Running Without Tracking Mileage And Pace


Instead of starting today’s post with a beach shot from yesterday, I decided this picture is a summer-must-share instead:

hampton jitney

The Hampton Jitney. In case you were curious, it really does exist. It really does transport city folk out to the Hamptons. Just like on Sex and the City.

After last week’s discussion of relating life to television shows, I thought it only fair to show you the Hampton Jitney.

 I see it on the road all summer long and can’t help but think of the episodes where Carrie and the gang took the bus to the Hamptons…and Charlotte frolicked around with the frat boys.

Anyway, guess what?

I didn’t run Friday morning! I forced myself into the gym for an easy workout which involved a short session on the elliptical and play time with some free weights.

Best way to describe me and the free weight section of the gym. I have no business calling it strength training or whatever else people call working out in the weight area of a gym since I am pretty clueless in this department.

My routine (if you can even it call it a routine) usually combines all of the free weight moves I have learned over the years from group fitness classes and some of the techniques I remember from working a bit with a trainer back when I was oh, 22 years old.

free weights

Recently I have graduated to using ten pound free weights and sometimes, just sometimes, picking up the fifteen pound weights but this conversation is neither here nor there at the moment because I had no intention of talking about strength training and really don’t feel that my knowledge on the subject is high enough to offer you anything other than enough info to conjure up a mental image of me playing with dumbbells.

We need to talk about Saturday’s long run.

I don’t know how many miles I ran, I don’t know my splits nor am I even able to come close to a guess as to what my pace was at any point.

I finally decided to run my long run without tracking it. No MapMyRun for me this time.

The only thing I did do was set the timer on my phone just to have an idea of how long I was outside.

phone timer

I have very mixed feelings about running this way. In fact, I couldn’t wait to talk to you about it since no one else understands.

Let’s start at the beginning.

For the first time in eight years, I experienced a side stitch cramp only about quarter-mile into the run. I can’t say for sure if it was a quarter-mile in because hello, I wasn’t tracking the mileage.

This is the part where I tell you what you eat before you run is key but not fool-proof.

I ate the same exact bowl of oatmeal that I always do.

So why did I get a side-stitch that took my breath away to the point where I had to slow to a walk on an off for probably one mile?

No idea. But side-stitches are not fun at all and I have sympathy for you if you experience them often.

Possible causes were of course googled as soon as I was done and from the list of culprits, I still don’t know what happened.

Thankfully the pain in my side subsided but I didn’t find my groove until what I think was mile five. I followed my usual neighborhood loop so at certain points during the run I had an idea of where I was in terms of miles but I really didn’t know for sure.

I don’t think my brain liked not knowing for sure.

The only positive thing I noticed by running without tracking happened towards the end of the run.

Usually around the ten-mile mark, I start thinking about the miles left.

This time, I wasn’t really sure at what point I was at so I didn’t think much about it and didn’t really feel my legs getting tired as if  I were close to my end.

When the timer went off, I was confused. It said I was out there for two hours and fifteen minutes (I didn’t stop the timer at any point, even when I walked through the side stitch and made a few brief stops for water).

Of course I was fatigued, but didn’t feel completely spent and done. Had the little voice that normally chirps in my ear told me I was at mile thirteen or fourteen (or fifteen – ugh who knows what I ran!), I would have gladly called it a day.

This topic takes the whole running is a mental thing to another level in my mind.

I often read about runners feeling so free and happy when running without tracking things. I didn’t feel that way.

The rest of the day I was confused. I wasn’t as tired as usual even though I may have run more than I normally do.

Was it because I couldn’t think to myself – Hey, you are tired. You ran X-amount of miles this morning?

I don’t focus on numbers ever when it comes to calories or weight.

I didn’t think I focused much on the numbers associated with my pace and mileage, however, it is clear to me that my body and mind feel otherwise.

Would I run like this again? Maybe. I don’t know. I am still digesting my thoughts and experiences from Saturday.

I am also trying to digest the fact that this week is my son’s last week of elementary school. Graduation is on Wednesday along with a crazy amount of festivities all week long which begin this morning.

I know all parents say where did the time go but believe me over all of those other people – time went faster in our family.


Like, he suddenly went from being a toddler to almost eleven. Even though I remember many an evening of counting the minutes until he closed his eyes and mouth for the night over the last several years, suddenly I find myself going to sleep before him while he is up rambling away to his friends.

I was already instructed NOT to talk to him at the bagel breakfast this morning or the fifth grade big party this evening.

Once your child thinks you aren’t cool enough to be spoken to in public, you know they are growing up.


How do you feel about running without your Garmin or GPS app?

Ever experience the side stitch?

Best thing you ate all weekend?






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  1. says

    Side cramps are the worst. Especially the nagging ones that don’t seem to go away. I rarely wear a watch, but I know the distance on almost all of my runs so I have an idea as to how far I’ve gone. I’ve never really just gone out and run without knowing the distance, but I can imagine it’s a freeing feeling! I like going out for a run and deciding how far I’m going to go based on feel, but I’ll usually still know the distance. That’s my plan for this week as I get back into it again.
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted…Last days in BarcelonaMy Profile

    • says

      I like to know the distance I have covered, even if it’s a rough estimate. Pace means less to me. It was a weird feeling, sort of freeing but I am so not good with a change from routine which was probably the weirdest part of the run. And yeah, the side stitch came out of no where and I did not enjoy it! Thankfully it is a rare occurrence.

