The Great Garmin Debate

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Do you or don’t you?


What are your personal rules for timing yourself on a run?


  • Do you stop your watch at traffic lights?
  • Do you stop your watch when you walk?
  • Do you stop your watch to stretch?
  • Do you stop your watch the take Goo on long runs?
  • Do you never, ever, EVER stop your watch at all?


Runners have some really strong opinions on the Great Garmin/Stopwatch Debate!


Generally, I let the clock run when I walk, drink, or stretch. I think stopping the watch to walk is kind of cheating.  But if I’m forced to stop by a situation outside my control (say, at a traffic light), I stop my watch


What’s your opinion?



  • Kim September 9, 2009, 1:18 pm

    I do not stop my watch at stop lights or to take Gu/gel or anything really. I guess if I had to wait a light for more than a few seconds, I might, but I run so early that it hasn't been necessary. Now that it is staying dark later, I may have to start.

  • Caleb September 9, 2009, 1:20 pm

    I was recently wondering this myself. I went for a run the other day that crossed a traffic light and I stopped the clock but about half way through felt guilty for some reason and started it back up.

    I also stopped briefly for water on this run, for that I didn't stop the clock since I figured in a race the clock won't stop for that, so why stop it then?

  • Help Meghan Run September 9, 2009, 1:21 pm

    Interesting! I have no Garmin, but run with a watch and Nike+ iPod. The Nike+ keeps going the whole time so I can see my total time, but I stop my watch any time I'm not making forward progress (so water stops but NOT walking) so I can see the time it took for me to literally travel the distance. Make sense? πŸ™‚

  • Leianna September 9, 2009, 1:21 pm

    Same for me, if I stop because of traffic, cars or other people then I stop it otherwise I let it go when getting water or shot bloks.

  • katie September 9, 2009, 1:22 pm

    i usually don't stop my "watch" [ipod in my case ;)] when i have to stop at all, but for how many lights i often have to stop at when i'm running, and sometimes for long periods of time [i run around brooklyn], the time adds up and i probably should.

  • Tiffany September 9, 2009, 1:23 pm

    This is a great question. I rarely stop my watch. I run mainly through neighborhoods, however I do come across a few road intersections, only one has an actual light. When I have to stop in these situations I continue to let me clock run. Like Kim said, if I had to stop for more than the few seconds I have been stopping, then maybe I would.

  • Ryane September 9, 2009, 1:24 pm

    I'm with you…. if I walk, that time is counted in my workout/run.
    If I was standing waiting for a stoplight longer than a couple seconds then I stop the clock.

  • brandi September 9, 2009, 1:24 pm

    I never stop my watch, but I don't have to worry about stoplights where we run, so IF i stop it's to walk for a bit or take a drink, etc.

  • Project 55 September 9, 2009, 1:25 pm

    I have auto-pause set up so if I stop at a light it pauses…I run through central London, my pace would be destroyed otherwise!

    I wouldn't stop it for walking/stretching/refuelling breaks since that's all stuff that I might do during a race whereas traffic is only a training issue.

    I stopped it once when I chose to walk up a massive hill instead of running it and I felt SOOO guilty!!

    – CJ

  • Heather September 9, 2009, 1:25 pm

    I only stop mine if it's a long light & just turned red. There are lots in our city that we pass since we run in the downtown area. But if it's just a few seconds to wait for a car or two to pass then no.

  • aron September 9, 2009, 1:27 pm

    i definitely stop my garmin (or it pauses itself with autopause) at stop lights or if i have to refill water or use the bathroom… but i typically drink and gu while running so those dont really factor in anyways.

  • Meg September 9, 2009, 1:27 pm

    I stop my watch for everything!I think I get a little too competitive with myself:)I am anal when it comes to timing my runs!

  • Elsa September 9, 2009, 1:27 pm

    I stop my watch if I just caught a light, but if it looks like it will be changing in a couple of seconds I will let it go. I also stop it when I am taking a drink of water. But for the most part I keep it going.

  • Tea Time September 9, 2009, 1:28 pm

    I try not to stop my Garmin because I always forget to start it up again. That happened to me alot when I first got the Garmin but I am better at it now but I still try to leave it running the whole time.

