Timeless Running

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canalrunner
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Timeless Running

Postby canalrunner » Mon Apr 13, 2015 10:03 am

I hope Pat doesn't mind me sharing his story. But I think it provides the background for an interesting discussion. This past weekend, Pat ran a 1:26.28 half marathon---pretty sure that is a PB--without wearing a watch or a garmin. Crazy right. Over the past couple of years, Pat and I have run together as he tries to qualify for Boston at 3:10. He has come close but never done it. He does great training and always seems like he can BQ. Looking to change things up-- This spring I suggested he try running some races without a watch so he would run by feel in a race and not be fixated on the garmin and the watch. He tried at the St. Patty's 10k and ran a nice 41 minute 10k--right about where he wanted to be. He then extended this to the Run for Reach half and delivered a killer time.

Now the question is: should he do the same thing when he tries to BQ at Race Weekend at the end of May. Counter intuitive right---try beating a specific time by not wearing a watch. But I think there is some logic to it. Besides being governed more by how you are feeling than what the watch says or the Garmin average kilometer says, it does force you to be more into the race. In addition, there are lots of clues in races regarding time including competitors around you, the pace bunnies spread every 5 minutes or so throughout etc..that can help you manage the race. It is a bit ironic for someone who paces a lot to say that a watch and looking at kilometer splits aren't important however perhaps with garmins etc.. we have ended up underestimating our ability, and prevented outselves running the race to the best result possible, based on experience, feeling and management of the race. Not sure I would recommend it for beginning runners who have a challenge knowing their pace but for the experienced running perhaps races should be timeless.
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dgrant
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby dgrant » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:05 am

Just my opinion, but I think the overall goal of the race dictates whether using a watch is valuable or not.

If I were just really going for it and trying to run my best possible race, then for sure I'd go without (or ignore) a watch. You react to your body's feedback and knowledge of your own fitness, and hopefully succeed accordingly or fail and store that experience away for the next attempt at a best possible race. I mean, if your training experience tells you a sensation is right on the edge of maximum effort and your watch says you're X s/km off pace... what can you even do about it?

If I were trying to maximize my chances of running a specific time that was well within my fitness range (as a 3:10 marathon would be for a 1:26 half marathoner), then I might be more interested in a watch and outside pacing info. Obviously you don't want to push the envelope and try running your absolute best possible race with a high risk of crashing and burning. It's easy to know what 95-100% of full potential feels like or what lollygagging feels like, but what does 80% of full potential (or whatever a 3:10 marathon is to a 1:26 half marathoner) feel like? Maybe a watch helps in that situation.

Good luck to you both in figuring this out. Certainly cause for optimism with such a good recent result!

Signed,
1:28 half marathoner who never figured this out and never BQed...

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ian
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby ian » Mon Apr 13, 2015 11:18 am

Interesting story. My first thought is that Pat is overdue, both from a training and karma standpoint, for a BQ and would probably get it with any number of strategies. That said, I tend to agree with Dave here. Specifically, the last few miles of a marathon can go terribly as a result of almost imperceptible (by feel) pacing errors on the front half. I did my first no-watch marathon last summer, without a breakthrough result at stake, and found the last half hour to be a drag without any information beyond feeling tired.

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Re: Timeless Running

Postby Jo-Jo » Mon Apr 13, 2015 6:45 pm

I'm not trying to BQ and I'm just getting back into serious training after an almost two year break from being focused on running (family stuff took my focus...and I don't regret that)
Now I'm running without a watch or HR monitor...and have decided that's pretty much how I'll do my races this year.
I did two races last year without a watch...and I was surprised at how well they went; considering my lack of training.
I suspect if I decide to BQ again I'll put the watch and HR monitor back on :lol:
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Pat29
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby Pat29 » Sun Apr 19, 2015 10:13 pm

It's been an interesting experiment so far this year. I generally pay regular attention to the average pace on my Garmin and adjust accordingly. Not having it with me for my first two races this year I had to stay focused on maintaining what felt like a hard pace. It has certainly provided me with something to consider with regards to my preparation forrsce weekend.
[b]2016 Races:[b]

January - Richmond Road Races 10 km 41:06
March - St Patrick's Day 10 km 41:31
April - Minto Run for Reach half-marathon 1:28:56
May - Sporting Life 10 km - 41:10
May - Ottawa Marathon - 3:26:37
September - Army Run


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barebuns1
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby barebuns1 » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:20 pm

I really don't know If I could run without my Garmin 220. I have done races where my Garmin has shown me I am not working hard enough. While other times with the km splits I am over extending myself.
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canalrunner
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby canalrunner » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:04 pm

barebuns1 wrote:I really don't know If I could run without my Garmin 220. I have done races where my Garmin has shown me I am not working hard enough. While other times with the km splits I am over extending myself.


