Monday, December 19, 2011


As I promised in the Long Version of my marathon recap, I want to talk more about Garmin data.

First of's my data from the race

Not surprisingly, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about what information I think I'm going to want during a workout/race.  The Garmin is like any other tool, you have to know how to use it properly to get the results you want.  Some people use it simply as data collection, and that's fine, but ideally I like to use it to help me during my workout.

For running I use the Garmin Forerunner 405 ((oh Santa, please bring me the new Forerunner 910XT for Christmas!!)).  It has the ability to give me 3 screens of data with 3 fields each (plus a heart rate screen which I don't actually use anymore because my heart rate monitor doesn't seem to work like it's supposed to, and a virtual partner screen which I turned off for the race).

For the marathon here's what I decided to display and why:
  • Screen 1
    •  distance-I wanted to see how far I'd gone at any given moment
    • time-I wanted to have my "chip time" for certain splits (10K, 1/2, 20 miles and 1 mile to go)
  • Screen 2
    • PACE (practically useless really since it seems to be off a good bit of the time, but I wanted to have some idea of how fast slow I was going at any given moment
    • average pace-much more useful since this is the average pace over the whole distance
    • lap time-this would give me an idea how close I was to the end of another mile time wise
  • Screen 3
    • AVERAGE PACE-I wanted this information on the bigger display even though I had it already on screen 2
    • average lap-the average pace in my current lap, important when I set my watch after coming up with Plan B
    • lap-how many miles I had already run
(When the screen is divided up into 3 fields, there is one large reading at the top and two smaller ones at the bottom.)  I had the watch set to auto scroll so I didn't have to touch it to switch to a new screen...which is why I had some redundant data (so I didn't have to keep staring at my watch to get the data I wanted at any particular time).

My experience with longer runs and races told me my brain wouldn't function as well toward the end (although I surprisingly did NOT have that problem this time as bad as I usually do-which was a testament to my success on fuel during this race) so I didn't want to have to think a lot about what my data was telling me which is another reason I had the watch display some redundant information.

If I had stuck with Plan B, I would have needed the data the watch displayed more than I ended up needing it with what amounted to Plan D (after mile 15 when I pretty much decided to just run by feel and not my watch).   Here's why....if I had stuck with my plan to start with the slower group for the first 3 miles and then speed up slowly over the next however many miles...I was going to want to know my average pace JUST FOR THE MILE I WAS ON to be able to make sure I was on track to increase SLOWLY and have a set pace for each mile that was slightly faster than the last one.  

For example...If I were going to run the first 3 miles at a 10:00 pace my average pace would be 10, my average lap would be 10 and my pace would be 10 (if it were correct).  If I were then going to run the next 3 miles 5 seconds per mile faster for each one.  My (current) pace/average lap (ideally) would be 9:55 (mile 4), 9:50 (mile 5), then 9:45 (mile 6).  My average pace would decrease with each mile and would (I think) be 9:55 by the end of mile 6.  (I'm not a mathematician and didn't do the calculations, but I think that's right.)  Hopefully you see why it is simply having pace or even  average pace wouldn't help me as much in the moment as average lap.

Now, if you are still reading, I think that means you have some interest in data collection....I want to know your thoughts.  What kind of watch do you use?  How do you use it?  I'm just starting to play around with the workouts feature (where you can set up the exact workout, complete with paces, you want to do and the watch will beep at you like a chirping coach!).  Does anyone out there use that feature?  What do you think?

As always...thanks for stopping in.  Come again soon!

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