Showing posts with label Garmin 50. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Garmin 50. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Embrace the hobgoblin

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

Last Sunday I took a look at my running history on Garmin Connect. This dataset goes back to February '09, when I got my first Forerunner watch, the FR50. Although my modern running history starts a few months before that, the 750 recorded runs represent a statistically significant performance database. I ran a report of all my street runs and discovered that the pace and distances I ran in January 2012 are almost exactly the same as my all-time average.

I was happy to know this because it shows that my pace hasn't degraded in the three-plus years since I returned to running. A deeper look at the numbers confirmed that my paces in early 2009 were similar to today's, so this average isn't merely 1.5 early years of fast running, followed by 1.5 years of slowness.

This morning I had a slow start to my run, owing to my chronic pain above my right heel that may or may not be my Achilles tendon. The burning I feel when I start off tends to go away once I've warmed up a bit. The pain isn't bad. It's just that it's always there at the start.  Due to this, my first mile was slow -- over 10 minutes -- but I picked up the pace and finished with a time only 40 seconds longer than yesterday's.

Today's run and Sunday's performance review both reinforced the fact that, most of the time, I run about the same, regardless of what I think at the time. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "...consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." That may be true, but I think consistency, when it comes to running, is a great way to validate your efforts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Involuntary Garmin-slaughter

Today's workouts: Stillwell field trail loop - 3.55 miles plus speed and hill drills

My Garmin 50 display was showing "LoBattery" so I decided to change it myself. Big mistake. I had the right battery (CR2032) on hand so I thought "How hard could this be?" Replacing the battery in the heart rate monitor and the foot pod was simple but when I opened the 50 I knew it was going to be a lot more complicated. I should have stopped there and taken it to a jeweler but I was too impatient and it cost me the watch. I first had to separate the housing from the main board that held the display in order to get to the battery and when I did some tiny brackets and and a tiny spring went flying. Before I knew it the whole thing became a cruel puzzle. When I put it together in the most logical way that I could, the display failed to work. I looked up how to change the battery on this watch online but there is little documentation. In fairness to Gamin they do recommend professional battery installation.

I went through all the stages of grief: Denial (it worked before, it will work again!), Anger (stupid Garmin engineering!), Bargaining (what are Forerunner 50's going for on Amazon these days?), Depression (I have nothing to capture tomorrow's run so it will be meaningless!), Acceptance (this sucks but maybe it's a good excuse to buy a 405). Then I went online and priced out the 405, the new F60 and even saw that Garmin has a new "entry level" GPS watch called the 110. Since the 110 doesn't also work with a foot pod I'm down to deciding between the 405 and the F60.

This morning I pulled out my iPhone arm band and did my run at Stillwell using MotionX which has been improved since the last time I used it. The day was sunny and I acquired a signal quickly. I set off to run the field loop trail making four circuits with a total distance of 3.55 miles. As usual the GPS accuracy was a little off so I used Google Earth to verify the true length. It was a better experience with the iPhone than I had on previous runs. I uploaded the GPX file from MotionX to Garmin Connect and it worked great.  My online running history didn't skip a beat despite last night's Garmin problem. I may take the broken watch over to a local jeweler to see if they can make it work. If not I'll probably get the new F60 that should work with the 50's HRM and foot pod.  I did see a 405 online for $299 with a $50 rebate so maybe...

Later in the day the Emerging Runner family headed to a local park to enjoy the beautiful weather. After playing some hoops we made our way to the ball fields and had a running competition. First we ran from home plate straight out to center field (which rises to a 60+% incline over the last 30 or 40 feet) and back again. All four of us did that run, my son did it several times, and we recorded our times using my iPhone's stopwatch app. After that we all took turns on a circuit that required the runner to touch the six light poles that ringed the diamond and outfield. The total length of that circuit is .15 miles. Based on that, I calculated our paces. I ran it at 5:33, my wife at 7:40 and my son and daughter (10 & 11) at 8:20. We weren't dressed at all for running (although I did have my NB trail shoes) so this was a good benchmark for the next time we come, better prepared. It was a very active day for the family. How could we stay inside with this weather?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Taking path B (make that tread B)

