Garmin Best Practices

Someone a lot smarter than I am told me, once: "If you don't ask for what you want, you'll never get what you're looking for." As race season builds into a flurry of race plans, race reports, and weekly workout updates, your CBCG coach is swimming in data. Now, we don't mean to be picky, but there are ways you can set up your Garmin devices (well, any devices, but Garmin is the big player in this field and—full disclosure—a sponsor of mine, so they get top billing today) that make it easier for your coach to interpret your data and get you the best feedback possible. Garmin makes it super easy to set up your devices with all these rules, by setting up different activity profiles on your various devices.

1. Turn OFF auto lap for training (bike and run)
Nothing is more frustrating (well, not really, but I'm deploying rhetoric here) than prescribing a workout to an athlete that calls for certain intervals—let's imagine 6x3' intervals at VO2 max with 3' recoveries—and then getting a workout file that is chopped into five mile segments. Or prescribing 800m intervals on the track with 400m recoveries, only to get a file that is broken into one mile pieces. Jeesh, you're probably saying. Cry me a river. Yeah, we know, it seems really silly, but this is one of those ways that you can help your coach help you. Turn off auto-lap, and then just hit "lap" whenever you begin or end an interval.

2. Turn ON auto lap for racing (run only, though!)
Whether you speak in kilometers or miles, it'll be way easier to interpret your run files if you turn auto-lap back on for racing. Your coach can neatly track your pace and heart rate over the course of the event. Just don't forget to turn it back off after your race!

3. Leave auto-pause on all the time for the bike
Unless you're training indoors. Then you'll have to turn it off.

4. Turn auto-pause off for running
This is especially true if you're running on a switchbacky, technical trail. If you get paused at an intersection, just hit "stop" on your watch, and then "start" when you get moving again.

5. Set similar fields for training as for racing
Keep your data fields simple, and keep them consistent between training and racing. As cool as it is to know your VAM on a training ride, it's probably not super useful during an Ironman. On the bike I track real time power, average power for the current lap, present heart rate, and present cadence. My secondary page tracks total time, total distance, and average heart rate for the whole workout (important information for running off the bike). On a third page I track metrics of tertiary importance like TSS, .IF, normalized power, and kilojoules. For the run my primary page is simply present heart rate, and average heart rate for the whole workout. That way I can focus on building my heart rate (i.e. effort) without getting distracted by pace (which is a pretty irrelevant metric). I do have, on my secondary page, my total time, lap pace, present heart rate, and lap time. This is a useful page for training.

6. Unless it's a straight swim, leave the watch at home
I'm likely to get some flack from this one. Right now, swim data doesn't tell a coach a lot. I'd love to know what your approximate times were per interval, but if you do a set of 5x200 on 3:00 and 10x100 on 1:30, you're probably gonna be able to tell me what your paces pretty much were. If it's a long straight swim, like 60' straight with buoy, band, and paddles, then sure, use the watch, let it count your distance, and focus on your stroke. But for regular workouts, get to know how to use the pool's pace clock, know your "good" paces for different intervals, and get reacquainted with your training!