Don't Forget to Keep It Fun!

Aug 29, 2022

Earlier this year I started using a Garmin watch to track more closely my daily activities. I started to follow my resting heart rate, number of steps per day, training VO2 max, aerobic and anaerobic training load across the week, and even my sleep patterns.

Keeping track of everything and seeing my progress really motivated me. It got me out the door more frequently to do my exercise, and I was including both my dogs for much of it. Bacci my 13-year-old Malinois helped me add more walking miles for the week. Knoxx ran with me on the longer runs.

I was making progress. Garmin was giving me recommendations on what to focus on for the day. For example, on some days my Garmin watch recommended I work on building aerobic capacity with a long, steady run. On other days, Garmin recommended I do sprints. As my fitness improved, it seemed I had to work harder to keep making Garmin happy.

If you aren’t familiar with these watches, they track your progress and will personalize workouts for you based on all the data they collect from your previous workouts. For cardio activity, Garmin categories your running workout as low aerobic, high aerobic, or anaerobic. Garmin will tell you if your workout was productive, nonproductive, or simply maintaining your fitness level.

Things were going really well… and then they began to change.

I wanted to take it easy, but Garmin recommended a sprint workout.

Garmin recommended a low aerobic day, but I kept doing high aerobic.

On a day I was supposed to do a long run, my foot was a little sore, so I took the day off.

Garmin started to tell me some of my activities were not productive.

“Not productive?!?!?!? But I just completed 5 miles in the heat and humidity!!!”

“No anaerobic benefit, but I just about died trying to run up that mountain!”

I started to get frustrated.

My runs that I should have been celebrating were instead making me get depressed about my (according to Garmin) lack of progress.

My workouts weren’t so fun anymore.

Instead of running and enjoying the beautiful carriage roads in Acadia National Park, I kept my eyes on my watch to monitor my pace and heart rate.

The quality of my runs decreased. My joy for running turned into frustrations when Garmin didn’t give me the results I wanted.

I finally had enough. I put my Garmin watch away. I logged out of my account. I deleted the Garmin app from my phone.

I went back to simply listening to my body, making adjustments based on what my body was telling me, and I took walk breaks and rest days whenever I felt like it.

I returned to running and enjoying the beautiful scenery around me instead of worrying so much about how productive or nonproductive my runs were. I just started tracking my distances and days per week of exercise and began to ignore whether my run was “productive,” “nonproductive,” or “maintaining.”

My joy for running began to come back and my obsession for looking at my watch to track my heart rate, pace, time, and distance became healthier.

After a break from Garmin, I did start to wear the watch again. I still use the data as feedback to inform my workouts, but I’m not stressing so much over the numbers. If I have a bad day (according to Garmin), I don’t beat myself up about it.

It’s been an interesting journey these past couple of months. My anger at Garmin helped put things in perspective.

(Yes, I got angry at my watch! Hahaha!)

One of the most important takeaways…

Keep it fun.

If we don’t enjoy what we do, if we keep feeling like a failure, and if we just focus on the numbers, the joy can disappear.

Without joy…without fun… what are the odds that we will continue?

If we don’t take time to smell the roses, enjoy our surroundings, and allow ourselves time to just stop and breath, what’s going to motivate us to get out the door the next day, and the next day, and the next day, and the next day?

If we keep beating ourselves up for the areas where we feel we should be doing better, what’s the likelihood that we are going to love (or even like) what we are doing?

How can we truly excel at something when we resent it or even hate it?

The lesson here isn’t to completely throw the structure and data out the window when you want to improve your health and fitness (or business or life!).

The lesson that I took away is that we must keep it in perspective. We must continue to seek out the joy, and we have to find the fun.

And when our mind and spirit are bringing us down and stripping us of our motivation, it might be time to stop, reflect, and reevaluate. It might be time for a change.

It might be time to recalibrate our lives, adjust, and then restart again.

So where are you in this process? Have you lost the fun? Are you beating yourself up too much? Is it time for you, too, to step back and reevaluate where things are in your life?

It’s Friday afternoon. I’m getting ready to head out for a run. I’ll get in a run on my own, and then I’ll take my dogs out for an easier workout. (Their older bodies can’t handle the long runs like they use to.)

Yes, I’ll take Garmin with me, but I’ll be sure to notice and enjoy my surroundings. I’ll breath in the damp, cool ocean air. I’ll notice the smell of the pine and fir trees that surround me.

No matter how fast or how slow I go, I’ll be grateful for having a body that allows me to move on my own, and I'll enjoy the outdoors.

I hope you have a wonderful, wonderful weekend! Remember to keep it fun and seek out the joy!


Photo below was taken with Bacci at Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park (Maine). Bacci turned 13 years old this week!

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