Should you pace your next run with a GPS watch/ app?

When I was preparing for the Edinburgh Marathon I lived by my Garmin – I used it on every run and kept track of ALL my stats. I was borderline obsessive about my pace and my progress.

After the marathon, I stopped training for a couple months and by the time I decided to get back into a training regime, it felt like I had lost so much fitness. All of the sudden, I hated my stats. I was slower; it was harder; and it was annoying how quickly I lost fitness after working so hard to build it up. As a result, I started to dread going for runs. Something I loved turned into something I avoided… I quickly realised that if I want to keep running, I needed to leave the watch behind.

There are many benefits to tracking your runs though and I’ve recently tried to get back into the routine of it.

If you’re wondering whether you should start tracking your runs, or if you should step back from obsessing over your running data, check out my list of pros and cons below…

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Pros of tracking your runs
  • Great for training if you find stats motivating.
  • It helps you understand changes to pace in different circumstances (up hills, when tired, when running alone vs with others etc), which is invaluable when building up your “running IQ”.
  • Running with a GPS watch/app, helps you keep focused if you’re chasing a specific goal. Especially for longer distances, it can be really important in making sure you don’t start a race too fast. There’s nothing worse than flying and dying!!
Cons of tracking your runs
  • Like anything, obsessing over statistics distracts you from being self-aware. It can cloud your enjoyment in running and distract from the therapeutic aspects of running.
  • If you’re not as fast as you expect to be, tracking can be really discouraging.  This often happens if you’re a runner that has taken a break or if you’re coming back from an injury. If you’re experiencing this, than running and NOT tracking is definitely the best way forward for you (a least for the short term).
So to track or not to track?

Ultimately…

If you’re running to keep fit, for LISS/ cardio or to get some head-space – don’t track.

If you have specific goals and training plans, and you find stats motivating – track.

If you’re a mixture of the above (like I am) just remember that you don’t need to track all of your runs. Lately, I’ve been using my Garmin during high intensity training sets and at races only; I’ll leave my Garmin at home when I run for head-space and basically anytime I’m not specifically training for something.

That being said, I signed up for the Brighton Marathon next year so tracking will become a big part of focusing my training… I’m not sure what time to aim for yet but I’d love to break 3:40.

This Sunday is the Trick or Treat 10k… Should I track, trick or treat?

 

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