What Your Watch Will Not Tell You

In an era where our GPS watch has hundreds of features, we can easily become fixated on all these things that can give us so called data points as indicators of fitness and overall health. Though technology can be helpful and an aid to training. We know sometimes this becomes an obsession and a hindrance to training rather than an aid. Ever had a GPS watch tell you that you need over 72 hours to recover or that you are being productive or unproductive? Have you ever referred to the overall pace on your watch to determine if your recovery pace was “right”? Most of us don’t use this as our primary source of information on our training, but it is tempting to become fixated on these data points. It is easy to be less intuitive with your training. Here are things you should not rely on your watch for. 

  1. Your GPS will not tell you how to read your body. How we manage effort and perceive effort is an important skill. When we rely on a watch or a split to let us know how we are feeling, we lose the opportunity to read our bodies. When we use the watch to determine the quality of an effort, we often miscalculate recovery and much more. For instance, this past weekend many of our runners had quality long runs in 16-20MPH winds, if they relied on the watch to let them know how they were doing, chances are they would have been stretching to find pace with wind and rain in their face. Being able to dictate appropriate effort based on how your body is feeling is more important than what the watch is telling you.

  2. Your watch will not tell you how recovered you are nor what your recovery pace will be. Despite what your watch says post run, it doesn’t know you as well as you do. It doesn’t know what your stress looks like, recovery nutrition intake is, quality of sleep, how your legs feel or any other external factors. Back to point one, you must learn to read your body and not depend on data to prove how you feel.   

  3. Your watch will only give you semi-accurate data to draw from. Distance, HR, recovery time, VO2 Max, etc. are all features your watch will display, however, this is never 100 percent accurate. Humidity, how tight your wear your watch, cloud and tree coverage, running on small loops and many other things play with watch accuracy. Therefore, do not rely on any data as golden information. Your cumulative body of work, races, and key workout efforts should dictate how you view your fitness. 

Keeping the big picture in mind, listening to how your body feels and using watch data only as guidelines for overall fitness are great ways to evaluate your training.  Learning to be intuitive can be perhaps the greatest addition to your training this year.


  1. Brandon Mader's avatar
    Brandon Mader
    | Permalink
    So true! Your body responds to the training, not the tech it's wearing

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Will Christian

I was a 2:27 marathoner that seemed to have hit the ceiling. It seemed that I couldn't break that time. I ran a 2:20 marathon this past fall and a big reason for that success was due to coaching and guidance. Coaching is like having a second set of eyes on a problem.

As an active duty service member we are taught "Attention to Detail." I was focusing on my stronger attributes while neglecting my weaker ones. My personal coach pointed a few things out and changed a few of my workouts and like magic; I smashed my PR in the marathon.