Why being unable to run at the pace you planned to does not make that run a failure.
As we all know, weekends were invented to give runners time for our long runs. Some people prefer Saturdays, others prefer Sundays. I’ve used both and like them equally, but this week my long run was slated for Sunday.
So today I had a 20 mile run planned, and I wanted to have 2 sets of 4 miles at my projected marathon pace (MP) in that run, hopefully somewhere under 6:25/mi. I’m a proponent of some long and medium long runs having race pace miles worked into the mix. The purpose of this workout was to run long with a couple sections of fast miles, in order to exhaust me while also allowing me to complete that long distance.
I started out with 5 comfortable miles, then crushed the next 4 in about a 6:22 average as planned. It was tough, (and hot), but I spent the next 7 miles recovering, fueling (raisins YUM), and hydrating, and got started on my second set of 4 miles at MP. The first went alright, but the next two I just couldn’t get myself to keep the pace up, and about halfway through the final mile I gave up on trying to and settled into a slower pace for a bit, before pushing hard at the very end. I wanted to average around 6:22 again for these last 4 miles, but instead my mile splits at the end were 6:18, 6:48, 6:42, and 6:56.
So I failed… I couldn’t complete the workout as planned.
Just as I was starting to feel down on myself, sitting on a bench trying to catch my breath, exhausted, I thought about the purpose of this workout. The purpose was to go on a long run, with a couple of sections pushing the pace hard. I had a plan for what that pace should be, but in the grand scheme of things the purpose wasn’t to run those exact splits. I ran a long run, and there were two sections where I pushed the pace and was left exhausted, and that was the real goal of this workout.
There’s no way to know for sure what your body will be capable of on any given day. You can plan to run X miles at Y pace, but behind the scenes your body may have other plans.
Every workout should have a purpose, and you should do all you can to run with that purpose in mind. You can and should have a plan for your workout as well, but when things don’t go to plan, it’s not the end of the world. Your run wasn’t a failure just because you couldn’t do what you planned to do. You still went out there and ran, and that in and of itself is something you should be proud of. And if you ran with purpose, your run was a success.
The Apple Watch Series 1 is Apple’s second attempt in the smartwatch category. This review will be focusing on its capabilities as a run tracking watch when paired with Strava (as of Strava’s August 7th update, version 16.0.0). After owning this device for about a year now, I think I’m ready to give a thorough review of it in this regard.
As a quick disclaimer, this was my first activity tracker besides my phone, so I can’t compare it to other, more dedicated running watches like the ones Garmin and Tom Tom make. I do however understand that the Apple Watch has its limitations when compared to higher end fitness focused watches and trackers. That seems like a good place to start, let’s talk limitations.
The most obvious limitation of the Series 1 is its lack of built-in GPS. This means that you need to have it tethered to your iPhone to track your runs if you want it to track your distance and where you go. That right there can be a major deal breaker for some. Personally I like to keep my phone with me at all times so it hasn’t been an issue, but I can imagine the benefits and freedom of being able to go out for a run with nothing but a watch. The Apple Watch Series 2 added GPS, so if you’re interested in being able to use GPS without your phone then that device would be better suited for you.
The next major limitation when using this device as a run tracker is its battery life. Usually I can comfortably make it through a day without needing to charge, unless I went on a particularly long run that day. I estimate that if starting with a full charge, you’d be able to get about 6 hours of running in before it dies. Fortunately I haven’t gone on a run of that length. Combined with the battery drain from normal daily use though, if I go on a 2 or so hour run I might need to juice it up for a few minutes at some point during the day to ensure it can last me to the end of the day.
The Strava Apple Watch app has its own limitations. First of all, you can either start a run from the watch, or from your iPhone. If you start it from your phone you can’t track the progress on your watch, and the same goes for if you start it on your watch. They basically act completely independently from each other, except for the fact that you need your phone with you regardless of how you want to interact with Strava for GPS purposes. I always start my runs from the Watch app, but that comes with some drawbacks. My biggest complaint is the lack of audio feedback. That’s a feature you can only get if tracking the run from your phone instead of from the watch. Want a voice telling you how fast that last mile was? Too bad, for some reason that’s not possible. I’ve also had issues with non-voice split notifications. You can get notifications on your wrist after each mile, but half the time they never come through.
Another drawback of the Strava Apple Watch app is the touch interface. While this isn’t the fault of Strava, it is very difficult to interact with the app with sweaty fingers. Likewise, in rainy weather it’s virtually impossible to interact with the watch; better get used to bringing a rag with you (and have a way to keep it dry) if you want to run in the rain.
Wow, this post unintentionally turned into an airing of grievances. Based on what I’ve said so far you may think the Apple Watch isn’t useful at all as a run tracker. It does have a couple of redeeming qualities though (again, I’m specifically focusing on running related features).
The screen is beautiful, bright, and easy to read. Seeing the data it displays is a breeze, I have no problem glancing at my wrist to check my split pace or average pace (you can choose which it displays), total elapsed time, total distance, and current heart rate. And speaking of heart rate, the sensor has proven to be accurate, with only occasional glitches and misreadings.
The Apple Watch paired with the sport band is also very comfortable. I have nothing to compare it to, but I’ve had no discomfort and it’s very easy to put on and take off. Being able to rinse it off to clean it when it gets salty from sweat is handy as well.
Ultimately the Apple Watch Series 1 is useful as a run tracker, but most of its upside comes from its abilities as a smartwatch. I purposely didn’t talk about that side of it since this post is focused on running, but I may make a separate review of the watch if there’s any interest in that. So while there are a few aspects of the watch that make it good for running, there are more downsides. If you are looking for a device to be a dedicated run / fitness tracker and don’t really care about smartwatch features, you’re probably better off passing on the Apple Watch for now until they make some improvements in later iterations.
OFFICIAL ARBITRARY RATING:
(this rating was made of the Apple Watch as a running watch and not as a device as a whole)