  • Meghann September 9, 2009, 1:29 pm

    I let my Garmin run for walking and when I fuel, but I usually contine to run as I am chomping down. I do stop it when I am waiting at a stop light or at traffic of any kind where I am sitting there for longer then a few seconds.

  • Meganerd September 9, 2009, 1:30 pm

    Reasons I stop my Garmin=
    -tie my shoe
    -stop for traffic lights (not just a pause)
    -stopping for your friend that wants to walk/eat goo/stretch/etc. (not my choice)

    Reason's I don't stop=
    -drink water
    -walk (my choice)
    -popping goo in my mouth
    -quick stretch

  • Ali September 9, 2009, 1:30 pm

    I don't stop it at traffic lights. Way too much stop and start for me! I will stop it if I walk though. I don't take gu or gel because my runs are never long enough to, although I am slowly working on my distance.

  • Lori September 9, 2009, 1:31 pm

    I have my Garmin set so it will pause when I am not moving. There are times I have to wait for lights or crossing guards so it is nice that it automatically stops for me. I don't "stop" for water or gu and I would never stop it if I had to take a walk break. Interesting how everyone has their own way they like to do things.

  • Jessica September 9, 2009, 1:33 pm

    I do not stop my garmin to walk, drink water or stretch either. Like you, I do stop for traffic lights.

  • Happy Feet 26.2 September 9, 2009, 1:37 pm

    For me, it depends. If I want to get an idea of my "running pace" I start it and stop it. Most of the time, when I run solo, I do stop and start it. I do not have a lot of stops other than water. I Gu on the run, and I do not have a lot of lights. I try to drink fast, and start back running. When I run with someone else it varies, but I find it hard to operate my Garmin and talk so typically I may start out starting and stopping it, but get lost in the conversation and ALWAYS πŸ™ mess it up somewhere along the way. So lately, when running with someone, I try not to start and stop it.

  • Lisa September 9, 2009, 1:39 pm

    I definitely don't stop the watch for short, uncontrollable breaks. My heart's still pumping hard at that point, so it still counts!

  • haya September 9, 2009, 1:39 pm

    i only stop my watch at stop lights to cross streets. this would never happen in a race, so i think it's ok to stop. if i have to walk or drink or do anything else, clock goes on, just as it would in a race.
    i wouldn't stop my watch to consume gel or any other drink because i usually continue running while i do this (the container that i have my gel in doesn't require me to stop to rip off the top or anything)

  • -Keep Breathing September 9, 2009, 1:39 pm

    Wow. Someone has to be first to admit it, I guess – so honestly, I pause my watch (well, Nike+ Sportband) when I walk. I make comments on the runs later – like walked a lot or ran 3/4 mile intervals…but I, personally, want to keep track of my time running, not my whole time exercising/cooling down/etc. I do try to keep moving at traffic lights, though, and don't stop it then. Guess I'm opposite!

  • Jogger September 9, 2009, 1:40 pm

    Mine is set so that it pauses when I'm not moving, and only stop moving entirely when I'm at stop lights. That way, walking, GUing, etc., count towards my total time. The interesting thing is that even if you have your watch set to stop when you're not moving, then you stop to stretch, the Garmin keeps track of how long you're stopped, so you can take that into consideration in your total time if you want. It tells all of that information when you plug it into your puter and upload your run.

  • Glo September 9, 2009, 1:40 pm

    I only stop my Garmin for stop lights and general traffic situations thaþ are out of my control. You can't stop the clock to Gu, walk, or chug some water during a race so the same should go for training. You get pretty good at efficiently refueling this way!

  • Heather September 9, 2009, 1:41 pm

    I stop my watch when I have to cross a street/wait for a traffic light and when I have to do something like tie my shoe. Otherwise I keep the watch going while I take walk breaks. The other day though I forgot to start my watch up after tying my shoe -I was mad!

  • J September 9, 2009, 1:42 pm

    I only stop my watch for bathroom breaks. My water/walk/traffic light breaks are never that long, plus I am pretty sure I would forget to restart it! Plus, in most cases I don't care how accurate my splits are. I can usually tell the miles in which I stopped for one reason or another.

  • Nobel4Lit September 9, 2009, 1:42 pm

    I don't stop my watch unless I am deliberately taking a break (not even walking, ie. potty) for more than a minute, but lights, water, etc., that thing is on. Mostly this is because I just want to know my pace and how long I've been "out."

