Monday, June 17, 2013

The Perfect Running Tool

My favorite piece of equipment outside of my running shoes is my running watch. Not my GPS unit, not my heart rate monitor, my watch. I use those other devices on occasion but for the most part I run with my watch. There are only three measurements that matter in running, Time, Distance and Pace. My watch gives me Time, Distance is either known or estimated and Pace comes from the two. It works every single time. No battery to charge, Satellite to locate and no strap across my chest.
Have you ever been running with someone where you are both wearing GPS watches. Ever noticed (of course you did) that the mile markers are not the same. They are clearly within normal variation but rarely if ever are they the same. Using Perceived exertion works the same way without the beeps.

There was a study done recently (when I find it I'll post it here) where two groups of runners were used. Group 1 runs with a watch only and Group 2 runs with GPS. They were asked to go on various runs of various distances using no watch and no GPS. All was on perceived exertion. The runners who wear only the watch were much more accurate with both time and distance. The runners with the GPS were much worse on both Time (Usually too short) and Distance (always too short).

I believe if you want to become a better runner, ditch the GPS and work on the feeling of running.  Three really good ways of doing this.

  1.  The Track - It never lies and neither does your watch. You learn to run pace by feel on the track and you'll get your inner GPS set. 
  2. The Long Run - If you really want to, use your GPS for the first measurement. Then go on feel. Your watch will confirm what you feel on the day. You'll learn to pace that long run to perfection. 
  3. Time Trial - Pick route with no stop lights etc, and time yourself on it regularly. Use various workouts on the same course. Run Fartlek (that's speed play of say 3 min fast, 3 min steady or 2 min fast, 3 min steady), run tempo (say 20 minutes at 1/2 marathon pace) or run steady. Even sometimes run it for time and compare time and feeling to other times you've done it. 

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