Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Loneliness of the Heart Rate Monitor Runner

At the end of a long (very long) and chilly (very chilly) and rainy (very rainy!) run, a V of geese passed overhead. I watched them speed across the sky, the lead goose cutting through the air, the trailing gooses drafting off the others.

The V moved away and then I heard the solitary honking of a goose without a V, struggling to journey on it's own, no fellow geese to help.

I see you, solitary goose. I am you. I am a Heart Rate Monitor Runner.

Running with a heart rate monitor is the ultimate in personal training. Every workout is attuned to the precise fitness level of the runner. I only run as fast as I'm supposed to based on my heart rate zones. It's incredible because it's like no workout is wasted.

It's also pretty darn lonely.

I love running and everything it helps me do in life. I love my coach and all the support she offers. She's the one who encouraged me to get back into wearing a heart rate monitor. (I got my first heart rate monitor back in around fourteen years ago when my husband gave it to me camouflaged as fanny pack.)

But I also like running with people. I like to chat! My high school and college running friends can confirm this. And it's often easier to run with friends. But not when you're a Heart Rate Monitor Runner.

I can't blow off a workout that my coach has given me and just run with someone else. My literal,  somewhat obsessive personality makes it really difficult for me to say, "I'm supposed to do an easy zone 2 run, but my friend needs to run at a pace that puts me in zone 3. Oh well, I'll just run in zone 3."

I'm too rigid about following instructions to deviate! I don't have any room in my running to just run with a friend. It's kind of a bummer. And I have such a busy schedule I don't feel I can waste a chance to run by not having it contribute in some way to my goals. And these zone 2 runs are really paying off, I believe. I'm really able to give it my all during speed work sessions because I've recovered on my easy days.

Recently I saw a post from a friend on Facebook that talked about the glory of a "naked trail run." Not that kind! She ran without her Garmin, no music, no watch. Just the trail and a run. It sounds nice, but it also freaks me out!

Last month I had a chance to run the roads near my high school. Back then I never wore a heart rate monitor, and I wasn't exactly a leader on the team. I practiced every day but the practices were designed for the whole team, probably some of them weren't 'right' for me at the time. Maybe I ran them 'wrong.' But I had a lot of fun. I chatted with my friends, loved the socializing and felt good about myself.

I don't get a lot of socializing via running anymore, but my workouts are more focused, more useful in helping me achieve personal goals. I get my socializing in other ways, and I do talk to other moms and women who run, but there's a lot of comparison and a bit of tension.

So if you see me out of the roads, me and my Garmin chugging along, join me for a mile. Chat with me, or listen to my chatter if you don't mind it. I can talk a lot when I'm running in Zone 2. If my pace is too slow or you need to do speed work I will wish you luck and watch you speed away. But don't be freaked if I honk, because I'm just a lonely goose on a journey.