  • Shelly September 9, 2009, 1:44 pm

    I have a Garmin and I stop my watch if I have to wait for someone (I run a mile to a park where I meet my running buddies), and if I have to wait in line to get water. If I just run up to the fountain, I leave it running. If I take a walk break where I am clearly meandering (sometimes I walk from the track to the front of the park for a break)I pause it, but then I run further to get my total distance in since my Garmin doesn't count the distance I walked while paused. I don't pause it for traffic but I did pause it once when I had to wait for a train to cross.
    I do think that fewer pauses are better b/c once I pushed the start button but didn't push hard enough and it didn't turn back on. I noticed it after a mile and a half and was pretty bummed out.

  • Lizzy September 9, 2009, 1:46 pm

    I agree, i stop my watch when at traffic lights or being stopped for something similar.

  • runnerskitchen September 9, 2009, 1:58 pm

    I usually stop my watch for traffic lights and bathroom stops, but that's it. Actually…I had to use a port-a-potty during the NYC marathon and decided not to stop my watch. It only took me 45 seconds!

  • Matt September 9, 2009, 1:58 pm

    I pretty much let it run for anything. Because even if a stop wasn't intentional, it's still rest. And when I'm looking back later at my progress, I want to know exactly what I did. Plus my training this time is very specific with timing, and I figure I should err on the side of going too fast than too slow.

    And when you leave the watch running, you can know that you did better than your time reflects! A 7-minute mile plus a minute rest is much harder than an even 8 minute mile.

  • Kate September 9, 2009, 1:59 pm

    I stop my watch whenever I'm not running! I am interested in the pace and distance I cover in the time I spend running. I also think stopping the watch helps by allowing me to take the time I need to pee, or pause or stretch (I don't ever walk when I run though).

    And, because my plan is minutes-based, I am interested in making sure I am RUNNING for the right amount of minutes.

    Sure, in a race the clock won't stop. But in a race, I don't stop either!

  • Lisa September 9, 2009, 2:05 pm

    I stop it at stop lights but since I usually run in the park, it doesn't effect me often. I also stop it at drinking fountains and for the restroom on long runs but not if I just take a walk break since I'm still covering distance.

    I've often wondered what others do. Good questions!

  • Hi! I'm Erin September 9, 2009, 2:13 pm

    When I was training for my first half marathon I had my Garmin on auto-pause so it stopped any time I stopped. I think it gave me a really skewed idea of how fast I could run the race and I ended up going out way too fast and bonked early. Now, I don't stop it at all unless I get stuck at the one really long light on my long run path.

  • Taylor September 9, 2009, 2:13 pm

    I stop at stop lights, etc. But I don't stop it to walk or drink water or whatever. It only adds a few seconds on.

  • Jessica September 9, 2009, 2:19 pm

    I don't stop my watch – I use a watch and Nike+ and the nike+ doesn't stop so why should I stop my watch. I want to know how long it takes me water stops and all, especially since during a race it doesn't stop.

  • jack+alli September 9, 2009, 2:22 pm

    i dont have a garmin, but i do have a nike+ipod. when i did my 1/2marathon, i was running at a track so i never had to stop. if i wanted water i'd run to where my bottle was and drink and run at the same time.
    if i do a short neighborhood run and come to a red light, i will turn around and run a little ways then turn back the direction i was going, usually the light is green by the time i get there.
    i guess i'm not much of a fan of stopping. πŸ™‚

  • Sheri September 9, 2009, 2:32 pm

    The only time I stop my Garmin Miles is at traffic lights. Otherwise I just let him run.

  • Carolina John September 9, 2009, 2:33 pm

    bah, the clock doesn't stop during a race.

    i'll stop the garmin if i have to break for a little bit, like to refill a water bottle. you don't normally have to do that during a race. my problem is that i forget to start it back again until after i'm already moving.

  • Kelly September 9, 2009, 2:49 pm

    I agree with Carolina John – The clock doesn't stop during the race. I rarely stop my garmin. I want my training runs to reflect my entire run accurately and that includes walking. I think stopping your garmin or letting it autostop is giving you a false pace during your run.

  • Stephanie (Surviving Chicago) September 9, 2009, 3:10 pm

    I don't have a Garmin, but I imagine if I did I would only stop it at places like stoplights and such. If you are racing and stop to eat, go to the bathroom, etc., the clock doesn't stop for you there…so why should you stop it when you're training? Just my thoughts.

