Garmin and I have made peace

running GPS watchYou know I have a bad history with my Garmin–just not a big fan. But with this last training cycle, I had so many miles of marathon pace and tempo that there was really no way to avoid it. I had to suck it up and slap that thing on my wrist.

How did it go? I still don’t love it, but it served its purpose for those tempo/MP miles. I’ve learned a few things about it that have made me embrace it a bit more. Most importantly, I’ve learned that if I’m wearing it, I can’t look at it constantly. Really it comes down to the mile splits that matter with a Garmin, not the data in between. So I had to program myself to only make the occasional peeks between mile beeps. This led to much steadier pacing, which is my strength anyhow. I didn’t want to let the Garmin mess me up in that regard by sucking me into obsessively checking and adjusting pace.

Still, even though I am now on friendly terms with my Garmin, there are places I won’t use it:

  • It’s a big no on my recovery runs–I want my body to set the pace here. I know the mileage on all my familiar routes, so when I run a recovery run or any run that doesn’t require a particular pace, it’s a no beep zone.
  • I won’t race with it. I still think I will be better off to check in with my good ‘ole Timex Ironman model when running my marathon next week. Even though I have worked on not checking my Garmin constantly, having that pacing info there at all times just doesn’t work well for me, especially in a race.
  • I won’t train on the track with it. I still feel strongly that the track is the best way to learn how to pace yourself and you can do this much better without a GPS on hand than with.

Don’t get me wrong–I do think a Garmin (or other GPS watch) is a helpful tool in certain circumstances. But by and large, more of my runs will continue to be old school than new.

And you? Can you go without the Garmin on occasion? 

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  1. says

    I am a compulsive mile marker. Way before GPS I knew all my miles because I had gone over them in my car. My first Garmin was like a gift from the gods. That being said, I don’t compulsively look at my pace, I like to run what I feel is right, then check to see what “right” was. I really just want to know my mileage, and to a certain extent, my average pace.

    I do not use it in races. I do not use it on the track (it doesn’t see to work right anyway, going around in circles (oops, now you know that I’ve tried it)).

    I’ve been using it on my street intervals, but I don’t look while I’m running, just check afterwards to make sure I am consistent.

    I also us a phone app and an HRM. I am techno runner :-)
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  2. says

    Before I became obsessed with my garmin I knew the distance between every major point on my run. Now I definitely rely way too much on my little gadget. Most of my runs have to be at a certain pace. Even my easy runs are between a certain pace so I need the garmin to help keep me in check. If I didn’t have it I think I would run my easy runs too fast and then I might not hit my threshold or marathon pace without it either. I will admit that I haven’t relied on it quite as much as I used to, but it is still like a third arm to me.
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  3. says

    I’ve come to rely way too much on my Garmin. Gosh, I was just thinking about this tonight. how with my first marathon all I had was a Timex watch and a sense of myself as a runner. I just ran. I checked in every 2 miles and figured that anything under 16:00 sounded good to me. I can still remember looking at my splits…that’s weird because I rarely remember anything from races. But 10 years ago I can remember my marathon splits on my timex watch…15:44…15:55… and I was free from that Garmin holding me back telling me I was going too fast or too slow or… I need to find myself as a runner again. :) I know that sounds cheesy but it is so so true. And a lot of that is from that Garmin. Good training tool but I’m pretty sure it has also held me back a bit. So excited for your marathon Amanda.

  4. says

    I’m with ya on the track workouts. I actually still use it, but *only* because it’s the best watch I have to keep my splits. I don’t check the “pace” at all – I change the screen to elapsed time or some such, and just use that every 200 m.

    Otherwise, I use it for most of my runs, but remember that the “this second” pace is not a good estimate of my overall pace. So I check in pretty frequently, but don’t let any single reading freak me out. I pay much more attention to the mile splits.
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  5. says

    I find it very interesting that you don’t wear it on the track. That’s one of the places years ago that I wished I had a garmin…but I agree with you – it definitely teaches your body how to pace. I knew what a 1:30 1/4 mile felt, 1:32, 1:35…each second felt differently.
    I’ve been using my garmin more and more. I also don’t always wear it on my recovery runs. I’ve started just leaving it on the main screen (so I can’t see pace) when I don’t want to get obsessed about my pace. I also don’t have it show me my current pace – only my mile pace so I don’t get too freaked out if a huge hill or something slows me down!

