One of my athletes, a few weeks ago, asked which screens I felt he should be utilizing on his Garmin during training and racing. As I go into race weekend at Ironman Arizona, I thought it would be helpful to share which screens and data I use on my devices, and why. Firstly, one of the cool features of recent Garmin devices is that it allows you to set up different activity profiles, so you can have preset fields for training, racing, indoor training…pretty much any application you can think up. I keep my 520 to three activity profiles: Train, Race, and Indoor. I’m not going to touch on Indoor during this post, but will instead focus on the train and race pages and what I use for the two of them. At left you can see the pages I use in Train mode: five data fields, two of them solely used for navigation (the map function, and the elevation function). Those are fairly self explanatory, but I use them here and not in race mode because I like knowing where I’m going (usually not necessary in a race) and how much more hill I have to climb.
Bottom left is what I’ll call “home.” I have displayed there total time, current power, lap power, cadence, and current heart rate. This is the screen where I start and end most workouts, and if it’s a relatively unstructured ride I’ll keep the Garmin in this mode pretty much the whole time.
Bottom right is what I’ll call “lap page.” This is the page I use almost exclusively, as most of my workouts are interval based. It displays lap power, lap time, lap distance, and current power. Those four metrics let me tackle pretty much any intervals my coach prescribes.
Top left is what I’ll call “summary.” It tells me how far I’ve ridden, the intensity factor of the ride (if I’m aiming for a certain total zone), and my average HR, which I use from time to time in running off the bike. More useful, though, is the fact that this page displays all your laps below the fields, and I have average power selected for those averages. That way I can see how my workout is going, and if I’m getting stronger, weaker, or holding steady throughout a group of intervals.
As far as other settings go, I have the computer set to alert me every 30 minutes to eat. Auto pause is turned ON, and auto lap is turned OFF (please, please everybody—turn off auto lap on your “Train” activity profile; your coach will be so much happier).
Here’s what I use for on race days. At bottom, you’ll see my home page: time, current power, distance, average heart rate, and heart rate. This is where I can get a big picture look at how the ride is going. I can compare real time power to heart rate to figure out if I need to drink (heart rate too high as compared to normal power) or eat (heart rate too low as compared to normal power). This page also lets me know how far along I’ve progressed, and how much time has elapsed.
Top right, you’ll see my lap page. During long course racing (half-iron and above) I set my computer to auto-lap every 30k (18.6 miles, half-iron) or 45k (28 miles, iron-distance). These smaller bites of the race allow me to focus on what I’m doing for that chunk of the distance and not worry about what’s behind or what’s coming up. On this page I monitor power, lap power, lap time, cadence, and lap distance. This is the page I am on for most of the race.
Top left you’ll again see that summary page. For racing, I display TSS (aiming for around 300 TSS for the bike leg), Intensity Factor (aiming for .8 for iron-distance and .9 for half-iron), and kilojoules (which lets me know if I’m doing more work than I would usually do during a given race (headwinds, hills, and stupidity can all result in too much work done). Again, deeply useful, this page displays my average power for each passed lap as I finish one, letting me know if I’m holding strong, getting stronger, or weakening as I go along.
My auto functions for race mode are as follows: alert every 30 minutes to eat; auto lap at 18.6 or 28 miles depending on race distance; auto-pause on.
I hope that’s helpful, or at least interesting, in setting up your own Garmins for racing and training!