Switched Off, Tuned In Racing

When I posted my parkrun goals earlier on, I mentioned running without a watch. Since I published that, I’ve not only run parkrun without a watch but I’ve also started racing cross country and road races naked as well. I love it!

When I race with a watch (either GPS or just going based on kilometer markers) it messes with my mind. My thoughts are either:

Crap, I went out too hard. I’m not going to be able to maintain this pace.

(which leads to an inevitable slow down)


Hmm, I’m not going very fast. I guess I’m not going to do well today.

(so then I stop trying).

Without a watch, I am getting better at tuning into how my body feels. I feel like I’m starting at a more realistic pace (judging on the lack of people passing me towards the end), and I can feel when I’m starting to slow down – I don’t need a watch telling me! I focus on my breathing, on my form, and on how my legs are feeling instead on what the watch is telling me. Intrinsic motivation!

I’d say that the outcome is the same, but I’m getting more enjoyment from racing. I’m never going to be a world beater, and when I die my race times aren’t going to be etched on my grave, so why does it really matter? A race is about so much more than just the number at the end, and not knowing my time immediately makes focus on some of the more subjective outcomes. I can judge a race on how I felt, or if I out kicked someone at the end, or numerous other factors.

Obviously I do still care about my time – otherwise I wouldn’t race. I’m just not judging my self worth on a number. Parkrun (because it’s a run, not a race) was the perfect opportunity for me to try it out with lower stakes. If I have a bad parkrun I can just go back the next weekend and give it another crack! I still train with a watch, but I don’t see myself putting it on for another race anytime soon.

Why don’t you try it sometime?


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