"Run by Feel" vs. Running with a GPS Watch

I started running in 2012 as a form of exercise. Joined my first 5k end of 2012.  Finished my first 16k 2013.  My first 42k in 2014.  

I joined several races in between without any running watch. 

I was merely “running by feel” or dependent on running at my own pace everytime we run (except on those training runs and races where we run with our coach and he paced us). 

This year 2015, after running my 2nd full marathon last February, and after joining a few races after that, my husband finally decided to give me my own running watch.  

He gave me a Garmin 920xt.

 Here are my thoughts on running for one month with my new Garmin. 

Just to make it clear, this is not a review of the Garmin 920xt triathlon watch since I haven’t used any running watch in the past.  So I would just like to blog about my experience as a runner (running for the past three years without a watch) who only started using a running watch for one month.

My first long race with my new Garmin 920xt:

Last Sunday, I joined a 32k race.  During the first few kilometers of the race, I felt that my watch controlled me. Yes, it has a lot of cool features, but after running for three years without any watch, it felt that, for the first time, I wasn’t enjoying my run as how I used to.  I was too conscious with my pace, heart rate, and computing if I will finish within our target time.  Every so often, I would look at my watch to check my pace, how many minutes more before the walk break, etc. In short I became too dependent on my Garmin.  I just got too annoyed with it and told my husband by Km 10, “I’ll give you this watch after the first half of the race (16k). Ayoko na!” He was surprised and asked me, “Huh? Why?!” I said, “Na-pre-pressure ako.”  He knew that I was stressed and he had to maintain his distance from me.  

After a few kilometers, I realized it was not the watch’s fault, I was putting too much pressure on myself. So I decided to go at my own pace, just like what I did in the past, I decided to “run by feel” and simply follow the run/walk interval that I set in my watch.
Before crossing the finishline of RU2's 32K Race
Photo courtesy of Flat Ironman
It was a lot better! Of course the 32km race didn’t come easy, but at least I got the benefits I wanted from the watch and at the same time enjoyed my run by merely running based on how my body felt. At the end of the race, what mattered was my husband and I were both happy when we crossed the finish line together.
Mike and Chix  a few meters before the finishline (RU2's 32K race)
Photo courtesy of pinoyfitness.com
Overall, I would say a running watch is a necessity especially if you want to strictly follow a training program, training to finish with a target time, or want to measure your distance, pace, heartrate, etc.  But running without a watch doesn’t mean you cannot be a strong runner.  You can run without a watch and simply enjoy the beauty of running and get the benefits of a good run. I  started running without a running watch and remained that way for three years.  

If you don’t have a running watch or you have one but want to counter your dependency from it, here are some tips:

- Instead of looking at your watch every so often, look around you.  Having the ability to run is already a gift, enjoy every moment. Listen to your breathing and to the movements of your body.  Are you catching your breath?  Are you putting too much effort on your legs? 
- Learn how to pace yourself and whether or not you have a GPS watch, you can still reap the benefits of a good run with or without it.  On days when you feel pressured using a GPS watch, just free yourself from it so you could enjoy the simplicity of running.

Now that I have been using my Garmin for about a month, I can say it allowed me to strictly follow my training program for an upcoming full marathon… 

After RU2's 32k race
But on days when I just want want to enjoy the road and listen to my body, I am not afraid to run without a watch and just run the way I've been doing so for the past three years ---  "run by feel".

Catch you later!

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