Tips for Running with a GPS Watch (or not)

Get the most of tracking your runs with these GPS watch tips:

1. Pace setting: I prefer lap pace over current pace. Current pace bounces around way too much for me. If you have it in lap pace, then it measures your average pace thus far for the current lap (i.e the distance travelled thus far for that lap and your total time in transit for that lap – and calculates your average pace). Calculating the average pace prevents the watch from jumping around when you’re on a slight hill or have a quick speed burst within your lap that might screw you up if you were to look down at your pace at that exact moment.

What is a lap? It’s whatever you set your watch at. For current pace it’s based on one mile. If you want your average mile pace, then keep your lap set to 1 mile.

If you want to reset the pace before your lap is up, just hit lap on your watch and wait a few seconds for it to recalibrate.  Note that it does not adjust immediately. 

Overall, I find that current pace can really mess with your head if you’re trying to stay on pace using your watch.

2. Auto Pause: Turn this off. It's annoying (i think).

3. Auto Lap vs. Manual Lap: Auto lap is great when you are running tempos or long runs or somewhere without mile markers, but when you're on the track or in a race, turn off auto lap. It will mess with your tracking.

In a race, opt for manual lap every time. All you have to do is manually hit lap as you pass each mile marker. This way you know for sure exactly how fast you are running each mile according to the race course not the gps - often they are not exactly the same. If you forget at one mile, then hit lap at the next mile and divide by two for your average pace over the last two miles. 

I actually prefer a good ole timex stopwatch during races or turn off my gps altogether and manually hit lap.  This way I don't have to worry about losing satellite connection or low battery issues and I know I'm tracking myself the same way the race course is tracking me. Manual lap is also good for track workouts because you don't want it to accidentally lap you when you in the middle of an interval and often times your laps are shorter than the auto lap setting.

4. Ditch the GPS altogether.  Do one run a week without tracking your pace. It’s healthy to forget about pacing sometimes.

Jesssica's favorite watch these days is a good old fashioned sportswatch. The best part is you never have to charge it!