Tuesday, February 12, 2013

“Hey Garmin, You Are Not the Boss Of Me”

Are you a slave to your Garmin? Do you let it boss you around? Do you believe everything it tells you?

Have you ever had the experience of feeling really good on a run, then looking down at your Garmin and thinking “No way can that be right. I am NOT going that slow,” then all of a sudden you are not liking your run anymore and you feel like a puddle of crap?

Then you need to read the article in this month’s Running Times called GPS Rules.

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Basically, this is a no nonsense guide to using a GPS watch without letting it dictate your every step on the run.

My favorite rule is Don’t Look - A great reminder that we often start our runs too fast because we let the GPS force us into a starting speed we might not be up for yet.

Have you ever felt like the first couple of miles of a run are the toughest? That’s because your body is trying to acclimate, to settle into a pace for the run. It’s called warming up. If you are going out for a marathon pace run of an 9:00 min/mile average and you start off balls to the wall, your performance for the rest of the run might suffer.

A proper warm up increases heart rate, breathing rate, and blood flow to the muscles. It prepares the body for increasingly vigorous activity, allows it to work more efficiently, and reduces injury risk by loosening you up." {source}.

Sure, you can do other activities as your warm up (see here for a great pre-run warm up), but you might want to still start out slower than goal pace when you first start out.

And, if anyone tells you this you have my permission to kick them in the crotch:

Another helpful rule is Let the Pace Vary. None of us maintain exactly the same pace, step for step, throughout an entire run (well, if you're on the treadmill you might- but not outside). When you take into account hills, wind, terrain, and many other factors, you will find that your pace changes constantly. For this reason the author (Greg McMillan) advises, “Get comfortable with the pace variation and don’t worry so much about your exact speed at any given time during an easy run.”

Bottom line:  pay attention, but not too close of attention. Your GPS is a tool, not something to stress you out or jeopardize you.

Do you run with a GPS? If so, are you a frequent looker, or do you just check in every so often? I always run with a Garmin (this one). I’ve tried to get into the habit of checking only at every mile marker (to get the average for that mile), unless I’m doing speed work. For easy, shorter or less structured runs, I don’t look at it at all.

SUAR

PS: Warning: If you hate everything related to vomit as much as I do, be careful reading the March edition of Running Times. There is a whole article (and images!) called “Puking Primer: Why Runners Suffer Race Day Nausea and What To Do About It.” I’m scarred. Not scared. SCARRED. Yes, I have a problem. Thank God I’m not a puker.

PPS: Fun Fact: Fred Zalokar (54 years old, runs a 2:34 marathon) does 40% of his mileage (he has done 182 miles in a week before) on the treadmill because he finds it easier on his body. Get this – he sets the treadmill on a 3% decline for faster turnover.

49 comments:

  1. I use my GPS watch ALL the time but I put it on the heart rate screen and try to keep that as low as possible for the first few k. And as I warm up the pace improves but feels easier.

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  2. I'm a Garmin checker, but for exactly the reason you identify: No single reading is a good measure of overall pace.

    And when I do speed work, I leave the Garmin and home and bring my regular stopwatch to the track, using time checks at the 200 and 400 meter points to adjust my speed. This also helps me tune into a specific desired pace.

    Thanks for the puke warning...

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  3. I have worn my garmin on every run since I purchased it, but my tendency to look at it varies a lot sometimes. I feel like it messes up my already sloppy form to keep looking down or swinging my arm up to my face. When I’m just enjoying a run, I will rarely look at it at all. I just like the mile tone/vibration so that I can keep track of how far I’ve been. And when I’m going out for long runs, I do like having it to keep me from starting too fast. I’m still pretty inexperienced. Coming out of the gate too fast WILL ruin my ability to finish longer distances with anything resembling a respectable pace or form. I love having the data afterwards, but it is just a tool for sure.

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  4. I use mine but try not to look at it until it beeps telling me I ran a mile. I get too frustrated and think how in the world am I running that slow when I feel like my legs are flying. So better to live in denial to the end.

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  5. A few months ago, I noticed that I was getting kinda cranky about my pace. My bf suggested I leave my Garmin at home, but I was resistant. I ended up turning off the beeping at every lap (set to 1 mile on my watch). It was the perfect solution! I no longer feel like I "have" to look at it, just when I'm curious about my pace. It's helped me come to terms with the fact that my effort and pace just varies from run to run. Actually, I'm now much better at "running by feel" than before.

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  6. I love my Garmin, but my glee comes when I get to upload the information and see how far I ran on a map. Granted, I'm super low on the running totem pole from your mega miles, so that could change.

