The best part about my Garmin Forerunner GPS is downloading my workouts to my PC. There is so much data packed into that little device and it all explodes into a vast array of information that can be displayed on my screen in a myriad of ways.
I currently use SportTracks by Zone Five Software, which supports most Garmin GPS models. While it started out as a free program, it is well worth the $35 price for the current version. It is easy to use, has a good visual interface, and more than enough features for my needs. For each of my workouts, I can view all of the following and more:
- Summary statistics – time, distance, average pace, elevation changes
- Splits with distance, time, speed or pace, elevation
- Graphs of speed, pace, elevation by time or distance
- A map of my exact route, marked with splits. When looking at a specific split, it is highlighted on the map.
Click on any of the images to enlarge
There is a reporting module that enables me to look at my mileage or other statistics over time. I can filter the reports by activity, and group results by time period, location or other parameters. But more detailed filtering and analysis requires cutting and pasting the results into Excel, which may not suit everyone.
I like being able to look back on the maps of my routes to plan future workouts, or to look at alternative turns or add-ons to create a new route for the future.
One drawback is that the software is resident on my PC. When I’m away from home, I no longer have access to my data. An alternative is to use Garmin Connect. This is a free service for Garmin devices that provides the same tracking features online. It also allows you to share your data with other users, connect to Facebook, blogs and other social media. I like the idea of “access anywhere” so I just may have to give this a closer look.
What a difference technology makes. Where I was once content with recording my time and distance in a spreadsheet, I now have access to seemingly infinite amounts of data. It may not make me a better athlete, but I know a lot about where I’ve been!
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