Another post title that almost made the cut: “your pace or mine?” Annnnyway… Generally speaking there seems to be two groups of runners in terms of pacing. Those who watch their Garmins like a hawk and those who don’t.
I’m part of the former group. I love wearing my Garmin, tracking my pace when I run, keeping to a certain target pace and then having those stats to upload for later nerding. If I don’t log it on my watch, the run didn’t happen.
The first speed work I’ve done in a while! 40mins steady running
OK I’m joking, I’m not that extreme. I’m not adverse to going for a run without my watch, but it’s definitely not my preference.
Perhaps this is due to not trusting myself (will I run too fast? Will I run too slow?). Or perhaps it’s due to feeling like I’m not in control. If I don’t know what pace I’m running at then how do I know if I’m going too fast or not working hard enough? On my first mile I might be absolutely blasting it feeling great…because it’s my first mile. I might still have 9 to go and the wheels will undoubtedly fly off later.
Some people are so much more in tune with their pace that they can run without keeping check on their watch and they run perfectly well. Perhaps I’m one of those people, but I’ll never let myself know. When I first started running I just had an app on my phone to track my pace so I couldn’t look at it all the time. It would tell me every mile my pace (in an annoying woman’s voice) but that was it. Just once a mile. Not like now where I can look down at my watch every second and see my current pace, my average pace, the miles I’ve run and the time I’m doing it in. And I love it!
SStats from the Berlin marathon
For the Berlin marathon I would literally check my watch every minute. I had a strict pace schedule I was trying to stick to. My intention was that the first 10 miles should feel relatively easy, so the temptation to run that little bit faster without realising was a risk. I needed that feedback from my watch to keep me in line. I really didn’t have the training behind me to risk anything. And I managed to do a nice negative split and felt comfortable all for but the last mile. I’m pretty sure I’ll do the same for my next marathon or any race in fact. I just like being in control.
There also tends to be a bit of (and I use this word very loosely) snobbery. The idea of being a “slave to your watch” or not listening to your body. I can understand that but I don’t necessarily agree with it. Of course you can train on feel. Run a tempo run at a speed where you can’t really say more than a few words. You don’t need your watch to tell you that. Or run flat out 100% for 400m – you won’t have time to look at your watch. But even if you’re not looking at your watch at the time, how can you mark progress without this data saved from those sessions at a later date?
I’m absolutely not saying one way is better than the other – or that they’re mutually exclusive. I admire people who just go out and run without a watch and have no idea about their pace or just run on feel. But for every run? I definitely couldn’t do it. Personally for me my Garmin is there to keep me honest, track my progress (or mistakes) and it makes me happy. Perhaps it’s also my tendency to favour long distance where your pace, I strongly believe, is so important to keep under control because you’ve got a long way ahead of you. Whereas for a 5k perhaps it’s just a case of blast it like hell and hold on for as long as you can.
Sure maybe one day I’ll go out without the watch to just “run free”, but then I’ll probably just cover up my watch so I can still have a sneaky look at the stats later 😉
What do you prefer: running with a watch or without?
Do you like ‘geeking’ out with your running stats? There’s nothing better for me than looking at my splits after a race, I’m that sad.
If you’re not a runner, do you use other trackers for your exercise (e.g. HR monitors, gym machine stats, etc.)?