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Should you stop your watch mid-run?

Some runners stop their watches when we hit a red light, but one runner wants to know why

Raise your hand if you usually press pause on your watch if you stop mid-run to take a drink, wait for a light, tie your shoelace or for any other reason. If your hand is in the air, you’re likely not alone. A lot of runners do this for a variety of reasons, but one runner has a question: why? Diz, the author behind the blog Dizruns.com, believes this is a habit we need to break.

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Why do we stop our watches?

Runners may stop their watches for any number of reasons, and not all of them are bad. For example, if you’re running by time rather than distance, you’re likely going to want to stop your watch when you’re waiting at a traffic light, or you could end up spending half your run standing on the curb. Diz argues, however, that many runners are stopping their watches because of “the Strava effect.”

Strava is an excellent tool for tracking progress and connecting with other runners, but many of us can get overly competitive with it. If you’re concerned with what others will think when they look at your pace after you upload your run, you may be tempted to stop your watch so it doesn’t throw off your stats. This competitive mentality may be helpful to push some runners out the door, but for many, it can cause them to push too hard until they injure themselves. As Diz says, “no one really cares about your stats, I promise.”

The argument against stopping your watch

While many runners may say that stopping their watch when they’re not running gives them a more accurate depiction of their pace, Diz argues it actually does the opposite. The clock, after all, doesn’t stop on race day. Stopping your watch when you take a quick water break may then give you an inaccurate idea of how fast you can run in a race, because you get a little bit of rest each time you stop, potentially allowing you to continue at a pace you may not have been able to maintain otherwise.

For this reason, he argues that once your run starts, your watch shouldn’t stop until it’s over, regardless of how many traffic lights you hit or how many times your shoelaces come undone. Of course, not every run is meant to act as a race-day pace predictor, but on those easy run days, the only thing that truly matters is that you’re not going too fast. With that in mind, does it really matter that you had to stop for two minutes at a red light?

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As we said, there are a number of reasons why you might want to stop your watch during your run, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you do find yourself doing it, though, it’s worth asking yourself why. If it’s because you want to make sure your stats look good on Strava, you may want to consider why that’s so important to you. After all, running should be enjoyable and for most people, competition is better left for race day.