Thursday, February 11, 2010

The problem with the Garmin footpod... that I can't get the damn thing calibrated right. Okay, let me back up here and explain myself. Some of my wonderful followers may not be familiar with the Garmin running computers and the various accessories that accompany them. (And a quick note to my wonderful followers - THANK YOU! I never expected so many people to want to read my blog. VOLUNTARILY! You guys are awesome!)

Back to the Garmin. The Garmin 405cx is a handy-dandy gadget for the geeky runner. That would be me. And my husband. Yes. We both have one of these. But I digress... The device is best used outdoors, where GPS can track your run, speed, distance, pace, etc. But should you be forced indoors due to weather (which has pretty much been the case since November), they offer a Footpod accessory that uses accelerometer technology to track your pace and distance. It's supposed to be 98.5% accurate right out of the box. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA NO. Not even close. Out of the box it was reading ridiculously fast, telling me I was running 9:00 miles when I was actually doing 11:30. So I went through the calibration procedure. And then it was reading too slow. Grrrrrr. I have been fiddling with the calibration on my Footpod for, no joke, 2 months and it still isn't right. Perhaps I just run funny (those of you who actually get to SEE me run - no comment from you guys). So getting to the point of this story... the wonky calibration is the reason I ran too fast last night during our FAST workout.

FAST (Fun And Smart Training) is my running group, for those who don't know. We meet every Wednesday evening for a group workout, led by our two fabulous coaches, Brad and Bekah. I arrived early to get in a good jogging warmup (and ended up doing 2 miles). The prescribed workout was 2 x 2mi repeats at goal marathon pace. Okay, fabulous. Just two little problems for me. (1) My goal marathon pace is not much faster than my warmup... so that's hardly a workout. (2) If I ran 4 miles at my goal marathon pace, we would be there all night. Seriously. I'm slow, people. So after some discussion with my coaches, we decided that I should shoot for about 50 seconds faster than goal marathon pace, to better simulate the end of the marathon, when I'll be really tired from hours and hours of running really slow. So, I was targeting a 10:30 pace for my 2 mile repeats. Totally doable.

I started my 1st 2 mile repeat and looking at my Garmin, saw that my pace was pretty good. According to the Footpod. I wanted to save some energy so I could run the 2nd 2 miles faster than the 1st 2 miles. (Negative splits) I was breathing pretty hard at the end of my 1st 2 miles, but still feeling okay. I took the mandated 2 minute rest and then set off for my 2nd 2 miles, trying to run a little faster this time. Which I did. I was getting pretty tired during that last mile and thinking that it felt harder than 10:30 should feel. But I had just enough oomph left in me to "sprint" the last lap. (I put sprint in quotes because what feels like a sprint to me is a warmup pace for a lot of runners :P ) My heart rate was pushing 185 (about 95% of max HR). (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the Garmin also has a heart rate monitor! I told you this thing was for geeky runners!) The cooldown after that was so wonderful. I was beat. Of course, then Bekah made us do all sorts of crazy core work after that. Yeeeeouch!

Alright, let's get down to the data analysis. I know you're all dying to see it. *crickets chirping* Oh come on! Somebody out there surely wants to see it! Well, I'm showing it to you anyway. Take that!

The Garmin wrist unit has a lovely lap counter button, which is handy when running on a track where 7.5 laps = 1 mile. Who can track that in their head? Not me! So when I look at my Garmin data, I can easily take my lap times, multiply by 7.5 and get my lap pace. And then graph it like so, Laps on the X-axis and Pace on the Y-axis (click to see it larger):
Uhhhhh. Wait. What? My first 2 miles was an average pace of 10:07, and my 2nd 2 miles was 9:36??? That's a little bit faster than the 10:30 I was SUPPOSED to run. No. Wait. That's a LOT faster. Oopsie! Well no wonder I was so exhausted! I was pretty much running my 5k race pace. And that last lap of the last 2 miles... 8:15 pace. Not too shabby for a slow girl like me. Now THAT, my friends, is how we do negative splits.

So, once again, I will be recalibrating my Footpod. And I will take the time to do the math and calculate what my lap times should be for a particular pace so that I'm not led astray by the Footpod. For example, to achieve a 10:30 pace, one must run each lap in 1:24.

You may be asking yourself, "Self, how does one recover from such a tough run?" Okay, you're probably not asking yourself that at all. But I was looking for an excuse to talk about my post-FAST dinner. See, after FAST every week, a bunch of us go out for dinner. You gotta refuel after tough workouts like this, right? Last night we went for sushi. And it was SO GOOD.

And now I'm done rambling. For now.

Peace, Love, Train.


  1. Ummmmmmmmm... you say every post-FAST meal is your ever ;-)

  2. Pretty much any food after a tough run is the :P ;-)