  6. says

    I rely heavily on my Garmin for training, but I don’t have trouble completely ignoring it while running. I do like having the data afterward though. I also like it during races. I set it up to show average per mile pace, and I generally don’t look at until I cross a physical mile marker. This way I can also figure out the difference between the Garmin and physical mile markers. It helps me figure out my (actual) splits. But I’m not always looking at it. I do most of my hard runs on the TM, so the TM keeps pace for me. When I run outside I’m okay with running by feel, and having the GPS for later data analysis.
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  7. says

    I’m a Garmin girl. Maybe an addict. I really use it to pay attention to miles (mostly so I can make myself realize how far I’ve gone and stop myself) and pace. And it’s not about pace to go faster, usually I need it to make myself slow down. Accountability I suppose. But during my last half, it froze up and I was almost freaking out. How would I know my pace??? I didn’t. I still finished really well, but maybe if I’d have known I could have kicked in just a teensy more oomph? Maybe? Maybe not.
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  8. says

    I wish I could go Garmin free. I don’t mind heading out on an easy run or trail without it, but as far as marathon training I am a slave to the numbers. I do have to say on the track, I set my pace by feel with someone yelling the splits out to me. Nothing wrong with old school though!
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  9. says

    This makes me happy! Garmin is a big no no on any other days then speedwork for me, and since I don’t really do track work its makes an appearance 2-3 times max per week. The things that irritates me about the Garmin isn’t the watch itself, it’s how people over utilize it. Just like you I don’t think there is ever the need to run recovery/easy runs by pace and data where instead they should be governed by feel. Make better use out of the miles this way n
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  10. says

    Good to know – I’ve been thinking about asking for a Garmin (maybe Mother’s day?) but I’m not sure I really need it. First, as I’ve mentioned 20+ times, I’m a huge treadmill runner. But, also, I’m like you – I have my trusty Ironman Timex and if I need more info I just measure my route after I finish the run. I’m afraid that I would become a slave to the Garmin and that defeats the goal of trying to make easy runs EASY.
    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the Garmin.
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  11. says

    I love my Garmin(s) :)
    I won’t run without one of them. It’s not that I need to constantly check my pace, but I like to look at it as I come to the end of a workout. Maybe I need to pick it up a little and if that’s the case, I force myself into trying to get a faster finish.

    Even though I run with the Garmin, it doesn’t matter whether I am racing, recovering, running easy, or speed work, I run by feel. Sometimes I feel great, even on recovery days and go with it. Sometimes it just isn’t there and it doesn’t matter if it’s a race, speed work or whatever, if it’s one of those “bad” days, nothing makes a difference for time or pace and I just push to finish and that’s what counts.
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  12. says

    I am so glad to read this! I don’t wear a Garmin and, while sometimes I think it might be good for me, I know I would get too dependent on it. When I am training distances, I carry my phone with me and put it away in a back pocket and at the end of the race, I am able to check it to see how far I ran. Because I refuse to obsess about my exact times, it is probably why I am stuck within a small 5-minute time frame for my marathon times, but I would much rather run and feel free rather than be dependent on technology.
    Amy @ Writing While Running recently posted..Building Back to SpeedMy Profile

  13. says

    It’s definitely easy to become slaves to our watches! I think your plan sounds reasonable to me. I also run by feel on most of my runs, and check my pace when I get home (once the run is uploaded). I don’t check it in a lot of races (set it but don’t look at it), and will often abandon looking at it in other races. I do use it for my marathons though, to check my splits and avg pace. Even then though, if I fall off pace or I’m struggling, I’ll stop looking at it then too because I don’t need the added stress. Don’t look at it for trail races, totally run by feel.
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  14. says

    I actually run with my ipod and MapmyRun app running because I can shut off the notifications and it’s REALLY hard to check your pace on it. However, for long runs I have it set to .5 mile increments to notify me of my speed which is just right and when doing speed work I use the .2 mile speed notification. That said, many days I just shut the notification off and just go :)
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  15. says

    I had to go sans Garmin once I got along in my pregnancy….I was getting discouraged by my quickly slowing pace and didn’t want it to make me want to run faster. I honestly haven’t started using it again but it may make its debut this weekend since I have a race coming on the 17th…I love using it in races!
    Fancy Nancy recently posted..TTTMy Profile

  16. says

    I’ll be the first to admit that I am a little obsessed with my Garmin, the only real runs I don’t do with it are my treadmill runs, and sometimes when I forget my watch Ill run with the stopwatch on my ipod and map the route later for distance.

    I got mine a few years ago while training for my first marathon and at first I was so obsessed with constantly looking at it. Over time I learned not to automatically look down when I heard the beep. I also changed the screen on mine (I have the 405), so that only the time or only the distance shows that way if I did peek down I would only know one stat and not all of them (only time I see mile splits is if I happen to look at the beep). I am so attached to it because of my OCD though, I am very particular about numbers and my mind works based on numbers, I love plugging in my watch and seeing all the details on my computer.

    For tempo runs, intervals and other things, it is a great tool. I have found the joy in not using it once and a while, I’m just so big on logging my miles exactly and perfectly (love that OCD), that sometimes it stresses me out when I don’t have my garmin (Doesn’t bother me on the treadmill, only when I am outside without it). Something like a workout run or long run or race, I cant handle that added stress so you wont see me without my Garmin.

