm finally rediscovering a better balance between the art and the science of triathlon training. I'm rediscovering the joy of tri training, beyond hitting numbers. My friend who I discuss all things training related as we train together for IMWI says that I'm changing my perspective from outside to inside. I'm motivated not by external results, but by internal reasons and that will only make my results better. I'm definitely regaining my mental edge. This week, especially has been amazing for tri training, especially from the mental toughness aspect. I love this sport again. Its about adventure, forming bonds with others, hilarious stories, lots of progress, pushing past perceived limitations and mostly just having fun. Its more than just a race.
Welcome back, mental edge. I missed you. : )