6 Ways To Simplify Your Training With Steve Jones

1. Stop The Clock

A running watch can be a good way to keep track of your running, but it can also be a limiting factor in reaching your potential. Seeing times faster or slower than expected in a workout or race can cause the brain to hyperventilate. Jones prefers doing harder workouts and runs without a watch. His athletes run by effort, not pace.

“A simple activity has been complicated,” Jones says of the current state of technology in running. “This is a sport that only requires a half-decent pair of running shoes.”

For Boulder-based Newton Elite runner Tyler McCandless, ditching the watch in his workouts helped catapult him from a 1:05 half marathoner to a 1:03:16 personal best at the 2013 USA Half Marathon Championships, where he placed 11th.

“I haven’t worn a GPS watch since April,” McCandless said last fall. “I just focus on my effort, and when Jonesy says go ‘hard,’ I give everything I have in that workout.”

Upon first joining Jones’ training group, McCandless was shocked when his coach’s only instruction before a tempo workout was “run hard.” By carefully following Jones’ simple instructions, however, McCandless has come to see the benefits.

“Running by feel and effort is much more important than running by the pace of a [GPS] watch,” McCandless says. “I think if more people did workouts without knowing the pace they were running instantaneously, they would end up running faster because they wouldn’t have the self-imposed restrictions.”

When you run without a stopwatch, you learn how to evaluate how you’re feeling without a device telling you otherwise. Longtime University of Colorado cross-country and track coach Mark Wetmore calls this “sensory data.”

After months of training without a GPS watch, McCandless blistered through the first 10K of the half-marathon championships not far off his 10K personal best, but he felt good and didn’t allow the clock to hold him back. The result was his best finish at a U.S. championship event and a huge PR. Nowadays, when Jones says “run hard,” he knows that it’s all about hitting the proper effort level.

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