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Running intervals with a Garmin -- some observations (Read 901 times)


I've got a fever...

    So yesterday, I ran my first "real" interval workout with my Garmin. By real, I mean the type of workout I would normally do on a track. Sadly the closest track to me is only 300m long. (What's the point of that? I wonder what the frigtard who laid that thing out was smoking.) So it was off to the roads, which are never as flat as you think they are. My plan was to do 3x1 mile with 1 minute rest (a 5k predictor workout -- I may be doing a 5k in mid-December). So I set up the following Advanced Workout: 1. Easy warm-up (go until I hit "Lap") 2. Repeat the following 3 times 2.1 Lap1 (0.25mi) 2.2 Lap2 (0.25mi) 2.3 Lap3 (0.25mi) 2.4 Lap4 HTFU (0.25mi) 2.5 1 min rest 3. Easy cool-down I broke the mile down so I could get quarter splits. On each quarter, I set a custom speed zone of 6:25/mi~6:15/mi (I was aiming for 6:20/mi). Ok, so did my warm-up and hit Lap. The default display during fixed distance Lap in Advanced Workout is distance remaining (counting down from 0.25mi) and the current Lap Pace. So here, I ran into my first problem. Current Lap pace is screwy at first, because you have limited data points since the beginning of the lap. As you keep running, it converges on a realistic number, but this usually takes a few hundred yards. Which is fine normally, but on a lap of 0.25mi, it means that the average pace readout is pretty inaccurate until you've nearly finished the lap. Problem is, in addition to the estimate not being real accurate, it kept setting off my zone alarm (the 6:25~6:15 pace window), saying I was going too fast (which I wasn't). The next problem was one of complete user error -- I accidentally set up my Lap4 as being open-ended (go until you press lap), instead of fixed distance. So I ran about 0.36mi on that last lap before I finally stopped to figure out why I was still running. (Nice part is that all of the farting around with my watch gave me about a 3 minute rest). I ran my second 1-mile interval without incident. But I did notice that when each 0.25 lap changed over, the pop-up in the display telling me the Target pace, not the split that I just ran. After the second 1-mile interval, I called it a day. I was running during lunch and short on time; at least that's the excuse I'll use. So here's my thoughts and I welcome any suggestions from the Garmin Nation. 1. Better to set up the 1-mile as strictly 1-mile instead of quarter splits. Then, the average pace will be useful almost the entire duration of the interval. I'll miss splits, but I can always switch to the standard display to see them. And I'll be able to tell exactly how fast I ran the mile as I close in on the end of it (as opposed to just knowing my last split). I actually finished the workout not knowing whether I hit my target until I added the laps up at my desk (I did -- 6:18 and 6:20). 2. No lower (faster) limit on speed zone. This will eliminate the false alarms telling me I'm going too fast. 3. Does anyone know if going to 1 data point every second (instead of Smart Recording) will give more accurate instantaneous pace and early lap pace results? 4. I need to simplify my default displays for speedwork. When I'm running hard, I can't figure out what the hell I'm looking at on the watch with 4 things showing at once. That's the beauty of a simple stopwatch and a track. 5. I'm thinking I might switch the watch over to metric units before the run. Seeing that I have 122m left is meaningful to me. Seeing 402 feet in the display forces me to do math on the run. Tongue Overall, it was a positive experience, but one that I'll definitely need to tweak in the future.

    On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

      I was actually thinking about some of these questions while out running today (on an easy run without the garmin.) You seem to like more data during the run than I do--so take this for what it's worth--but here's how I do intervals and it works well for me. 1. I agree much better to just use 1 mile intervals if you're doing mile repeats. Better still to get used to not looking at the watch except a couple of times during each rep--part of the point is to get to be able to feel 5k pace right? It's amazing how good you get at this. I try to wait until I feel like I'm half way through an interval before looking at the watch and I try to guess what it will say for lap pace--I'm generally within a few seconds per mile. 2. I don't do any speed zones--just use the garmin to collect data, not to tell me how fast I should be running. 3. Simple display is good. For interval workouts I have three panels; a big one on top displaying the time for the current lap, lower left is current lap pace, lower right is current lap elapsed distance. 4. I think you're right that you'll increase the accuracy by turning off smart recording, but you'll be able to store a lot fewer laps. I've thought about this because the garmn always measures my routes a tad short. I know why it does this and it's easy to see on the maps--it's chopping off the corners because it's only sampling ever 4-5 seconds and when I make a 90 degree turn it sometimes thinks I cut across somebodys yard etc. But in general I think the garmin is "accurate enough" so I'll leave it as is. It generally measures my 10.01 mile loop anywhere from 9.8 to 9.95. Close enough. When you're doing long intervals it matters so little that it's not worth worrying about.

      Runners run.

        I ditto everything, Mike said. Like you, Jeff, I've tried a variety of things with the Garmie. I kept coming back to "the simpler, the better". I have the three screens set up with all sorts of things, but when I run intervals or tempo runs, the custom workout screen is the only thing I look at: it only has two things on it: Lap Pace and Distance Remaining. It's generally all I care about during intervals or tempo runs. That way I don't need to do math while running and I can look at the details later.

