Training Without a GPS Watch

Natalie Cecconi
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TIPS, TRICKS, AND WORKAROUNDS: 6 WAYS TO TRAIN LIKE YOU OWN A GPS WATCH (WITHOUT BUYING ONE)

If you're into running or cycling and have long-distance races planned, you'll eventually wonder whether you should buy a GPS watch. Should you?

Find out below.

You've never used a GPS watch, and you aren't sure you want one yet. For now, you want to get into routine of training like a pro, not just hitting a button and checking your pace when you want.

Introduction

A GPS watch is a great tool for endurance workouts, but just as great a runner doesn’t always need a stopwatch to be a great runner, sometimes runners don’t always need a GPS watch to reach their fitness goals.

Sometimes, the best workouts involve running in the park, taking the dog for a run, or even going out for an evening run. These workouts don’t really provide the chance to leverage the technology in your GPS watch, so you’re left just running.

Time, Distance, Pace/Speed

Heart Rate: Which Indicators Should You Consider?

Many runners make their training schedules based on the amount of time they will be exercising or, sometimes, how far they are planning to go. But how can you be sure you are progressing if your sessions are run on a loop course or without having a reference point to measure distance? Think about this as you read on.

When time-based workouts were the topic on race plans, many runners found only a few ways of getting the most out of their workouts:

  • Running internal mental chronometers;
  • Using landmarks to set pace goal;
  • Running with a partner; or

Crossing roads.

With the advent of GPS (also called Global Positioning System) and GPS-based watches, how do you ensure that you are improving, especially if you run on a loop course where there are no landmarks or people to help you check your pace?

The answer: It depends.

Heart Rate Monitors

You hear a lot of talk about heart rate monitors and heart rate-based training when it comes to running and cycling.

Some high-end GPS watches have a built-in heart rate monitor so you can get instant feedback on heart rate during a workout. And many training plans require you to know your heart rate during a workout, so you can meet the goal heart rate range.

But if you don’t have a watch that has a built-in heart rate monitor, you should seriously consider purchasing one. It will help you improve your performance and meet your fitness goals in a much more effective manner.

However, even if your budget won’t stretch to a monitor, there are ways to train without one.

Basically, knowing your heart rate is important because it allows you to control your effort to hit a certain heart rate zone. This is important in structured workouts and when following specific training plans.

Interval Workouts

One of the most important things to learn as a new runner is how to effectively incorporate interval training into your training regimen. Interval training is when you alternate periods of faster running with slower running.

Although running intervals is a great way to increase both your cardiovascular strength and the strength of your leg muscles, sometimes you don’t have a GPS watch to monitor your distance or your pace. In this case, you cannot leave an interval timer on your watch or run your intervals on a track.

Similarly, if you are new to interval training, you may only be able to afford a basic, mid-range, or a budget GPS watch. Unless you run on a track frequently, the GPS watch may not be accurate enough to measure your distance. This can make it difficult to run the correct distance for each interval.

Here are some interval workouts you can use if you have a basic GPS watch, no GPS watch, or you are running on some other kind of track.

Tracking and analyzing workouts

I wasn’t always a fan of GPS running watches. I used to think that they were just another gadget to keep me from running outside. I was adamant that I would never be one of those addicted runners who “relied” on the gadget to track my workouts.

I was wrong. And I still am.

If you take for granted the features that you have on your GPS running watch and don’t use them, how can you ever be sure that you have made the most out of your running routine? Moreover, how do you know if you are making progress or not?

Don’t get me wrong: I still run outside without my GPS watch, but I am a lot more aware of my workout and I am able to become conscious of what I am not tracking.

At present, I have a Suunto Ambit 2 and I want to explain how I use each feature to my advantage. So here you go, some ideas on how you can go about running without the tracking power of a GPS watch.

GPS WATCH ALTERNATIVES

Before you think about buying a Garmin GPS watch, you should use a good old map. Running pace, route, distance, time, heart rate are all things you can manage without covering your arms with GPS gadgets.

If you are still considering buying one, here is what you need to know:

Running Pace

Running pace can be very subjective. It all depends on the individual and their personal expectations.

If you are a 5 minutes mile kind of guy and your personal record is 5:12, every time you go out for a run you are going to be trying to beat that personal record.

But maybe one day you want to change pace a bit. You are tired of hitting the track every day, you want to switch to a trail.

Maybe one day you want to run further or just slower. Then it is important to have a structured hike.

All this is very simple with a map.

Set some goals for certain areas you will be passing in your workout.

Create some route variations so that you don’t get bored.

Route Navigation

On many occasions, I ran into a problem with the satellite signal on my Garmin. Heading out into the wilderness or into the city might create some troubles with accurate route navigation.

My map I can open in any environment, no battery need.

Time

X Blog: How to Train Without a GPS Watch

How would you compete in a triathlon without a GPS watch?

