Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fun with Garmin

I think few people realize the full potential of their Garmin Forerunners. As a proud owner of the Garmin Forerunner 405, I've been doing some pretty fancy stuff with mine, and I thought I would share.

The Garmin gives you the freedom to run anywhere without having to know the distance of the route beforehand. My fiancé and I have been enjoying exploring our new area, and coming back home to see the maps of our routes.

What I want to focus on in this post is creating custom workouts using the Garmin Training Center. The Garmin Training Center is free software that you can download from the Garmin Website. You must also have the Garmin ANT agent installed on your computer, which most users already have in order to see the workouts in Garmin Connect.

Once Garmin Training Center is installed on your computer, you can create custom workouts. You create "steps" that are defined by either a particular distance, a particular amount of time, a particular heart rate, or simply by pressing the lap button on the Garmin device. You can create steps that repeat and save yourself the hassle of entering the same interval six times. Additionally, you can create a "target" for each step. This could be a heart rate zone or a particular pace range. If you fail to be in this target range, the Garmin will beep at you until you are within your target.

One of the more complicated interval sets I do is intervals of 1:00, 2:00, 3:00, 2:00, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 with equal duration recovery jogs. These intervals are sandwiched between a warm-up and a cooldown. Programing this workout into my Garmin device is easy. I write the steps into the workout builder and then transfer the workout to my device wirelessly via the ANT Agent.

Now it's time to go running! The Garmin tracks my pace, distance and heart rate. Best of all, the Garmin beeps at me when it's time to change intervals so I don't have to worry about looking at my watch-- I can focus on pushing hard! During the intervals, the Garmin displays my pace, my heart rate, and how much more time is left in that particular interval. If it was a distance-based interval, it would tell me the distance remaining. I try my best to focus on running and to ignore all the juicy data on my watch- but sometimes I can't resist taking a peak! The intervals end and I do my cooldown jog.

I come home and set the Garmin near my computer. The ANT Agent detects a new workout and automatically uploads it to Garmin Connect and the Garmin Training Center (this is optional). From either one of those interfaces, I can see my pace for each interval and how much distance I covered during each segment. I can look back on previous workouts of the same interval set and compare heart rates and paces. Best of all, I can import this workout into my RunningAhead training log with just one click. Now I have all the data stored in my log.

And then it automatically publishes to Facebook! (This is a RunningAhead feature-- not a Garmin feature). My running friends can view the workout and I can view their workouts.

Programming your own workouts into your Garmin is just one of the many great things about this training tool. Happy running!


  1. That's great! I've always resisted getting a Garmin, but I may have to reconsider next year. Thank you!

  2. Maybe someday when I no longer living where I am and assuming I'm still wishing to run and race I'll have to get one of these more advanced watches as opposed to the standard Timex lame watch that was considered great 25 years ago. Like oh it saves 50 laps WOW hahaha... One thing I don't think I'll ever want to do is publish my workouts online... That's a keep to myself sort of thing and share with only those I wish to share with or those whom I think may need to know!!