Doubting the distance of a race course.
|My GPS watch at the Tufts 10k|
I’ve been seeing this a lot lately and this really bugs me. Have you ever crossed the finish line of a 5k and your GPS watch reads 5.2 miles? Or you run your first half marathon in 13.15 miles? Do not blame the race course! If a course is USATF certified, it is in fact a true race distance even if your GPS watch reads otherwise. A.) GPS watches are not 100% accurate (see below) and B.) Courses are measured by the tangents or the shortest route from Point A to Point B. That extra 0.1 miles could be that you took a wide turn or zig-zagged in the middle of the road or because or veered off at a water stop. In the next couple of months you’ll see the New York Marathon & Marathon Olympic Trials on TV. Watch the elites as the pack moves as one from one side of the road to the other as they approach different turns. In a big race, the roads are often crowded making it impossible for the non-elites to run the tangents but do your best and run smart. Look ahead at what’s coming on the course and make decisions based on the turns and traffic flow of the other runners. And please, don’t complain on social media about a USATF certified course being too long!
Relying too heavily on your GPS watch.
I admit it, I can be one of these people. I cannot stop running at 3.9 miles or 4.1 miles. It has to be 4.0 miles. This isn’t totally what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the people that are so focused on pace and distance that it’s actually distracting their run. It’s kind of funny when I’m out running with a group of people and someone asks what pace does your watch say. My Nike GPS might say 8:00 while Garmin #1 says 8:15 and Garmin #2 says 8:20. I personally know my watches “current pace” is usually 10-15 seconds faster than what it will read at the mile split. I plan my workouts and pacing around that. I don’t stress over the inaccuracy. (I DID get annoyed when I lost satellite signal at mile 5 of the Chicago Marathon though!) I said it before: GPS watches are not 100% accurate. A GPS watch tracks your run by a series of dots that sync up with satellites miles and miles away and those dots have a 10 foot margin of error. I recently heard that the faster you ran, the more accurate they are—but I didn’t find any data on that. But anyways, a 10 foot margin of error. That’s big! Especially if it’s a 10 foot margin of error for a 26.2 mile distance! GPS watches can be an excellent training tool but don’t let distances or current pace distract you from what you are actually out there doing—running!
To be continued...