Should you Ditch Your Watch When Running

[00:00:00] We live in a time where we’re absolutely surrounded by technology. As I sit here in front of this fancy digital camera, I’ve got a smartphone and I’ve got a laptop and I got a watch. And I want to know, is your watch making you hate running?

[00:00:29] If you haven’t been with me here on the channel before, I’m Jesse Funk. This is a show I call Runner’s High where we talk about everything running from nutrition to training to mental strategies to technology on occasion. And so if you like running or you like triathlon, you like endurance sports in general, hit that subscribe button. Over here somewhere you can see it. Hit that button for more episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.

[00:00:55] So we want to talk about watches, because watches are not just the playground for rich people to collect. It is also something that’s very practical. Right. It tells us, you know, how long did I go for? Sometimes, how fast did I go? Or What’s the distance that I’ve been running? What’s the elevation changes? There are so many things that watches can tell us nowadays, especially when you get a smartwatch or you get a GPS watch from a company like Garmin based here in Kansas City.

[00:01:28] The thing is that I’m a big fan of dumb watches, so this is the classic Timex Ironman Watch. I’m not sponsored by Timex or anything. This is just a watch I’ve used for eternity and it just tells me the time I can do splits and that’s about it. And I don’t even wear it when I go run most days. I have this belief that you’re probably better off without your watch for the vast majority of days. 

[00:02:02] Because there is a certain amount of neuroticism I think can develop when you allow your watch to control what you should be doing from day to day as a runner. So if you’ve experienced this kind of like anxiety or the need to look at your watch constantly, it beeps when the mile goes off. Oh, what was my split? You know, how was it even? It’s a long run day and you’re like my own pace. Is it right? Did I do it too slow? Am I too fast? What? What’s going on?

[00:02:32] If you have this tendency towards anxiety and neuroticism, a focus on your watch. Ditch it because it’s screwing you up. It’s screwing up your brain. And I promise it will eventually make you move towards the side of hating running. The thing is that we don’t really need those watches for the vast majority of running because the vast majority of running comes in the form of long runs. We go out, we put in some easy miles and we come home.

[00:03:03] Now, if you’re doing a fartlek or you’re doing intervals where you’re not on a track, absolutely great tool for that because then you know exactly where you are. You can run an indeterminate course where you haven’t planned it out and know exactly, hey, I’m doing mile splits today or I’m doing half mile splits, or I want to do quarters or whatever, whatever it is. And you don’t have to be on a track. Perfectly, perfectly acceptable for that.

[00:03:28] But when you’re out for a long run, your focus should be on, How does it feel? Am I going easy enough? Do I feel fatigued today? If you feel fatigued, maybe go a little easier. Forget about the watch. But when your clock watching constantly and when you’re so focused on, Hey, this is my watch and this was what is telling me and I have to hit these things. You forget about listening to your body. It’s a skill that we’ve kind of I don’t know, I feel like ignored a bit as we kind of become more technology-dependent.

[00:04:03] We become so technology-dependent that we even have watches to tell us when to rest. And I think there’s value in some of these metrics. There absolutely is. But it’s using them in an intelligent way instead of allowing them to dominate the conversation. Because no matter how many times we use these things, we have these technologies — I’ve talked to I don’t know how many people on the Smart Athlete Podcast a number of show I do on this channel where I talk to very intelligent people who are researchers in these fields. What all of these technologies come back to and correlate highly with is rate of perceived exertion. How do you feel?

[00:04:48] And having that ability to tune into how do I feel is going to be more reliable than a watch any given day, even if you are doing intervals? Because how do I feel is what? What is it to us as runners? Pacing right. It’s both a sense of our fatigue overall fatigue level, which is good to know for a particular training block. Do I need to back off? Am I OK?

[00:05:17] But also the fatigue level within the run itself, which is pacing. So if you’re relying solely on your watch to go, “What? What should I be running, watch? Tell me what to do.” You’re turning off those signals in your brain that you should be paying attention to. How’s my respiration? How am I breathing? How do my legs feel? Are they burning? Are they there? Are they going to easy? Is it the right amount of burning? Depending on how fast you want to be going. What’s the rhythm of my legs? Are they turning over properly?

[00:05:54] All those things are important when you want to maximize your potential as a runner being your speed or your endurance. So if you find yourself anxiety-ridden, hating your watch, ditch it. Don’t worry about logging on Strava, showing off to your friends. The thing you want to do is satisfy yourself and race yourself. And I absolutely promise you will get this sense of relief, maybe a little anxiety initially because you’re maybe stuck on that watch.

[00:06:26] But if you stick with it for a few weeks, just make a commitment, a training block, two, three weeks, whatever your training block is. Stick with it. I promise by the end of that training block, you will have a sense of relief when you can just say, I’m going to go out for six, seven miles, whatever the mileage is for the day for you, three miles, ten miles, whatever it is. I’m not going to wear watch. I’m just going to run and just enjoy the run for what it is.

[00:06:57] So do you have any questions for me about tech, which happy to talk tech am not a complete troglodyte. Do you have any questions about running about triathlon endurance in general? Leave them in the comments below. I’d love to do a video for you in the future.

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