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I am a fan of technology, for sure.

In the work that I do I spend most of my time on a computer, I work with software and technology companies, and I enjoy reading about and testing out new technologies. This extends into my running life, too, and while it may have started with a GPS watch, the amount of data I gather about myself and my sport today has exploded.

I’m invested in the Garmin ecosystem and this helps with the data collection. The various devices that I use all sync with each other, feed into the same platform, and are reported in nice bright colors on my Garmin Connect app. I check in on that app regularly – well, less regularly recently with the lockdown – and I’m always interested to see how things shift and try and figure out if that shift is normal, abnormal, or a sign of something going on I haven’t seen before.

The Stack

So what do I actually use? Here’s my running data hardware and software stack, so to speak.

Garmin Fenix 5 Plus

This is my current watch and I’m preparing for an upgrade. I probably don’t need to upgrade as I’ve had this watch only since December 2018. Still, the Fenix 6 is pretty sweet, offers a couple of upgrades in terms of battery life, a couple of cool new data gathering options, and some virtual pacing improvements, too. There are some better maps and a bigger screen and both of those appeal, too. I’ll likely wait until after the summer as there may be a new Garmin model released in the meantime but I think that before I head to the start line of the LyonSainteLyon I’ll have a new Garmin.

iPhone XR with Garmin Connect

The data from the Garmin is pushed automatically via Bluetooth to my iPhone and pulled into the Garmin Connect app. That app also connects to a couple of other apps – Apple Health and Carb Manager, for example – but Garmin Connect is where it’s at. There’s a web portal, too, where things are a little easier to read and a little faster to load, but mostly I look at the data on the app.

Garmin Index Scale

Every morning I stand on my Garmin scale and see just how much damage I’ve done the day before at the kitchen table. The scale is a smart scale and syncs automatically via WiFI with my Garmin Connect account. This means that a few seconds after I have weighed myself the data is there on my phone, too.

Garmin RD Pod

This is a small green pod that clips onto my running tights just above my butt. It collects a bunch of interesting information. The RD in the name stands for ‘Running Dynamics’ and it syncs with my watch, and then to Garmin Connect.

Garmin Tempe

This is a small clip on device that clips onto my shoelaces. It does nothing amazing save for tracking the temperature while I am out on a run. Hence, I have an easy way to know whether that run was in high heat or freezing cold, something that I’d likely forget if I didn’t have a reminder. Instead of pulling something in from a third-party app or needing to remember to make a note, the Tempe does it all for me.

Garmin Foot Pod

A Foot Pod allows you to track your runs when GPS is not available, essentially for the treadmill use case. I don’t run on a treadmill often but, when I do, I use the Foot Pod as it is more accurate than whatever the treadmill says I am doing. It can be used outdoors, but it is fairly redundant if the GPS is active.

The Data

I gather a lot of data about my runs and my health and well-being in daily life, including the following:

  • Heart Rate: resting, second-by-second tracking through the day, and in activity (maximum, minimum, average, time in zones)
  • Weight: weight, BMI, bone mass, body fat percentage, muscle mass, body water percentage
  • Sleep: hours per night, REM sleep, deep sleep, light sleep, time awake
  • Nutrition: calories in, calories out, net carbs
  • Running Dynamics: cadence, stride length, vertical ratio, vertical oscillation, ground contact (left foot and right foot), ground contact time
  • Running: GPS route, pace (average and best), elevation gain and loss, ‘laps’ (kilometer pace), training effect (aerobic and anaerobic), calories burnt
  • Health: steps per day, stress

Almost all of this is gathered and stored automatically, synced to my Garmin Connect account, and can be accessed, exported, and I can dive into it to see how I am faring.

If I feel sick one morning, I can take a look at my resting heart rate, sleep, and any weight fluctuations and try and figure out why and even when I got sick. If I feel tired before a run I can look at my data and try and figure out if I am really tired or just lazy. If I have a bad night’s sleep, I can probably trace it back to when I was drinking coffee the day before or a workout that was placed poorly in the day.

It’s a lot of data, I know, and I probably ignore 90% of it 90% of the time. But that other 10% of the time? It’s valuable, and it’s interesting, too.