  2. SB says

    At the risk of being flamed, I’m going to be honest: the fact that not knowing your total distance and pace bothered you the whole weekend is probably a sign that you need to do MORE running without your watch, not less. It’s trading one unhealthy focus on numbers for another. Perhaps you were less tired because you ran without the additional anxiety of needing to keep a certain mph or hit a distance goal. Or because you were able to listen to your body when you cramped up and didn’t feel well because you didn’t *need* to keep an arbitrary pace. I say all of this speaking from experience. I went from tracking every run to only doing so on occasion as a general benchmark and while it look quite a while to acclimate, in the long run I feel SO much better. In fact, I’m surprised at how much faster my pace is on the few times I do track than it was before I was doing so somewhat obsessively.

    • says

      I think the main thing that bothered me was that I am not good with change. It was just different. I never really focus on my pace, especially for a long run. I think I am used to hearing the voice chirp in, along with knowing my miles. I always listen to my body which I am sure you have gathered if you have been reading for a while – I don’t think the side stitch had anything to do with running without tracking. It just happened and was random. I think there are times when knowing your mileage and an average pace is important so that you don’t overtrain or add on more than you should in any one week. Anxiety is not something I ever deal with, especially when it comes to exercise but I do thank you for a different way of viewing today’s post.

  3. says

    I just wrote you a comment and then my internet cord popped out just as I was submitting it GAR.
    So here is the essence of what I had to say (because I know you would be lost otherwise):
    a) side stitches are like charley horses–they are essentially muscle spasms caused by over exertion, but no one really knows 100% why they occur, beyond the fact that you are taking the muscle beyond its comfort zone, and thus it retailiates. Like a hiccup. And no, eating a banana will not help (wives tale, but not scientifically backed up)
    b) there is actually a way to manually release the muscle that is spasming, but it best that someone show you, rather than me try to explain it here
    c) I generally run without a garmin/gps, but I know about how far I am running because of marathon training. I ran completely naked in Europe, and basically just went for time. I just know my pace well enough to estimate.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Fit to Be Cheeky, Social, Jolly, and Marvelous #MIMMMy Profile

  4. says

    Oh the Jitney…I spent sooo much time on that thing a couple summers ago. It’s actually not a bad way to go…they give you pop chips! 🙂

  5. says

    I accidentally left my Garmin at home for a 10k race not too long ago and I was completely freaking out. I ended up having a great race and a PR. It was the best thing ever. I still take it out on my runs, but I have it set to only show me my distance and not my pace. I like it so much better that way.

    I got the most horrible side stitch in a half marathon I did. It was awful…I feel your pain.

    Best think I at all weekend: whole wheat oatmeal chocolate chip cookies made with coconut oil (rather than butter). I made them and they are freakin amazing.
    Julia recently posted…Yoga For RunnersMy Profile

    • says

      That is exactly what I would do – just track distance, not pace. I want to start leaving the GPS off for races though. I always find it more annoying than helpful since it doesn’t match up usually with the race course…And omg, love coconut oil chocolate chip cookies! I made them in the winter. So good.

  6. says

    Before I had my GPS watch I would time my runs with my iPod then when I was home, obessively map out with Google Maps where I ran to get a distance (I still kinda do that if I’m forced to run without my watch). Running naked is something I still gotta work on.

    I hate hate hate side stitches but they’ve gotta less frequent this year! No idea why but I want to keep it this way!

    And the best food all weekend? My Burrito and my ice cream!!

    And ha! How did he justify telling you to not talk to him? Was it just a “You can’t talk to me” or did he give you a reason? Haha
    Carmy recently posted…Guest Post: How To Improve Your Speed!My Profile

  7. says

    I used to be obsessed with Garmin’s and heart rate monitors, but after making the decision to go number free in ALL aspects of my life, I can honestly say that I would never go back. It was hard at first for the OCD part of my mind, but after a while I actually started enjoying it a whole heck of a lot more. I’m not training for anything serious, so why do I need to track things so carefully? I don’t. I don’t go for a set time or to burn a set amount of calories — that was the misery of my past — now I just go to feel good 🙂
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted…. link love 6/22 .My Profile

    • says

      Calories burned will always be a mystery to me since I don’t know what I weigh. I wouldn’t even know the weight to enter on the treadmill or elliptical when it wants to track calories.

    • says

      Calories burned will always be a mystery to me since I don’t know what I weigh. I wouldn’t even know the weight to enter on the treadmill or elliptical when it wants to track calories.

  8. Frank says

    Had my first stitch in years (decades?) back in the early spring though it disappeared as suddenly as it came. . .

    I’ve been doing more running for a set time (mostly one hour for me), maybe once every 2 weeks. Though I have tracked heart rate with the goal trying to keep my heart rate low for the whole run (after the first mile or two skyrocketed heart rate).

    Though Friday I decided I needed to run 10 miles (hadn’t since early March) and wound up running for a longer time than ever (except for my 2 half marathons).

    It wasn’t a very creative/interesting food weekend for me, though my Friday night supermarket sushi was quite colorful and varied – extra avocado!

    Might be looking for a tune-up race on LI for mid-July. Who has the best race calendar down there?

    • says

      I don’t really know of which race calendar in particular to suggest- the best thing to do is google summer races on Long Island and see what pops up. I know there are 5k races just about every Saturday somewhere out here.

  9. says

    I only run without my garmin when it is raining, and I do find it somewhat freeing. However, I also love my garmin. I tend to look at it too much, so I try to keep it on the date/time screen so I’m not worrying about my pace the whole time.
    I used to get side stitches all the time and it was awful! Thankfully with the right pre-run nutrition I usually avoid them now.
    Sam @ The Running Graduate recently posted…A Marvelous Day OffMy Profile

    • says

      I really like the MapMyRun app just because I don’t have to look at anything since it chimes into my ear at each mile mark. It is something I guess I have gotten used to and feel weird without.