Running Naked

Leave behind the GPS watch, not your clothes!


Words Michele Tan
Photos Unsplash and Pexels

I used to have many GPS watch models. I had so many such gadgets that I imagined I would never have to ever spend money repairing one as I could just replace it with another from my drawer.

After a major break-up with an ex-, my number of GPS watches somehow got entangled as part of the breakup settlement and dwindled down to just the one I wore on my wrist. And that one watch lasted a pretty long time until the touch screen and buttons stopped working altogether.

A visit to the service centre led me to the conclusion that I would have to take out a bank loan to have it repaired. Not wanting to strain my finances, I refused treatment for the watch (I’m so sorry!) and now he (yes, it’s a male) sits buried deep in a shoe box in my closet. Until I strike the lottery, it’s time to go back to basics – a simple watch with a simple stopwatch function.

Now that I don't have a GPS watch at my disposal, I need to convince myself that it is not a major setback and that life goes on even without the previously considered essential gadget. Here are some of the reasons that I have come up with for not using such a gadget:

It's less painful on the wallet

After forking out a hefty sum to buy the GPS watch and we all are aware that gadgets tend to breakdown just right after the warranty period, you might be obliged to spend even more to have it fixed because you have already invested so much initially. A simple stopwatch is cheaper to replace entirely if it breaks down.

You do not need to keep it charged up

There were so many times when I have to delay a training run just to get my watch charged at least over 30 per cent for a mere one hour run. A stopwatch based wristwatch is practically maintenance-free, and would only need to have its coin shaped battery replaced once every year or so.

It's hardly accurate over the track

I always thought that certain running tracks in Singapore were under-distanced by 15-30 metres every 1000m. It turns out that it usually takes longer for the GPS signal to track around a corner than it is for me to run it. Whereas a stopwatch plus the track will be 100 per cent accurate, every time.

It makes you a better track runner

You usually won't be able to afford a few seconds to glance at your watch every 400m or kilometre, therefore racing on track by feel and knowing when to push during a tactical race could be your best strategy to finish strong. It's a learned skill mastered over years of running various workouts on the track just by feel.

Thick trees and tall buildings are your enemies

So many times the distance and pace recorded during a city or trail race differs from one runner to another, if the watch picks up any signal at all. Don't let such things hinder you from enjoying the shadows and coolness of temperature that the skyscrapers and trees give you.

You are finally running to the tune of your body by time and effort

We have been told to listen to the body when running so that overtraining and running injuries could be avoided if detected early. Now it's your chance to put it into practice. You will be less likely to drop out of a half or the full marathon as you will tend to reel yourself back if you feel you are going way too fast for the first half of the race. Running according to feel would also meant that you are not pressured to hit a target pace every km.

Internal data is better than GPS data

Bad data equals bad decisions and bad data comes about if it doesn't correspond to how you are feeling during a run. A faulty pace data can encourage you to run faster than you should, leading to all kinds of needless injuries. There are some coaches out there that loathe heart rate monitors, preferring their athletes to instead pay attention to their respiration, cadence and gauge their speed according to the passing landscape.

That chunky and large wrist accessory is gone

When GPS watches first started to come about, colleagues once wondered why I was wearing a ‘diving watch’ to work. They tend to be uncomfortable on my small wrist and it was not always a snug fit. As soon as I begun wearing a normal stopwatch again, it was as if a huge weight was lifted off me, literally and figuratively, which brings me to my next point...

It's nice to take a break from technology now and then

Because now I am also no longer accountable to my watch tracking my every move, I feel more relaxed - which is what running ought to make us feel anyway. Our busy lives may tend to rob us of the only enjoyment we could afford ourselves, so it's kind of liberating to be cut-off from civilisation at least for a while.

So, this list is either very useful to the protagonist of the unwired, uncomplicated world because you are unlikely to see a member of the famed running tribe, the Tarahumaras, run with a GPS watch, or it could be the rantings of a disgruntled runner trying to plot a way to get sponsorship for a GPS watch!


RUN Singapore aims to be a complete resource for Singaporean runners and marathoners of all ages and abilities. With its continuing efforts, the website seeks to uncover the latest news, information and expert advice to motivate runners to run efficiently, train intelligently and lead a balance life. If you have enjoyed a good read with RUN Singapore magazine, be enticed further as we unleash more running content to feed your running needs.



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RUN Singapore is the first flagship title created by Bold Ink Magazines in 2012. Positioned as the only running magazine in Singapore, the publication has since built its strong reputation within the running/sports industry. With almost 80% of all leading sports brands advertising with the magazine and a fast growing subscriber base, the publication is set to be the leading running magazine in the region.


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