Monday, March 31, 2008

Saturday Long Run and a new way to use my Garmin

Well folks, I'm back after a couple of days off - of blogging that is. I had a productive weekend of running. If you recall, a for the past couple of weeks I've been having trouble maintaining my pace on long runs, often running out of gas the last mile or two. I know that this is a problem of going out too fast and not having enough in the tank to finish. Having done this exact thing at the OC Half Marathon, I want to start practicing the art of pacing *now*.

This weekend, I decided I would try to use my Garmin 305 to maintain pace on my long run. I have always used my Garmin in "workout" mode - using Training Center to create a workout that I would transfer to the Forerunner. While this is great for normal workouts, it doesn't make pacing an easy thing to check. First off, you need to make sure that all of the screens displaying pace display Average Pace and not Current Pace. Several times I have put myself on the wrong data screen and used Average Pace where I was looking for Current Pace and vice versa. Secondly, this method tells you that you are off your pace - but it doesn't tell you what you need to do to either catch up or back off. So, this weekend, based on the suggestions from the Runner's World Forums, I decided to try the "virtual partner" feature on the Garmin.

I haven't used the virtual partner in the past because the feature does not work with a programmed workout. The virtual partner only works on preset courses and quick workouts - neither of which I had used before. So, for my Saturday long run (9 miles), I used a Quick Workout by setting distance and pace (9 miles, 10:00 per mile). The Virtual Partner display then provides some easy to see feedback - if the Virtual Partner is ahead of you, the screen is black with the distance that VP is ahead of you in white. If you are ahead of VP, your screen is white with distance in black. So, Saturday's exercise became a matter of trying to keep the distance close to 0. I found that this was an easy way to maintain pace. In fact, I missed my target pace by one second (probably had something to do with the potty stop) and had plenty left at the end of my run.

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