Get Rid of Your Garmin to Boost Your Performance

When was the last time you ran without any pace or time goals? Ditch the Garmin and focus on enjoying your runs.

Here in Okinawa, the rainy season is coming to an end and the increase in heat and humidity is affecting my running ability. This past week, I struggled to complete my runs without stopping occasionally to take short walk breaks. The air feels so thick that I am gasping for breath with each stride, especially when running uphill.

Such a drastic decline in pace and performance is discouraging, even though I know it’s due to external circumstances beyond my control. I’m sure many of you in other locations are dealing with the same challenge, and if you’re like me and feel a little disappointed that you’re unable to train at your usual level, then try ditching your Garmin.

My On-and-Off Relationship With My Garmin

“Ditch your Garmin?” You’re asking if I really suggested that, aren’t you? Trust me, I understand your hesitation. There was once a time when I would consider forfeiting my run if I woke up and realized that I had forgotten to charge my Garmin. Of course, I could never bring myself to skip my run for that reason, but I would most definitely experience a certain amount of frustration before tying up my laces and heading out the door.

But these days, unless I’m following a strict training plan and need my Garmin to record my splits or cue me on pacing or time, I don’t get all bent out of shape if it isn’t charged. I know the various routes in my neighborhood pretty well (their distances and degree of difficulty), and I simply pick one based on whatever my training objective is for that day.

And choosing to ditch my Garmin is something I frequently do during the hot summer months or when I’m not officially training. Here’s why:

My Garmin Kills My Motivation

At certain times of the year, like now when it’s too hot to run or after a full season of races, it’s not uncommon for runners to hit a motivational plateau. When this happens, strapping on a Garmin may be counterproductive to overcoming a lack of motivation. Garmins, after all, generally don’t lie. They have no qualms in telling you that you did not hit your target paces and times.

My Body Knows Better Than My Garmin

Garmins force us to try and meet certain training goals, even when our bodies would prefer not to. That’s great – except when you’re sick, injured, or over-trained and should not be running at all. But even when the symptoms are slight and running can still be tolerated, it might be best to let your body dictate the run, rather than your Garmin.

I’m Better Than My Garmin Thinks I Am

Conversely, wearing a Garmin can inhibit your true ability. Let’s look at the example of a female runner who has found a generic training plan online with recommended paces. It’s likely that she will do her best to stick to those paces, as best as possible. If our runner is wearing her Garmin, and it alerts her to slow down because she’s running faster than the set pace, she’ll quickly slow down to get back on board with the plan. It’s possible that she’s capable of running faster than the recommended paces, but she won’t know because her Garmin, programmed according to the plan that she’s following, will control and determine her speed.

My Garmin Doesn’t Care About Quality

Runners tend to be creatures of habit and perfection, and when it comes to training runs the need for perfection manifests itself in the form of exactness. In other words, if Jane is supposed to do an eighteen-mile long run, and at 16.5 miles she has depleted her energy stores, you can guarantee that Jane will continue running (or dragging her feet) until her Garmin reads exactly eighteen miles. Why? Because Jane thinks it’s critical that she follow exactly what her training plan instructs. Following your training plan to a T isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but ditching your Garmin may help you to be less concerned about quantity and more focused on quality.

My Garmin Doesn’t Know What I Need

Most runners can tell you what they believe is their “easy” pace. If Jane believes that her easy pace is an 8:30min/mile, then Jane is going to make sure that on her easy run days, that she runs no slower than an 8:30 min/mile pace. Running without a Garmin however, sets you free from any self-expectations, and an easy run can actually be an easy run.

If your training ability is currently impaired due to harsh weather conditions or physical exhaustion, I really encourage you to try leaving your Garmin at home and getting back to running for enjoyment only. That means running without any pace or time goals (a liberating feeling by the way), and hopefully a heightened sense of fulfillment as you temporarily focus on just enjoying your runs.

Photo 1 by slgckgc “Garmin GPS Watch” Attribution-NonCommercial License.

Photos 2 & 3 courtesy of Shutterstock.