I Have a New Training Partner

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Howdy all! Hope everyone is doing well on this first official day of spring! So, do you think that spring has truly sprung? Personally, I would say yes, on account of all the fine weather we’ve already had, plus the fact that we’ve changed all the damn clocks already. For a night owl, I much prefer the fall back than the spring ahead, but that’s a totally different story, isn’t it? I also know that spring has truly sprung because I’m realizing that I have to get more serious about my training again. I have a bit of a lull between races at the moment, so that’s as good a time as any to re-organize my training schedule and get things back on track. That generally means picking up my 5 times a week running plan again, and making sure I do as much biking and swimming as I can as well. In the past, I’ve generally done all of my training solo, utilizing my trusty Suunto heart rate monitor, and Gmaps Pedometer to get things going. It’s been a pretty successful plan, and luckily I have enough motivation to keep it up. However, over the winter months, I started doing a bit more group training. Specifically, I’ve been going to 2-3 spin classes a week, and running Sundays with a group of triathlete-types at what is affectionately known as ‘Happytime’ (1.5 – 2.5 hours running followed directly by 2 hours spinning). That’s gotten me a bit used to having some training partners. As such, I decided maybe I should buddy up with someone. As you have probably guessed by the picture already, this buddy now comes in electronic format! Perfect for a techie guy like me. So just what is this huge watch? Well, read the whole post to find out!

What you see pictured in front of you is none other than the Garmin Forerunner 305, which I got along with the heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. To see all my pics, check out my folder on flickr. What exactly is all that? Well, essentially, just how it sounds. It’s basically an over-sized watch that does about a million different features. I can monitor my heart rate while I train, keeping an eye on what zone I’m in and how hard I’m pushing. At the same time, the GPS aspects of this beauty will tell me how far I’ve run, what my current pace and speed is, what my average pace and speed are, time elapsed, calories burned, and so on an so forth. If I’m switching to my bike, I just press a button to tell it I’m biking now, and it adjusts all the different zones, as well as calories burned based on weight of bike. It’ll also tell me my cadence (RPM of my pedals, key training number), as well as speed based on wheel rotation rather than GPS. All the other relative GPS features work too.

The best part of this package though? Well that would have to be the software that came with it. The Garmin Training Center software. The watch came with a number of snazzy add-ons like a USB charging cable, as well as a USB cradle that I plug into my computer to upload / download data, such as training stats and/or pre-set courses that I design on the PC. It’s all very cool. The training center will then keep track of all my various workouts, and give me a total breakdown of all the relevant stats. I love that. I can have a look at a graph on which I can plot multiple things like heart rate and pace over time or distance, elevation profile, speed. It just totally kicks ass! And of course, because it’s a GPS at its core, I can fully map out my route using the Mapsource software that I already had from my Etrex Legend GPS unit. For the ultimate geek-out experience, I can then export the route data to a file, which I can then import into my licensed version of Google Earth Plus, which I can then do a time-lapsed fly-by of my route. If I ever figure out a way to record a movie from it, I’ll post it for you all to check out. It’s too cool for school 😉

Since I’m away at a conference while I write this (ICE ’07), I can’t post any shots of the resulting training runs I’ve done with the unit, but if I get to it, I’ll post a couple shots of how it all looks on the computer. I’d write a longer post about this toy, but really, there’s no point. Let’s just say it’s a pretty neat-o toy, and it’ll definitely help me in my quest to finish my first Iron-distance triathlon this September. Keeping tabs on my race stats keeps me motivated. I know Kev has a new Polar heart rate monitor with a foot pod to do a similar tracking, so I guess I’m one step behind him on that one, but I’d like to think that I kicked it up a notch 😉 Till next time, keep it real.

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