I think it is interesting to question whether we put too much emphasis of the numbers: HR, KM splits, average pace, and in doing so we don't allow some nature instincts including some natural surges and slower paces to end up with a better result. More about listening to yourself in the race, than checking the garmin. Other than, occasionally using a garmin to measure distance on a long run, I have not worn a Garmin in about a year. Only a Timex with no pace info. Pat has been brave to try this as he prepares for his well deserved BQ.
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Jwolf
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby Jwolf » Tue Apr 21, 2015 8:28 pm

canalrunner wrote:
barebuns1 wrote:I really don't know If I could run without my Garmin 220. I have done races where my Garmin has shown me I am not working hard enough. While other times with the km splits I am over extending myself.


I think it is interesting to question whether we put too much emphasis of the numbers: HR, KM splits, average pace, and in doing so we don't allow some nature instincts including some natural surges and slower paces to end up with a better result. More about listening to yourself in the race, than checking the garmin. Other than, occasionally using a garmin to measure distance on a long run, I have not worn a Garmin in about a year. Only a Timex with no pace info. Pat has been brave to try this as he prepares for his well deserved BQ.


There are many people who train and/or race with just a watch but that isn't actually timeless. Checking splits and making small adjustments is just another way of pacing.

As for pacing a marathon by feel-- I think this is quite different than pacing a half-marathon by feel. Research has shown that our minds can be good at subconsciously projecting what pace we need to run to maintain to the end of something that's up to about 2 hours-- longer than that and it's much harder to project. If you rely completely on feel, I would worry that those early miles can feel really good but be just a bit too fast. As Ian said, it doesn't take large pacing mistakes to make big problems at the end of a marathon. It also can feel pretty hard at the end, and without a bit of pacing feedback then you might not push as hard as you need to maintain the pace.

I agree that some people rely too much on the Garmin for pacing such that they no longer know how to pace by feel. But a watch can still be really useful-- maybe a compromise plan is best. If I were trying for a specific time that was within my ability, I would tend to think it would be best to plan to run at a "no faster than pace" for the first half and check to make sure that you aren't pushing it over that. Run by what feels right but with the pacing feedback, checking splits every mile or 2K or so. Not micro-managing every kilometre to second and constantly checking your average or instantaneous pace-- which can actually require a lot of mental energy. Then have the watch handy to check at the end to make sure you are pushing as hard as you need to. [You could do the same thing with a regular watch, but the Garmin makes it a bit easier.]

I would hate to see this experiment go awry and have him miss the BQ by seconds.
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ian
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby ian » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:07 pm

Jwolf wrote:There are many people who train and/or race with just a watch but that isn't actually timeless.

I'm in this category, never having owned a Garmin. With a simple stopwatch plus course markings, my sense of current pace is typically just as accurate as a fluctuating GPS-based reading.

Having earlier expressed reservations about this experiment at marathon distance, I will hedge by acknowledging that ORW is an ideal place to try it, on account of the numerous pace bunnies and a few clock/mat stations along the way.

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canalrunner
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby canalrunner » Wed Apr 22, 2015 11:52 am

Jwolf wrote:
canalrunner wrote:
barebuns1 wrote:I really don't know If I could run without my Garmin 220. I have done races where my Garmin has shown me I am not working hard enough. While other times with the km splits I am over extending myself.


I think it is interesting to question whether we put too much emphasis of the numbers: HR, KM splits, average pace, and in doing so we don't allow some nature instincts including some natural surges and slower paces to end up with a better result. More about listening to yourself in the race, than checking the garmin. Other than, occasionally using a garmin to measure distance on a long run, I have not worn a Garmin in about a year. Only a Timex with no pace info. Pat has been brave to try this as he prepares for his well deserved BQ.


