If Found on Road, Please Pause my Garmin

This is almost like a job isn’t it?

So much of the training we have been doing is tied to data. From the very beginning we have tracked our mile pace on the run, or how fast our overall pace is on the bike. We become obsessed with our 50m split in the pool and how that will translate to Open Water once the time comes. We even look at our SWOLF after every swim, and I have no idea what the hell a SWOLF is! I even measure my HRV (heart rate variability) and I am not sure I understand how to correctly interpret the number. But I measure it. Hells Ya I measure that sucker.

Pace watches are not just a nice thing to have, they have become a necessity, needed to track pace and heart rate over the course of a workout. Want to see a triathlete FREAK out? See what happens when his Garmin dies in the middle of a run, or if s/he forgets to hit START after a water break and loses a mile of data. I’m telling ya people, the working status of your toys can be the difference between a good workout and a bad one. I have been guilty in the past of skipping an entire workout after work because I forgot to bring my watch. How sick is THAT??

Don’t Judge! You know you’ve done it to, or at the very least it entered your head to do it.

I think it is the people like me that are more attached to these electronic devices than the more seasoned athletes. It is because our whole psyche is attached to the idea of “improvement”. We need to see if we are getting better, each race, each run, each lap in the pool. We are new to the idea of pacing, so we need the device to tell us when our swim is too fast, or the run pace has dropped too low. Whether our heart rate is in the right zone. Better athletes know these things by feel. So the idea of “running naked” (i.e. without any electronics) is not an issue for them. For us it is much different.

Oh, but it doesn’t just stop there … No No No

AFTER you have completed your workout you must record the data somewhere. Garmin is nice because it uses an ANT+ stick, and now even Bluetooth, so as soon as I walk in the door it sees the watch and uploads it to Garmin Connect, where I can then look on my computer and analyze every detail of my run/bike/swim. This in turn auto directs my information to Strava, Map My Run, Runkeeper, Swim.com, and Training Peaks.

“Wow, look at my heart rate during this section! What happened there??” Select the section with the mouse and lo and behold the area shows up on the map where you were … “Oh Yeah!! That’s when that snake came out of the woods and scared me to death!!”

It actually can be useful, as I found during the first and second year. I noticed pace drops after 30-45 minutes of biking. Realizing I was not rehydrating enough, my coach at that time (the wonderful KC) suggested I set my watch (see? another good reason to have it!) to beep at me every 10 minutes, so I knew when to drink on the bike. It has now become Pavlovian. Every time I hear a watch beep I look for the straw. It’s scary. And embarrassing when I am at dinners or functions.

So, you have your data on the watch, and now it has been upload for review to the website, everything stops there right?

Wrong!

NOW you must report it to every social site where you belong. Facebook (all three accounts). Twitter (both accounts). FourSquare. Daily Mile. MyFitnessPal, Fitocracy. They will dutifully notify everyone you know, have known, never met, of your workout and how much you sucked (or rocked) that day. I have heard some say (my family and friends included) that this is just a way of garnering attention. A need for an electronic “pat on the back”. A few “Atta Boys” for the collection.

Well … OK … that might be true.

So my answer to them that ask that question is “SO??”

What these people do not understand is that it is much more than that. I cannot speak for everyone, but my purpose of doing it is to hold myself accountable. If I post on Facebook, or Twitter, that I have an 11 mile run on the schedule after work tonight it will be noticed when people do not see a corresponding completion report come through. Don’t believe me? Try it. I had friends worried during the Florida Half Ironman back in 2012 because they were following me on the website tracking and knew I entered the water but never saw me come out, to the point that they were texting each other about it. Some would say that is odd. I, however, think that is one of the coolest things ever, that friends would care enough to not just track your race, but to get concerned when it isn’t going as planned (this was due to a timing issue by the way, and they relaxed when my bike time popped on the screen).

So I log … and I log … and I log ….

My weight each morning goes into MyFitnessPal and is reported via Twitter and Facebook if I lost weight.

Each workout is uploaded to GarminConnect and analyzed to death.

Everything I eat each day is logged into MyFitnessPal which tells me my carb/protein/fat ratio. In that way if I gain pounds I can look to the diet the day before and see if there is a link.

When I arrive at the gym, or at the trail, I log it through Swarm. This not only tells my friends and family I am there and safe, it also lets them know someone is on the trail they can join in for a workout if they are in the area.

Meghan and out-of-town training partners can see that I am on my training schedule just by looking at Facebook. Team in Training coaches can see I am getting my required miles in during the week by looking at Daily Mile. I can set goals each by looking at the past years performance in the same race and trying to beat my last time, because I have all my races in a nice spreadsheet which is formatted by splits, and pace, and T1 and T2 times.

Comment away on this one, or you can just send me a Tweet (@FatSlowTri)! 😉

And by the way, a SWOLF stands for SWIM GOLF and is the number of strokes + the time it takes for one length of the pool, so for example, if it takes you 12 strokes and 30 seconds to go down 25 meters, your SWOLF score is 42. The idea is to get the lowest number possible. This obviously can only be compared to pools of the same size, as a 25 yard pool with be lower just because it is shorter.

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