Leaving the watch at home

When I run, particularly in races, I am an admitted watch addict. I love to look at my splits, whether it’s overall time for a long run, or each mile during a race. In racing I find this particularly useful–I can gauge whether or not I have gone out too hard, if I am hitting consistent splits, and how close I am to hitting a goal time.

Lately, however, I’ve been toying with the idea of leaving the watch behind for a race. Several of my friends have talked about how they’ve had some of their best races when they weren’t obsessing over the time and looking at their watches. I just read a race report from Dash about a half marathon she recently ran. Her coach encouraged her to leave the watch behind. She was skeptical, but after her first two miles, she never looked at her watch again. She PRd by over 9 minutes–that’s huge! She credited tuning into her body and letting it be her guide, rather than looking at her splits.

So all this has me intrigued. I have the Cherry Blossom 10-miler coming up in a couple of weeks, then the Broad St. 10-miler in Philadelphia on May 2. I think I may still wear my watch at CB, because that race is fairly important to me. But I think Broad St. might just be the place to experiment. I’m excited to give it a go, and I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Do you wear a watch during races? Why/why not?

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  1. Sarah says

    I am constantly looking at my watch during races and training. I have left it homes during long runs before and it is nice to take a break from the watch and just relax and enjoy the run. I have never not worn it during a race though.

  2. trifitmom says

    i am a stats addict. i love the garmin and knowing my pace, how far etc. love it. not sure i could go without

  3. Nicole Joy says

    I think it's a great idea! I've started running with nothing as well and really like it. It's freeing and therapeutic. :0)

  4. KC (my 140 point 6 mile journey) says

    some of my best runs have been one's that i don't pay too much attention to my watch. i just go by instinct and those have been some of my best runs. not sure i could can run without my watch but i've done runs where i make a deal with myself that i won't look at it until i'm done. that's hard to do too. can't wait to see how the 10 mile phili race tuns out sans watch.

  5. Barefoot Brandon says

    Although I've only had my Garmin Forerunner for about a week at this point, I've already used it for one race and have to say that I go the other way on this issue. I actually had the best race of my career! However, I hadn't turned on any alerts to let me know that I'd hit a mileage marker or anything, and rarely even looked at it throughout the race. When I did though, I was amazed at my pace and it seemed to encourage me to push it even more towards the end. We'll see if this changes as I run more often with the watch, but as for now I'm loving it!

  6. Robyn says

    Last weekend was my first long run without the watch. I was always looking at it, and it would do more bad than good aka (I've only been running 20 minutes??) It's a nice surprise when you finish and thought you were going slower but actually were faster :)

  7. Johann says

    I wear my watch but I never look at it. That goes for training and racing. I only use my watch to capture total time for any run. I'm good with pacing myself by "feeling" the effort I'm running at. I think this comes over time. Ive been running for 29 years now so I should know how to pace without a watch. Since I stopped looking at splits some years ago I've been enjoying my running much more and all my best times were run this way. Start watch, stop watch at end, never look at it during the run.

  8. Viper says

    I like to ditch the watch on occasion. Usually for race distances I've never run. If the race has clocks set up intermittently, you have that opportunity to check on yourself. Give it a try.

  9. Laura says

    Interesting post.. I always train with a watch but it's my partners so when we both run our first half marathon he will be wearing the watch and I've been worried about how it will affect me running without it, if you do go ahead and run without it I'll be really interested to hear how you found it!

  10. Matt says

    I like running off grid at times (no watch or Garmin). During regular runs, my main purpose for a watch is to make sure I get home at a reasonable time. And for races, I'm always a little skeptical that the timing chip will work.

  11. Genesis says

    i havent raced in a while but i cant imagine going out with out my garmin. im too obsessed with my splits and my time…

  12. April says

    I am also a watch addict and don't ever run with out it!! I had a friend tell me that I am a slave to my garmin. It might be freeing to run with out it…
    I'm excited to see how it works for you in the Broad St. race.

  13. Big Daddy Diesel says

    I always wear a watch while racing, but I like the idea of not wearing one to see how it goes.

