So I’ve been a very avid Garmin user since 2004. I’ll tell you, I’ve had a “Love / Hate” relationship with the device, switching back and forth probably 20 times through the years. So, if you don’t know about the device I’m talking about, then no sense reading on – but if you do, you’re probably religiously attached to it in some way, and have a lot of strong opinions, pro or con; here are mine..
1) Everything from the 305 up seems to keep a satellite signal even in the densest woods. Much improved from my first unit. I trust my 305; it’s even helped me “return to home” in Europe on a long run when I had no idea where I was.
2) I use my Garmin for most every run I go on – Primary reason is distance, secondary is pace.
3) I monitor pace by using the Lap function. I auto lap every mile, and 95% of the time I’m looking at my average lap pace. Instantaneous pace I find to be way too unstable. Here are my screens:
a) 3 fields: Average Lap Pace (Top Big), Lap Time (Bottom Left),
Lap Distance (Bottom Right)
This is the screen I look at most of the time.
b) 3 fields: Average Run Pace (Top Big), Total Run Time (Bottom Left), Total Run Distance (Bottom Right)
I think of this as my “overall run screen”.
c) 4 fields: Time of Day, Calories, Elevation, Heart Rate. I don’t really use heart rate, but this is my “miscellaneous” screen, that I just sometimes flick to.
Again, auto lap set to 1 mile
4) When I do intervals, or hill days, I’ll “force” a lap change by hitting the lap button. For example at the top or bottom of a hill. That way my pace average resets.
5) I always know before going out on a training run what pace I want to maintain. Last night I wanted to simply stay under 8 for 10 miles, considering the 93 degree heat. I monitored the Garmin often, and if I was slipping, I’d pick up the pace. When I was going at 7:30, I’d slow down. Had I not had the Garmin I’d have very little idea what pace I was at. Again, training runs I ALWAYS run to it.
6) Racing – ah, this is the tricky one, and the one I go back and forth on the most. When is the last time you’ve seen Ryan Hall with a Garmin during a marathon? I think a lot of people race to the “run how you feel” strategy in a race, and I’ve done this quite a bit myself. Otherwise there is a strong risk; if I set out to hold a 6:30 pace on a 5K for instance, and at mile 1 I see I’m only at 7:00, then maybe I could push harder –the risk is that on that day, 7:00 was all I was going to get, and after pushing harder for the next mile, I would blow up. It’s happened. The other argument of course is that maybe I was simply slacking, and the Garmin helped remind me that I can do better. Honestly, I’m not sure what is right or wrong here, I’ve benefited, and been burnt by both. I have though raced with my Garmin on for “reference”. In this case I run how I feel, and look at the Garmin to tell me how I am doing – but not adjust because of it. At this time, that’s the best approach (for me), I think.
7) I will say that my Marathon 3:24 PR I ran without a Garmin, but I did have on a watch. I only set out to stay under 8 for as long as I could – and every mile I would look down to see how I did – anything under 8 I felt was “in the bank”, and if it was over, it was a withdrawal. In this case I held 7:45 for the majority of the run – yes I ran how I felt, but I did monitor it – I did “try” to stay below a certain pace, but the watch only told me “what happened” vs. “what’s happening”.
8) During a recent successful 50 mile race, I used the virtual partner; I do like this function. I set it up for 50 miles in under 11 hours, and it constantly told me if I was ahead or behind schedule. Of course this also is risky as it assumes you’ll run the early miles at the same pace as the later, but I go out assuming I’ll get quite a jump at first, then start giving back; by mile 5 I was 1.5 miles ahead for example. In this case I really did work to stay ahead of the VP, BUT, I do think it’s different in a slow Ultra, vs. a 5K for example where you’re on the edge of exhaustion, and vulnerable to pushing too hard.
So, clear as mud – I always use it to train because I know what I want to do before I go out (unless for example I’m running with someone, then it just is what it is), but during races only for reference, if at all. BUT I use it in a very long race.
All comments welcome on this one!