There are times when the best thing you can do for your workout is ditch your watch.
I love my running watch. It’s a great training tool, and I try to use it wisely by not looking down at it much when I’m running. Having a watch is nice to refer to (occasionally) during a speed workout to make sure I’m on pace, and I love using it to gauge the overall distance of a run. This week I had a really tough workout during which I had to run up a pretty intense hill that was a quarter mile in length–and I did that 12 times. In a workout like this, the objective is to run as quickly as you can up the hill, yet still maintain form (you should be in an upright position, not leaning forward) and focus on the task at hand.
I knew that looking down at my watch would hinder the workout in three ways:
- Running straight uphill (fast) requires complete attention, so glancing down at my watch would break my concentration and stride.
- Your paces are going to naturally be a bit slower than if you were running on a flat road. I didn’t want to look at my watch and get discouraged at the “slower” time. Again, this would take away from fully focusing on my workout.
- Running up a steep hill is taxing. You serve yourself better by thinking about mini markers along the road to stay energized and pumped to reach the top. For instance, there was a pine cone on the road a little less than halfway up the hill; next, there was a street sign at about the halfway point; finally, there was a large rock off to the side of the road near the last 100 meters. It really kept me going during each repeat to think about those little markers. “I made it to the pine cone, I can’t wait to get to the rock!” That was a lot more enjoyable than thinking about the pace on my watch.
I’ve been running long enough to know what my paces are by feel. I can tell what a 10-minute mile feels like versus a 7-minute mile. Running hills is all about effort, and I knew that if I worked as hard as I could until I reached the end, I would achieve maxiumum gains from the workout.
Not thinking about time was such a freeing feeling. To just get to the top of this beast of a hill, no worries about endless to do lists or what time I needed to pick up my kids…just me being a badass, right here, in this moment.
I encourage every runner to ditch their watch every once in a while (or make a promise to yourself to not look at it). You’ll walk away with a fresh, satisfied feeling. After all, you’re out there running–you’re already doing the thing that matters!
That my friends, is a total win.