What I’ve Learned While Training for my Second Marathon

One of the fun parts about running is that you continually learn about yourself. Over the course of  this training cycle I have made a few observations.

1) That I rely heavily on my GPS watch. There’s almost nothing better than finishing a hard workout and seeing fast splits on your watch. I already know from my effort that I worked hard, but there’s something about seeing the paces on that little screen that makes it even more real and exciting. It’s almost like a reaffirmation of the effort put forth. Additionally, perceived effort can change as time goes on, but once you stop that workout, the paces are locked in there on the watch and you can look back at them later and remember how the workout was.

2) I really enjoy training in a group. Last summer when I trained for the Victoria Marathon, it was a solo venture. I did all my workouts and long runs on my own. It wasn’t bad, I would still say I enjoyed it. This training cycle has been different. I have only done 1 workout alone, and I have had company during my long runs as well. This has been fun to the point where I don’t want it to end. The 3 of us “marathoners” have a very close relationship, we group text daily and look forward to our runs and time together. We are competitive, we support eachother, we laugh a lot and it’s always a good time. This is definitely my preferred way of training. 

3) That my watch might not be working properly. This realization has come from all my time spent running with others. I can run with other people at the same pace the entire time and at the end of the run I will end up some 200-400m shorter than them. This might sound insignificant, but the type of personality that trains the way we do loves precision, accuracy and numbers. The other problem is, my pace will show as slower as my running partners. This happens during easy runs as well as workouts. 

According to my watch, I will almost always be the slowest one. In reality, I am either at the front or exactly on pace with everyone else. I know I’m fit and have had a great training cycle, but it’s still frustrating to not have a record of the exact paces I’m hitting. This has become a joke of sorts. First we thought someone had a generous watch (well we still do), but now it seems my watch is officially “slow”. We have 1km, 1 mile, 2km and 3km markers on our regular workout run and last weekend we tested my watch and found it doesn’t register hitting those distances until after passing the marker by a number of metres. 

While I am looking for a solution with to this issue. So far, I have been instructed by the watch manufacturer to check my software (I already knew I had the up-to-date software), plug it into the computer and syncs it, then delete all the files on it. The next step is to test it again and see if there is any change. If not, “it may have to be exchanged”. Fun! 

What this has highlighted is the enormous reliance I have on my watch as stated in lesson 1. I admit, I rely heavily on my watch, but I don’t know what the alternative is. The paces are important to me, they provide a means of comparison and assessment of progress. My interest in this data might be borderline obsessive, but I think that might be a personality feature that that makes me a successful runner. It takes a lot of commitment and discipline, but I’m lucky to have found like-minded people who share these sentiments. 

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