Poll: Do You Avoid the Clock When You Exercise?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I loved teaching Spinning classes at my alma mater's recreation center. The equipment was state of the art, the sound system was superb, and the students packed into my 6 p.m. classes and loved the challenge of a 60-minute ride. There was just one clock hanging in the room—off to the side and behind most of the bikes—yet there was a handful of students who would ask me to remove the clock from the wall during class. I guess they didn't want to look at it during class, but couldn't stop themselves from doing so. When you're working out and you don't absolutely love to do so, it can be downright discouraging to feel like you've put a dent into your workout goal, only to look up at the clock and see that you're not even a quarter of the way through. Ugh.

Where I teach now, there is no clock hanging in the Spinning room at all. The only clock available is lying on the floor by the instructor's bike, for his or her benefit alone.

This led me to wonder: Do you watch the clock when you exercise?

We all familiar with the idiom that a watched pot never boils; I think this applies to the clock when we're exercising. Think about the time or agonize over how much longer you have to go, and the minutes will seemingly tick backwards. Am I right? Usually, I challenge myself to go as long as I can without looking at my watch when I'm working out. Why? Because feeling like you've made a lot of progress only to find out that you're not even close doesn't make for a good workout. This holds especially true if your workout is extra challenging, boring or something you're making yourself do (versus something you WANT to do). I feel this way sometimes when I'm testing new DVDs that aren't particularly fun or I'm taking a class at the gym that isn't holding my attention. "Just ignore the clock," I tell myself over and over.

A few weeks ago, I was gearing up for my long run, which I always do on the weekends when I have more time available. I got all dressed up in my winter gear, strapped on my heart rate monitor, put on my Garmin watch and…it was dead. Oh no! I was a crossroads: To exercise without a watch (my workout buddy) or to give up on my workout for the day because I wouldn’t know how long I had been out or how fast I had gone (major motivators to me). I opted to run anyway, and like a recent winter run I did without my iPod, I could only go as fast and as long as my legs wanted to take me. I couldn't rely on my watch. I had to tune in to my body, estimate my distance, and not let the clock dictate how far I ran that day. It really made me think about how we impose time limits for the duration of our workouts. Is it because we really don't have the time to do more (like before work) or is it because we WANT to stop? How far would we all go if we covered our elliptical consoles with a magazine or ignored the clocks on our gym walls and simply listened to our own bodies and how we felt during our workouts?

I don't mean to get all new age-y on you, but from someone who always watched the clock (with dread in most cases), that watch-less run was pretty freeing, and I hope to forget the clock altogether more often (as long as I'm not facing a time constraint). I have a feeling that I'll enjoy myself more and focus on the moment—and how great it feels to move my body and develop strength and stamina—than what the face of a clock is trying to tell me.

How about you: Do you watch the clock during your workouts? Does it make the time go by faster or slower? Are you willing to try a time-free exercise session?