I awoke from a pleasant night's sleep to the percussive sound of rain on the bathroom skylight. I needed to make a decision whether to brave the rain or to stay indoors and use the elliptical or (shudder) the treadmill. I didn't run yesterday and I skipped Monday because it's my rest day. Sunday's run was a slow, short run with my daughter so I'd really only had two cardio workouts since Saturday. I knew I needed a workout and I surprised myself by choosing the treadmill. My decision to run on the treadmill was related to a logic process that I use often during my weekend runs: if path A is similar but easier than path B, take path B. For example, If one road leading home extends the run an extra half mile or has a challenging hill while the other is shorter, flatter, etc., why not accept the tougher option? That's why I chose the treadmill.
It was the first time that I stepped on our treadmill since June. I've been running outdoors at 4:00 AM since then and using the elliptical when conditions forced me to stay inside. I ran on a treadmill while up in Boston a few weeks ago which helped prepare me psychologically for today's experience. The display on our decade-old treadmill is flaky so I set the pace according to my readiness to run. I wore my Garmin 50 to track my distance and pace but I didn't refer to it during my run except to check on time elapsed. Treadmill time is brutally slow. With no distractions the minutes can pass like hours. It really wasn't as bad as I'd remembered it but I missed the experience of changing scenery.
With no information about my pace I moved along fairly well. I ended up covering 2.5 miles at an 8:34 pace - much better than I usually do on the streets at that time. I have every hope that tomorrow morning's weather will be more hospitable. While the treadmill may be a tougher path than the outdoor option that is one case where I'll always choose path A.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Well I can't blame the weather

Suddenly we're a week away from the kid's return to school. They're the lucky ones as many children are already going back this week. It's tough going back to class when it still feels like summer. This morning at 4:10 AM it sure felt a lot like fall. I didn't realize how cool it was before I stepped outside for my run and was excited to feel the crisp air instead of the wall of humidity I've come to expect.. I dressed in my usual summer gear that, as minimal as it is, usually has me sweating by the five-minute mark. I welcomed the chill and remembered back to the late winter when the cool air, energized by the wind, would keep me sweat-free for at least a mile. I woke up a bit tired and groggy and after half a cup of coffee I still felt sleepy. Despite the cool air that I'd hoped would fuel me as I began to run, my pace was lagging. I did feel better with every step and did not suffer from my "Have I only been running that long?" reaction I've experienced of late after checking the Garmin. Around halfway through my run I began to think about my running form and I consciously picked up my pace hoping to post a decent overall run time.

I have been reunited with my iPhone but since its sudden failure last week I'm far less focused on it as a fitness tool. Fool me once, etc. I did use the AllSport GPS app to track my run and it was off by almost 7% for distance. About 2% of that variance was due to the application not tracking distance until I had run a few hundred yards. This was disturbing because it was indicating a strong GPS signal as I started the run. My Garmin 50, like a champ, was less than 1% off on distance. Score that: RFID 1, GPS 0. I ended up covering about 2.3 miles in 51 degree weather and despite my hope that I broke 9:00 per mile I came in at an anemic 9:20 overall. This morning I had the weather in my favor but it didn't do me much good. Perhaps with a better night's sleep tonight I will put it all together tomorrow. Maybe I should have more coffee before I run.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Road runner

I wracked up some decent mileage over the last three days averaging about 4.5 miles per run. Two of these runs were a bit harder because of the heat, humidity and hill challenges. Today I decided to be kind to myself and go out early through the neighborhood and enjoy the mostly flat topography without thinking too much about pace. I started out feeling energetic and wondered how long it would be until the first feelings of fatigue would set in. After almost a year I still hit the wall around 3-4 miles but I always manage to keep going. Most of my weekend runs range between 3.1 and 6 miles although I have run longer than that on occasion. Of course 4.5 miles on a soft trail surface with tricky switchbacks and sharp elevations is not the same as running a flat road course of the same distance. I felt good about all three runs I've competed since Friday.

Today was about putting some additional distance in and I planned to follow a straightforward course that took me around neighborhood #2 and looped around my main neighborhood along the outside roads. For the most part this was a simple flat run but at the 33 minute mark I faced the big hill on Jericho Turnpike that increases elevation by about 25 feet over a tenth of a mile or so. For some reason this hill never seems as bad when running it as it does when viewed from the road and I managed to get up and over without a problem. I used the AllSport GPS app on my iPhone today and it worked well but, like MotionX, iMapMyRun and Runkeeper, it suffers from the lack of precision with GPS. The Allsport did come within 1% of my actual distance of 4.64 miles (the Garmin did slightly better than Allsport) when compared to a hand mapped route on Google Earth. The Allsport interface is quite nice though and their website provides some nice mapping and metrics of your activities. Almost everything you'd want for $10 except accuracy! One feature it lacks is the capability to play the iPod app while tracking your run. MotionX, at $2.99, is a better choice in that case.

