Make the Most of Your Garmin

I love that Garmins and other GPS devices are now so common for many athletes. It wasn’t that long ago that global positioning satellite devices were only something you heard about in James Bond movies. Now, they’re extremely powerful training tools that you see most athletes using and many of us don’t know how anyone ever trained before them. With such a powerful device, it is important to know how to use it. These basic tips will help you get started.

Data Fields

One of the first things to customize on your Garmin are the data fields that display during a workout. These are the displays that I like to use for the different sports. For each sport, the primary metric to display at the top and in the biggest font is your pace or work effort. For swimming it’s pace/100. For biking – depending on whether or not you have a power meter – it’s either power or heart rate. I show the 3 sec power avg. If you don’t have a power meter, show your current heart rate. For running, it’s min/mile pace (change that to heart rate if you’re doing trail runs up and down the mountains). As a bonus in cycling, I also like to display cadence – think of that as how efficiently you are working.

These are the most important primary metrics to display because it tells you how hard you are working right now. Going into any training session or race, you should have a target pace or power and you need to try and hit that. That is the most important thing you should focus on.

Garmin

The secondary metrics I display are always distance and time. Sometimes during different workouts you can change those to lap distance or lap time if it makes sense for the workout you’re doing. These are helpful to give yourself an idea of where you are in the workout or race.

What Not to Display

Don’t display too much! When we start exerting ourselves physically, our brains actually start to function worse. I’ve seen many athletes who display way too many metrics – especially cycling. Simplify! During the workout, you need to make it as easy for yourself as possible. All that data is still being collected and you can analyze it later.

Use the Laps

Every Garmin also has the ability to set laps. You can either do this manually by pressing the lap button (back button on the 920) or automatically by setting a new lap by distance or time. During a conversation pace run for example, I usually have mine set to auto-lap every mile. It is especially helpful during an interval type of workout where you might have 10 minutes at a higher intensity, a 10 min recovery, and then 10 minutes at higher intensity again. Auto-lapping every 10 minutes alerts you when each new part of the workout starts. It also is extremely helpful to analyze workouts afterwards because you can easily see where each lap is in the workout.

An advanced feature is to program more elaborate workouts. Some Garmin devices allow you to do that right on the watch or computer and some you have to program it online and send it to the watch. If you have a workout where the intervals are not all the same length, try programming your workout. It’s a really cool feature!

Keep these tips in mind and give them a try.

Bond Watch

Recovery

Stretching, Compression, Rolling, and Massage

Your muscles are made up of numerous thin muscle fibers bound together to form larger muscles. You can think of them almost like a stereo cable where there are many individual wires bound together to form a larger cable. When we workout and apply stress to our muscles, those muscle fibers basically get shortened and tangled up like a girl’s ponytail blowing in the wind during a long run. Just like that girl needs to brush her hair to remove the tangles, we need to “brush” our muscles to untangle the muscle fibers and elongate them back to their normal state. Here’s how to brush them:

Stretching

Long, slow stretching after a workout can help your muscles recover because it stimulates blood flow and also elongates the muscles. Try to target your quads, hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors especially. Also make sure you get any other areas where you are particularly sore. If you have the opportunity, check out a restorative yoga class for a great recovery and other ideas for stretches. There are lots of great yoga studios out there. You can also try yoga videos on YouTube. One channel that I’ve found to be especially good is Tara Stiles. She has a lot of great videos that are only 5-10 minutes long to help you get started.

Compression

Compression apparel promotes active recovery because the compression increases blood flow and helps to flush toxins from your system. At Endurance House, we carry compression socks, calf sleeves, shorts, and tights. The compression equipment that we carry is tight enough to stimulate blood flow and is also graduated (the amount of pressure changes farther away from the heart). Be wary of ‘fashionable’ compression equipment that does not have these features. There is a lot of fashionable compression equipment out there that is little more than a tall sock. Good compression clothing should be tight and tough to get on and off.

Massage/Rolling

There are a variety of massaging and rolling tools for you to try including the stick, foam rollers, cold rollers, the R8, and Moji rollers. At a basic level, these all work the same – they apply pressure to your muscles and physically straighten those muscle fibers back out. There are pros and cons to each tool. The handhelds can be easier to apply a variety of pressure since it is entirely dependent on how hard you press down. At the same time, it can be hard to reach the right muscles and keep them relaxed while rolling it. The foam rollers make it easier to relax the muscles because your body weight applies the force, but it can be a little harder to get at all of your body parts and apply just the right amount of pressure. Some tools are also nice because they’re small enough to travel with or even stick in your race bag. The other great massage option of course is to go to a professional masseuse.

These techniques will help you recover from tough workouts faster. By decreasing your recovery time, you’ll be putting yourself in a better position for that next workout. Start adding some of these suggestions to your daily routine and you’ll feel the improvements quickly.