Shout Out to Garmin (and all fitness trackers)

You may remember a previous post where I shared why I am not a big fan of cycling computers and such.  Mostly not big fan from the perspective of focusing on enjoying a ride rather than caring about how fast I am riding or when I will arrive at wherever it is that I am going.  Even a recent post where I ended up using my ride time to compare bikes was about the bikes, not the time. The time was just a tool, a means to an end.

Fitness tracking has been a different story though. I’m on my second Garmin now with my Vivoactive 4 pretty much supplanting my Instinct as my 24/7 fitness tracker, watch and alarm clock. Over the last few years a Garmin has been my companion as I’ve made the journey from being an overweight out of shape fat guy in my late 50’s to a relatively normal weight and mostly in shape guy, now in my very early 60’s.  

I don’t let the Garmin dictate my fitness life, I let it keep me informed about the ebb and flow of my fitness life.  I don’t chase all the metrics it could display, however I do pay attention to things like my resting heart rate because I’ve found that it can be a reminder to watch my late night eating, caffeine intake, sugar intake, too many days without exercise all of which I’ve found raise my resting heart rate.  They all happen to also be indicators that my blood sugar levels might be high in the morning as well as my blood pressure might be on the rise.  Not to be too mushy over a piece of tech gear, but I view my relationship with my Garmin as that of a friend saying haven’t seen you do a workout lately vs. a drill sergeant yelling at me.  

It is what you make of it, which is what led me to this post.  I’ve just completed my 2nd Annual Birthday Stair Climb over at the Meridian High School stadium; Sixty flights for 60 years, 61 flights for 61 years….you get it.  I feel like this as well as other regular events like the Tour de Whatcom and the Mt. Baker Hill Climb are nice annual checkins on my health & fitness.   Last year on this stair climb I fought with my heart rate tending to skyrocket on the up flights requiring me to slowdown appreciably until it came down; a routine that repeated until I managed to finish which was all that mattered to me.   A post mortem using the Garmin Connect app showed my erratic heart rate, including the big dip shortly after starting where I played with the chest strap on the heart monitor because I wasn’t sure things were working right….they were.  

This year, subjectively, I was feeling pretty good as I got going on my 61 flights; Objectively, I glanced at my Garmin heart rate number at the top and bottom of each flight for the first little while, then here and there for the rest of the flights because my heart rate was feeling pretty darn stable.  Up a few bpm on the up steps and then down a few bpm on the down steps.  

What made this cool was that the Garmin tracked it all and so I could compare last year to this year and see the graphs on the app reflect what I felt.  What I did get was a nice birthday present when I compared this years time to last years time; down from 39 minutes to under 24 minutes.  

I didn’t keep track of my time while I was doing the flights because my goal was to just do the flights, so in the thick of it I didn’t have a clue that I was going that much faster than last year.  That is one of the beauties of wearing a Garmin; you can get into the workout, the ride, the run, the hike, etc and sit back later and reflect on your progress.  

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Poor as my writing might be, I still like to write. I’ve written a blog or two in the past, but at one point or another they each became a chore rather than a joyful pastime. C.S. Lewis said, regarding writing, “Write about what really interests you, whether it is real things or imaginary things, and nothing else.” I will be following Lewis’ advice so this blog, which bears my name, will remain a joyful pastime. Hope you like bikes.