Using a GPS Device to Improve Running Performance – Part 2

I have been running with a Garmin Forerunner 201 for quite awhile now. I have read a few times about uploading the data from the watch to a site or program that allows you to view your route on a satellite map or street map. I thought I would try it out.
I started by trying out GPS Visualizer. GPS Visualizer is cool and I give the folks over there kudos for developing such a robust, and free, tool for GPS users to use. There are a million different settings, which took a while for me to figure out. My biggest complaint about the system is the file size you are allowed to upload.

The is a 2mb max on upload but my .hst file from my Garmin was over 8mb. I had to use a Forerunner Log Splitter to split my file into individual runs in order to use it with GPS Visualizer. The whole process just seemed to be too onerous.

I then came across SportTracks, which I found to be very interesting. SportTracks is free to try, but they hope that people will give them a donation for using their software. If I continue to use it I will definitely do that.

You are required to download the software onto your computer, but that went easily with no problems. I then made an export of my data from the Garmin Training Center and uploaded it to SportTracks. I was then able to view data on my runs, analyze them, and view detailed route maps.

I think that a user can effectively replace the use of the Training Center software that comes with the Garmin Units (other than for downloads from the watch). There are many ways to analyze your running data, see where improvements can be made and adjust your training program as a result.

The coolest thing was the integration of your running route into a satellite image. The program will overlay your route onto a map. You can zoom in , out and move around. An example of one of my routes is below. This is downtown Calgary running along the river.

GPS Running Route

One other cool feature I would like to mention is the ability to open your route in Google Earth. Maybe not too much extra you can do with this feature in terms of analysis, but it is cool nonetheless.