With all the data we have access to, it seems like there is an infinite number of ways to set your watch up.
You can have all the basic stuff - duration, distance, pace or speed - and things that are way technical - training effect, power, ground impact time.
While every piece of information you can receive from your watch could be valuable. It’s important for you as a user to determine what actually is of value to you, especially in the moment.
The Heretical Statement
You probably don’t need to see your heart rate. WHAT?! Yup, you read that right. Why do I say that?
Well, it’s simple really - when was the last time you did a heart rate test to dial in your heart rate zones?
If the answer is, “a long time ago” or “never,” then those numbers mean little to nothing. You have no idea if 145bpm means you are running in Z1 or Z4, and if you don’t know what zone you are in then it doesn’t matter what the number is.
In fact, it may be hurting you, because you see a “high” number and think, “Wow, that’s really high, I don’t think I can hold this as long as I need to.” But it could be the exact spot you need to hit that PR.
But now you are in your head about a number you have no idea what it means, and your performance ends up worse than it could have been simply because you “thought” a number was high, when it wasn’t.
Check out this link for our guide to setting your heart rate zones.
What about all the other data?
I use heart rate simply as an example, because the reality is, that statement stands for all data.
If you don’t understand what a data point means, or haven’t done the testing to provide insight around the data point, it doesn’t need a place on your watch face.
Haven’t done a power test? Power numbers are highly individualized, so you can almost never compare your power to someone else’s. Unless you have done a test you don’t need to see it.
Racing a 10k? Unless you know your 10k pr, or have extrapolated a 5k pr to what you “should” be able to run, then even having pace per mile is unnecessary data. Because you don’t even know what pace is doable for you. Just run every mile and ask, “Can I hold this for another ‘x’ miles?” If the answer is yes, keep the pace! If no, back off. Then look at your pace per mile for future races.
Are you actively working on your swim stroke distance per stroke? Unless you are, get that SWOLF off there, you don’t need it filling a space on your watch.
So back to our original question of what information you should have on your watch face. The best answer is to have the data you’ll be using and the data you understand.
If won’t be using it, you don’t need it. Doing a run for time instead of distance? Remove the distance option!
If you don’t understand it, you definitely don’t need it. Power on the bike is the biggest trap many people fall into.
What does your “home screen” look like as you train? Any data points you can remove to simplify your sessions?