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Gadget girl February 4, 2011

Posted by Merrilee in Uncategorized.
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At work, I’m known as gadget girl. I am not a bleeding edge person — I’ve had a hand held device in my purse since 1998ish (first PDAs, now smartphones), like to try out new programs, applications, etc., but I’m rarely the very first person to get something. Once I get something, I am the person who knows the tips and tricks. And I love to look at the underlying data. How much, when, what led to what other thing …. I can be a data junkie.

In October I broke down and bought myself a Garmin (a 305 if you must know). For those outside the running world, this is a wrist mounted device that is right out of Get Smart. It is decidedly huge. I’ve had children at my daughter’s preschool tell me “That is a BIG watch.” And they are right, but the Garmin is so much more than a watch.

The Garmin track my speed/pace, distance, heart rate, and time. Time is a no brainer — digital watches have had a stop watch (and count down) feature for decades. And I’ve had a heart rate monitor for … 15 years? What is amazing about the Garmin is that it’s a teeny tiny (relatively) GPS device, and one that hits a bunch of satalites, and therefore has pretty amazing accuracy. This accuracy comes with some heft — the reason the device is so large (and attracts the attention of 4 year olds) is that it has a BIG battery, and a battery that needs to be recharged frequently. Why? Because it’s constantly ping – ping – pinging the satalites.  All to track my location accurately, which leads to tracking my pace more precisely.

Just being able to see what my pace is at any given moment is pretty great. I love getting back the data — too fast? too slow? have I run far enough? how about now? But this week I downloaded the software….

Whoa.

Now THAT’S data. A lot of data. After I connected the watch to my computer and synched it with the software, I was awash with ME. For every run I’ve done since I’ve had my watch, I have the distance, time and average pace for my run. When I was wearing my heartrare strap, I also have my average heartrate. For the last month, I can see a map of every run (this is because the watch only retains so much of the detailed GPS data — if I download more frequently, I can see a map of all of my runs). If I hit the lap button, then the run is segmented by laps — how fast, how long, how strenuous.

Since I’m planning to push myself on my weekly “fast” runs, this is very valuable data and will be a great training tool. I’ve trained with a heart rate monitor for years, so just being able to chart my heart rate on my hard runs (and see exactly how “hard” they are) will give me the feedback I need to train. Am I pushing too hard, not hard enough, or am I hitting that sweet spot that will let me push but not get wiped out?

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