Ever tried to pace yourself through a half marathon to break a magical 90 minute barrier, and gone off 20 seconds too fast in the first kilometre? How many times have you aimed for a PB in the marathon only to find you are running 5 – 10 seconds faster or slower than you thought you were?  And just how many of those Comrades runners manage to start at the right pace?
Well it could all be a thing of the past. Timex one of the worlds leading sports watch manufacturers, have produced a unit that takes all the guess work out of pacing and will provide the ideal training ‘partner’ for any runner, front middle or back of the pack.
Although it takes time to register with 3 of the 12 satellites hovering above us, the GPS unit is located and then movement is monitored so that it provides a read-out of an combination of pace, speed, and distance.  As with Heart Rate Monitors (HRM), the unit’s information is fed through to a watch using radio frequencies.
Every road, or field becomes a track, as its now possible to do your 400m or 800m repeats where checking the pace is as simple as a twist of the wrist. You don’t even have to wait for the next 100m mark or the end of a lap, its constantly there and is update every second.
A great way to do this is to set the watches countdown timer to the rep time required, and set the display to show distance. Simply run to cover the required distance before the alarm goes off, or work out the pace in minutes per kilometre and keep the watch displaying that figure. 
When marathon training and faces with a tempo’ run of 8 or 14 km at marathon pace, simply look at the watch and it will show either the time per km you are running or the speed in kilometres per hour. If you are one of those international running tourists and find yourself in a 3 mile race in America, or mile marked marathon, your pace is there for you to see – every step of the way- in kilometres per hour, or minutes and seconds per kilometre.
There are of course some disadvantages:- that early morning training route that you feel yourself flying over, on those rare occasions when the wind seems to be at your back, every road a downhill, and the fluency of running seems as easy as breathing. These are the runs we perceive as being longer (and faster) than they actually are, but now there is no disputing the distance, its right there in front of you –given to the nearest metre.
Trials over a number of calibrated distances indicate that this is accurate to around 4 m in every kilometre, as long as you ensure good battery power. The 3 batteries seem to last around 12 hours, but either low batteries or running with the unit obscured by trees or buildings from the sky can reduce the accuracy of the reading. There are 50 and 100 lap options for Ironman branded watch, which also has all the normal running watch features of lights, timers, alarms, and stopwatches. Although GPS will not work under water, ruling swimming out as a sport for monitoring the pace, both the unit and the watch are water-resistant so expect a more technical approach to canoe training for the Duzi and other major events.
GPS has just opened a brand new door on training, and not least in its application is the ability to ensure that those easy and slow runs are actually run at a slow energy saving and revitalising pace.

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