There are many people who train and/or race with just a watch but that isn't actually timeless. Checking splits and making small adjustments is just another way of pacing. I would hate to see this experiment go awry and have him miss the BQ by seconds.


I check my watch against pace when I am ummm, pace, but even then the splits every 5k are really the ones I pay attention to. Pat's timeless run led to a 90 second PB in a half. It was without a watch of any sort. That is interesting about the difference between a half and full. I hadn't seen that study. There is a risk and possible reward with a completely timeless approach. Agree with Ian, a race like ORW is not a bad place to try given the number of pace bunnies, and the fact that other runners will provide lots of feedback on where the runner is at. Tougher to have that support in a small marathon.
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby RobW » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:19 pm

I'm having trouble understanding what "timeless running" means. I read Pat's blog and he said he ran with a friend giving him feedback about average pace which allowed him to judge how hard he was pushing. Does it just mean not wearing a watch or garmin?

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Pat29
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby Pat29 » Wed Apr 22, 2015 12:24 pm

I did not wear a Garmin or watch on. Yes a friend was running with me for the first half and he did mention the average pace to me a few times. Other than that I was on my own for the race.
[b]2016 Races:[b]

January - Richmond Road Races 10 km 41:06
March - St Patrick's Day 10 km 41:31
April - Minto Run for Reach half-marathon 1:28:56
May - Sporting Life 10 km - 41:10
May - Ottawa Marathon - 3:26:37
September - Army Run


My running blog: http://www.thecourageoflungs.com

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Re: Timeless Running

Postby Jwolf » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:08 pm

canalrunner wrote:That is interesting about the difference between a half and full. I hadn't seen that study.


I was trying to remember where I had read about that, and I realize now it's more complicated than I remember. The phenomenon is technically called "teloanticipation" and in this article Matt Fitzgerald speculates on how long one can properly anticipate pacing. It's also something that comes with experience, of course.
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby jes » Wed Apr 22, 2015 1:40 pm

Pat29 wrote:I did not wear a Garmin or watch on. Yes a friend was running with me for the first half and he did mention the average pace to me a few times. Other than that I was on my own for the race.


This is how Andy has been pacing me for the last few years, with great success. I don't think I'd try running a marathon 'blind', but with a friend who is connected to some sort of timing/GPS, I say go for it!
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby ABXF » Wed Apr 22, 2015 2:12 pm

Speaking for which, is their a 3:10:xx bunny lined up yet, per say?

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canalrunner
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby canalrunner » Wed Apr 22, 2015 3:26 pm

Zumba_guy_the_real_1 wrote:Speaking for which, is their a 3:10:xx bunny lined up yet, per say?


Yes, indeed. 3:05, 3:10, 3:15. All BQ times up to over 4 hours. Something like 60 pacers in the three events. Yikes!! Maybe I should just assign one to Pat. Perhaps a 3:08.30 (given the margin last year?)

Still looking for a 3 hour pacer.
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La
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby La » Wed Apr 22, 2015 4:56 pm

The other thing to be mindful of when using the Garmin to keep you on pace is that the margin of error could mean missing a BQ by seconds if you are trusting the paces shown since they're not always accurate. I'd be more willing to trust a simple watch and using km markers along the way (maybe every 3K, rather than every K). I also like the idea proposed by others about using pacing/timing to prevent you from going out too fast in the first half.

That said, I think it would be interesting to have the Garmin with you so that you could review the data later and figure out what went right/wrong (depending on the outcome of the race).
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Re: Timeless Running

Postby MichaelMc » Sat Apr 25, 2015 12:34 pm

Personally I glance at my Garmin a couple of times in the first kilometer to see if I'm near my goal pace, then only check at the kilometer markings. Any deviation between Garmin and true distance are noticeable at that point and it saves math on the pace band/watch.

Instant pace can be erratic enough to cause stress, even with the "smoothing" function of GPS. Going a LITTLE too fast/slow for one kilometer is probably less of an issue than continually accelerating/slowing in response to a GPS reading.

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Re: Timeless Running

Postby jes » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:46 pm

MichaelMc wrote:Instant pace can be erratic enough to cause stress, even with the "smoothing" function of GPS. Going a LITTLE too fast/slow for one kilometer is probably less of an issue than continually accelerating/slowing in response to a GPS reading.


Using "lap pace" gets around this...just change the lap length to 1 km.
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