Should You Run Gadget-Free?

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Gadgets like GPS's definitely have a place in training. They help you learn what a certain pace feels like, and allow you to see your progress. But they can also distract you from paying attention to your body and surroundings and, worse, rob you of that post-run sense of accomplishment. "I can get really hung up on my numbers," says Jess Underhill, who coaches at Race Pace Wellness in New York City. "They can be really disappointing at times."

Underhill goes gadget-free (no music, no GPS, just a basic sports watch sometimes) for about five months a year, from the fall to the spring. "It's incredibly freeing to not be concerned about my pace and just remember how much I truly love to just run."

Unplugging means you tune into your body more keenly, and as a result, each run has the potential to leave a bigger imprint on your mind. The following lists reveal if you need the accessories, or should leave them at home. (For tips on how to make it through your runs without these gadgets, read Tech Time-Out.)


Useful when you?

  • Are doing a speed or tempo run so you can hit your numbers.
  • Want to learn what a certain pace feels like (be sure to pay attention to your body as well as the numbers).
  • Are figuring out how long a specific route is.

More: Is Your GPS Watch Accurate?