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  7. I love my Garmin but in winter, I like to cover it with my shirt sleeves and resist the temptation to check. Once in a while, I ditch it completely because I make myself nuts. I still track my run using an iphone app when I don't wear my garmin but I am less likely to keep checking my phone so I get the data after the run. Which is laughable since I am super slow. :)

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  8. I've had my Garmin for a couple of years and I used to wear it every time I so much as put one foot in front of the other. Now I'm trying to just wear it for long runs so I don't go out too fast and to make sure I get the mileage I need. I've even started doing an occasional run without music {gasp}!

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  9. I rarely use my Garmin. I race with it, I wear it for speedwork on the watch setting, and I use it on long runs when I need to know my distance - and that's it. I think I'd be a better runner if I were more in tune to my pace, though, so maybe I should use it more.

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  10. I don't use a Garmin, but I use RunMeter on my phone. It can tell me anything about the run I want, provided I can hear it over nearby traffic. If I miss something it's ok. I take what it says with a grain of salt because a couple times it's been way wrong. But interesting to hear a pace better than you thought, when it's been a struggle. There's been a few times it's given me pace numbers so fast that I knew they were wrong. Flattering, but wrong.

    It's a tool like any other. Use it to serve your purposes, but don't become a slave to it. The batteries could die during a race and then you're hooped.

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  11. I totally get the treadmill thing now. Now that I have been forced more on the treadmill this winter. It IS easier on my body, I have far less aches (in fact none), and I'm running more mileage than ever before with training for this upcoming marathon. I think there is something to be said for the softer surface :) I know there are die-hard opponents to the treadmill - me, I am starting to view it as a very useful marathon training tool. Pros and cons :)

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    1. I've trained for several half marathons on the treadmill and hit PRs doing it that way; my sister trains for marathons that way (although both of us strive to get outside for long runs whenever we can. However, I have done 16 miles on a 'mill before - the movie Titanic is good for that!). It's not my favorite, but my training didn't suffer; in fact, as you said, because it is kinder on my body, I did more mileage than I may have tolerated outside.

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  12. I so needed this tonight! Thank you Beth for always posting what I need when I needed it.

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  13. I avoid Garmins PRECISELY for this reason (and the cost for such a 'cheap' sport). My free phone app does the job for me giving me a distance on long runs and paces when I absolutely need it. Knowing my pace all the time takes the fun out of running for me.

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  14. I saw that article but haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I feel like I am pretty attached to my Garmin, but I've gotten better about not constantly checking my pace. I do check my heart rate relatively often, especially early on in the run before I really sink into the right effort level.

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  15. OMG, already read it cover to cover. I can't believe Fred runs twice a day, sometimes totaling over 25 miles! Killer!

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  16. I've started using Strava (http://app.strava.com/dashboard) to analyze my runs. My favorite feature is GAP (Grade Adjusted Pace) - it shows your actual pace, then shows what your pace would be if you were running on flat terrain. Since it is very hilly where we live, my actual Garmin pace can sometimes be frustrating (i.e. slow!) until I see how many hills I've run. The mind games of a runner!

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  17. I am a slave to my Garmin - it it is on my wrist, I look at it constantly, and I mean, constantly...like, measured in tenths of a mile! The best runs I have are when I leave it at home and just enjoy the run. Those are also much more enjoyable than my treadmill runs, which I must do in the winter since I run at 5:15 a.m. and am too weenie to go out in the dark, cold weather. I do start out without a warm-up, though, and the first miles do indeed suck. Good reminder to let my body acclimate a little more, especially when I've just rolled out of bed!

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  18. My ex-coach told me to never set the treadmill to 1-2% like I was doing (to set the pace more accurate like on the road) because leg turnover isn't as quick. I learned something from the guy I guess.

    The Garmin can become my slave at times and takes the joy out of running. I like to cover it up when I run and then plug it all in later. I just love data, even if it's slow!

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  19. When I started running in 1976, there were no Garmins. When the first electronic chronograph watches came out about two years later, they cost more than $200. This never prevented us from training hard every day and learning about pace and effort in an entirely different way. I love Garmin products and have owned quite a few of them over the years. But for running, if you only want to know your lap times or total times, nothing beats the Casio F-91W. It's the most accurate quartz watch ever made and you can buy one on eBay for $2.99.

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  20. I use RunKeeper on my iPhone. It is set to tell me every 5 minutes what my average pace is and how many km I have run. I love it! Because it is in my pocket, I can't look at it throughout the workout. And the reminder every 5 minutes lets me know how I am doing. That said, I don't freak out if my split time is lower "than it should be". And I don't use the coaching part of the app because I can't stand the whiny voice that tells you when you aren't on your target pace. I look at it simply as a way to help me map my runs and see how I am doing generally.