This weekend has been fun with friends and lots of good meals that led to some over indulgence. I'll take today as a reset to get back to my rational eating habits. My son and I are going to see the G.I. Joe movie today so my discipline will be tested by the bucket of popcorn he will invariably request. Well I guess when you're training there is no such thing as bad carbs.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Motion(X) sickness

I promise that I'll eventually stop complaining about the GPS functionality of the iPhone but this morning's experience made me wonder if the whole concept needs a few more years to develop into a viable technology. I got off to a good start today in terms of timing, I was dressed and ready to make it out the door by 4:00 AM. This was important because that extra ten minutes would give me more time to run and I really wanted to work on distance as I train for my August 23rd race. If I'd ignored the iPhone on my way out I would have been much better off since it added to my setup time and - therefore - took away from my run time. That would have been forgiven if the result was even remotely accurate but the GPS app did not come through. More on that later.

Yesterday, instead of doing my usual elliptical workout, I decided to work on my upper body that I've sorely neglected over the last month. I started with 20 minutes of arms-only elliptical and followed with 15 minutes of free weights. I didn't want to overdo it so I stopped there. I worked up quite a sweat in the process, something I'll attribute in equal parts to hard work and oppressive humidity. Today I was anxious to get back out on the road and after having a carb-rich lunch and small but well balanced dinner I woke up feeling ready. As I mentioned above I started a few minutes early and even with the extra work stuffing the iPhone into the armband I was outside stretching by 4:09 AM. I turned on the MotionX application and was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that the GPS wasn't acquired by the time I was ready to leave. I started off anyway and switched on the app knowing it would start tracking eventually.

I got a little confused along my course because so many of the streets look the same, especially in the pitch dark and saw that I was on a different street than I'd expected. I figured that the MotionX map would show me where I went wrong when I reviewed it post-run. I felt great and could have easily gone on well past my time imposed limit. I ended up covering 2.6 miles at a 9:09 pace. This was good considering that I wasn't really thinking about speed as I ran. The MotionX was completely off with the path showing me running through people's homes and across lawns and through back yards. I thought in the early morning there would be far fewer things that would interfere with the signal. While the Garmin (accurately) showed 2.6 miles traveled, the MotionX showed 2.09 miles. It did show me where I veered off onto a different street so at least it keeps a true, if sloppy, record of my course.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Who says GPS is more accurate than a foot pod?

My running this weekend has been firmly focused on the tech side. Friday's, Saturday's and today's runs were documented with both my Garmin 50 and with the iPhone using MotionX GPS software. I also used the iPod feature within MotionX to listen to music while I ran. As an experiment I downloaded two Podrunner Podcasts to accompany my runs. These Podcasts, that are available from iTunes for free, are mixed by DJ Steve Boyett to match specific heart rates. On Saturday I chose the 147 BPM Serendipity mix that was highly repetitive House music with a driving beat. At about a mile into my run a female singer began repeating a single sentence that grew old very quickly. Unfortunately that sentence was repeated in various forms for the next ten minutes causing me to want to rip the iPhone off my armband and into the gutter. I didn't want to stop and figure out how to turn off or fast-forward the podcast so I endured it and the mix mercifully switched back to an instrumental after a few more minutes. As aggravating as that experience was, I'll admit that the driving beat contributed to a quicker pace than I would have normally achieved.

The GPS software measured my run at 3.73 miles and the Garmin measured it at 3.8. After observing the course from the exported KMZ file I noticed that the accuracy of the line was far enough off to explain that difference. This morning, after our weekend guests departed, I went out for a run with a goal of covering at least 4 miles. It was due to storm by mid-day so I was anxious to get out and finish quickly. I played the 150 BPM Square One Podrunner mix that was vocal free (which I liked) but a bit soulless and electronic (which I liked less). I'll admit that it did help me focus but I'm thinking about loading some more tuneful music on it to see how that will work. I wanted to broaden my range so I ran west on Jericho Turnpike far enough to enter neighborhood #3 from the north. I had never actually run in this neighborhood so I was excited to experience some new roads. It was growing very hot and humid ahead of the impending storm. I was (and still am) concerned that I haven't done a 5+ mile run in a while and I'll be participating in a 6.2 mile trail race later this month. I had hoped to complete 5 miles today but the humidity had sapped my energy and it was all I could do to make it home. Very soon after my run the storm came through and I snapped a picture (see above) of where I had just run in the scorching heat.

