Week 6 – Off-Season

22 11 2010

3 Months old 30XT: No warranty!

This week started a bit off to say the least. I have a Garmin 310XT and so does my wife. In fact it was her birthday present just 3 months ago. The watch is great, I have it for more than a year and I really love it. My wife however, had a little mishapping with hers though. She dropped it from the coffee table, about 70cm high into a tile floor. For her surprise the screen broke and Garmin does not cover it under warranty. Very odd that a “Sports Watch” can break in a circumstance like this. Very disappointing. Cost’s $118.00 to repair! Very poor customer support is all I can say.

But life moves on and the training continuous! This week was also very busy at work, it was very hard to put all my training in. In fact I missed Thursday’s work out. I actually woke up early jumped on the bike and did the warm up. Unfortunately that was all I could do. Using the computrainer has its drawbacks too… I’m using erg mode, where I set the power I must pedal and regardless of the speed or cadence, the computrainer will maintain the load. I was going through the warmup doing 3×3′ with 1′ rest at 190W and I could barely do 190W! Just before my real workout (3×10′ at 224W and 4′ rest), I bailed. There was no way I would do 224W. This is always a hard decision, but one that has to be taken every once in a while. Got off the bike, back to bed and that was it.

Well, this was a short but hard week! On Saturday I even had a 2×12′ at 224W + 2×15′ at 190W followed by a 25 min run! Fortunately, this time was fine. Hard, but fine.

Week Summary:

  • Bike: 2:14 hours, 72 km
  • Run: 2:28 hours, 28 km
  • Total: 4:42 hours, 100 km

Wow, less than 5 hours?! I just realized how much I didn’t train… I hope I can get used again to my long workouts once I start the ironman plan. I have to say, it doesn’t look like a lot, but these almost 5 hours are pure hard workouts. I think week 8 is when I have another threshold test for both bike and run. That will hopefully show some improvement!





Garmin 310XT Design Flaw

4 03 2010

Do you sweat when you workout? If you do, the Garmin 310XT may not be the best option for you!

I’ve been having some trouble lately with my Garmin and the HR reading, when using some specific shirts on longer run workouts. It actually took me a while to associate the shirt and the problem. The fact is that when a shirt is soaked wet, it sticks to the chest and somehow interferes with the signal. Now, to be honest I have only a couple shirts that are causing this problem. BTW, when I pull the shirt from the chest, the readings instantly go back to normal.

The sad note is that I first seen this on a race, although at the time I didn’t know what was the issue, but it was at the IM 70.3 Muskoka after throwing a cup of water on my head to cool down at the run…

In the IM France they had an “Anti-Garmin HR” device (below). At the time I was using my Polar S325X, no problem!!

You can't do this and expect Garmin to read you HR!

Anyhow, after sending an email to Garmin, I got the following reply:

Dear Hans Winter,

With the Premium Heart monitor the contacts are flat to be more comfortable. Then what happens is that during times of heavy perspiration the signal arches and there is not a way around it with the Premium Heart monitor. Some people have tried using gels under the contacts to ensure this does not happen but it is something we are looking into to find a definite solution. Thank you for your questions and have a good day.

Well, great GPS/HR but, this is a pretty bad design flaw. I never had that issue with my Polar. Every time it didn’t work, I had to change the battery and it would work again… wet or not!

Update: my HR monitor died this year (May/2011) and I decided to buy the Timex HR piece (strap and monitor) and is working flawlessly with the 310XT. Highly recommended!





Garmin 310XT – First Impressions

13 08 2009

OK, lets get it out of the way, this watch is AWESOME. The customizable screens and integration with my Powertap is just priceless (well, it has a good price).

Now, lets talk about the stuff that can be improved. My impression is that the watch is great, the software that is provided with it (Garmin Training Centre and Garmin Connect) did not catch up yet! There are a few bugs and sub-optimum reports that can be improved. Keep in mind, I have the watch for 24 hours now and I did two workouts: run and bike (paired with the powertab), so this is really my first impression based on that.

RUN:

After I came back from the run I uploaded the data to both softwares, which is pretty cool. I just got close to the computer and it started downloading automatically. Nothing is required! Well, you have to close Garmin Training Centre for it to work though. The “Ant Agent” runs in the background, detects the watch and downloads the new activities to both applications:

Garmin Ant AgentThe first time it tried to download it didn’t work, because Training Centre was open, so for some reason it didn’t like it. As soon as I closed it, it worked.

Let me just explain these two softwares before I go any further:

  • Garmin Training Centre: a PC software that resides in your computer. You can download it free from Garmin, and it will show you all your activities (workouts that you actually did), your planned workouts (which can be downloaded to the watch). It also provide you with some graphs (HR, Speed, Cadence, etc) as well as a BASIC map with your routes.

Garmin Training Centre

  • Garmin Connect: a web based application, similar to Garmin Training Centre, but with a different look. It has more information than Garmin Connect, but it doesn’t have from example, a calendar.

