When I first started running after college in 2011, I knew nothing about Garmin’s and GPS watches. I either ran on the treadmill, which tracked my mileage or I would wear a watch and use mapmyrun to figure out how far I went. A few months later, I started to read running blogs and hear all about these GPS watches and how they tracked your pace and mileage. I had finally signed up for my first marathon, Philadelphia at the end of 2011 (I got Plantar Fasciitis 2 weeks out and had to withdraw); I knew I would want/need one of these watches. For one, mapping out a 20 mile run did not sound like fun and since I usually go out way too fast, I figured a Garmin would be perfect to slow myself down and pace better throughout the run. After I bought the Garmin, I would never leave home without it and I definitely would never consider doing a race without it either. My thoughts on wearing a Garmin have changed a lot in the past year.
The first turning point was meeting Duran, who is a natural runner, and someone who did not wear a Garmin. He ran on feel and started to show me that running consistently even for just 30 minutes and more frequently can help you make big gains in the run. The second big turning point was after racing Raleigh 70.3 in June of this year. I only have the Garmin 305, which is not water proof, so I had to put my Garmin on right before the run in order to see my pace. Note: I always wear a regular Timex watch to track my total time for the race. Once I headed in to T2, I put on my shoes, visor and race belt and grabbed my watch to put on while I was running out to the run course. Of course it took over a mile for the Garmin to find the satellites and I realized that I never even looked at it for the run. I only looked at my Timex for overall time. When Lake Placid Ironman came about, I was also left with the choice of putting my Garmin on once I got off my bike. I barely used it. It’s an Ironman, you’re going to run as well as you can run. Would pace really matter to you at this point? Sure, I think knowing your pace in the beginning may slow you down a bit since it is common to go a bit fast but there are mile markers and a lap button on your watch to figure out your splits if needed. After Lake Placid, I haven’t worn my Garmin in any races nor do I plan on wearing it at Ironman Cozumel.
To add to this, I barely wear my Garmin when I am training now either. The only time I wear it is for key workouts. So back to the title of this post about my 15 mile run. I consider a long run during a key build for an Ironman to be an important workout. I wore my Garmin for this long run to gauge how my pace was after a hard weekend on the bike. I ended up finishing this run with a 7:37 average pace and stayed steady throughout the whole run even with a slightly hilly route I picked. It’s nice to be able to see look back on this workout compared to past builds where I have run similar distances, which is why I wore the Garmin.
When I hit the road at 4:20 AM this morning for a 40 minute recovery run I just wore my Timex watch. I didn’t need to see how fast I was going, that was not the purpose of the run. I will have another 50 minute run later in the week that won’t be for recovery but just at a steady pace, I won’t wear my Garmin for this either. In my opinion, Garmin’s don’t allow you to run by feel or to your potential. If you are a normal 7:30 pace runner I think a Garmin may be holding you back from going faster since you are always looking for that 7:30 pace. Go out with a watch and just run by feel! If you feel like going fast then go fast! If you are sore or the legs aren’t there that day then slow down. I have learned that if I do that a few times a week for a couple of weeks – I start to really be in tune with my running and have seen a lot of gains because of it.
After all of this rambling, the point is to not be tied down to your Garmin. Run by feel and I bet you will be amazed by how freeing it is.
Question for you all –
Do you rely on your Garmin? How often do you run without it?