  14. Rad Runner says

    Hello my name is Erica, and I am obsessed with my watch…
    Mass majority of the time I wear my watch, but on the days that I don't.. Usually shorter runs, where I run just to run and I leave my watch at home, I run minutes faster then usual.. Maybe its the lack of all that looking at the watch? Less "pressure" on myself? Who knows, but I do know, I do let go, and feel very free when I am not wearing it.

  15. Barefoot AngieB says

    I would love to have one for training but I think for racing its better to go by feel. THis is all supposition since I don't have a watch though.

  16. Velma says

    I usually wear my watch, but I cover it up in winter so I don't look at the numbers. It is harder to do in summer. Some days the watch is helpful sometimes frustrating.

  17. Monica says

    This post caught my eye because I have never worn a watch during a race. After I went out too fast in the NYC Marathon, I swore I would try (but I am still struggling with the idea. I have just recently started training with some guys that are obsessed with their Garmins (pace alarm every mile) and it makes the run much more intense(in a good way). I am definitely more relaxed without it, which may make for a better race.

  18. Julie says

    I used to wear just a normal watch and I hardly ever looked at it during races. Now with the Garmin, I am more tempted to check things out and see how I am for time:) It is nice to have all of that information right at my wrist but sometimes I need to not obsess!! Have a wonderful day:)


    I ran my last half without looking at my watch except for when we hit the 10K mark. Ran a 13 minute PR … maybe there is something to it!

  20. feetinmotion says

    I rely on my garmin in races! I love to make sure i'm on pace because it gives me an extra kick if I know i'm beating my pr or am coming close!

  21. Happy Feet 26.2 says

    I definitely wear mine. If not, I go out WAY to fast and destroy myself early in the race. I do run without it from time to time, but it's rare. I use it on slow days to try to keep me slow, and i use it on fast days to try to keep me fast. I would do neither consistently without it.

  22. run with Jill says

    I stopped wearing a watch in races just over a year ago. I have hit 3 PR's! In fact, last weekend I ran a 1/2 marathon in my PR of 1:37 with no watch. It works way better for me to not obsess and get so sidetracked by watching the time. I've really tuned in to how my body feels and moves when I'm running my goal pace.

  23. ShutUpandRun says

    I like the idea of leaving the watch at home. I want you to try it first and tell me how it works. If you PR, I'm in!

  24. Bob (Downtown Runner) says

    You mean…. I… I… would have to… um… NOT know my heartrate, pace, distance, time, splits, and be able to navigate back home if I get lost?

    I…. um…. I don't know…..

  25. Meg says

    I have left my watch behind at several races but not always on purpose. I've had my best 5k times without my watch and I ran my first Boston without a watch…I just wanted to soak in the environment and the moments…I'll never regret it.

  26. lizardruns says

    I remember when I didn't care about times…but the watch is a HUGE crutch now. You're very brave. Go for it!

  27. Sherri says

    I do not wear a watch when I race….I love to let the race feed my soul and push me to knew limits…but I don't want to know the limits until after the race or I may get scared and slow down! =)
    I don't take music either…it dictates pace too!

  28. Aimee (I Tri To Be Me) says

    I always wear my watch/Garmin when I race. For me, I just like to know how I'm doing and where I am in the race. It's motivating for me.

    I have trained without it though and it was great! But, for races, I just want to know what I'm doing. I think it would be a little weird to run without it. Maybe I'll try it someday in a race that's not too important for me. It would be a fun experiment to see if I run faster or slower! Good luck if you decide to do it! :)

  29. Adam Culp (Crazy Floridian) says

    Nice to meet you, and thanks for stopping by my blog. I have seen your comments on other blogs, and am sorry I didn't get the chance to come see yours. (All in good time.)

    I check my garmin way more than I should, and have often thought of leaving it at home. Keep us posted on how that goes. I can use your experience as a guide. :)

  30. lindsay says

    i ran without a watch all the time when i first started running. now i don't know if i could do it! i'm not dependent on it in a training run, but a (longer) race – i feel like i would "feel" slow and mentally give up. maybe i should sign up for a 10k or so and see if i can make it :)

  31. Cynthia O'H says

    I wear a watch during races but only for start and finish time. Everything else in between drives me crazy and ends up putting pressure on me that I don't want.