Thursday, August 1, 2013

MINIMALIST

It's been a while since I have posted here.

Nearly three months ago, I suffered the worst injury of my 36-year running career, when I tore two hamstring tendons in my left leg. My rehabilitation period has been lengthy and painful. The road back is going to be difficult. I am now able to turn in 4 mile training runs, but they are difficult and slow. The hamstring seems to be healed, but strength is severely diminished, and fatigue sets in quickly. The 2013 racing season has been cancelled, but my goal is clear: return to the greatest race on the planet, for my 17th appearance, and to show solidarity with the finest spectators, in any sport, in the world. I WILL return to the Boston Marathon in 2014.

Anyhow, posting over the past several weeks would have consisted of a litany of complaints, sprinkled with a healthy dose of self-pity. We runners are truly bipolar, aren't we? A great workout or race renders us manic; while a failed one drives us into a deep depression. Throw an injury into the mix, and the Suicide Prevention Hotline phone number better be close by.

So, rather than bore you with my running woes, I have chosen to become a recluse, holed up in my Pennsylvania mountain hideaway, hobbling through workouts on the secluded trails behind my home, relying on my chief therapists: my wife and my two dogs.

Some women use "shopping therapy" to ease their woes. Folks eat and drink in order to drown sorrows. For most runners, though, buying new 'stuff' can be a real psychological boost.

Right around the time my leg decided to attempt to separate itself from my body, my Garmin Forerunner 230, the watch I had used for several years, expired. Given the fact that I was sidelined, then eventually limited to short training runs, I used my Nike App to get me through.

Last week, I decided it was time to buy. Clearly, the shoes I wore at the time of my injury were a jinx, so I ordered up a new pair. I also decided it was time for a new running watch.

The 21st century certainly has bombarded us with 'TMI,' too much information. Did you ever think you'd see the day when a former congressman and mayoral candidate would be sending pictures of his 'junk'...over and over again? And I still can't quite figure out why I need two remotes to operate my television.

The same goes for running watches. Frankly, I don't have to compare my workout with others. I'm ok if I don't know my exact altitude, and I really don't need a graphic illustration of my running route.

On Monday, the UPS guy delivered my new Garmin 10 watch. It is the perfect minimalist device. As I run, the display shows me my distance and time, highlighting each mile, with my pace for that mile. That's it! That's enough. When I stop the watch, it scrolls through the time, distance, average pace, and calories burned. It doesn't tell me what I should eat for dinner, and it doesn't congratulate me, and that's just fine. It cost around $110, and I love it. Minimal bells and whistles, with 'JEI,' just enough information. I still religiously record my workout, by hand, in my logbook, as I've done since 1976.

I'm not saying we should go back to the abacus, or the hand-held stopwatch, but, sometimes minimal is better.