  • Kath September 9, 2009, 3:13 pm

    Agreed. I stop if I am not moving (stoplights) but not if I have to walk.

  • Abby (Nibble, Nourish, Run) September 9, 2009, 3:23 pm

    No stopping the stop watch at stop lights. Although sometimes I don't mind those long lights…ah the trials and tribulations of a running rookie…

  • Paige September 9, 2009, 3:42 pm

    I stop my watch whenever I am not running…like if I have to take a bathroom break or stop at a traffic light. I also wear my Garmin whenever I run unless it is on the treadmill or the track. My rule though is not to look at the time until I hit stop at the end. I always run according to how I feel, and then check the time at the end. Sometimes I am pleasantly surprised, because I felt like I was running slow (when it was actually fast), and other times I feel fast because I was fast! You get the picture. Either way (for the good or bad), I like to know my time.

  • skinnyrunner September 9, 2009, 4:12 pm

    i stop it whenever im not running, a stop light, to tie my shoes, whatever it is, knowing that in a race the time doesnt stop. but i always race faster than training times so im okay with it. doesnt keep me up at night πŸ™‚

  • Jenna September 9, 2009, 4:18 pm

    i think you should stop your garmin when you stop but not for walking, that is exercise πŸ™‚

  • Lainie September 9, 2009, 4:24 pm

    I try to stop mine at stoplights and stuff, but sometimes I forget. What a funny topic – I always wonder what others do, so this is great!

  • Amy September 9, 2009, 4:32 pm

    I just use a regular sports watch so I don't actually set a timer. I just keep track of the time I started and the time I stopped. I don't stop it when I stretch or walk. I think if I were running to actually train for something I might. I run for time not miles so if I wanted to actually run 45 minutes I might not stop the watch but I'd keep track of how long I personally stopped for so at the end I'd know that even if my watch says 55 minutes I'd have actually run for only 45 minutes.

  • Chic Runner September 9, 2009, 4:33 pm

    I stop my watch if I'm stopping for more than a minute, but it also depends on what kind of run I'm trying to accomplish as well. It's quite the debate!

  • Matt September 9, 2009, 4:38 pm

    I pretty much never stop, but if I do I it has an auto pause feature. I drink and take gels while I am running. I usually try and run through the lights πŸ™‚

  • Rachel September 9, 2009, 4:39 pm

    I was totally just thinking of this on my run earlier.

    I only stop for the traffic lights that I know are going to be quite long (i.e. 20 sec. + … actually, that's not that long is it!). Otherwise, I feel any other stoppage is kind of cheating!

    But in regards to your 09/09/09 post (which is brilliant btw, isn't the whole 9 thing too cool!?) Yes… the Garmin IS the BEST EVER.

  • Siobhan September 9, 2009, 4:45 pm

    I usually always stop my watch whenever I stop running. If its a short light I'll keep my watch running and jog in place. And I've never tried goo's because I usually don't like to carry anything with me on my runs. That being said my watch died the other day so I've been running with my cellphone in hand!

  • chandra September 9, 2009, 4:55 pm

    I'm like you, if I stop to walk, stretch, or have water I keep the clock ticking. I feel like those are things I'd be doing during a race, so it will help me better predict my finish time.

    But if I have to stop because of a light or something out of my control I stop the watch.

  • Julia September 9, 2009, 5:10 pm

    I base my runs on time, so I always stop my watch when I am a traffic light, water, walk, etc. I don't have a Garmin or Nike+ ipod yet – I haven't decided yet which to get!

  • Courtney September 9, 2009, 5:24 pm

    I use a polar heart rate monitor and never stop it although this came up during biking the other day as we cross lots of busy roads that can have long lights. But I probably won't pause it…knowing me I'd forget to turn it back on and be salty then!!!

  • stefe1202 September 9, 2009, 5:27 pm

    What is the point of stopping your watch because if you are running a 5k, 10k, half marathon or marathon they are not stopping the clock. If you want to get the best judge of your time you shouldn't be stopping your watch. They don't do it on race day for you.

  • Lauren September 9, 2009, 5:41 pm

    Hmm, I never thought to stop it because I didn't think it would start back up to the point where I left off, and then it would just make me mad.