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Yes because I use the clock to up my game every 10 minutes Report
I have to look at a clock because I do various workouts for a limited period of time. I only go for 1 hour and I need to know when to move on.. so this week I do 18 minutes of dumbbells, a number of minutes working on the various machines (alternate machines for upper body and then next time do the lower body)which there is a need to look at the clock..but then all exercise machines you can program them and thats makes it easier to do.and know when its ended... .. I dont wear a watch or take an ipod or phone... Report
I have become so used to not wearing a watch. (I am a hair stylist and my hands are always in water and I have broken so many that I don't wear them anymore.) So when I work out I always only have my ipod on me. I have it on my arm which is hard to look at where it is to see the time. I look at the time before I leave and look at the time when I return. I only go for as long as my body lets me. I find it easier to not set a time limit and go as long as my body lets me go on that day. I also find that I go longer than I thought I would without something there to count the ticking minutes. Report
I work out before work so have to keep up wth time. If i know I want to do 45 minutes of cardio and I'll need some time for strength, I have to manage time so I have time for a shower before going into work. However, when I go in the evening or on weekends, it is nice to not pay attention to the clock. Last night I paid no attention to time and BF said I about killed him. Turns out we were there a little longer than normal. It was probably one of the most relaxing workout I had in a while because I had a plan going in and no time frame to do it in. :) Report
I use the wii, my new pedometer and yes I'll look at the clock but I find that I'm so built up with energy I'll keep going...if I'm feeling good that day. I just got my pedometer and could only use it once since I got the flu. The wii reminds me when to take a break! I do have my days where I'm thinking "omg I have that much more to go!" ...it's a struggle and a lifestyle change. I'm trying!
My Ups and Down's is my current and very open blog about my past to present. I'm thinking of writing a book about it. These are my baby steps. Feels good to write it out and to have the ppl that came to read give such wonderful feedback.
I hope I can be a motivator to some of the ppl out there that fall flat on their face but keep getting up no matter what life brings them. Hopefully, it's a goal of mine , to get more cheerful and optimist in my blogs.
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Just visit my page to see my blog. Anybody! I let it out to the world to help get past ..my past!
When i run outside, I run for distance, so the time doesn't matter. I time myself with my watch just to measure my pace and intensity and I can usually just ignore it. However, if I am inside on a treadmill, I have to cover up the time, otherwise it bothers me to no end and I am always looking to see how long it's been (and am usually disappointed). Report
When I am working out on the treadmill it keeps time for me but its a motivator. I used to wear a watch but no more since I finish when I finish and don't worry about the clock. When I start my strength training I'll set the alarm but beyound that not worry about time.~ Report
I try not to, while using the treadmill I watch TV or try to read. When I do catch myself watching the clock I remind myself...only 10 minutes left, only 5 minutes left. Report
I used a stop watch to time how long I walk and jog...but I look at it in the beginning of my walk and when I get to the end where my run starts I look to see how long it took me this time....its getting better and then I look once more for the start of my jog and do not look at it until I get back home....I do tend to look at the time more when I am on my step machine unless I am watching a game or some interesting show, when that happens I usually go as long as the show or game does...makes it more fun for me Report
I watch it but I push myself with "just another 5 mins"or" you can do another 5". I have only just started exercising so its still a learning process and trying to figure out which ones I enjoy and which ones burn more calories. Report
I watch the DVD and when it is done, I'm done. Go BILLY BLANKS. Report
I do watch the clock and think to myself oh only 15 more minutes of this, sigh, 15 more minutes! I need to stop doing it also. Maybe some duct tape over my treadmills timer will do the trick! lol Report
Seems that if I am not really into the excercise I'm practicing, that my eyes will wander over to the clock more often.
When the excercise is interesting I lose track of the time.

Woosel Report
I use the clock as a tool to see how I feel during the workout and to judge improvements from week to week as I continue exercising: how do I feel after 40 mins of cardio workout from last week or compared to how I was doing in the beginning. Report
I am a clock watcher. It either helps or hurts. Report
I eliminate the whole clock watching problem by using a timer. I usually have a certain amount of time constraint anyway so this works pretty well for me. I work out for as long as I am able on the timer and then let it go. It also keeps me from getting obsessed and overdoing it, which can also be a problem. Report
I use the clock to motivate me. After the half way point I find myself saying 2/3's done; only 1/3 to go, 3/4s done; only 1/4 to go.... That seems to help me get to the end. Report
I timed my strength training workout yesterday just to see how much time I would have to allot for it during the week in order to fit it in before I leave in the morning. I also time my pool workouts in the morning because I have to have time to get to class but I also want to swim for a minimum of 30 minutes. I'm still working on that, but my goal is to pack more swimming and less resting into that half hour. Report
I do videos on Exercise TV, and they all have a clock to tell you how much of the workout is left. Knowing how much time I have left helps me pace myself. It can be really motivating too; knowing I only have 5 minutes to go when I'm ready to quit helps me push through it and give that last stretch my all. When working out on the elliptical or treadmill, I liked to make playlists that were as long as I wanted my session to be. It was way more enjoyable than just watching the clock. Report
I watch the clock while exercising but I stay on the treadmill still. I usually use it to judge when my tv show will be over - I tend to run during commercials and walk during the actual show to stay on the treadmill longer. Report
I'm always afraid I would stop before my time was "up." I don't trust myself to stay as long as necessary. Report
I find that I exercise longer if I do Not watch the clock. So, if I have the time, I prefer to exercise according to what my body is able and willing to do that day. I agree that going watch-less is liberating. Report
I am a clock watcher. I want to know how far I have to go. I love those on demand videos that have countdowns. Report
I need to look at the clock when I walk because I want to be sure I am walking for the amount of time I wanted. I also like to watch when I do cardio (which I haven't done in so long):( Knowing the time really helps me push myself and afterward it is sooooooooo worth it..... Report
The time seems to go slower if I watch a clock while exercising. There are TV's at my fitness center and I try to concentrate on one show (closed captioning). Report
Because I exercise before getting ready for work, I only occasionally slip a glance at the clock to make sure I have plenty of time to get ready in the morning. Some videos on ONDEMAND have a count down timer which I find really helpful, especially on those mornings when I am really tired!!! The timer lets me know just how much I have accomplished which seems to spark my energy more. On the weekends, I am a non clock watcher. Report
I tend to astrial plane throughout the day and depend mostly on my bio clock. I have found that if I listen to my body I work out more with less injury. I try to look at my workouts as a way of de-stressing my mind, body and spirit. Report
I totally agree with this i read research papers and cover the clock with a towel and am suprised how long i have been there for! I forgot my towel yesterday and i noticed a big difference in my workout as i kept breaking down the time i had done...great advice about the run may try it Report
i usually look at the clock but i like to watch t.v. while i exercise on my stationary bike so that's pretty distracting, usually. Report
I try to look at the clock infrequently when I'm doing something like using my indoor bike. Usually when my time is up, I do feel like I could do more, but at a certain point I do stop myself just because I do workout every day and I don't want to feel burned out the next day. Report
Luckily I walk with a friend indoors so we talk most of the time. One night I finally looked at the clock & realized we had already walked 45 mins (we usually try to get in an hour so making it that long without looking is pretty good). At home I try to set a timer across the room that I can't see, that way I know how much time I do in the end, but while exercising I don't know how much time is left. Report
The worse is running on the treadmill. I try to take my mind off the time by covering the display with my handtowel and just running long enough before I take a peek at the time. Watching the clock makes the workout hard, especially running. Today for my run, I put my running music on and just took off. After awhile I checked and I was 4 minutes short of my goal time of 30 minutes. Not bad; and it made the last 4 minutes much more doable. Good article. Report
OMG all the time!!! I try really hard to not look, but i can't help myself. Which is terrible because the time really does seem to move backwards:( Report
Last night I did my first workout on a treadmill and I was definately watching the clock thinking omg, when am I going to be done. In a way I can't not look at the clock because I was doing 2 minute intervals and didn't want to get caught of guard when the treadmill slowed down or speed up.

