It is tricky – running by gut feeling and running according to the data spewing on your GPS watch. Some people recommend racing solely by feel, and some recommend to stick to your planned splits religiously. So at which point is the best time to have a glance at your GPS watch?
There is a lot of debate on this. Some people say you shouldn’t look at your GPS watch. If you’re behind, you’d get discouraged. And if you’re faster than goal pace – welcome that new huge personal best you’d be getting. However, the flip side of the coin is that if you’re behind, you may use the data to help you adjust your pace to get back on track, whereas if you’re going out way faster than goal pace, you could end up slowing down significantly on the second half. So, is knowing better, or ignorance better?
It probably boils down to what kind of person you are and what distance you are racing.
Short Distance (10km and below)
#1 If you tend to get caught up in the excitement of the race and go out too fast. Let’s say you are targeting a 45 minutes 10km, but you tend to run the first kilometre at a sub 4 minute pace, make sure you look at your GPS watch every couple of minutes for the first 3 kilometres. Make sure you’re on track. You can then race the remaining kilometres by feel.
#2 Are you the kind of person that quits if you don’t like the numbers? If so, race only by feel. Don’t let the numbers keep you from completing your race. Run with all your might. Don’t give up halfway and jog your way back.
#3 Are you a very determined person? If you’re off track, would you adjust your pace to try with all your might to get back on track? If you are, race according to feeling and only check your watch at the 7km mark. If you are on pace or better, continue pushing on! If you aren’t, up your pace to get back on track.
Longer Distance (21km & 42km)
For the longer distances, it’s always good to make sure you are on track. The distance is so long if you’re going out way too fast, you may end up bonking in the 2nd half of the race. The best thing to do is to make sure your every km split is at your goal pace for the first half of the race. If you’re feeling good, race the 2nd half and run according to feel. This is to avoid paying the price of running too fast a first half!
There isn’t a blanket best time for everyone, but what suits you best!