When I think back to when I first starting running back in the late 1970’s, one of the vivid memories I have is one of my first running watch. Casio came out with the first running watch. The watch only did two things, told time and had a stop watch on it. You could not even get splits or save workouts. When the watch reached 1 hour, it went back to 0:00 and started over. My Dad got me one as soon as they came out and I have depended on timing devices on my wrist since the beginning of my running career. Running watches and even better now, Garmin’s are one of the most important tools a runner must have.
Recently, I started assisting with coaching on the Huntsville High Cross Country team. Since my youngest son Skylor took it upon himself to sign up for the team as a Freshman this year, I decided that I should get involved. I already knew several of the kids on the team and I believe with my enthusiasm for running and 38 years of experience, it could be beneficial to the team.
One of the first things I have noticed about coaching at HHS is how many kids do not have a watch. Probably half of the team is currently running without a watch. This blew me away. A running watch is essential. All of the workouts we do are based on time. One must establish a one on one relationship with a watch in order to reach ones potential in running. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re running XC, training for your first 5k or a marathon, you must have a watch.
I ask some of the kids why they don’t have a watch and they say their parents don’t want to spend the money, etc. To me, it’s kind of like signing up for golf but only have a driver and a putter in the bag, you’re just not going to reach your potential in golf with only two clubs. One can get a basic Timex running watch for as little as $35 and get miles and miles use from it. You can’t even go eat with the family or friends at Mellow Mushroom for that price. Everyone should have a running watch, if you’re going to run, for whatever reason, get a watch.
I personally use the Garmin 920. It can do anything and everything I want it to do. I stopped using traditional watches as soon as Garmin started making watches that could give me total time running, average pace and distance. I think this is one of the greatest tools ever for a runner. I depend on the watch daily. I can use it for setting and maintaining goal paces. The Garmin gives runners these days a tremendous advantage that we did not have several years ago. I especially like being able to race with it. There is no way better than to start a race at your goal pace rather than :30 too fast in the first mile. I have been watching runners go out too fast in races for as long as I have been racing. They go out the first mile at :30 to 1:00 too fast and then, Boom! A big invisible Grizzly bear jumps on their back and drags them down and I just go cruising by them asking myself, did you think this was 5k? It’s a marathon! Wearing a Garmin on your wrist can teach you how to pace, probably the most important thing one can do in distance running, pacing.
With my Garmin 920, I also love the fact that I can go run anywhere and have my distance recorded. It doesn’t matter what street I decide to run down or what hill I decide to run up, freedom to roam is wonderful and I know the exact distance. I still remember driving around with my Dad in the late 1970’s “measuring” running routes. I can’t help but laugh to myself when I hear people say that my Garmin measured 26.34 miles at the marathon I just ran, not 26.2. Do you have any idea how much more accurate that Garmin is over driving around measuring courses in the car? Makes me laugh.
I am also able to use my Garmin 920 as an everyday watch. They are small enough and sporty enough that you can wear every day. The watch even counts my daily steps if I want to know. I check the ascent and decent after every run too. If I am going to do a race that has 3500’ ascent, why would I not want to be able to train and know my total ascent on a daily basis? I do want to know. This watch also allows me to use it for pool swims, counts my laps, open water swims and on the bike. It gives me every detail I need to train, do the best I can and know how to set my goals and race strategies. Garmin 920 comes at a price, $450, and for someone like me who is serious about training and makes it a priority in my life, it’s worth every penny. A small investment in the big picture.
If you are a beginning runner or a veteran marathoner, take a good look at what’s on your wrist. This small single item could be the biggest difference in where your running takes you. We specifically keep a big inventory of Garmin here at Fleet Feet Sports Huntsville because I believe it is one essential item that every runner needs. Come see us about your first Garmin and see where it can take you.