When I finished the run I saw that my Garmin reported 4.07 miles at a pace of 9:18. The MotionX software said I'd covered 3.92 miles at 9:40. I pulled the GPX file onto Google Earth and used the path tool to trace my actual route that almost exactly matched the Garmin with foot pod. The path from the GPS had its margin of error with the GPS vectoring sharply around corners and even on straighter paths. It was easy to see why it under counted the actual distance. I don't know if the Garmin 405 somehow accounts for this and provides a more accurate report. I think the accuracy of GPS is the limiting factor so MotionX is probably as good as it gets. I'll continue using the Garmin 50 because it's easy and superior in terms of accuracy to GPS measurement. However, I'll also use MotionX to document my route so I can view it and share it with others.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

A trail adventure with AG

My excellent vacation was topped off today with a Bethpage trail run with Adventure Girl. We decided to run the trails instead of the bike path and set off without a map relying solely on our sense of direction. We started the run by discussing the Garmin 50 and the QStarz Sports Recorder and how annoying it is when you do a run and forget to turn the thing on or off. After we ran a little more than half a mile (at one point through a barely-there trail with snakes!) we saw that our trail ended at the edge of the woods. I looked at the Garmin to see how long we had run only to discover that I failed to turn it on. That was indeed annoying but we turned back in the direction we'd come, a little more knowledgeable about the layout of the terrain.

We ran a number of trails, staying primarily with the wider cinder covered paths, until we reached a clearing and took what I believed to be a northern route. That trail eventually ended along a road and we soon figured out that we'd been traveling west. Instead of heading back on the same trail we hit the road (actually the sidewalk) and ran north to where we could get back onto the trails from a neighborhood entry point. We followed that trail and switched over to others that looked interesting as we went. It was a great experience, our pace was moderate and the tree cover was good. The path began to get sandy which was tough for running (for me, AG never ever complains) and we reached a point where we weren't sure where to go. The goal was to head south but AG thought it was one way and I thought the other. The sun was directly overhead so that gave us no help. I decided to go AG's way because she's more experienced and, well, she ended up being right.

We followed the trail south until it intersected with the bike trail allowing AG to experience my hated run-ending hill with me. We flew down the final hill and headed to my car for water and then to the shaded benches for shelter from the sun. We were very hot and sweat-soaked and splattered a little with mud but we agreed it was an excellent run. We headed back to my house and AG enjoyed some swimming races with my son in the pool before we shared a high carb lunch with my wife and kids.

We downloaded the QStarz GPS data, which was wacky because it not only recorded our run but everything afterward including the drive home. That certainly helped our overall pace! The QStarz again failed to export the real time recorded data and even after a reset and re-test it still fell short. Too bad - so much potential but so many problems.

It's been a great vacation and today's 4.x mile run puts me very close to 30 miles since I've been off. Tomorrow and next week I go back to the normal routine but I look forward to my early morning runs in the dark. Today was a blast and I couldn't imagine it any better.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

11K is my Sunday best

I had high hopes for a 6+ mile run on Saturday but I only had time for 3.8 miles. Still, that meant at least 8 miles covered between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. AG told me she did 7.5 miles on Saturday and that inspired me to try for at least six today. My prior distance record was 5.95 miles, a point of frustration for me because I ran that with a poorly calibrated Garmin and I thought I had exceeded 6 miles on that run. I set off today armed with both the QStarz Sports Recorder and my Garmin 50 with a goal of running more than six miles.

After the first few minutes of slight pain from my right leg I felt good and I had plenty of energy for a long run. I made my way to neighborhood #2 to build some miles, and exited at the 3 mile mark as I made my way along the southern service road. I copied part of my route from Saturday but in an expanded loop and ran along the busy road that frames the western side of my neighborhood and meets Jericho Turnpike that parallels the north side.  I intended to exit into my neighborhood at the same place as I did yesterday but as I crested the hill I turned in sooner so I could run some less traveled side roads and accumulate more distance. I was pleased when I reached 5 miles because I knew that it would be at least one more mile until I reached home. I had a fleeting thought about running 7 miles but I thought that would be a fun milestone to break in the future. As I came around toward the middle school I saw that I had gone over a half mile past 6 and I followed a path that I know is exactly .25 miles from my driveway. As I ran by that point I noted my distance so I could benchmark the accuracy of the Garmin on this run. I still had plenty of energy when I reached my house and noted that I had covered exactly .25 miles from my marked spot so I had confidence in what the Garmin was reporting.

