22 October 2011

Garmin Grief

I know my non-running readers will think this is a typo and that I meant to type "Gremlin Grief", and that perhaps I am experiencing some sort of Gremlin invasion like in that movie...

or that perhaps I drive a Gremlin and, of course, am experiencing grief over that hideous and poorly-constructed vehicle... and they are puzzled as to how such an intelligent person as I could choose to drive such a crime against automotive nature.


It is not a typo.

A Garmin is a little GPS device that I strap to my wrist. It tells me how far I've run and for how long and how fast. It is supposed to be the answer to all my running problems. It is supposed to make me happier, sexier, faster, smarter...

Lies. All lies.

Don't get me wrong... it is a super nifty device, and it does about a billion things that I don't even know about. So far, I can turn it on and off, charge it, and recently I learned how to make it beep at me at every mile. It does tell me how long and how far I've been running. And it is supposed to give me accurate pace. That is a lot of valuable and helpful information. But for some reason, it always gets me tense and screwed up.

Well, not 'for some reason'... I know why.

All that info-sharing... I remember this from my rowing days. Sitting on the rowing machine with the little read-out staring me in the face... showing me my output... speed, elapsed time, distance covered, strokes per minute. Realizing where you were in the workout, knowing that you were not as fast as you should be, watching your stroke rate become erratic as you got tired or for some reason lost focus. But there were other days when those numbers in front of you were exciting and cause for smiles. We used to put electrical tape over the read-out so as to prevent emotional distraction from interfering with the workout.

One of the hardest things about my Garmin is that the pace seems super erratic. There is no way I jump from 11:14 to 8:48 to 9:44 all in about 50 yards distance while maintaining an even effort and gait. But this happens all the time. I really never can trust the pace part... which for me is the whole point. Pre-Garmin, I had no problem piecing together routes with Googlemaps, and I have a watch that works just fine. I really wanted something to help me keep track of my pace between the miles and made it so I didn't have to do lengthy mathematical calculations while running to keep track of how things were going.

On Tuesday I did speedwork. Please explain to me how running a quarter-mile (0.25 mile) in 1:57 is 7:55 pace. That is what skeevin', lyin', cheatin' Mr. Garmin tried to tell me. By my calculations, it is 7:48. Kind of important when I was shooting for 1:45. And more than a little frustrating.

Last night I did a 5-mile progression run. After the first two miles, I realized that Mr. Garmin was all over the pace-map like a cheap suit. My per-mile paces when the lap beeped were right on, but the in-between readings were bouncing all over the place. I forsook Mr. Garmin and went by feel for the next two miles. Paces were right on and there was no stress associated with seeing numbers significantly too fast and significantly too slow. I was toast at that point, mentally and physically, and backed off for my last mile. Listening to my body ;-)

I know my lesson here is to not rely on the Garmin. But since I even do my speedwork at home on my loops, having that on-going pacing feature would be super helpful.

Does anyone suffer from similar Garmin Grief? Does anyone know how to remedy this glitch?... I would need step-by-step, 'for dummies' directions.

Has anyone ever owned or even ridden in an AMC Gremlin for real? My dad had a Pinto, which is almost as bad but not nearly as ugly.

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Remember:  a Moving Comfort sports bra giveaway is going on. You can enter hereYou can enter to win until this Friday, October 28.


  1. It's a complex beast, no?
    Mine doesn't hop around quite so much, but if it does, it is usually because something interferes with the reception, like trees, tunnels, etc... Then the garmin catches up with hyper-speed readouts.

    One thing I have loved is that C2 Iowa showed me that I can use youtube to figure out almost anything Garmin. You can search "garmin 305" and find all sorts of useful videos, for instance. I know you will come to love it!

  2. I've always heard that Garmins can only update so often, so your pace isn't usually spot on. But what do I know.

  3. I think some Garmin models can only give average pace for your split, not instantaneous pace... But I don't know if yours is like that.
    And that may be the European in me speaking, but I kind of like that Gremlin car!

  4. I stopped using my garmin for a week because it was driving me crazy. It would show something like an 11 min pace, so I'd try to speed up and it would jump to 8 or something.o I'm taking it on my long run tomorrw, but changing the display to just show distance, time and average pace, maybe even lap pace, but not current pace.

    My aunt had a purple Gremlin, and I rode in it all the time. Forgot about that

  5. I've noticed as well that my Garmin doesn't really give me an accurate pace. I usually only look at it when it beeps every mile so I can see how long it took me to complete that mile. Sometimes if I feel like I'm going too fast, I check what my pace is on my Garmin and then reel it in.

