Using a GPS Device to Improve Running Performance

My 2nd favorite toy (next to my iPod) is my Garmin Forerunner 201. I love this thing. I do however consider it to be more than a toy. I truly believe that it improves my running performance.

I use the watch to track my distances required for each day of my training program, the pace I am running at, and the time it has taken me. These three metrics provide me with the crucial information I need to become a better runner.

Each day, I have a specific distance that is part of my training program. It is important to adhere to this distance correctly to ensure I don’t over or under train and to build up the correct mileage for the race I am preparing for. I found that prior to getting the watch I never really knew how far I had run – I knew how many minutes or hours it took – but I never knew the distance. The watch tells me how far I run in a given training session.

The other thing I didn’t know, which I consider to be more important, was my pace. I use pace as most other runners do; to determine how fast (or slow) I need to run to meet or beat a certain race time. I try to train to pace by varying my pace during different workouts, some faster, some slower. After running a few weeks with the watch I got to know my pace and when I was running faster or slower than average. For more detailed training, it has helped me train to a specific pace so that I am ready to meet my marathon goal of under 4 hours.

The last factor I look at is time. I don’t use time too much, other than to gauge how long it took me to run a certain distance. I use my pace more for this, as I know the faster I run the quicker I will reach my target distance. However, it is fun to watch as you break a new 10-K time knowing that your previous PR on a 10-K was 55 minutes and today you did it in 51-minutes.

One thing I have not got into at all with my watch is using some of the online features, such as the ones over at GPS Visualizer or RunOutside.com.