As I reviewed the run on the watch display I saw that I covered 6.62 miles (11K) at a pace of 9:12. I was very pleased by that. I did not look at pace data once through my run though I did think about moving along a little faster from time to time. I know I could have run a little faster at the end though I'm not confident I could have broken 9:00. Maybe. Overall it was a great run and I'm icing my quadricep with the Moji that is really a nice thing to have. My data from the QStarz was a little wacky, the GPS was confused at the beginning of the run so the distance didn't match. The additional data, like elevation is really nice to have. The Imperial measurement and the bias toward kilometers instead of miles is annoying because the interface doesn't give you good tools to modify these things. The exported XML file uses kilometers so while its great to see your speed every 30 seconds or so on the map you have to translate it yourself into miles.

AG and I are planning on a 6.2 mile run next Friday so I'm glad I got this one under my belt. A new distance record for the Emerging Runner. I'm halfway to a half marathon!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Treadmill depreciation day

It's so cold this morning that people are wearing gloves and winter jackets as we wait for the train to arrive. I wish I could put in a quick three miles on the road to take advantage of this perfect running weather. Hopefully the low temperatures and dry air will continue throughout the afternoon.
I haven't run since Sunday and I miss it. I  did an elliptical workout on Monday and rested yesterday. I took a rest day because I know they're important but part of that decision was based upon my growing dislike for the treadmill. It may be related to the frustrations I've had with measuring my performance and the problems I've encountered with the treadmill display. The data from the treadmill has never really matched my other tracking devices. I could calibrate the Nike+ Sportband and the Garmin 50 foot pod so I knew that I was accurately capturing speed and distance. Recently my Garmin has become inconsistent, tracking under and then over by around 5% on consecutive days. I'm finishing my treadmill runs wondering how I've really performed.

Besides the tracking issues I've found running on the treadmill to be increasingly tedious. The more I run outside the more I dislike running inside. Besides a lack of visual stimulation (television is not a good alternative for me) I'm also finding the noise annoying. I know I should appreciate the treadmill for its convenience and consistency (surface and elevation). I'll try to keep that in mind when I hop back on tomorrow.

Until then I will resume my training today with an afternoon run in the city. I'm hoping to make 20 miles a week until the 8K on June 7 and I do mileage better outdoors. I know I shouldn't be so hard on the treadmill, it's lasted us well over a decade. My wife puts me to shame in terms of the time and distance spent on the machine and she never complains about it. Still, a new quiet and modern unit with a home entertainment center and virtual reality would be nice to have.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Garmin 50 - quirkiness just isn't cutting it

My Garmin 50 is a quirky device. I had some initial trouble navigating its interface and getting it accurately calibrated. Once I mastered that (no thanks to the Garmin manual and online "help") I was able to capture my run data and study different ways using Garmin Connect. After my prior frustrations with the Nike+ Sportband I thought I'd found a great and inexpensive alternative with the Garmin 50.

My trouble with the unit started about a month a ago when, after running close to a mile, I'd noticed that the Garmin was showing 0.00 miles traveled. A quick stop and restart seemed to fix that problem and it didn't return again until the day of my 5K race. On that day I noticed that distance was not recording and I tried to reset the device as I ran but I quickly gave that up since I knew the race timing chip I was wearing would provide the essential data.

After that race it was clear that something was wrong with the Garmin. The interface on the watch had changed and there was no option for showing distance traveled. I replaced the battery in the foot pod and that allowed the watch to recognize that unit but the interface was showing different combinations of data than before. For example, the display used to prominently display elapsed time, speed, cadence, distance and heart rate with the distance constantly displayed below the bigger numbers. Since the battery change the speed metric has switched to pace (which is actually an improvement) and the constant is now time, not distance. I can get used to this but I don't understand how to change it back. There's no documentation whatsoever and I've tried every sequence of buttons on the watch to no avail.

The real issue is that the foot pod, which was accurate to 1/100th of a mile, is now off by a measurable amount. On Saturday it over-recorded by 4% and on Sunday it under recorded by 5%. Consequently I have needed to Gmap my runs to get my true pace. I could do the same thing with a stop watch. I've been thinking about a GPS running watch because having accurate data when running is important to me. Still, I fear that I'll have trouble with satellite acquisition on cloudy days. I just wish there was an accurate and reliable tracking watch in the marketplace that didn't have these flaws. In the meantime I can always rely on Gmaps and Google Earth to calculate my key metrics.

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