    I think Marlene knows a LOT about her Garmin. If you have the same model as hers, then she'd probably be able to answer your questions.

  6. In my opinion, "pace" is not as useful a screen as "average pace," for exactly that reason. I have my Garmin screen set up to show me both -- "pace" is good for ball park (ie, yes, I'm running vaguely in the 8:00 / mile range & not the 10:00 / mile range), but I put MUCH more stock in "average pace." Way less erratic & more reliable. Maybe that would help?

  7. So I don't use Garmin. I use Endomondo with my cell phone but is there a way that you can take the current pace off of your display? I had that as a default on Endomondo and it drove me crazy too because it jumped all over like that too. Instead I swapped it out with Avg. Pace and I love that so much better. It's very accurate oh most days (Unless I lose my signal...) and keeps me better on track.

  8. Go change the GPS settings on the Garmin. If you are using it for speed work set it to update every 1 second. For longer runs set it for less frequent updates as this will save battery life.

    Hope that reverses the effects of the the water on the gremlins for you - just make sure to not feed it after midnight (-:

  9. Honey you are just so far out of my league now... :)Blogging and running. You are driven.

  10. I actually love my Garmin and the only complaint I have is that the 305 can'[t swim with me. Looks like Santa needs to hook me up iwht the 310xt...
    anyhow-I have been reading the blog DC Rainmaker for a while and this guy is a Garmin GURU!! I have learned so much about what my Garmin can do!
    **great tip from Jeff too-did not know that one (scribbling in my little handy dandy notebook for future track sessions)

    In HS my friends boyfriend had a Red Gremlin....AAAK>

  11. I do not have a Garmin ... I think all that information would stress me out. I only wear a watch on about 1% of my runs. Just like to go by what feels good (TWSS).

  12. You have no idea, NO IDEA AT ALL, how hard it was to comment here, when just edging into sight below the comment button was the title for the next post " Bra Giveaway with video replay!

    I've never run with a Garmin. I like the idea, but too many of my buddies swear at their Garmin, rather than by it.

    I've ridden in a Gremlin. Horrible. And don't forget the Pacer, that's right up their for ugliest vehicle ever made.

  13. I had two Gremlins, for real, in high school. The first one was purple and had an orange wheel. I was super cool!!

    It takes a little bit of time to get data from a satellite a few (hahah) miles away in space to your little device on your arm so it updates every few seconds and can be off a little in those seconds. Also, there is about a 5% margin of error in distance because of this issue. Just what I heard.

  14. I'm echoing SF Road Warrior -- I run with just an average pace and it works great -- I only really want to know what pace I'm keeping for the split anyway.

  15. Oh, I LOVED that movie. I had a Gizmo stuffed guy.

    I don't have a Garmin, I use Run Keeper on my iPhone and try to not pay attention to the instant pace notice.

    We can get so obsessive about the numbers. Ugh.

  16. We have a regular Garmin GPS in our car and it does freaky weird things sometimes soon. So maybe it's just them and their wacky electronics! And I recently read a story about a girl who was BORN in a gremlin on the way to the hospital. Pretty sweet, right?!?!?

  17. Yes to what Jeff said or use avg pace which others have said. I'm sure your Garmin has written a post on it's own blog called "XLMIC Grief" complaining that you've never bothered to read her directions.

  18. Ha! Whatever happened to running without the Garmin?! :) I have been doing more and more of the Garminless type of running. Hope you get it figured out. They definitely don't work on trails. Holy crap, your blog is growing!! I know I say that every time but every time I come here I can't help but noticing that I am scrolling down farther and father to comment. :)

  19. Now, I'm no runner... not even a gym-ner, so those figures you were talking about were like reading Russian to me. However, I do use Garmin for GPS while driving. It's helped me a lot for when I was traveling.

  20. I watch my garmin to much it makes me happy when I'm fast and grumpy when I'm slow and so mad when the battery is low or runs out on a run LOL :)

  21. I think others have said this already so maybe you've figured out the problem, but it sounds like you have it set to "pace" instead of "average pace. I never run with just the pace measurement for the exact reasons that you mentioned. Average pace is much more reliable - it tells you what your time for that mile WILL be, based on how fast you're running right now - which might be a bit different than what your pace at that exact moment is. You have to change the options in the settings menu (let me know if you need help and I think I can email you directions). Good luck! I hope your Garmin Grief goes away soon.

  22. I like this post because it seems some people have some good feedback. I was running with my garmin a few weeks back and it was saying I was running a 6:13 pace...and there was NO way I was runnign that fast....sounds like we need to get the average pace set up...hmmm...I will have fun trying to figure that out!


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