Just Run: The No Watch Theory

Going back to the run from New Year’s Day… I forgot my Garmin that day and ran the 1.4 mile loop I knew from previous measurement. I looked at the clock as I walked out of my parent’s garage and then again when I finished. It was a great run, and I could tell that it was faster than my average. Sure enough, when I got back into the garage I calculated that I had run the 4.2 miles in a little under 39 minutes, 9:17 pace.


…This Run

So I have a theory about this run. I didn’t wear my Garmin and I didn’t take my phone with me, and I ran faster than I have since being injured this fall. It made me question my electronic running devices. Was that the reason I ran faster than usual? Or was I just having a perfect settings kind of day? It wasn’t too cold, there wasn’t much wind, I had good company, and I felt good. But maybe it was the freedom of not having a number looming at me from my wrist…

Sometimes I wonder if we define ourselves and our runs with the numbers displayed on our watches and GPS devices. When I look down and see a number that I’m comfortable with, is it possible that my body automatically feels as if this is the definite pace it can or should only go ? Could a faster, lower number look wrong and therefore, I subconsciously feel the need to slow down?


The New Year’s Day run felt great, I wasn’t struggling to maintain pace. Quite frankly, pace and time weren’t even on my mind because I wasn’t constantly peering down at my watch face, I was just running. Maybe we all need a “free run” every once in a while. (I guess in all honesty, my run wasn’t completely free because I noted my time of start and finish.) However, during my run, that was the last thought on my mind. I was just out there running because I wanted to…because I was enjoying time with my family…because it felt good…because I love to run… I was not running to meet a certain time…a certain distance…to meet someone else’s preconceived ideas about what a good pace is…

I was simply running.

& I loved it.


So… I dare you to go take a run without electronics, without a GPS watch, without your Garmin. Even if you take a route that you know the exact distance, and even if you take note of the start/finish time on the clock, just go run and don’t keep track of your pace. It’s an experience that every runner should have. I think it brings you back to the reasons why you fell in love with running in the first place.

Tell me how the experiment goes. Or tell me if you’ve already done it, did you find that it was a different kind of run?


5 thoughts on “Just Run: The No Watch Theory

  1. I don’t have any watch and don’t track my pace so I always just run. I was talking to a friend today about this (she does have a garmin) and she says she hates it when she looks down and sees her pace is too slow ‘But I’m going as fast as I can!’. You’ve raised another interesting point, seeing the pace too fast and your brain starts applying the brakes. I just try to run as fast as I can on short runs and at a speed where I can have a conversation (albeit a bit puffed) on longer runs and marathons. I think it helps me be a bit more in tune with my body’s capabilities

  2. I do “naked runs” (no watch, no music) from time to time, and while I’m addicted to my garmin most of the time, I kind of love them. The break from the numbers is so refreshing sometimes! I agree with you, too, that sometimes when you aren’t paying attention to pace, you end up having your fastest runs! Crazy how that happens sometimes.

  3. At this point in my training, I am not so focused on pace but I track my mileage. I feel disappointed when I realize that my efforts have not been recorded, like last Thursday when I accidentally paused my Runkeeper app mid-run and only tracked half of my distance. You can check out my blog post on that experience at http://runwright.net/2014/01/09/alive-and-loving-it/
    I love running just for the sake of running but now I’m used to having the opportunity to reviewing my numbers when I’m done also. I can do watch or no-watch but I need to know which one it’s going to be, in advance.

  4. There’s a pickle run in 2 weeks in my area that I’m thinking about signing up for, and the run is basically based on this concept! You can’t run with any electronic devices BUT you have to predict what you think your finishing time will be. There are no awards for 1st place etc, but there are awards for who predicts their finishing time the closest! Everyone who has done it raves about how awesome it is to run without a watch and they say they usually end up running faster than they thought!

  5. Isn’t it crazy how that works? Whenever I go into a run and think, “This is going to be great!”… it rarely turns out that way. My best runs are always random and unexpected. Glad to see you’re rockin’ it!

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