A Timeless Endeavor

In any endurance sport, time is a crucial element. Performance and training is extremely dependent on time and is the main evaluation of this. Any endurance athlete is aware of time and makes it one of the main focuses of training or performance.

For the training aspect of the sport, almost every runner wears a watch. Whether it's for finding how long a run is distance-wise or time-wise, a watch becomes just as valuable to a runner as the shoes on their feet. Without a watch, many runners are just lost when it comes to training and how much/well they are doing.

For myself, I was always like this. To be honest, it was probably one of the worst parts about running for me. I was always fixated on how long my runs were and how fast I was going. I would go for a run and find myself checking my watch every two minutes just to see where I was and how I was doing.

To say this is healthy would be ridiculous. At the least, it made the activity feel way longer and just way too monotonous. It came to a point where running by myself was something I dreaded and never wanted to do. In my opinion, this is a terrible mindset and something that I felt ashamed of when running.
With all this talk about time there's is no need to ask how fast I went out at this race...
Around this time last year, I decided to ditch the watch. Looking back, this may have been one of the most simple but probably the best decisions I have ever made.

I would be lying if I said that this decision just came into my head and I decided to do it. For the most part, it came from a new teammate at the time Nick D'Allessandro.

As I recall, the situation went on sorta like this:

Simone: Yo D'ally, what time are we at.
D'ally: I don't know man, I don't wear a watch
Simone: Why don't you wear one, I always do but I forgot mine today
D'ally: I don't need it, seems somewhat useless to me
Simone: What do you mean, don't you need to know how long and far you are on your runs
D'ally: No. It's all on feel anyways. There's no need to get caught up in that type of stuff too much

A simple conversation like this was so easy but made a world of difference. I made me realize an important aspect of the sport that I now know. This aspect is the point at where runners find the motivation to do what they do and continue their endeavor's in the sport.

When running with a group of lets say 12 runners, isn't it excessive to have 9 of them with watches? Is it needed to have nine different accounts on how fast/long/far the run was? I get that some people love to know this and thrive off of collecting all of their runs and the statistics associated with it. Applications and sites like Strava are a main focal point of this and have millions of people uploading and showing off their runs.

I completely understand where people are coming from with this, but is it actually needed? At the end of the day all that matters is the race and what goes on there in that moment. Especially in cross-country, time is completely irrelevant on the day. Having the biggest (insert eggplant emoji, XD) on Strava means absolutely nothing and should not be used as motivation to continue to train. If you're using Strava as a source of motivation to strive for success and do well, you are probably in the wrong sport and should re-evaluate your priorities.
Only here so it'll make Zilles happy =D
Another point to come from this is that it made me realize that the numbers associated with training for running are all relative and simply put, made up.

It's not like a person's legs have a clock in them recording how long and far they go. It's not like all of a sudden a person can hit a certain mileage count and will get significantly better. That's just not how our body works. In the end, sections of time and distance are all just made up by other humans and have nothing to do with our body's composition.

Now of course, these tools are a great baseline to look and see how much training is being done. I obviously use this, as just about every runner does, but a feeling approach in my view is much more valuable and useful. Workouts are supposed to be hard and easy days are supposed to be easy, plain and simple. Whatever hard is and whatever easy is may vary significantly day to day and looking at the numbers can be significantly harmful. Straying away from this concept of easy/hard days messes a whole training scheme and most likely will not result in success.

All this being said, the only thing I can say for certain is this past year without a watch has made running a much better experience. Doing all my runs off of feel and comfort level has definitely been great and made me realize so many important aspects of the sport. Obviously it takes getting used to and requires either some great friends with watches or a bookmark of MapMyRun's Mapping Editor on Chrome. Nevertheless, I found it well worth the effort.

If you are a slave to the watch, I recommend at least trying a run without a watch. It’s not for everyone, but neither is running.