Why Running with a GPS is Awesome
As a runner, you take great joy in tracking your runs. Perhaps in a paper notebook, electronic spreadsheet, or run tracking site like Mapmyrun.com. There’s something deeply satisfying about looking back and seeing what you’ve accomplished. If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend all day figuring it out. This is where running with a GPS device is handy.
Recently I stopped in Lunds after a run to pickup stuff for chili. The cashier asked me, “what’s that big clunky thing on your wrist?” I proceeded to give him an overview of my Garmin 205. Not only did I tell him what it did, I told him why and how it was beneficial during and after runs. My nerd flag was flying high that day.
What Does a GPS Do?
GPS devices do three main things. They track time, pace and distance. Here’s why that’s awesome.
- Time: You usually want to know how long it takes to complete a run. This is the most basic function of any time keeping device.
- Pace: Most people are trying to run a certain pace to achieve specific results. Knowing your pace tells you if you need to slow down or speed up. Simple.
- Distance: A GPS device tells you how far you’ve gone, so you don’t have to map out your run ahead of time, and wonder if you made it.
You’d be surprised how many runners I know don’t feel the investment is worth the benefits. They do cost $100 – $300. Regardless of your running goals, everyone can benefit from using something to track your runs.
Benefits of Running with a GPS
Once you have that run data, you can use it to improve your performance. My Garmin syncs with the Garmin Connect web site. It stores oodles of data online. Things like;
- Calendar: I have detailed information on every run, in calendar format, since I began using it. Very motivational to see how far I’ve come.
- Run Stats: For each run, I can see the route I took, the overall pace (and pace per split), elevation and a few other stats. This is used to evaluate performance during a training cycle.
- Reports: There are a variety of reports you can create to see various elements of your training. Total time, miles, etc.
- Routes: If there are certain routes you do often, you can enter them and compete against yourself.
- Goals: You can set various training goals and watch yourself meet them.
- Training Plan: Garmin offers a variety of training plans for every distance.
- Social: There’s also a social component to the site where you can interact with other runners on a variety of levels.
Having all of this data at your fingertips provides tremendous freedom. When I head out, unless I’m traveling, I rarely map it first. I generally know the distances between the river bridges, or around the lakes. I get an exact distance letting the satellites in the sky figure it out for me, and just run until I need to be done. I don’t have to think about it.
I would caution you from becoming too dependent on a GPS device and ignoring your body. Running with a GPS is less about having a cool gadget, and more about using technology to improve efficiency and performance.