    I also definitely notice that my pace for the first 2kish is much slower than for the rest of the run. I definitely speed up over the course of the run. Quite significantly, actually. And that doesn't bother me at all!

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  21. hi, its nice and great posts, ive learn from your post. keep it up, hope to read next of your post, please do follow mine too. how to be healthy and fit

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  22. I don't have a Garmin (probably because I use the treadmill usually). I try to let my outdoor runs be easy but I always end up going back and clocking them after.

    I'm like you on the puking. When my boys were little, I used to stress about it at night every time anyone we knew had a stomach bug. The puking on Biggest Loser is fixing to make me quit watching one of my favorite shows! (Thankfully, I'm not a puker either - I don't believe in it!!!) And, I've probably just used the word puke more times in this short comment than in the last year - sorry!!!

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    1. Wow, we are so alike. I had the very same issues when my kids were young. I wish I had known you then. We could have had a little support group.

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  23. I do run with a GPS (2 actuallY) but never look at any watch during a run. I always look only when I stop...even during a race.

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  24. I think this is the mag that Sheri Piers is on the cover of! she is an amazing person!!! and an inspiration!

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    1. Yes, that is the one!! I haven't read the article on her yet, but am anxious to learn more about her.

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    2. I kind of stalk her! haha! She is a running partner of my friend Kimmy. so i got to know her from her. She helped Kimmy train for her 1st half marathon last year. shari just set the course record for a 10 mile race in Maine a few weeks ago. she did it in like 56 minutes or something???!

      The most amazing thing about sheri is her humility and kindness. she is an incredible role model. and she trains her butt off all while raising 3 young children! You will love the article. great read!!

      LOVE your blog btw. faithful follower!!

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  25. During a training run, I set the watch and then pretty much don't look at it again until I'm finished. Use it primarily for distance. In a marathon, I set it for average pace and do glance at it quite a bit, a lot in fact. Some races I set it and don't look at it for speed. It depends. Can't wait for my copy fo Running Times, haven't received it yet.

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  26. I don't own a Garmin. I use an app on my phone. Because I'm cheap. And I already own a phone. I just wait for her to talk in my ear and tell me what my time/splits are. I don't think I use it properly but I'm just running. I'm not racing. My goals are to enjoy the race, not be last, and not die.

    And where does one find a treadmill with a decline?!?! Ours is old (really, really freakin' old - 10+years) and I can't even go to a zero incline, let alone a decline! I might not use it often, but I can tell you that someone with hip issues who mostly runs on the 'mill would greatly benefit from being able to go downhill on it. There are a lot of hills around here and I was totally rockin the uphills but downhills hurt. A lot. Stupid treadmill.

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  27. I run naked.....A LOT. I have routes that I know the exact mileage of (mile markers, etc) and if I have a 4 miler....I'll run that route. No music, no watch, no timer, no apps, nothing.....just me and the road.

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  28. I do look frequently at my Garmin, but don't let it control my run. The route I usually take has several big hills, so I know those miles are gonna suck big time, so I just try to make it up on the other stretches. For the most part, I find it encouraging!!

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  29. I set my Nike/TomTom to avg pace during a race. It keeps me from obsessing about whether I'm running hard enough or holding back enough at any given moment. With a specific number in my head, I knew without a doubt that I was on BQ pace in my last marathon and just had to hold on, keeping that number on the watch.

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  30. I'm a new runner, can you recommend a good starter watch? I don't want to by a garmin yet, but I do want a watch that will tell me how far I've run and give me the time? Suggestions?

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    1. Megabn, the forerunner 110 by garmin is what I have and it's great for beginners. no frills. but easy to use. will give you very accurate distance and pace. i love mine! and i think it's the cheapest of the garmin models

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  31. I use a Garmin whenever I run outdoors but I mainly just check the info after uploading to my computer. I am usually more of a "run by feel" person vs a slave to the pace anyway.

    BTW, I am so sorry I did not read this before reading Runner's World this month. I could not believe that they had photos of people vomiting. Was that really necessary? I will need to rip those pages out of my issue! :-)

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  32. I'm so dependent on my Garmin that I've forgotten it for 2 out of 5 races. haha (/sarcasm). I tend to worry more and tense up when I wear it so I've learned to not be so reliant on it. It is a very helpful tool to have and I think it has helped me immensely, but I'm still not attached to it by IV.

