Marathon race days are stressful enough. From the early start and making sure you've eaten the right foods, to staying hydrated and getting to the start line on time, it's the little details that can pile on the pressure.
So the last thing you need is the added worry of whether your running watch and fitness tracking wearables are going to perform on the day. Luckily there are a few simple things you can do to turn your running tools to your advantage.
Here's how to make sure you're using wearable tech to hit peak performance come marathon day.
Fire it up early to get a quick GPS fix
Don't wait until sixty seconds before the gun goes off to trigger your watch to get a GPS fix. The majority of new running watches work by caching your last location to speed up getting a fix the next time you want to use it.
It pays to get a first GPS lock the minute you arrive at the race start line. Fire it up, wait for it to get a fix and then switch it off to save power. That way, in theory you shouldn't have to wait too long to get the final fix right before the race start.
Check out our pick of the best GPS running watches if you can't decide which one to pick up.
Set your watch screen the night before
Good GPS watches will let you customise the information on the screen. It sounds obvious to say it but making sure you've got the right info where you can see it is vital. The three most important stats you'll be needing come race day are Current Pace, Heart Rate and Distance.
If you can get all three on the first screen great, if not then make sure you know how to easily cycle through the screens to minimise distractions while you run. All of these little things help to keep you focused on getting your pace right and sticking to your race plan.
Match your playlist to pace (and pain)
There are plenty of apps that can generate playlists to match your pace, syncing your foot strike rate with the bpms of the best tunes. This can work really well but while beat matching is one thing, it's also smart to think about what kind of backing track you're going to need at the different stages during the race.
Run to the beat: Best running and smartwatches with music playback
The first six miles are all about easing in, while the middle fourteen are when you're grinding it out, before you hit that final six miles where inspiration is going to be key. Match your music to your mood not just the beat. Think about the moments when a change of pace on your playlist, or an amusing song, can help you change gear or lift struggling spirits.
Also factor in having your wearable and smartphone fully charged. It seems like an obvious one, but if you're planning to drain the battery en route to the start line, you could be short of tunes to help push your through the last few miles.
Use heart rate to run a smart race
Whether it's optical heart rate on the wrist or a chest strap, a lot of people use heart rate monitoring to fine tune their training but then ditch it when race day comes, fearing it can be a distraction or preferring to 'run by feel'. However, keeping tabs on your dicky ticker's intensity can help you run a smarter race, avoiding some of the classic mistakes like over cooking it in the first few miles.
Running with wearables
- The essential guide to heart training zonesHow to use your heart rate monitor or running watch to supercharge your training
- How to stay injury free with wearable techOur pick of the best wearable tech to prevent those knocks and strains
- How to use your running watch for interval trainingGetting the most from your GPS wearable for high intensity interval training
If your heart rate is topping out 160bpm at mile three, chances are you've gone off too quickly. On the other hand if you're coasting along at 110 come mile 23, it's a good sign you've got a lot more to give. Keeping an eye on which zone you're in can help you run the perfect race by avoiding redlining over your lactate threshold too soon.
Set an alarm for feeding time
Getting your nutrition and hydration tactics right are vital on race day if you're going to avoid hitting the wall or suffering the dreaded cramp. There are various schools of thought about how frequently you should be squeezing down a carb gel or drinking water but most of the theories at least agree about one thing, remembering to take fuel on little and often is important.
If your GPS running watch comes with an interval alarm, set this to remind you when it's gel time. It gives you one less thing to worry about and ensures you won't miss refuelling thanks to any marathon brain fog that might roll in as you tire.
Let friends and family track your progress
Not all tracking watches feature this function but if you're lucky enough to own something like the Garmin Foreunner 935 or Forerunner 235, you can pair it with your smartphone and use the Live Tracking mode to beam your marathon position direct to the web.
Once a LiveTrack session has started, anyone you invite via email, Facebook or Twitter will receive a link to a webpage that includes the position of your phone or connected running watch. They'll also be able to track your time elapsed, distance, speed and elevation in real time. And if you have any ANT+ sensors, they also can see that data, such as heart rate or cadence.
Auto share your achievement on social
Let's be honest, the minute you cross the finish line (and for quite a few minutes after) you're going to have enough on your hands trying to keep your lungs from coming out of your mouth. Tweeting and Facebooking the fact you're over the line safe isn't going to be top of your list.
With devices like the Apple Watch Series 2 running the Nike+ Running app, you can set up auto activity posting to most of the major social networks, letting the tech do the bragging bit while you concentrate on how you keep that silver blanket on your shoulders while carrying that banana you know you're never going to eat.
Popular running apps, such as Strava and Runkeeper, are very smartwatch-friendly now too - so there's no need to rely on your phone.