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Racing without a watch??

Everybody is different - but I am a very technical type person ( ex-Engineer) and I have never "just run". I have always trained using training plans that specify paces for different activities and I use a GPS watch to monitor/control that. Even at parkrun I use a watch to control my starting pace and I am well aware of the dangers of going too fast. Now , they say that you should never experiment with "something" different in a race - shoes, clothes, etc - but I am pondering running "naked" in my upcoming HM. I do have a HM PB - part of me doesn't want at all to improve it but another part of me would be disappointed if I were to blow it out too badly. But also there is a part of me who just wants to enjoy this "race".

So who of you use watches to control your pace during a race and who just "goes for it!" - and why???

10 Replies

I absolutely use my Garmin and would be lost without it if I was trying to race to a certain time/pace.


Mmm, good question. I like my Garmin but I am not a slave to it. When I ran my first HM recently, I used it to 'monitor' my pace rather than dictate it. I was careful to run at what I felt was a comfortable pace rather than trying to keep to some pre-planned time. Fortunately my Garmin gave me good feedback(!) which was a good boost for my confidence. I don't think I would have liked to run without it though - not having any idea of how I was doing! But, that's just me! Good luck btw!🙂

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I expected to do my graduation run on a 5 km charity run. At the time I was using run keeper on my phone. At the start my phone froze and didn't want to cooperate, so all I had to rely on for pacing was the music - if I could do eac km (based on the race's markers) in slightly less than two songs, then I was probably close to 6 min/km and therefore 30 minutes total. It sort of worked and I finished the 5 km in 30:06.

I was quite frustrated. Had I had good feedback during the run, I could surely have shaved six seconds off somewhere. So when I got home I ordered my first Garmin (a 220), and have never run a single run since without a GPS watch.


Although I wear a blaze, my eye sight isn't good enough to see it while I'm running, So I guess I do run naked. I wish I could see, as I'd like to know if I'm close to a PB to give a bit more motivation !


I just run with an app that pipes up every mile. Maybe try a short run without the watch first to see if it drives you to distraction or not.


If you're just out to enjoy the race then it might ve good! We quite often do nominated time runs with our club where you can't wear your watch! It's quite liberating really...!😊having said that, I do find watched motivational if you're chasing a PB!


Do you have the discipline to wear your watch but not refer to it constantly? If so, you could keep a casual eye on your performance and if a PB happens to be on the cards then at least you've kept your options open.

My wife missed out on several PBs at various distances last season by mere seconds through wearing her watch but only looking at the stats post-event. If only...

I've had a Forerunner 220 since my C25K days and invariably run with it, PB effort or not. Generally I don't look at it during a run though, unless I'm chasing a particular time. The main data screen shows just average pace and if I'm after a time then I'll make the required pace calculation before the start. My watch is set to beep/vibrate every 1km and briefly displays pace/time for that km so I glance down for a quick look before it flips back to average pace. Also allows me to know how much distance I've covered without the temptation to be constantly looking at the screen. If I'm there or thereabouts then I pay a bit more attention in the last km in case I need to tune my pace. Fortunately I've got a sprint kick if required!

All that said, the engineer in me would love to upgrade to a newer watch that supports Connect IQ, so I can have a screen like this: Stats galore, including the all important ETA and ahead/behind so you can stress the whole way!


Whilst I may start my run with a hope of maintaining a particular pace, I must confess I generally revert to running by "feel". Don't think I would run without it, but admit to ignoring it quiet often!!


I run with a very basic Garmin which I just use to see how long I've been running for. And even then I can only see it if the light is very good as I'm a bit blind.

When I get home I remove my phone from my waist belt and look at my stats. Until then I don't really know what pace I'm doing!

I did buy a fancy Garmin GPS Forerunner 610 watch in a moment of madness on Black Friday in December but I haven't managed to use it yet as I don't understand the instructions, can't see it without my specs and need to set it up with the laptop which is currently poorly.

But I quite like running naked. Not literally though - this is Scotland and it's cold here!


I've got my eye on my Garmin all the way when I'm running. I can understand your wish to just run this race, but what about your souvenir? Why not use the watch but put it in your pocket?


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