What if you wanted to run a 10K or a half marathon without a GPS watch?

What if you wanted to train for a Spartan race without a GPS watch?

What if you wanted to do only intense intervals and not worry about how far you run or how fast?

How could you do that?

The answer is simple.

Most of the time, you don’t need a GPS watch to successfully train, be competitive and achieve your goals.

You know that you can do a lot without a GPS watch.

After all, you already do it.

It’s the day-to-day workouts that we do every week, every month, every year, without a GPS watch.

Races are events.

Training is our life.

Therefore, most of the time, you don’t need a GPS watch to train smart, stay on track and achieve your goals.

So, how do you train without a GPS watch?

If you’re an active person, wearing a GPS watch is normal. Timex built two GPS watches specifically for athletes.

Distance

In this article I’m going to share my experience on how to measure workouts without smart watches and GPS.

Have you ever suspected that your GPS may be lying to you by underestimating the distance you ran? Have you ever noticed that as the day gets hotter faster you need to speed up just to maintain your intended pace?

Finally are you interested in a GPS-free way of measuring your pace and distance in your running workout?

So Here Is How You Can Do It by Yourself …

First let’s start with the easiest mode to check the distance using a running app. Open Apple’s Fitness App or the built-in Workout app. Enable the GPS, then select the mode –Run”. Continue to the start of your running route by entering your location manually or by using another GPS-enabled running app if available.

Now you are ready for your jogging session. On your iPhone you should be able to see a blue Start pointing arrow which symbolizes the location you are starting from.

After you started the run and passed the Start arrow, the red Finish arrow will be visible on the display. You should follow the arrow and end your workout exactly at the Finish arrow whether you have completed the planned distance or not.

Speed/Pace

Disciplined, consistent training is the key to success in training for runners. A GPS watch gives us instant feedback on how we are performing in relation to set goals. Is your pace too slow, too fast? Are you at the right distance?

But what if your watch breaks or is not available? All is not lost. (Watch out if you are a triathlete/cyclist!) You just need to be a little creative.

If you are a runner, you can use the distance tracked on a car odometer or pacing for a set distance. If you run using a route you have established, such as around a park, the distance you travel is obviously pretty close to the actual distance on a map. If you can match your pace to a target time, you can use that as feedback.

For example, if your target time is one hour for a 5K, you know that you need to run a pace of 8 minutes and 30 seconds per mile. By timing how long it takes you to complete a mile segment, you can tell if you’re on track with the set time.

Heart Rate Monitor

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need a heart rate monitor to train your body. The thing to aim for is to push your body enough that the intensity comes out a bit in your face and you get a little light-headed, but not so much that you are struggling to talk or fully catch your breath. It’s not about pushing yourself to the point of near collapse, but to the point where you get a bit of a challenge out of the workout.

Interval Workouts

One of the most important things to learn as a new runner is how to effectively incorporate interval training into your training regimen. Interval training is when you alternate periods of faster running with slower running.

Although running intervals is a great way to increase both your cardiovascular strength and the strength of your leg muscles, sometimes you don’t have a GPS watch to monitor your distance or your pace. In this case, you cannot leave an interval timer on your watch or run your intervals on a track.

Similarly, if you are new to interval training, you may only be able to afford a basic, mid-range, or a budget GPS watch. Unless you run on a track frequently, the GPS watch may not be accurate enough to measure your distance. This can make it difficult to run the correct distance for each interval.

Here are some interval workouts you can use if you have a basic GPS watch, no GPS watch, or you are running on some other kind of track.

Tracking and Analyzing Workouts

If your device runs the Smartphone Connect (SPC) application, you can pair your Tempo device directly with your smartphone's GPS. SPC then displays your Tempo device readings on your phone screen in real time during your workout. You do not need a USB connection to your computer or your device to retrieve your data.

Simply connect your Tempo device to your smartphone via the Bluetooth Smart connection, open the Smartphone Connect app and sync it to your chip.

CONCLUSION

Thanks for taking the time to read my running GPS watch guide. I’m a long-distance runner and I love going out running as much as possible, even when I can’t train hard because of injury or fatigue. So I always train with a GPS watch. It’s not just about training effectively, but also about keeping me accountable and helping me perfect my running technique. It turns running into a data driven activity that makes it measurable, motivates me and helps me understand the importance of recovery.

But I know that some people only run for pleasure and that some of you would prefer to stay away from running with a GPS watch. That’s why I also recommended some alternatives in the guide.

But for those of us who are on the fence (or is that on the road?), let me quickly go through the 3 main reasons why you should use a GPS watch at least sometimes.

First, you should use it to improve your running technique.

A GPS watch will keep you honest. It will let you know if your posture is optimal, if you’re doing the right strides, the right speed, and that you’re not over training.

And because the data is indisputable, it will also motivate you to keep getting better and better.