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Lately, I've not been wearing watches at my 5ks. I don't worry about my overall time or my splits. Instead, I line up and focus on running hard and doing whatever I can to hold off the people behind me and catch as many people ahead of me.

Incidentally, these races have produced my best times.


My friends and I came up with a theory that we noticed most races don't have the miles marked 100% accurately. So the splits don't mean anything. But, you will panic because you either think you ran Mile 1 too fast or that you are going out too slow and feel like c**p so you can't recover from it.

Putting your mental focus on catching the runners ahead of you or keeping yourself in a steady faster pace is probably better use of your time than worrying about your watch.

Has anyone else experienced this? If you haven't tried it before, you should try it for a 5k or 4 miler and see if it works for you.

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For all my long races I wear a watch only to tell what time it is. I cannot worry about a few minutes here or there so I don't set the chrono. I do set the timer to go off every 30 minutes to remind me to eat, but thats it.

Sheldon
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Do you think that's also useful in regular training runs, for the same reason? Not that I'm fast or anything anyway, but I seem to run much better and without the mental stress, without my watch. It's that kung fu thing kemibe used to always talk about....running by feel and not by the watch. It always feels better when I don't have the watch to obsess over.
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On my long run (weekends), I tried not really timing myself. It was actually quite an enjoyable run. On weekday mornings, however, I have a tight timeschedule so I have to keep to the watched time...
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I just don't know if I could do it myself. I want to know the time, what my splits are, what pace I'm doing, if I'm too fast, if I'm too slow...

I think I'd go nuts.

Just like I need a towel in my left hand, my shoes tied EXACTLY so and double-knotted, CD player in another hand and my hair in a hat. My watch just has to be there.
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i rarely run a race without my watch and start it with the gun for one reason...to check my time in the final half mile or so. i have no idea why i think this is beneficial, but for the last few runs i have been under where i mentally thought i was at a given spot on the course. i LOVE my watch on those runs.... :P i have used that to push myself in that last half mile, if i am feeling strong, and it seems to have helped me finish with more confidence than if i were wondering, wondering, wondering what the time was --- should i even bother pushing kinda thing... i don't have the mental dexterity to look at my time on a 5K at every mile, or what i might think is a split..and even if i did, i'm not sure it would work to my benefit. i still do NOT have the confidence to see a split time and think - i need to push in this mile, but not so much, but still push....i just run till i find that groove that feels comfortably uncomfortable. as far as hitting the stop button at the line, i've never done this quite right. it's usually still running the next morning.
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To clarify, I was talking about 5ks and 4 milers. 10k and above, I think it would be important to monitor your pace early in the race for longer distances. And I was also only talking about race day. Most of my training runs are speed workouts, so I have to have a watch to monitor the workout. And nolefan, I share your pain. I'm a data geek, so splits and graphs and charts are important to me. But, I did notice that when I left the watch behind, my race times ultimately fell. However, it felt really weird running 'blind' during the race the first few times. You should try it once for poops and giggles. It would be interesting to see what you have to say about it.
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I didn't own my first running watch until I was in college. And incidentally, it was a 5km race that I won and got it as a prize. What's that tell ya?!
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Well now that you've got the fancy-shmancy gps, it might be worthwhile to follow the idea of strapping it to your upper arm. Start it going when you head out AND DON'T LOOK AT IT. If you can have the discipline to just let it record your time and distance, you can retrieve that when you get done and click the stop button. Then looking back at your splits, you can keep any mindgames from messing your run, yet have the info to look back and confirm how the run went timewise compared to what you thought.
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We have a local 2.2 mile fun run in my hometown every year on the Fouth of July. The course isn't marked, and I have no clue where the mile markers are/were. I had a watch but only used it for start and stop times.

It was actually nice to run a race without mile markers and just focus on the race itself.
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Well now that you've got the fancy-shmancy gps, it might be worthwhile to follow the idea of strapping it to your upper arm. Start it going when you head out AND DON'T LOOK AT IT. If you can have the discipline to just let it record your time and distance, you can retrieve that when you get done and click the stop button. Then looking back at your splits, you can keep any mindgames from messing your run, yet have the info to look back and confirm how the run went timewise compared to what you thought.
Hmmmmm......that might be interesting, I may have to try that too.
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As an engineer and coach, I really like to have all the split numbers to sift through. However, I often do the jrjo technique of getting the splits and not looking at them until after.

I didn't wear a watch at all in most my first 100 races or so. This was primarily because watches weren't allowed in high school and college races. Generally in a track race, a coach or a teammate would get your splits and give them to you afterwards. Frankly, in a short race, you are much better off not knowing your split times.

In longer road races, there is a benefit to knowing your splits and adjusting your pace as needed. In my last marathon, the mile markers were all messed up, so I really didn't get a split time until half way when I discovered I was running 5:30 miles instead of the 6:00's I thought. Needless to say, I ended up dropping out at 30K.

Even in road races, however, I do think you should sometimes leave the watch at home. Most people are in need of a breakthrough race performance to step to the next level. The best way to do this is to just go out there and run and not get scared by the split times.
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I just don't know if I could do it myself. I want to know the time, what my splits are, what pace I'm doing, if I'm too fast, if I'm too slow...

I think I'd go nuts.:1:
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Good post Runner X and fully agree with you.

Could I go one further and suggest that readers of this forum, beginners and advanced runners alike, have a go at training without their watches, heart rate monitors and every other whirly-gig gadget that seems to be in vogue.
Try it, even if its only 3 or 4 times a week. Go out and run.
Approximate the distance. Who cares if its a couple of metres long or short in the all time scheme of things it just dosen't matter.
Log it as an easy run, a medium effort run, a sustained pace run or a long slow distance run etc.
What ever happened to training AYF.(as you feel)

I was looking back at some American race results from the 70's (marathon's) Average time for Mr. + Mrs. America was 30 to 40 minutes faster than todays results.

You have to ask yourself the question. With all these new fangled "training aids" and must have inovations, why hasn't Mr.+ Mrs Average improved?
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My last 2 5Ks had no mile markers. I ran them damn fast (for me); probably because it wasn't until the end that I worried about how fast I was going. I think you're right, X. By not knowing the actual time, my perceived effort level was lower than the actual level, whereas for 5Ks with a watch perceived is normally higher than actual. The mental game was improved, and I felt better while running.
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