The tyrant on my wrist

I’ve been in training for several weeks now (no really, I have been training) to walk a half-marathon in October. To ensure that I am tracking my mileage accurately, I got a Garmin Forerunner 210, which is essentially a GPS-enabled stopwatch.

Our walk this morning was 6.56 miles in 2 hours and 20 minutes. Not bad for us.

It tracks my distance and time (and my heart rate, too, if I wear the chest strap), and I can upload every walk into an online database to track my progress. It’s a marvelous tool that has been tremendously helpful to me.

However, there is one little drawback to this device. Because it also tracks my time per mile (currently 21 minutes or more), I feel more than a little bit of pressure when I’m wearing it to keep moving. I always walk with my dogs, of course, and one of them likes to stop and sniff (and sniff, and sniiiiiiiiiiff) and pee on pretty much everything as we go. Every single rock, bush, fire hydrant and lamp-post at which we must stop so Rudy can check and answer his peemail means seconds and minutes added to my average time. This has made me more than a bit impatient with his dawdling ways, and when I’m wearing that watch, it is a tyrant that ruthlessly flogs us onward, ever onward. The poor dog gets about three chances to pee in the first two blocks, and then it’s damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead for however far we’re going today.

I’m guessing Rudy’s not too keen on having this new sheriff in town. We’ve always enjoyed our leisurely strolls, and he is the sort of dog who likes to let his neighbor dogs know where he’s been. I am also not too keen on the terrific sense of urgency and haste this watch instills in me. Even though it really doesn’t matter how quickly I cover the miles, only that I cover them, I still feel as if I must compete with myself and try to get faster, maybe even to the point that I can finally break the 20-minute-mile mark. With two small dogs in tow, I’m not sure this can be done. At any rate, I’m sure I won’t do it. Between the one that dawdles and the one that pulls like a Malamute, I return from our outings with a knifing pain in the middle of my back and a profound wish that I had the patience to train my dogs to walk nicely together on the leash (but that is another post for another day).

What I will probably have to start doing is taking my long Saturday walks alone, just me and my Garmin, and not wearing the watch when I walk the dogs over our familiar routes of known distances that I can record by hand. After all, I am the one who is going to be walking the half-marathon, not the dogs, so they don’t deserve to have a whip cracked over their heads during the one portion of our day that should belong exclusively to them. The walk is really more for their benefit than mine. They need not only the exercise but also the mental stimulation, and of course they need to mark their “territory” (which they both do copiously; even Reggie will lift her leg from time to time, that little gender-bender). I could do better in my training by going to the gym and cranking up the incline on the treadmill, but haven’t gotten quite that motivated. Yet.

I’d better get motivated soon, though. Only seven more weeks to go.


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