What should I look for in a "racing watch"? I see so many runners, at road races, with high-tech, slick looking wrist watches, and am interested in purchasing one. What are the benefits of running with a time-piece? - Timely Questioner
There are so many gadgets available on the market today which have the ability to monitor so many aspects of our locomotion. One wonders what true useful benefit these beeping electronic gizmos can provide. For the runner, these little "do-hickeys" usually take the form of a wrist watch, since we are unlikely to carry much more than a few ounces lest the overly weighted "running toy" inhibit our running velocity.
A quick review of any "Runners Gear" catalog will show that there are watches that will measure your heart rate, temperature, barometric pressure, altitude and compass direction. There are "ground positioning satellite" (GPS) receiver watches to track your every move upon the planets surface (including real time speed). Some watches allow you to download the collected data onto your computer, for easy graphical analysis. There are digital watches, analog watches, watches that you wind, run on batteries, self-recharge, and are solar-powered. Some watches are waterproof and submergible to depths approaching the Marianas Trench. There are watches that link up with your running shoes to measure stride and number of steps. There are watches that glow in the dark with liquid crystal high energy plasma read-outs and large character animated fonts.
Then there are the watches (and I am not kidding about this) with "built-in fitness coaches". I have not conducted extensive research into this particular feature, but I am told that through careful computer programming, this species of watch includes the ability to "nag" you into running faster and more efficiently and with a series of beeps, chirps and annoying alarms.
There are several brands of computer watches that can synchronize with your computer to download your address book, task list, schedule and notes for easy reference on the long run. A new technology called "SPOT" (Smart Personal Object Technology) allows some watches to receive information wirelessly through radio internet transmissions. Why you would need to know the score of your favorite ball game or the latest weather report while you are out running a marathon is anyone's guess... but, hey... it's your time.
And speaking of time...
There are the wrist watches that actually tell time! For runners, the most useful feature of these portable marvels include the ability to record "split times". The benefits of recording split times are helpful in the post analysis of your training runs and road races. For many, a strategy which includes running "negative splits" can be easily achieved by monitoring the pace per mile in the first half of a race, and increasing ones pace carefully during the second half. Using a time piece to monitor the early miles in a marathon helps us to "go out slower" than we might otherwise proceed in the excitement and pent up energy at the start of a race.
Personally (and since you asked) I would recommend a watch that is easy to read (large numerical face, possibly angled for effortless glancing on the run), has the ability to record at least 30 splits, and is weather-resistant for all the sweating and splashing your race adventures will bring. Take time to tell time, and you will improve your performance along the way.
Run long and taper.