Runner’s random thoughts for this week

Looking back at the week about to end, I noticed that I had several things to write about, but none of them being as important (in my mind) to worth a full size article – therefor, I decided to collate all of them into a single article about facts I noticed as a regular runner and data nerd.

  1. Garmin Fenix 7X SS GPS is not as precise as some say (and I thought it is)

I’ve been for several days in Barcelona and I enjoyed some running sessions, with a beautiful weather. What I’ve noticed was a bit disturbing – the track was just weird, I was running through buildings a lot of the time (even when I was looking at the map on my watch during my run I noticed that I was just floating over gardens and buildings) which was a surprise .. until now, I always thought that the multiband GPS from Garmin Fenix 7 series is great.

    The first time I thought that the wobbliness of my walk was due to my speed (5km/h) .. higher speed, straighter lines, but still .. I was everywhere on the road.

    First walk … I was sober, my Fenix not quite so much

    Then during the first run I noticed on the screen of the watch that my position on the map was not quite right .. it didn’t stop me to complete the run, but still, it wasn’t so exact as I was expecting.

    Superman running through buildings – Fenix 7X superpowers

    The buildings around me were not skyscrapers by any means and this kind of behaviour was not surprising for my Fenix 6X, but from the 7 series I used to expect much more with the multi-band (by the way the option was active, not the smart switch between accuracy settings).

    The second run was better, but not dramatically

    For the second run, I waited longer for the GPS lock, the results were better but not dramatically, at least not on the first part of the run .. after that I moved in an area with no buildings and things improved, but still .. a surprise.

    So, regardless of the progress of the GPS chips with multiband multichannel communication, you may lower your precision expectations at least for the first activities in a new place. How many activities .. don’t know .. more than 4 at least, because looking at my second walk, the result was similar to the first one.

    The second walk track, even worse than the first one

    Garmin worked a lot during the last months to add new features to the Fenix 7 line, porting some from the FR955 and that’s highly appreciated, but at the same time I noticed that the time to acquire GPS lock increased significantly .. it used to be 2-5 seconds, now it is something like 20-30 seconds .. it’s not that much, considering the duration of the activity and even other watches (my Polar Vantage V2 is not faster), but still ..

    2. Garmin map navigation on Fenix 7 is not that easy

    One of the reasons I purchased my Fenix 7X is the availability of preloaded maps and navigation capabilities – it’s nice to know when you need to take left or right and correlate that with the map. But that doesn’t quite apply with courses build either on the watch (second run in Barcelona) or on your phone and synced with the watch – I mean, you get the visual guidance if you look at the map and you get generally the direction, but you don’t get turn-by-turn guidance on the map itself, so that kind of forces you to look constantly at your watch while running just to get a visual confirmation that you’re on the right track. Even with the Fenix 7X screen, that’s not easy to do during run .. maybe when hiking or walking is easier, or maybe with the higher resolution of the Epix 2 that’s better.

    So, if you’re in a new city and you’re running on unfamiliar roads, the Garmin Fenix 7 can help you, but the maps navigation experience is not terribly smooth.

    3. When your HR strap is playing with your running session

    When Garmin added the Daily Suggestion for running targeted for an specific event, I was very happy to test the implementation and quite frankly I’d say that’s a good solution because it allows you to see the workouts in advance (at least if your readiness isn’t changing so much) and has the right variety adapted to your readiness. I added a marathon event and so far I haven’t yet seen longer runs than 1:50h and I’m in the Peak Phase, which doesn’t help too much in my view, since I’m not a fast runner – I won’t go beyond 21km with that workout duration and HR range. Anyway, that’s maybe for another review .. it’s a good start but not quite there, at least not a substitute for a good marathon plan.

    Today, my watch suggested that I need to perform a 54min workout, with a 15min warm-up, 8x1min/3min intervals and 10 min cool-down. When I have the regular base runs or even the tempos, I tend to use the Polar Verity Sense which proved to be reliable and better than the watch sensor, since it has a better and more stable position on the arm. For faster sessions, I use a Polar H10, which is picking up better the fast changes of HR during intervals. I know that I need to moisten the strap and I do this every time, most of the time it works, sometimes it fails miserably. Today it was one of those days .. I know that usually the first km the readings could be wrong, but at least after the sweat is there, the readings go back on track – so I waited .. I gave up after almost 3km (19 minutes) and decoupled the sensor from the strap to switch the readings to the Fenix 7X oHR.

    HR readings abnormal in the first 20 minutes – after that, it’s only the limitation of the Fenix 7X oHR

    Even if the HR has a delay to follow the power/pace, this time the readings were so awful that the “compliance” Garmin measured for my session was just 20% – it was that bad. Some may say “why do you care so much about it? you had your running, enjoy it and move over”, but since the HR readings are affecting the recovery and other parameters – for a data nerd that’s annoying.

    After 19 mins, I decided I can’t continue like this and removed the H10 sensor, continuing with the Fenix oHR

    What I could try is using a more generous amount of EKG gel when using the H10 with sports clothes when the temperatures are below 10 degrees. I know that doesn’t happen for everyone .. but to me it happens sort of regularly so I should learn better my lesson.

    With that, take care of you and happy running!

    Author: Liviu Nastasa

    Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

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