    I guess it makes sense to do this in those situations, but I guess it's all a matter of if you are really concerned with the times or not.

  • Susan September 9, 2009, 5:43 pm

    I'm the same as you, but I use a Polar and Nike+iPod combo. I never turn off the Polar, but I'll pause the iPod if I have to wait more than 5 seconds for traffic. I always let it run when I take walk breaks though. That's part of my "run!"

  • platipus329 September 9, 2009, 5:59 pm

    I stop it when I stop running(and sometimes it stops itself). Fortunately I haven't had to stop and walk so that hasn't been an issue, but I think if that happened I'd keep it going since that's how I'm exersising at that moment wether I like it or not

  • Oh She Glows September 9, 2009, 5:59 pm

    I'm the same as you..I let it run to take goo, water, or walk breaks…I stop it for a traffic light…although luckily I dont have any of those near me πŸ™‚

  • emily September 9, 2009, 6:04 pm

    I don't have a Garmin, but I do have an opinion πŸ™‚ Walk breaks, ponytail fixing, goo eatings – all things you would do during a race and therefore the time should keep running. Things that will not occur during a race/that you do not choose or control – like traffic lights – the time should stop for.

  • Lindsay September 9, 2009, 6:40 pm

    When I run with my buddy, my watch runs for the duration, and hers stops for stretches/water cooler stops. Walking and crossing streets/lights the clock still runs. Then we compare to see what our run time versus total time was, trying to keep stops to a minimum.

    When I run alone, I stop my watch whenever I stop moving, if I'm running with my iPhone I don't stop the mapmyrun app except at the finish. If I had a garmin I would let it run start to finish.

  • Melissa September 9, 2009, 7:08 pm

    I don't stop my watch at all. Yesterday I had to wait twice for traffic to pass so I could cross the street. My time ended up being a minute over what I usually run, but I was going for distance anyway.

  • Meg C. September 9, 2009, 7:47 pm

    I never stop the watch, unless for some reason I get stuck somewhere and have to stop. Otherwise, it's cheating! And it's too much work to stop it at stop lights, etc. at least for me.

  • Meg C. September 9, 2009, 7:47 pm

    I don't stop the clock for anything. unless I suppose I have to stop running for more than a few seconds. It'd be too much work to stop it at stoplights, etc.

  • Joelle (The Pancake Girl) September 9, 2009, 8:12 pm

    Yup, I always stop my Garmin if I stop running for a relatively sufficient amount of time for some reason while I'm out, but more for keeping track of actual running miles over walking miles in the final tally.

  • RunToFinish September 9, 2009, 10:28 pm

    i didn't want a garmin forever cause I thought I would be addicted…and I am!

    mine has auto pause and auto resume based on your movement and I like it

  • Jessica September 10, 2009, 1:19 am

    When I use my HRM I never stop it because that stops it entirely, but I kept track of how much time I spend stuck at lights, or other things out of my control (like bathroom breaks). That way I at least have an accurate idea of my pace for the actual run (If I had a Garmin, I wouldn't need to!). I usually include time spent walking, stretching, etc.

  • HangryPants September 10, 2009, 3:40 am

    for some reason stopping the watch seems like cheating to me!!!

  • eurydice September 10, 2009, 5:05 am

    I never stop my watch. Once I did and thought I pushed restart but didn't… then my timing was off the whole time. I just go with the flow and let it run.

  • catruns September 10, 2009, 5:28 am

    I stop my watch whenever I stop for stoplights because I feel like it screws up my average pace if I don't. When I walk I try to remember to switch to a new lap for the same reason. I'm trying to get a little faster so being able to see how fast I actually run, without it factoring in stopping and walking, is important to me.

  • Jess September 10, 2009, 5:33 am

    I rarely stop my Garmin. If you're really trying to figure out what your timing is, for say a marathon, you have to take into account water stops, bathroom breaks, etc. You'll never get a realistic time if you're constantly stopping your watch.

  • lilveggiepatch September 10, 2009, 7:00 am

    I stop my watch when I get back to my house to stretch. I come across a LOT of traffic lights (NYC running is not always ideal…) and it would take forever to keep turning it on and off!

  • Laura@FindingAHealthyBalance September 10, 2009, 8:14 am


    You are so lucky to have such a cool husband! And, so cute…..I really enjoyed his post last night!

    =) Laura

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