Friday, September 27, 2013

New Toy -- Garmin

Right before the Martha's Vineyard Tri, I broke down and bought a new Garmin.  My old one was acting up, and I was in a hurry.  I got the Forerunner 910XT. I thought I was pretty much replacing my old 310, but this new one has swim features that the old one didn't.  That was why I was able to measure the swim course in the race (long).  I'm slowly figuring out how to use the swim features, and I'm a bit excited.  It works in the pool.  It counts laps.  It counts strokes per lap.  It offers a few crude measures of stroke efficiency.  

I have a pretty good idea of my running and biking paces.  I know what cadences I can manage, what speeds I can hold and for how long.  This means that I can manage my pacing using a few pieces of data, usually split times, cadence and heart rate.  

With swimming I've been pretty much blind.  Part of that is because I pretty much am blind, so unless I've put on contacts on the way to the pool, I can't see the clock on the wall at the pool.  As a result, I don't really have a good sense (other than a vague kinesthetic one) of what stroke adjustments, kick adjustments and position adjustments do to my speed.  This is a problem given how much of swimming is based on technique.  

I've been using the watch for a few workouts, and it is helpful.  First, it is reassuring.  I'm more consistent than I thought, both with my lap times, my stroke count and so on. I'm not fast, but if I'm consistent, I can make adjustments and measure them.  Second, if I make an adjustment for a set, I can see pretty directly how it has affected the various measurements.  Do kick turns help? What about bilateral breathing? What about different breathing patterns, etc.  

Okay, so it's another opportunity to be OCD, but that's a good thing right? 


  1. do you remove it to attach to your bike? or just wear it on your wrist the entire time?

  2. Good question. On my road bike, I have a simple cycling computer that measures cadence and speed. So in past years, I would just leave the Garmin on my wrist, and check it periodically to gauge heart rate. The new bike does not have any technology on board, so during the NYC tri, I just kept the Garmin on my wrist. This did not work very well for two reasons. In aero, my wrist was turned the wrong way, so it was awkward to check the watch, and with my contact lenses on and my old man eyes, my head was too close to the watch to read it. In the Martha's Vineyard Tri, I used a different approach. Because I'd purchased the new Garmin, I simply strapped the old one to the bike, put it in bike mode, and used that for real time info while on the bike. That worked pretty well. Friends swear by the quick release Garmin that you can pull off your wrist and stick on the bike. I think I'll forego that for now. Also I still don't have a cadence sensor on the new bike, but now that I know I will be using the Garmin, I'll spring for the Garmin wireless sensor. That should communicate with both watches, so that's the current plan going forward.