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  • Barny

When to Watch the Watch and When to Feel the Run?

You’ve got to love GPS watches. Now with the benefit of technology, not only do we get to enjoy our running, we have an unlimited stream of stats to sit and stare at afterwards. Heart rate was a bit lower than expected – is that a good sign? But, the third mile was 4 seconds too slow, was that the wind, check the elevation, am I not as fit as I thought? Then when we are done analysing our own performance we can log on and analyse everyone else’s runs too.

Over-analysis may be part of the fun of being a runner. The data available during and after each run has grown exponentially with improvements in technology. In the good old days runners worked out their pace by measuring distances on a map. Now distance, elevation, pace, heart rate, training zones and plenty more at any point in the run are available instantly.

Runners often wonder how a coach can benefit them when they have all the information on their performances on their GPS watch and a multitude of apps and websites to help analyse the stats. The answer is that effective coaching relies on regular communication, with the emphasis on two-way communication between a runner and their coach and a good coach will always ask you how you feel after each run and will use that information to guide future training, spot the early warning signs of fatigue or injury, and assess how much fun each run was to help design a training program that is exciting and inspiring.

All the training data is hugely useful for online coaches, because it provides information on how runs progressed, where the pace was fast or a runner became fatigued, but this information is only helpful if you know what information you require and alongside the runner’s own description of how the run went.

You will often hear coaches telling athletes to run to feel, and it is important that alongside all the GPS data a runner is coached to learn this skill so that they can truly discover where their limits lie, and here’s the thing they are often way beyond the performances predicted by an algorithm on a watch.

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