Safety First1 of 6
For road runners, going tech-free is much safer than running with headphones in because you can hear cars and cyclists approaching from all directions. If trails are your thing, keeping your eyes on your footing rather than the pace or distance display on your wrist can help you avoid tripping or turning an ankle. And if your runs sometimes take you through dodgy neighborhoods or isolated back-country trails, using your eyes and ears to tune into your surroundings is a good idea. Bringing your phone along in case you need to call for help is smart, but your best bet for safety is to forget about those running apps and use your phone for emergencies only.
De-Stress2 of 6
Nothing wrecks a good run like obsessively checking your metrics. To get stress-busting benefits from running, turn off your tech, relax and enjoy your surroundings. This is an especially good idea when you run off-road because your trail pace will always be slower than your road pace, and fixating on that can make an otherwise pleasant run a bit of a bummer. To experience the joy than running can bring, simply get out in nature and move your body. You'll feel just like a kid again!
Fix Your Form3 of 6
Unless you've already got superb form, obsessing over pace is probably doing more harm than good. If you know what to look for, you can fix form issues by slowing down and really paying attention your body. Is your chest high and open? Are you landing on the front half of your foot? Does each foot land beneath you rather than out in front? Are you using your hip flexors to initiate the swing phase of your stride and your hip extensors to power through the push-off phase? Are your arms swinging relaxed and freely in a plane parallel to your forward motion? Are your hips swiveling enough? Too much? You can't possibly concentrate on all of that and worry about pace, distance and heart rate, too.
Avoid Overtraining4 of 6
Another pitfall of being a slave to the numbers is pushing your pace too often. Elite runners and coaches know that running around 80 percent of weekly training miles at a conversational pace is the best way to build aerobic fitness without over-stressing the body. So it's a good idea to leave your GPS watch at home and focus on your breathing and rating of perceived exertion (which should be around 5 or 6 out of 10). This can reduce the strain on your muscles and joints to help avoid any overtraining injury.
Be Sociable5 of 6
Analog socializing—face-to-face interaction with other people, remember?—is one of the big benefits running can offer, but it's tough to do if you're constantly looking at your GPS watch or when you've got headphones in. If you run with a buddy or a group, try going tech-free at least once a week, and use that run to really connect. It's a great way to be sure you're running at that conversational pace, and you'll get a social mood boost to boot.