Saturday, January 19, 2008

Forerunner 305 Set Up

I was recently asked how I use my Garmin Forerunner 305 in competition, so I thought it might be interesting to other folks as well.

I don't use the Time/Distance Alerts (Menu > Training > Training Options > Alerts) but they're useful for reminding you to electrolyte every x minutes or every x miles. I generally remember, though.

I don't use the Speed Alert (Menu > Training > Training Options > Alerts), either, because it's hard to keep to a predefined speed. On a flat ride, I might set those so I can try to keep a smoother pace. If you use the speed alert, make sure you use a good range like 7 - 10. The smaller the range the more likely your speed will fluctuate out of the range and the alerts will drive you mad. Sometimes on training rides, I'll set just the minimum speed to remind me to keep moving.

I do use a HR Alert (Menu > Training > Training Options > Alerts > HR Alert). I like to set the Max HR Alert around 155 or 160 so I'm alerted and can back off my pace. This worked really well at Spook Run as I ran with the "big dogs" for the first 45 minutes or so as long as Tanna's HR was under the max. Once we got into more hills and his HR started climbing faster, I knew it was time to back off.

I don't set the minimum HR alert, but if I did, I'd set it to whatever the pulse criteria was. It's interesting to see/hear that when you stop for water and see how fast your horse drops just out in the "wild." This wouldn't help me much in vet checks because I normally pull tack right away and check the HR with a hand-held. So I usually don't set it.

I turn Auto Pause OFF (Menu > Training > Training Options > Auto Pause). You don't want the 305 stopping the timer while your horse drinks. If you have Auto Pause on, that'll show a higher average MPH, and if you're pressed for time, you won't have a clear picture of what you're really doing.

I usually don't use AutoLap, but if I did, I'd probably set it to every 1 or 5 miles. Auto Lap differs from the Time/Distance Alerts in that the Alerts just beep at you at the appropriate time. Auto Lap will beep at you AND reset the Lap timer, lap average speed, lap distance, etc. So if you want to monitor how you're doing from mile to mile, Auto Lap would be useful.

I use the Other sport setting (Press and hold Mode, then choose Other and press Enter) whenever I'm riding since I use the 305 for me, too, when I'm not riding. I use Running for me. This helps me see at a glance what my horse rides were and what my cross-training activities were. I set the Speed setting (Menu > Settings > Other > Speed Units) for the Other sport to be MPH. Pace is miles per minute and I just can't think in that.

One thing that's really cool is you can set your horse's HR zones. Since this is specific to the Sport, I can have Tanna's HR zones on the Other sport and my HR zones for the Running Sport and the unit keeps them separate.

Here's an example of HR zones for Tanna:
Zone 1: 90 - 115 (easy trot)
Zone 2: 116 - 135 (bigger trot/easy canter)
Zone 3: 136 - 160 (canter/gallop/hill work)
Zone 4: 160 - 180 (interval work; first loop due to adrenaline)
Zone 5: 180 - 220 (don't want to be here for very long)

I always mark camp before I start out (Menu > Navigation > Mark Location). That way I can always get back to camp if I get lost (Menu > Navigation > Find > 'my waypoint' > Go To). It's also fun to have the Go To selected so you can see how far you are from camp. Sometimes it's weird how far we ride but never very far from base camp!

At a ride, I turn my 305 on about 15 - 30 minutes before the start and let it get satellites and make sure it's reading Tanna's HR. As soon as the timer says the ride has started, I press start, even if I'm not leaving right away.

Coming into a vet check, I let the timer run until I get my pulse time from the timers. Then I press stop. This gives me a realistic view of my real MPH for the loop including the time required to come down to criteria and present. (Sometimes I'll press the lap button when I pass the in-timer to later see how soon I'm getting to the pulse takers, but that info is on my vet card.) If I have time, I look at the MPH and total mileage. Then I press and hold Reset for a count of 3 to reset the activity. This puts each loop in its own activity. Then I turn the unit off to conserve battery. About 5 minutes before my out time, I turn the unit back on to get satellites again. I (try to) press start right at my out time, even if I'm late going out. Again, this gives me a realistic view of my competition average MPH.

For vet checks, I have a battery extender like this one: http://tinyurl.com/2j2pqp You just put 4 AA batteries into it and then plug the USB cable into it instead of the computer. Don't let the battery extender get wet, it's not water proof. I have a spare 305 cradle that stays in the trailer so I don't end up without it. During a 50, I'll make sure and charge the 305 during at least one of the vet checks. Even with my long competitions, the battery lasts ok. If I remember, I'll charge at both vet checks, but sometimes I forget. This is where a crew is helpful. :-)

The last thing I have to discuss is the data fields. This is obviously the heart and soul of having these units. Real time feedback. There are 2 main data screens that you see no matter which sport you're in. Then each sport has its own specific data screen. So you have 3 data screens available. Each data screen can have 1 - 4 fields on it.

If you have less than 4 fields, the HR is shown in minuscule numbers on the top right. This is only useful if you have the 305 about 1/4 inch from your eye and you're standing perfectly still. In other words, don't rely on being able to see that at a trot.

You can set the fields up by going to Menu > Settings > General > Data Fields and choose the screen you want to set up.

I have each screen set up to show 4 fields. I am a data junkie and want as much data as possible. One of the most important fields for me is HR, so I have the HR on the bottom right field of every screen. Another is Average Speed because during competitions I usually have an average speed I want to achieve during each loop. I have that in the lower left fields. That leaves me 2 fields per screen to play with.

Main 1
Time (elapsed time) (top left)
Heart Rate Zone (top right)
Average Speed (bottom left)
Heart Rate (bottom right)

Main 2
Average Speed
Heart Rate

Time of Day
GPS Accuracy
Average Speed
Heart Rate

When I'm training, I have the fields set up a little differently because I use laps. For a competition, I don't use laps. Each loop is its own activity and I don't break that up into laps or segments. In training I use at least a warm-up lap, a working lap and a cool-down lap and sometimes there are multiple working laps.

During a ride, you can change screens by pressing the up/down arrows on the right of the watch. Or you can do what I do and set it to Auto Scroll (Menu > Settings > General > Display > Auto Scroll Timer Pages). I usually have mine set to Medium. Experiment during a training ride to see what level is right for you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Which transmitter do you use on the girth? is the one from polar?

Tamara Baysinger said...

Great post -- I'm in the market for an equine HRM, and this is food for thought. Much appreciated!


Christine said...

...Again, most helpful. Thank you!!