Old forum > Training without a watch

It will be a few weeks before I will be back to full fitness due to illness. I have found it mentally very demoralising when I look at my pace during and after training, and it can make it seem like more of a burden than something I love to do. I decided to try training without a watch and find its incredible what a difference that simple thing has done for my morale. Its impossible to tell the difference of a few seconds a mile, and you can put performance to the back of your mind and just focus on doing the training.

Im simply aiming to run the Cardiff 10km in under 40 minutes this year which was the target I set myself ( and narrowly missed) the first time I ran a 10km. I hopefully should gain some momentum for the Cardiff Half after that. Hope to see a few Croups there and hope everybody's training goes well. I enjoyed the atmospheres last year and I'm sure they will be equally good this year. Both races have superb flat courses that do your efforts justice.

I was wondering if anybody else ditches their watch when training gets hard for whatever reason? It seems to be working for me.

August 21, 2013 at 1:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterLyndon Tudor Maisey

Hi Lyndon, I ditched training against the clock every run many years ago. I found the temptation to improve times every run just resulted in blowing up & despondency. There will be a natural variation in performance from run to run anyway.

However, I have re-introduced pace work for some (not all), runs & this has served me well in terms of race results.

Hope things work out for you.

August 21, 2013 at 4:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterHoward Kent

Cheers Howard

I find you can still put the effort in but if things are not going well you don't have to be constantly reminded. Im glad to hear it is something that works for you to. I was thinking I can use a watch periodically as things improve, and that could give me a real lift and work in a positive way.

I have heard one or two people say they have times when they just run and try to enjoy it, and I feel this is a healthy thing to do from time to time. I think if you make yourself a slave to your schedule or watch, it can eventually defeat the whole object of running and be counterproductive to your racing anyway.

Its a tricky balance to find, but I feel you can only train 100% to time and schedule week in week out if your mentally and physically bang on. In the real world that doesn't always happen and I suppose you have to make allowances somewhere.

August 21, 2013 at 5:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterLyndon Tudor Maisey

It takes courage to run by feel. For some stupid reason I charged up the garmin last week. It told me everything I didn't want to know: that I was running at a drop dead slow pace with a drop dead high heart rate. Consequence: crap run, bad mood, 'sack this for a game of soldiers' feeling. Not sure about dropping the watch completely. I still want to know how long I've run for - the one measurement you can't really argue with - and roughly what level of effort. An easy hour over the country may be 6.5 miles with the same training effect as an easy hour covering 8 miles along a straight road.

August 21, 2013 at 6:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Kellam

Never!! i would rather not run then go out without my watch.

August 21, 2013 at 10:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterJerome Edwards

I can understand not wanting to wear a watch or Garmin/HRM but it does give you valuable feedback. It's a matter of not reacting to that feedback and sticking to what your aim for each run is.
If not wearing anything for feedback, you could be running really slow but feeling good and have a false sense of being fitter than you actually are. Use the information but don't let it dictate how you run during the run

August 22, 2013 at 1:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Haley

I can see both sides of the argument, but if my Garmin hasn't recorded my run, it ain't happened!

August 22, 2013 at 1:55 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris Millington

I think this is a really interesting thread. What it shows is just how much of running is psychological.
There are no hard and fast rules. Also - priorities change as you get older.
I rarely run with a watch unless I specifically need information.
People will often ask me after a Thursday night run what my time was.
I don't know and I don't care. It's only a training run after all - and prizes don't get given out for training sessions.
Races are different. I will religiously log every kilometre or mile split. It's a useful reference for next time. It's reassurance.
That's what works for me. But it may not work for you.

August 24, 2013 at 12:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick McGeoch

I recognise the 'I don't know and I don't care' mental approach to bread & butter training runs!

However, I'm curious to know how best to log km/mile splits in races or interval training. I do not trust my Garmin or race markers over such short distances even though I still use them.

August 25, 2013 at 11:16 AM | Unregistered CommenterHoward Kent

The human brain is an infinitely more effective tool than a Garmin (which I don't possess and never will).
I commit split times to memory and write them down as soon as I finish.
For members who don't think they can do this, they are stopwatches which will do the job equally well.
Even on courses like Atlantic College where there are inclines and sometimes strong winds, giving variability in times, I commit the previous year's splits to memory before I start so I know exactly where I am.

August 25, 2013 at 8:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterMick McGeoch

A Chinese kung fu, tai chi and chi kung grand master (Wong Kiew Kit) was asked if he listened to music when he practised. He said no, he preferred to listen to the natural music of the cosmos. While watches have their uses, for time trials, track sessions etc, I prefer to run watchless and run wherever possible away from roads, and in a natural environment.

August 26, 2013 at 7:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterMaldwyn

This will sound like heresy, but I rarely train with a watch whilst running (though I don't compete very much these days) and on the bike, I haven't trained with a cycle computer since completing the Ironman in 2006 (perhaps it was some reaction to it!). While injuries have caused my running to go downhill, my cycling has improved as a consequence of training purely by feel (improved both in the sense of better results at races and smoother cycling technique). If I'm feeling knackered I'm working hard and vice-versa.

Would I advocate a no watch approach? Not really. It works for me because I simply value the pursuit itself and find monitoring a distraction. Individuals have to play to their strengths. For some that will be looking at the minutiae, for others, tossing the watch in a hedge. For most, a bit of feedback will inform progress.

(and nice post Maldwyn :)

August 28, 2013 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Nurse