Why Some Elite Runners Opt Out of GPS Watches
Dylan Jacobs, a decorated college runner at Notre Dame and the University of Tennessee, experimented with a GPS watch that many of his teammates relied on. But he quickly realized that the watch made his runs feel longer and he was more preoccupied with checking his progress instead of enjoying his surroundings.
While GPS watches are a valuable training tool for many, including world-class runners like Jacobs, there are some who find them more of a hindrance than a help. Heather MacLean, an Olympic 1,500-meter runner, initially used a GPS watch to monitor her sleep patterns but found that it drained the fun from her runs. She decided to switch to a regular watch and has never gone back.
Sam Prakel, a pro miler for Adidas and the reigning U.S. indoor champion in the men’s 1,500 and 3,000 meters, also had a negative experience with a GPS watch. He found himself running too fast and becoming more focused on his pace rather than his overall performance. He now relies on estimating his runs and keeping them consistent.
For Luke Houser, a junior at the University of Washington and an NCAA champion, aesthetics matter as well. He wears a vintage-inspired Casio watch solely because he thinks it looks cool. He believes that all you need to know is how you feel and the time.
Even runners with a background in data science, like Kieran Lumb, have opted out of GPS watches. Lumb, who earned a master’s degree in information systems, maintains an Excel spreadsheet for his training, but doesn’t use a GPS watch during his runs. Instead, he uses a simple Casio calculator watch and remembers his splits, finding it liberating to simplify his training process.
Ultimately, these elite runners have found that GPS watches can be more of a hindrance than a help. They prefer to focus on their own intuition, listen to their bodies, and enjoy their runs without constantly checking their data.
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