Menu

Should You Ditch Your GPS Watch?

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Sep. 4, 2013
  • Updated Sep. 5, 2013 at 9:43 AM UTC
Are you reliant on your GPS watch? Photo: www.shutterstock.com

1. Constantly Adjusting Pace

Anyone that has ever run with a GPS watch knows how much the readings for “current pace” can fluctuate. It doesn’t seem possible that a watch that can so precisely measure distance can’t get the current running speed correct. However, the accuracy and design behind the watch’s technology is exactly the problem. In addition to natural pace changes–think of how you sometimes move forward and back on a treadmill belt, despite the belt moving at a constant speed–a GPS watch receives a signal from the satellite every 1-2 seconds under optimal conditions, which means it is constantly making calculations about your speed and pace. Likewise, if you lose connection with the satellite, even for a few seconds, the GPS measures the distance you ran during the lost signal time and calculates the time it took you to get to where you are now, thereby giving you a pace. During the “lost” signal time, the current running pace will dramatically slow since the device thinks you’ve stopped running. Over the course of a mile, or even a half mile, the GPS will measure quite precisely, but it can lead to ineffective data in regards to current running pace.

What you can do to counter your dependency:

Don’t be a slave to the current pace; instead, learn to feel the pace like a Jedi. The next time you do a workout with the GPS watch, check the watch during the first 2-3 minutes of the first mile to make sure you’re on pace and then don’t look at the watch again until you’re finished.

MORE: A Less Technical Approach To Threshold Training

Listen to your breathing; feel the rhythm in your legs, the motion of your arms. You won’t do a great job the first time you try, but after the third or fourth time, you’ll notice a substantial improvement. Overall, this will lead to a refined sense of pace and effort.

« PreviousNext »

FILED UNDER: Training TAGS: / / / /

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

Get our best running content delivered to your inbox

Subscribe to the FREE Competitor Running weekly newsletter