Running watches can be your best friend. They keep you honest, a gps watch can instantaneously show you the magical splits of the best race or workout of your life. They will make sure you get in the minute/hours or miles you were planning on going. Sometimes though, they can be your worst enemy. Familiarity with frequent run routes in conjunction with a glance at your watch will tell you some things that you don’t always want to know, “Oh no, I still have to go another 53minutes!”, “I’m only running 10:30’s! This is not my pace! I’m running like crap!”
When you feel really lousy, leave the watch at home. When you have all the time in the world, leave the watch at home. When you know how far the route is and don’t really care too much, sure, leave the watch home then too.
One reason we run is to maintain sanity, and yet we might run back and forth aimlessly for 20-30seconds like neurotic little slaves to time. Some of us rationalize “finishing it up”, I will say that when the run feels like it is done. Say it’s done. Maybe, speak the words out loud to yourself, and stop. Some days it will be longer or shorter. But just remind yourself, some days you will feel good and more relaxed. Those are the days you might run the extra .06miles or 47 seconds that you didn’t run two days ago.
You can focus on breathing, focus on your posture, tension of lower abdominal muscles, and improving your foot strike pattern. Think and feel your way through a route that you know and you will feel good about running. You don’t need to gauge progress and success on every run. If it feels like a day to leave the watch at home, do it. Your brain will thank you for it later.