I Decided to Get a Garmin

Omar bin Khattab, the second Caliph (head of state) in Islam, known as “Amir al-Mu’minin,” Commander of the Faithful, had only one shirt. During his 10 year rule, Islam spread east and west of Arabia from Cyrenaica to Persia, spanning today’s map from Libya to Iran. Once a week, he would wash his shirt, and spend the day at home, waiting for the garment to dry. As Head of State, he could have bought multiple shirts; and instead chose to spend his money on food, water, clothing, and shelter for those in need.


I often think of the Caliph’s example as inspiration for my own life.

My clothing fills an entire closet and dresser, and my stuff stocks a whole apartment.  I am far from achieving the minimalism of Caliph Omar. To even compare myself sounds ludicrous.  Nevertheless, the thought reminds me to try.

I try to use the stuff I have until they can’t last any longer: running pants until they tear at the seams, and get re-patched, and broken again; socks with holes live a second life as gaiters; and shoes are my favorite when the miles eat up all the padding.

I try not to buy new stuff: check my brothers’ closets first 🙂

Running has been the perfect sport; it requires no equipment. One can run in anything or with nothing. For my whole running life, I have been happily gear-free.

Deciding to get a Garmin felt almost antithetical to a philosophy I strive to adopt. I knew I did not need a watch with a GPS to report pace and distance in real time. But how cool would it be? I would be able to see improvement from one run to the next, not just by how I feel, but by objective measurements. I would be able to see pace in live time, without doing mental math and under-estimating; oops. I would be able to veer off the course, and still reach the desired mileage by only glancing at my wrist and following suit. I would be able to follow a training plan that instructs specific pace days, exactly, instead of approximately. I would become a precise, informed, and data-driven runner.

I am not sure if that is who I want to be; but the thought is tempting. So I spent weeks talking to friends about the best Garmin.  When I decide to buy something, I try to make a smart purchase that will last.

Then I spent weeks monitoring prices on Amazon; and although I had yet to make the purchase, in my mind, the deed was done. The Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings upon him said:

Actions are according to intentions, and everyone will get what was intended.”

I am excited about wearing a watch to guide my miles. I am also nervous. I enjoy running by how I feel without time, without pace, and without distance. I hope that hearing a beep every mile will not detract from the joy of running. I also hope that I will not love the machine too much. I try not to attach myself to material things; I am thinking about the Head of State who owned only one shirt.