Playing With the Garmin Forerunner Courses

Last Saturday I ran a new trail path with my gal pals. That night I was playing in Garmin Training Center and figured out how to save the run I’d done as a course. At that point, I didn’t realize I could have done the same thing on the Forerunner, itself, but I did like how you could change the name using the pc much easier than if you tried doing it on the watch. The next day, I took two friends out to run the same path. I was thrilled when I saw the course I’d loaded waiting for me. I clicked “do course” and off we went. The little map was so easy to follow – a bread crumb trail with my current position marked by a moving arrow. The run went beautifully. We didn’t get lost. But, when I went to look for the average pace, etc for the run, I found the watch was empty. In fact, the virtual training partner window was still showing I hadn’t started yet – though I’d ran 7.25 miles. What did I do wrong? I didn’t push start after saying “do course.” Oops!

So, I’ve been determined to play around with the watch more this week and become more familiar with how the courses really work. Yesterday, I did a little 5 mile run in the neighborhood. I used the Garmin and made it into a course last night and even renamed it “5 mile” instead of the default “unknown.” Today my goal was to run that course while making sure the watch was in fact recording my information for today’s run. I also wanted to know what would happen if I went off course. Would the watch alert me?

So, I went into the main menu of the watch after getting my satellites. I chose Training, then Course. From there a list of the courses I saved showed up and I was able to choose “5 Mile.” Once I selected that another little menu showed up and I chose “do course.” This time, I also hit start.  I scrolled through the screens. I loved seeing the little stick figure “virtual partner (me from yesterday) ready to “race” me today. That’s one of my favorite features on the Forerunner. It’s fun to race yourself! I also love how as you move along, it will tell you exactly how far behind or ahead you are with your “virtual partner.” Very motivating! I also like the little screen that shows up with the compass, the distance left to the finish and the approximate time it will take you at your given pace. My favorite feature, though, is the little bread crumb trail map that shows up so that you can follow the exact path of the course without missing any turns.

I took off gently into the rain, enjoying my peaceful morning activity. I crossed to the wrong side of the road to see if the Garmin would alert me that I was off course. It did not, so I came back. About a mile into the run, I decided to take an intentional wrong turn and see what happened. I made it less than a tenth of a mile before the Garmin beeped and a little message appeared on the screen “Off course.” Cool! So, I turned around and several feet from the right road the Garmin message said “Course found” with another beep. Sweet!

After that I figured I’d check on the race between my virtual partner and myself. I was behind — by about 500 ft! Oh my! So, I stopped dilly dallying with fake wrong turns and started to just relax and run in the rain. I really did enjoy sneaking up on my virtual self. She never saw it coming, but I have that quality of surprising others with my gradual increase in pace as a run gets longer. You’d think since I was racing me she’d have known that – but noooooo — she was running too slow today. 

I passed myself around mile 3. I smacked myself on the butt as I went by and said, “See you later, alligator!” I think I heard her crying. Maybe she’ll get me back next time.

I got so distracted with the virtual race, I forgot to click back to the little map. Which means I forgot that yesterday I veered off to the left when I saw my house and ran another small loop before heading to the path outside of my neighborhood for a tiny out and back to hit a bit over 5. Oops! I did pass the house and almost immediately the watch said, “Off course.” but I didn’t stop this time. I just ran out to the little sidewalk path, ran that 2 tenths out and then back to the house, where I hit 5 miles and the watch sang me a little tune and said, “You WIN!” I love that part. But, I do feel guilty. I skipped a tiny bit, though I was faster than yesterday. I wonder if my virtual self will call me a cheater? I hope not. We’ll have to race again soon to settle our score.

35 degrees. 5 mph winds. Gentle rain showers.
Stats: 5.00 miles 9:51 pace. 49:12 time. Felt: A bit of fatigue, but happy

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