GPS Fitness

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GPS is a technology with far more merits than simply helping you find your way around the city. It can also greatly augment your workout regimen — with the right equipment of course.

While plenty of fitness oriented GPS devices exist on the market, Garmin has taken a considerable lead in this still nubile market. In this piece, we’ll take a look at two devices that have greatly enhanced my cycling and running capabilities.

Forerunner 301
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The first thing you have to accept about the Forerunner 305 is its bulk — which is actually a considerable improvement over the 301. The unit consists of a watch-like wrist unit and a heart rate monitor that straps around your chest. Due to the GPS receiver and the heart rate transmitter, the wrist unit has a notable girth to it. While I’ve gotten more used to it by now, it remains awkward to wear and when I’m running fact, arms flailing and all, it can be downright tedious.

Nevertheless, there is a distinct advantage to the device. As I mentioned above, it includes a heart rate monitor. If you’re at all serious about yourcardio workout, you need to make an investment in a device that can monitor your heart rate. Maybe not this device, but you need something. The reason is that anHRM allows you to keep your heart in peaks levels for aerobic exercise. By monitoring it succinctly, you can push yourself deliberately into anaerobic zones for sustained periods before ratcheting back to an aerobic range.

Working out in this capacity allows you to better acclimate yourself to the lactate acid excreted by your muscles during period of extreme exertion. Lactate acid is the culprit for that burning in your muscles when you push yourself hard. With proper training (proper use of a heart rate monitor can provide that), you can significantly increase your tolerance to higher percentages of lactic acid and thus increase your maximum threshold.

But I digress. The primary point here is GPS. The beautiful thing about devices like these is the monitoring utilities provided by the technology. The systems are capable of logging the duration of your workout. What’s more, it can extrapolate the speeds at which you traversed the course in very specific detail.

By analyzing this data closely, with the provided software, you can correlate your heart rates with the course that you travel. The beauty here is that you can better judge at which points you should gun it and at which areas you should tone back a bit. It’s an invaluable tool for any serious runner.

Edge 305
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Now there is a lot of overlap in the uses of these two products, but this one is designed specifically for cycling. The Edge 305 provides all of the same heart rate functions as the Forerunner 301, so I’m not going to go over that again. I’ll just reiterate that it’s worth your time to put some effort into learning how to analyze this data effectively.

Moving right along. The Edge 305 functions as a considerably advanced cyclometer. Any proper cyclist knows that a cyclometer is an absolute necessity of cycling. It provides necessities like speed, distance, time, cadence and here that data is measured against the devices on a global positioning system for spot on correlation with your physical values.

Monitoring cadence is one of the most important utilities of a cyclist. An equalized cadence is what allows you to achieve and maintain desired heart rate ranges. As I touched on above, these ranges can be used to condition and control your body in very specific ways. If, for instance, you’ve trained for anaerobic trials, you’ll be better equipped to sprint during important points of a race.

The 305 gets quite in-depth with its measurements by also logging barometric altimeter. This allows the system to pinpoint changes in elevation, which can also play a role in aerobic vs anaerobic exertion.

Analysis

Both systems include PC-compatible software that stores and interprets all of the information the devices log. It might seem useless at first, but after you’ve accumulated a month of data, you’ll have a snapshot of who you are as an athlete. That snapshot can serve two purposes. One, it’s a blueprint of what you must do to improve. Consider it carefully. Note the points you slump and the points you zing and then, simplify this all a bit, adjust your peaks and valleys a bit by maybe not trying as hard in some earlier spot so you can afford to push harder at a spot that gives you difficulty. It’s not exact science, but it’s as close as you’re going to get without a trainer.

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