It was also a little motivating because I knew when I passed up the duration of my normal layout, but the last 2 minutes on the treadmill was the toughest, so looking at the clock does just as much harm as it does good i guess. Report
I watch the clock because I am sneaking in my workout dvd before I get the kids up for school, but I am always amazed at how much time has passed and how well I have done! I'm a clock watcher and I am proud! Report
I really try not to watch the clock, but it's hard on a treamill when it's in your face. Here's to no more clock watching!! Report
I like to watch the clock so I can do different speed intervals on the treadmill. I find that doing the intervals makes the workout go by faster and helps me push myself harder than if I were just running at one speed the whole time. Report
when I use the treadmill and other equipments, I try my best not to look at the clock. I bring my ipod, where i concentrate more on the music and what I'm doing that times goes by. That's why I kind of like the gym classes or talking a walk b/c I don't spend time looking at the clock and before you know it, you are done. Report
I'm a clock watcher - and love it - I like to play games with myself. For instance, for the next 3 minutes I'm going to run at X pace, or try to push it another 15 minutes. The free time run is nice now and then, but I find that my intesity isn't as high. Report
I am a clock watcher at the gym...and trying to overcome this habit... Report
The clock doesn't seem to bother me. I look at it with a positive point-of-view and instead of thinking about how much time I have left, I think about how much time has already gone by. But I can't exercise without music playing, so this helps me to be slightly distracted by the amount of time that is passing. Report
Alway watch the clock indoors....but never indoors maybe I dislike the exercise bike LOL Report
I cannot watch the clock or I'll never get through my exercise. I just started a new workout and there is a timer right on the screen...it drives me mad!! Report
When I worked out in a gym there wasn't a choice. If it was busy then you had to get off the bike or treadmill after 20 minutes, then re-sign the sheet to get back on. When I lived where there was a pool, I had to watch the clock to know what time to leave, so I could get to work on time. Now I tend to walk and since I don't wear a watch, I'm not looking at it. I go by how far I walk, not how long. Report
I am a clock watcher and hate it. I have a workout video that has a clockdown clock. I have done this video enough that I can do it with my back turned. That's the only way I can get though it. Report
I think people might want to watch the clock for different reasons. Maybe for some people, it's a deterent to finishing their exercise program, but they just need to get used to it. For myself and many others, glancing the time occasionally helps us to know if we are staying on track and keeping heartrate in the correct range when using freeweights, etc. Report
I watch the clock when working out at lunch time. Two reasons I do so is because I have to get back to work and I want to increase/decrease intensity on a pretty frequent basis.

During spin class, the clock is behind me and I do not watch it other than to see if the instructor started and stopped on time. Report
I just finished a half marathon on Sunday and I barely looked at my Garmin. I have to say, I use to always look at that watch. It felt good not to know the time for a change. Not that I could do without it. Report
I find I only watch the clock if I'm bored. If I'm having fun, then I don't pay much attention to time unless I need to be somewhere. Report
I HATE the clock! It is usually there to remind me I only have 20 more minutes to get it all in! GRR! Report
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