Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Naked freedom parkrun

After over 2 years and 200 parkrun freedon runs, today I thought it was time for a change.

Today I decided to run NAKED!

Ok, not naked in the traditional sense, it was a bit too cold for that and no one would want to see that - certainly not at lunchtime! No, this naked was in the "lack of electronic aids" sense. Yes, today I decided to run without electronic aids.

To be totally honest though, even that isn't true. I only ever run with a watch, never an mp3 player, heart-rate monitor or GPS device etc. Today was no different really, I still wore my watch. But the big change today was that I decided not to look at my watch at all during my parkrun freedom runs. I had already planned to do two freedom parkruns back-to-back and a decided that I wouldn't even glance at my watch until completing each freedom run. I decided that there wasn't much point in running completely without my watch as how would I know how it compared. For a fair test, I had to time it, but just not look at the time during the run.

This was a big step for me as I can't remember often running for more than a few minutes at a time without looking at my watch. Certainly in races and also in any training around the parkrun route as I like to know what pace I am running at. Even on an easy run. I suppose there were the club handicap races this summer for which watches were forbidden, so I have done it, but rarely, and never in training in the park.

The first freedom parkrun....I just ran at a really comfortable pace, hardly breathing and totally relaxed. The aim was to take the first freedom parkrun slowly and then up the pace a bit for the second one. I guessed that I was running at just under 24 minute parkrun pace as it felt really easy. When I crossed the line, pressed the split button and looked at my watch I was really amazed to see that the time was 21:27. It hadn't felt anywhere near that quick.

So that was it, no more glances at the watch allowed until completing the second freedom parkrun.

The second freedom parkrun....I picked up the pace a bit. It still felt pretty comfortable, to start with at least, but not as easy as the first parkrun. Based on the pace and time of the first freedom parkrun, the second felt much closer to 20 minute pace. I really enjoyed not having the time pressure that a target pace and being close to, or behind, that target pace creates. I crossed the finish line, stopped the watch and this time I was much closer with my estimate as it was a 20:08 freedom parkrun.

That second freedom parkrun certainly wasn't easy, but I knew I had plenty left in the tank. I wouldn't have said I was pushing it. So with that in mind it's a pretty pleasing time.

Not bad for a 10km, taking it easy for the first half and still managing 41:35. A respectable time really.

So what has my naked freedom parkrun told me?

I think I should probably try it more often. I'd say that it seemed that the pace which felt comfortable was faster without checking my watch than when I know my pace. That's time pressure for you. The thing with the parkrun course is that I know where the half and 1 kilometre splits are. So it is really easy to work out my pace. When I am running and it is feeling hard, it is so easy to be disappointed with the pace or time. But by running at a speed that felt comfortable, it turns out that this can be quite quick without any time pressures. Interesting!

I will have to try this again. I can't see it working for me in a race as I feel that I need the time pressure to stop me falling off my highest pace. That quick feedback allows me to pick up my pace very quickly after noticing it has dropped. This is particularly the case at parkrun. But I suppose I'll never really know if that's true though, until I try it. Maybe one day.

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