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6 reasons to run by feel (not your watch)

For your next run, try leaving your watch at home

Woman monitoring her progress on smartwatch

Nowadays, GPS watches are so common, and many runners refuse to train without one. While these watches can certainly be a huge help in training, it’s not a bad idea to run without one from time to time and train solely based on feel. We’re not saying to ditch your watch forever, but maybe leave it at home for one or two runs each week. Still not convinced? Here are six reasons that may change your mind. 

evening runner
Photo: Unsplash/Henry Gillen

You’ll be more positive

It’s easy to get down on yourself when you run with a watch on days when you’re not at your best. Every time you look at it, you see that your pace is slower than you expected to run, and that’s going to wear you down mentally (and might make you run even slower!). If you run without a watch, you may feel slower than usual, but you’ll be less bothered, because, no watch. (It’s a Jedi mind trick, and trust us, it works.) 

Maybe you can push harder 

If you go into a run with a certain goal pace in mind, you may stop pushing when you reach that speed. It may not be a conscious decision, but your brain will see the pace on the watch and tell you to hold it right there. In reality, though, you might be able to push even faster. If you run based on feel, then you’ll get the most out of your body and your brain won’t trick you into running any slower than your best. (Unless your coach has prescribed that you run a certain pace and no faster–then you should absolutely use your watch, and not exceed the recommended pace, which will be specific to the purpose of the workout.)

Photo: Fast and Female

Easy days should be easy 

Even on easy days, when you’re supposed to be taking things slow, it can be a bit of a shot to the ego to see a less-than-impressive pace on your watch. Because of this, far too many runners go faster than they should on easy days, despite knowing full well that easy runs should be easy and conversational. If you don’t have a watch constantly reminding you that you could, in fact, go faster, it will be easier to convince yourself to take it easy.

You can still track it

If you really feel the need to keep track of your run for your personal log or for Strava, there’s no reason you can’t still track it without wearing your watch. Take your phone with you and track it that way. Then you’ll still get the workout data, while running by feel.

It’s good practice 

What are you going to do if race day comes and your watch glitches out (or dies because you forgot to charge it)? If you rely on your watch to tell you if you’re running too quickly or slowly, then on the off-chance it’s not working, you won’t have any idea how to tackle your race. Every now and then, practise running by feel, just so you’re ready for the unfortunate day that your watch lets you down. 

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There’s a chance that you’ve been running with a watch for so long that you don’t remember how nice it can be to run without one. 

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