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  33. I wear my garmin but I only look once in awhile. I have learned never to trust the "pace" reading anyway -- it's just not accurate enough.

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  34. I love my Garmin! I am a slow runner (my hubby had the nerve to tell me I don't run, I jog, hmph!) I know I am slow and my Garmin reminds me I am slow. You know what? I don't care. I run intervals of 1:30/:30 and it gets me the mileage I need/want. I only check when it vibrates to make sure I am on the correct interval and occasionally to see how much farther to the mile marker. Then I see how long it took me and know that my next mile will probably be a bit slower...again, I don't care because I am out there running. I also check to make sure any new route I take is as far as I want, so I know if I can stop early or need to keep going.

    As a side note, did you know that Garmin also beeps when it vibrates?! I have had it for a year now and just recently heard the beeps for the first time. Hubby told me it beeps, that's how he knows to walk when we run together, I never heard it. Maybe I should get my hearing checked, who knows what else I am missing out on hearing.

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  35. Thanks for this post!

    I just got a Garmin for Christmas and have been getting so down on myself because my pace has been slower since I've been pretty sporadic with my training. This is just what I needed to give myself a break as I'm getting into the swing of training for the Colfax Marathon (my first full!!!).

    Besides- who cares how fast I finish?? It's 26.2 freakin' miles!

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  36. I use the app on my phone Cardiotrainer is awesome, but I can't look at it until I am done. The bummer is Sunday I ran a half and my phone freaked out and the app said I had gone 3 steps

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  37. I was always obsessing over my pace! It was the "I need to be running as fast as I can...ALWAYS" syndrome.

    I started working with a running coach and I'm not allowed to obsess over pace anymore. He's teaching me HR training and all about zones, effort, tempo, etc. I LOVE it. At first, I would obsess over my now pace-free data fields trying to stay in Zone 2. I've learned to run at conversational effort and not look at my HR as often. It helps.

    Now, I have NO idea what will happen when I have my 1st race after training. Maybe I need to leave the Garmin at home for that.

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  38. I always run with my phone and have the Nike app on which uses gps. I turn it on at the beginning of my run and then put it in my pocket. I don't tend to look at it. If I did it would be for distance and not pace. It helps that the app tells me (audibly talks to me) every mile how far I've gone and my average pace. I know my pace varies so give that wide variance I know it's going to fluctuate.

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  39. I,unfortunately, am a slave to my two Garmins. I can count the number of times that I've ran Garmin free(over the last six years) on one hand. My Garmins are also word! Why I let them rule my run is beyond me but I certainly think that is something that I need to consciously work on....Garmin free especially when I'm just in maintenance mode.

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  40. Don't own a Garmin yet, but am lobbying to purchase one. I hate when I get home and map my run only to find out it wasn't as far as I had thought. Grr...And never mind my slow ass pace.

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  41. I just got a Garmin. I wear glasses, but when I run I put in contacts. Luckily for me, I can hardly see what the screen says when I have contacts in, but I do check it at the mile marks, just for curiosity. I do love downloading everything and comparing all my runs. I'm not a slave to my Garmin at all.
    BTW, I don't get Running Times, but I do get Runner's World, and it's interesting to see in the pic you posted how similar their fonts and page layouts are.
    Have a great run!

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  42. My Garmin has been "acting up" lately so I've had a few runs without it and I was shocked by how relaxed I felt just doing what felt good instead of determined to go a certain pace!

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  43. ok, I am laughing my rear off because I read this post yesterday and it reminded me to go charge my garmin for my 7 mile run this morning. I go to charge and and the thing goes dead. completly gone. so all night i am literally tossing and turning thinking about *GASP* a run without GARMIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! oh the humanity!! i mean, girl, i was throwing a fit.
    so i wake up grouchy about my run all because I wont have my beloved numbers and pace information that Ive let rule my running. well, I went out technology free on the 7 miler this morning and guess what? A.) I didnt die. and B.) it was one of the most enjoyable runs ive had. i felt free. running was fun again. not timed. not paced. it wasnt to beat a previous time. it was running for the pure LOVE of running.

    I needed that run today. We as runners get so obsessed with the numbers that sometimes we forget why we run in the 1st place. Who cares about pace and distance all the time??? nobody else does!! nobody cares! the majority of us arent winning any money from our running. I say leave the garmin at home just once and see how ya like it. You won't regret it.

    side note- the internet helped me fix the garmin. had to totally re-set it and lost all my data but at least it still works! :-)

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  44. Hi! I was wondering how you are liking your Forerunner 210? I am shopping for a new one, and I have my eye on the 210. Thanks!

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