In Brighton, on the beach, in the buff, the birthday suit, brass monkeys. Well almost. In running terms, what is better known as, not wearing a watch. 

In the week prior to the Brighton Half Marathon, I had a chat with friend Simon about the benefits of training and racing without a watch. Not being shackled by the constraints of time, finding out how fast I might really go? For how long I could comfortably maintain a level of discomfort without teetering over into the red? And so I thought I’d give going naked a go in Brighton, a liberal City that would surely welcome such shenanigans. 

And indeed there was something very liberating about 13 miles of nakedness. Of not being instructed as to how fast you are or aren’t running. Of panic as to how far you have, or have yet to, run. Instead I judged the race by effort, by how much I was exerting myself rather than 13 miles of fastidious clock watching. Low and behold, this new race plan was quite enjoyable! And I definitely took in more energy from the crowd than I have in other races as well as the sights. Of course some of the pitfalls of running for an extended period at threshold remain, i.e. the dreaded toilet break; had I not have encountered the need for relief I’m sure that a higher placing would have been obtained! 

Going into the World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff this weekend – a goal race for the year – I think I might revert to watch wearing. I don’t think I’ll follow it religiously, but I do think it will help given that a PB is very much the desired outcome of the race rather than for fitness, fun or frolic.

And I think this might be the case moving forward for me. If I’m racing I might wear a watch. If not, I’m definitely up for going naked more often. Who’s with me?

In Like the Wind Issue #8 (a fabulous read, you really should check it out!) Heidi Davies explores a similar idea. Of course her article, ‘The Power of Time’, is more considerately addressed and with a fair amount more craft and penmanship!

Like The Wind Issue #8 is available online from their shop or from all good retailers!

You can enter the 2017 Vitality Brighton Half Marathon on their website.




  1. March 24, 2016 / 8:54 am

    Nice post and I was very impressed with your time naked – don’t give up on it.

    Now what I would really advocate is a hybrid version. How about this for Cardiff – the first two or three miles using a watch to make sure you are on pace and then ditch the technology and run the rest of the distance locked in on pace, with the focus on catching the person in front? You will have to turn the watch off though – it’s almost impossible to run without taking a sneaky peak if you know your watch is running.

  2. March 24, 2016 / 8:18 pm

    Hope you enjoy Cardiff. It’s certainly interesting seeing what happens when you run without a watch. I think once my game-races are over in April I’ll try running with my watch going, but in a pocket / bag so I can look back at it afterwards and see if my perceived effort matches reality.

    I do find that sometimes it makes me push myself more as I’ll think I’m working hard but then see that my pace isn’t matching that, so I push harder. I suppose it depends if you naturally slack off or work too hard.

    Do you think it would be easier to go watch free when trail racing than when road racing?

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