    As I break into triathlons this year, I am learning to go without some things, like doing some of my runs without my ipod, and getting used to bricks, and obviously going to have to get a timex ironman and learn to deal with that instead of my garmin for tri’s….I have a feeling I will have plenty of posts to go with this once I really start getting into it. “life without garmin”.
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  17. says

    I didn’t get a Garmin until last fall, and didn’t start really using it until this year. I am trying to not rely on it at all to teach myself better pacing and sometimes I don’t even race with it! I know it does so many cool things, but I only use it for splits and distance. I tend to run better when I don’t look at it or don’t wear it than when I do! I think it’s a nerves thing.
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  18. says

    One of the reasons that I’ve never really used a Garmin or GPS watch is that I know that I would check is obsessively and when I do that, it makes the run feel so much more labored. Sometimes I even have trouble with my plain old watch. But I have started using an app on my phone to help me gauge pace which is my weakness (and also didn’t want to invest in a Garmin if it was going to drive me crazy and not serve its purpose) and I’ve gotten used to not checking it much during my runs. I would definitely agree with your guidelines.
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  19. says

    I only wear my Garmin when I’m not certain of the distance of a route OR if I want a time for my run. I found that if I wear it everyday, I put too much pressure on myself to try to go too fast. When I was timing every run, I wasn’t enjoying running anymore. Now that I’m getting older, I’m not as worried about time…more worried about staying injury-free and just getting out there everyday!

  20. Terzah says

    I’ve weaned myself off of using it on easy runs–I run with a Timex on those, or without any watch if I’m on a route I know well and don’t need to time. But I’m still using it on all tempo and speed workouts. And I do use it in races mostly because I like to analyze the data later. I do try not to look at it too much in races–mostly there as a check-in.

  21. says

    I totally became Garmin obsessed since I got it soon after starting to run, but I’ve been scaling back a lot more lately. I wear it at the track but just to keep record of my splits, and it has helped a lot not constantly checking my pace. For recovery runs I wear it to track my mileage but just have the time screen visible. I did find it really useful during my tempo run since I kept finding myself slowing, so checking my pace helped keep me at my target pace. I will definitely wear it at Eugene, though. I think it’s a bit if a security blanket type thing! 😀
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  22. says

    I started running with a garmin two years ago but before that I used a timex and sometimes i still use it. I think I knew how to pace myself very well before I started using a garmin. I can usually tell how fast I am going without it and now just use it for the distance marker mostly. I use it on the track and in tempos but I usually only use the garmin for “time” just like a timex because thats how I learned to pace on the track. I think its important to know how to pace yourself before using a garmin.
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  23. says

    I’m still rocking the 305 red brick… i only look at mine for the mile beeps and not every mile. I’ve settled into my pace much easier now that I am running further and more consistently. I’ll go on runs without it or use my phone which is strapped to my arm. Allows me to track it without being able to look at it.

    I however, do race with it and would feel lost without it. I’ll take a look at the mile beep and see how I was and whether I need to slow down or speed up. Sometimes I’m surprised at the pace I’m keeping (in a good way) and it keeps me thinking positively that I’m on pace. A sort of reassurance type look.
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  24. says

    I rarely look at my Garmin at all. In fact, I can do 15 miles and the only time I look at my Garmin is when I start and I stop it. For me, it’s more about data to look at after a run, not during. That said, there are some runs, when I purposely look at the Garmin more often, for example during a tempo run.
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  25. says

    I use my Garmin all the time and on Monday, when I ran without it because I hadn’t charged it, It felt like I hadn’t run. I use the heart rate monitor mostly to make sure I’m not pushing too hard (which I have a tendency to do). But I also like to use it on speed days just to see how consistently I’m running.
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  26. says

    I love Ms 310 and the instant info she gives me, But while I love to run fast, like this morning I am able to run slowly and just so: OH the mind is willing, but the body is week.

    Went running marathon pace I run as to the feel, and then look, oh it fast today, or it slow today, it doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be running to hard just to hit the right pace.
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  27. says

    I’ve been running a lot without my garmin lately, mostly because I can’t find my powercord. I always find it so tough to not check in on my pace! I am a terrible self pacer though, so it does help me out there!
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  28. says

    Interesting post! I think you and i are opposites on this.

    I love my Garmin and I love knowing my real pace. I do play the game of “what pace do you *think* you are running?” and then I’ll look…and I’ll get a good idea of how I’m really feeling LOL

    And on recovery days, yes, its’ a good idea to ignore the pace. But I’m not so type A that I have to get a low pace number just because I”m wearing the thing.

    I also like to track my data (as you may know 😉 so I always want to wear it to do that.

    Why can’t you just not display the pace on your garmin and just have the time showing? You can have the data afterward and not be tempted to look at your pace. Personally I have NO use for non-gps watchs in training.

    The 610 can show 4 numbers at once and my fav training display is to have:

    split time
    heart rate
    last mile split
    current mile split pace so far

    In a marathon I will have

    elapsed time
    average pace
    current mile split pace so far

    During a race I have an idea of each mile’s pace as it develops…I make minor pace changes during the mile to hit it spot on (if I can!)

    In a race I’ll use a pace band along with the elapsed time display to check up on the gps noise (usually about 5s per mile) and how I’m doing running the tangents. I adjust my goal garmin pace (if I’m able!)

    So, I love my Garmin..(the watch itself ) ..the garmin software however, is another story 8/
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