Garmin Connect 1Have a closer look at the map in Garmin Training Centre. Not only it has little to non details, but it is actually wrong. I never crossed the 401! I was always north of it! The graph at the bottom is OK, but you cant chose a section to zoom. If you use the zoom button, it will zoom both X and Y axis’s. Although, if you expand the activity (mid left of the screen (see below), you can high light a lap and the graph will be for that lap only:

Garmin Training Centre 2

So, for running, it is actually fine. Other then the map that is totally useless, you can get descent information out of it. I really wished it had at least an average line, but it does show it above on a table. The graphic is also allows you to have up to four data streams at the same time (e.g. Speed, Heart Rate, Elevation, Cadence). Just as a side note, the elevation is useless. The variation form the JPS altitude makes flat look like a rolling hill!

As for the map, you have the option to export it to google earth… which is pretty simple:

Garmin Training Centre 3

Note how the 401 is below the route!!!

As far as Garmin connect goes, it is not bad for running either. It shows the graphic in the “Activities” window, as well as a map and averages.

Garmin Connect 2

One of the things I believe is missing is a customizable graphic. Although you have a graphic for HR, Elevation, Pace power, cadence, etc, you can’t see them all in one graphic, nor can you zoom to a particular section of the graphic. If you run a half marathon, the data would be pretty compressed in this graphic. It would be nice to select a portion of the ride and see the Averages, Min and max values… and having the normalized power would be awesome!

There is also the neat option to “Play” your ride. It is basically the map above plus a graph that shows you your data at the specific location (see screen shot below).  The graphic under the “Player” has one option: you can chose two data points (e.g. Speed and Heart Rate). No zoom, no average line… the average is represented at the bottom of the screen and the actual speed/heart rate is a bar that moves as the subject is moving in the map. This would be good “if” you could click on the course and have the data for that point, or even better, highlight a portion of the course and have the graphic dislplayed for that segment (along with a statistical table, including , Distance, HR average, Pace, etc.)

Garmin Connect 3In addition to the “Player” you also have the splits for each lap:

Garmin Connect 4

That reminds me that if you “do workout” (e.g. run 45 min @ HR range), the autolap wont work. Therefore, after you download the data, the table above becomes basically just one lap for your whole workout. This is a pretty anoying bug, since you can’t even add a lap later one.

Bike:

First of all, Garmin Training Centre has NO POWER INFORMATION! NOTHING, NADA, NITCHS!! The data is actually stored somewhere since I exported it and imported to Training Peaks website and I had power info there. However, there absolutely no information displayed in the Training Centre:

Garmin Training Centre 4

It is AWESOME that the Garmin works with the power meter, but the actual software does really “care” about the data! Having said that, Garmin Connect does show the Power information. There is no 5s peak, 30 min peak or anything like that, but is shows the average and so on. It has as much information as speed or Heart Rate:

Garmin Connect 5

Now, when I went to the Player for this activity, for some reason the route doesn’t completely match what I did, in fact it is fine in the “Details” window (above), but not in the player! From what I figure, the Player uses less data. I believe it discards a lof of the data, therefore it doesn’t match the actual route taken. If you would take a straight line route, it wouldn’t be an issue, but when you add turns… the point where you changed direction might be discarded, and the representation gets “weird” to say the least.

Garmin Connect 6Another issue that I have with Garmin Connect, is that I can’t use it as my “Log”, since I can’t create manually an activity for swimming. The only way to create an activity is to upload it from the watch… that means that I would have to use my $500 watch/GPS/HR as a stopwatch in the pool, then upload the time. Even in this case, I wouldn’t be able to manually enter the distance. BTW, I could do that in the Training Centre.

So, in short, I find the watch is GREAT. Everything that you see on youtube and Garmin’s website does work. The watch is extremely customizable. One thing that I didn’t mention above is the ability to create a workout (e.g. Hills Intervals) with Training Centre and upload it to the watch! There are several cool features that makes this watch the best Triathlete watch that I have seen. I have the Polar S625X, but that isn’t really close to Garmin 310XT, but in other hand, Garmin has lots to catch up with Polar Precision Performance (Polar’s Analyzes Software).

Oh, one more note. Training Peaks WKO+ does not work with the 310XT. The only option is to use their web app, which is pretty good, but the basic version doesn’t have all cool features and the Premium version costs $119/year. I wouldn’t mind paying $100 for WKO+, but not every year! So that is out of the question.

I’m going to import the TCX files to Polar Precision Performance (PPP) and continue to use it as my training log. I like flexibility of the graphs and reports, which are MUCH better then Garmin’s version. I’ll be uploading to Garmin anyway because I have to do it to create the TCX files and it is so easy it wont be an issue. Therefore, when I want to see the route, I’ll go to Garmin’s webpage, otherwise I’ll check the data in PPP. Well, at least until Garmin gets the software to a point that it is a usable analyzing tool.

Update: after this review I found an ugly flaw on the 310XT