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As I passed the 12-mile mark at a recent fifty percent marathon, I glanced down at my watch and grinned.

” I’m on pace to complete in 1:45,” I thought. “Sweet!”

Seven mins and also change later on, 1:45 came and went as well as I was still running.


At completion of the race, according to my Garmin watch, I had run 13.4 miles.

I considered it some more. My watch beeped and ringinged as I hit each of the initial couple of mile markers previously in the race. Yet as I obtained additionally along, something happened and also I started running greater than the advertised race range. My watch would seem the alarm that I had actually run an additional mile prior to I crossed the indication along the training course. By the time I got to mile 12, I had to do with a 3rd of a mile off.

Race distances hardly ever sit, as they’re established up with the newest technology called the adjusted bike approach. Jim Gerweck, a USATF program certifier based in Connecticut, stated the approach has been in place given that the early 1970s and involves using a bike furnished with a counter that keeps in mind each time the wheel makes a revolution. At the end of the ride, some math estimations are made as well as the training course distance is disclosed. The option is ridden 4 times, as well as then, once the range is found out, 2 even more times. The much shorter path of those last 2 trips is the last distance.

Knowing this, there was no question the race I did was 13.1 miles, since it was a USATF-certified course. However, to be candid, I was discouraged. Exactly how was it feasible that I ran a 3rd of a mile even more than I should have? Did I not take the fastest course along the course? Perhaps I should have taken some walkways and reduced via some front grass.

” Training courses are gauged along the Shortest Feasible Path (SPR), which means cutting all the tangents, etc.,” Gerweck said. “Nevertheless, like a track race, the running training course is specified as being 30 centimeters from the curb. Unless especially permitted, going inside this line would be cutting the program and premises for DQ.”

Taking the SPR, nonetheless, is more challenging compared to you might assume– even for skilled specialists, Gerweck said.

The various other problem at play here is GPS watches. They all interact with satellites to establish rate as well as distance, but points like cloud cover, thick crowds, structures as well as a high concentration of GPS machines can affect their accuracy. Still, it’s finest to attempt and take the SPR during a race– that indicates embracing the aesthetic around edges and also keeping away from zig-zagging excessive. One more possible concern, although less common, is individuals starting their watches prematurely or stopping them also late. Heck, I forgot to stop mine after finishing a 5K a couple of weeks ago. Always make certain to start your watch when you cross the surprising line, not when the gun goes off and you’re back in the beginning corral.

I spoke to triathlon coach and race director David Glover, who mentioned my issue in the context of a multisport race. Triathlons are harder to measure accurately due to the fact that the whole training course is more varied and also has more area for mistake– such as the swim training course, which is nearly impossible to swim on the straightest line, in addition to shift locations, turn-arounds, and so on.

” The very best method to stick to the distance is to recognize the program, swim straight in between the buoys as well as stay on program,” stated Glover, MS, CSCS, developer of ENDURANCEWORKS training strategies and also race director for the Luray Triathlon. “Lots of professional athletes do not sight well so they swim additional. Athletes additionally make errors by either going off program or doing an inaccurate number of loops– either too several or as well few– on a looped course. Know the course.”

The lesson below is basic: Begin and also quit your GPS view at the correct times, take the shortest option you could while remaining on the program and, at the end of the day, don’t put all your stock right into the watch on your wrist. It’s simply a gizmo.