QT: Only Stop Your Watch When Your Workout is Actually Finished

When you’re on a training run, do you stop your watch when you get a drink, use the bathroom, or stop running for any number of other reasons?

If you do, I have one question for you:

The Clock Doesn’t Stop on Race Day

I have a client who recently went into her marathon with a goal of qualifying for Boston, and she fell just short.

It was still a good day, as she PRd by close to 5 minutes, but she said something when we were chatting/debriefing after her race that really caught my attention.

She wondered if she was slightly overconfident in her ability to BQ because she pauses her watch on her long runs when she has to refill her water bottle, use the bathroom, wait for traffic to clear, or whatever other reason that she needs to stop during her runs.

What an astute observation.

When we are stopping our watches during a training run for a minute here and a minute there, the data we get after our runs are no longer accurate.


Think about it for a minute. You’re giving yourself a chance to catch your breath and slow down your heart rate each time you stop, and if you stop your watch that time just “vanishes” from your run.

But on race day? The clock doesn’t stop.

I’ll Ask Again, Why Do You Stop Your Watch Before You Finish?

I don’t get it.

As far as I can see, there are a couple of reasons that you might be tempted to stop your watch during a training run, but neither of them makes sense to me.

The Strava Factor

I like Strava.

Really, I do. We even have a Diz Runs group on Strava that you can join if you’re so inclined.

But the one downfall of Strava, and it’s a big one, is that many runners feel the need to compete with every run.

When you stop for a drink at mile 8 of a 15-miler, you can either let your watch run for the 30+ seconds or stop it.

If you’re competing with people on Strava, or you just care what people think when they see your workouts, you stop your watch.

Seriously, are you that insecure with yourself as a runner?

That may sound a bit harsh, but come on.

No one really cares about your stats, I promise.

Everyone Else is Doing It

I love runners. But as a group, we are some of the worst when it comes to the herd mentality.

When we see someone doing something, especially if they are faster than us, we start to do it too.

If a lot of runners are doing the same thing, then it must have been written on stone tablets and carried down the mountain my Moses himself.

And I think that’s why a lot of runners pause their watches mid-run.

When they are still somewhat new to the sport, they see all of the people they run with pause their watch at a water fountain, bathroom, or red light, and they simply assume that is what you’re supposed to do.

Runners do a lot of stupid shit for the simple reason that other runners do the same thing so it must be beneficial.

I’m officially adding “stop your watch when you stop running during your run” to the list of stupid shit runners do.

Stop Lying to Yourself

Can we level for a minute?

When you stop your watch 2-3 times during your training run, you are lying to yourself about your workout.

Because when you look at the data from that run, you’re going to say that you ran at X pace for Y number of miles.

And that’s simply not true.

Yes, you ran Y miles.

Yes, the average pace of your running time was X.

But what about the breaks you took? What about the time when you were catching your breath before you started running again?

Does that time not count?

Maybe that minute or two total doesn’t matter to you. And if it doesn’t, that’s fine.

But that minute or two counts on race day.

It doesn’t disappear. You can’t petition the race director to credit you for the time you were peeing in the porta potty.

On race day, the clock starts when you cross the start mat and it doesn’t stop until you cross the timing mat at the finish line.

If you want to get an accurate picture of your overall fitness and how your training may translate to race day, don’t stop your watch until your finish your workout.

It’s really that simple.

Stopping your watch mid-training run is, essentially, lying to yourself. #running #runchat Click To Tweet

Do You Stop Your Watch Once or Twice Mid-Run?  
Do You Think It Matters Either Way, or Am I Being Ridiculous?

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2 replies
  1. ILA
    ILA says:

    Hey Denny,
    I just listened to this and I’m GUILTY. I have my auto-pause on and do not really know why. When I first started running and got a watch my friends would stop their watch so I did the same thing. Then it’s just a “given” and when you said the race clock does not stop that is sooooo true, which put it in perspective. I will take the auto-pause off now for no need for it at least for me. The race clock goes on!

    • Denny
      Denny says:

      You gotta do what works for you. There are times when it does make sense to stop/pause your watch, but I think in most cases most of us are better off just letting it run even when we stop for a moment during our workouts.


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