        When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?


        I've got a fever...

          when I run intervals or tempo runs, the custom workout screen is the only thing I look at: it only has two things on it: Lap Pace and Distance Remaining.
          Yeah, I think that's a good strategy. As long as the lap distance isn't too short (i.e. keep it at 1 mile rather than 400m splits), the pace is helpful and you really see all you need to know there. Being a former track junkie, it's hard to let go of the idea of looking at my watch at every 200m mark to see if I'm on (or off) target, but truth is, barring the occasional all-comers track meet, my future racing is to be done on the roads and trails, so I might as well simplify. Smile MTA: Semi-surprised (and almost disappointed) to not get the usual "Jeff, you need to focus more on building your mileage base instead of worrying about intervals." from Mikeymike. Tongue True, but I've got a 5k PW that I protect rather zealously, so if I race in a month, I need to "peak." Cool

          On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

            I've done all my interval workouts with my Garmin, and I've experienced all the things you ask about. I tried to use the pace zones a couple times, but I just don't think the unit is sensitive enough to avoid false alarms -- which are distracting and frustrating. Now I simply try to get to the right pace by feel, and then check the Garmin to see how I'm doing. As for 1/4 mile splits, I'm pretty sure that SportTracks will give that to you, no matter what you set for the lap distance. I often use SportTracks to check my 1/2 mile splits on mile repeats to see if I'm running even pace throughout the lap. I'm pretty sure it'll do 1/4 splits too. The every-second does give marginally better GPS tracks, but tradeoff wasn't worth it for me. If you ever want to edit your run track in SportTracks, its almost impossible if you use every-second tracking because there are just too many data points to move around. In contrast, I can "cleanup" a Smart Recording track pretty easily, which is useful for me since I do sometimes get funky data points.
            How To Run a Marathon: Step 1 - start running. There is no Step 2.


            Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

              I've done one run with mine so far with no more coming for a few more weeks, but with my limited experience I pretty much mirror Mike's thoughts. The one time I wore it, I didn't care about most of the features that it had on there. I need my lap time and my split time and that's it. Now that I'll have how far I've run, then I'll probably get used to glancing at that too, but I'm used to getting by with just my lap time. Going metric is a great idea. After all, you'll be running a metric race, right? (I just reviewed a book at RTW that held that viewpoint.) I'm all about the numbers (and graphs) after the fact. As for accuracy, I think that if you put the map into sports tracks or motion based or one of those apps, it'll actually match to roads and trails and come up with a more accurate distance for you even if the watch says something different. I have a friend that tells me this is so; I haven't tested it myself yet.

              Run to Win
              24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)



                I mainly just use total time, pace, and total distance run in miles indicators when using the Garmin. I haven't done any of this Fartlek, Interval, or Skip to the Lou (or Loo) stuff.

                Vim


                I've got a fever...

                  Going metric is a great idea. After all, you'll be running a metric race, right?
                  I remember at XC Regionals my sophomore year (back in the mid 80's) one of the teams was measuring out the course and marking the km marks. My teammates and I joked about this, but in retrospect, I think it was pretty smart. Who knows how many of my races could have been saved from the usual crash-and-burn if I had found out 1km in that I was going way too fast instead of hitting that first mile marker at 5:05 and realizing that no amount of HTFU was going to save me from imploding over the last 2.1 miles. Dead

                  On your deathbed, you won't wish that you'd spent more time at the office.  But you will wish that you'd spent more time running.  Because if you had, you wouldn't be on your deathbed.

                    Geeks. (Couldn't resist.)
                      MTA: Semi-surprised (and almost disappointed) to not get the usual "Jeff, you need to focus more on building your mileage base instead of worrying about intervals." from Mikeymike. Tongue True, but I've got a 5k PW that I protect rather zealously, so if I race in a month, I need to "peak." Cool
                      I should have at least added something like, "wouldn't 4 x 2000m at LT with short rests be a better workout for you right now?" I must be slipping.

                      Runners run.

                        Geeks. (Couldn't resist.)
                        Anarchist hippie. (I ran more miles than Jeff in October--and YTD actually--so I win this argument.)

                        Runners run.

                          I know. Can I make up 100 miles in December? To be beaten by a father of four. And a Masshole to boot. The shame would be almost unbearable.


                          Needs more cowbell!

                            I remember at XC Regionals my sophomore year (back in the mid 80's) one of the teams was measuring out the course and marking the km marks. My teammates and I joked about this, but in retrospect, I think it was pretty smart. Who knows how many of my races could have been saved from the usual crash-and-burn if I had found out 1km in that I was going way too fast instead of hitting that first mile marker at 5:05 and realizing that no amount of HTFU was going to save me from imploding over the last 2.1 miles. Dead
                            Or the other extreme, which is when I really started coveting the Garmin (before that I thought it was cool, but not really necessary). Sucks to run an unmarked 15k and take it TOO easy to avoid crash-and-burn. k

                            I shoot pretty things! ~

                            '14 Goals:

                            • 6 duathlons (1 Olympic distance)

                            • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)