Last week my watch died. After two years of good (but not great) service, it capitulated to the ultimate test of time… despite being an endurance watch. What a joke.
At the first swimming session without the watch, I found out I had become a “lap-oholic”. As soon as a length was over, I automatically was putting my right hand on my left wrist, trying to push the lap button. “What an idiot,” I thought.
It took me a couple of hundred meters to get used to lacking a watch. But after that I simply focused on what I needed to be doing: swimming easy, then medium, and then hard. My attention changed from the numbers on my watch to my own body and, in particular, my perceived exertion and speed. And it actually worked as well as swimming with a watch — maybe even better, as I was swimming even faster.
The same happened during my run sessions. Because I didn’t have a watch and I didn’t want to carry a phone with me, I used my memory. I remembered how far I normally went for my 15 minute warm up, then didn’t need anything else but a couple of road lamps to keep track of my distance for the traditional hills rep session. My cool down was a jog back home.
We’ve become more and more obsessed with data and analysis, and we want to record every single lap we do in training. Sometimes, though, we forget what the most important thing really is: simply putting the hard work in.
Of course it’s OK (and wise) to use data to pace yourself, control your workout intensities and get the best training effect. But make sure that “controlling” doesn’t turn into “holding back”. Go hard when you need to go hard, go easy when you’re supposed to.
And sometimes, go out without any tool at all. When you’re training with a watch, feel your body, learn how the different zones feel — and then try to replicate the same effect during no-tech sessions. It’s a great way to learn how your body actually functions.
And a very good practice in case your gadgets fail. Especially during a race.