Weekly Mailbag–May 22nd, 2010

WeeklyMailbagIconHere’s this week’s edition of the weekly mailbag.  This is a weekly series where I feature a handful of the e-mailed questions I received from the previous week or so.  I try and pick a wide variety of questions. Some are technical in nature, some sport related, and sometimes all sorts of other randomness – as you’ll see below.

This week’s mailbag covers the following topics:

1) Traveling and Training
2)  Garmin 310XT or FR60/Edge 500 Combo?
3) Timex Ironman Global Trainer
4) Mixing Linux and Garmin fitness devices
5) Phone training applications

Question #1: Traveling and Training
From Michael-

“I’m about a month into my serious training and things are going well, but I am planning on traveling to Israel for 11 days from July 12-23, and there won’t be much, if any, time to train while I’m there. I planned my olympic race for July 11, figuring I might as well go hard before the break, and I’m on any real taper before that race since it’s more of a check than a goal.

Sounds like you do quite a bit of traveling for work, so I’m wondering if you have any road warrior tips for me. I know I’ll still have about 1.5 months of training when I get back to make up for lost training time, but anything I can do to not lose too much ground would be very helpful. Thanks in advance for your advice!”

Hey Michael – training while traveling can indeed be tricky, but I find it actually a bit of a great break from the normal routine, and usually enjoy it a bit.  It affords me the ability to seek out new places to run, or to rent a bike and just aimlessly wander doing stuff like fartleks or intervals.  Finding a swimming hole can be both exciting or daunting, but when armed with great sites like SwimmersGuide.com, it’s pretty easy to find a pool anywhere.

But – even better – is that a little over a year ago I wrote a pretty detailed post on how I manage my time while travelling, and how I get each of the three sports accomplished.  Hope this helps!

Question #2: Garmin 310XT or FR60 with Edge 500:
From Josh-

“I am a tri guy and have been researching the Garmin options for a while.  I have small wrists and don’t like the feel or look of big bulky things on my wrist when swimming or running.  A training partner has the 310XT and while I am envious of his data, I just can’t stand the size of that thing.  So, I have been wondering about the idea of pairing a FR60 for swimming and running with the Edge 500 on the bike.  Obviously, this is an expensive option, so I am looking for your thoughts (positives, negatives and anything in between) on how you think this setup would function for a tri guy, both in training and racing.  Or do I need to suck it up and get used to the idea of having a 310XT on my wrist?”

That’s a really tough one, but also one of the most common questions I get.

My recommendation is generally to go with the 310XT.  It’s just more versatile.  Pickup the Edge 500 bike mount ($10!) for it (and the 310XT quick release kit) and you’ll essentially have an Edge 500.  The Edge 500 and 310XT are actually fairly similar in size when mounted on a bike.  And I promise you, you won’t notice the size of the 310XT on your wrist after just a few minutes of running – everyone just forgets about it.  Sounds odd, I know, but true.  The primary differences between the Edge 500 and 310XT from a cycling perspective is: Increased power meter options on the Edge 500, barometric altimeter on the 500, and ability to see vertical ascent/descent on the 500.

Now this isn’t to say I don’t love the FR60 – I really do – it’s just that in the water it functions basically just like any other stop-watch, so I can make due with a $20 watch from Target there.  And on the run, the 310XT really shines (be it indoors or out) with respect to the versatility you have for a wide range of activities, because you aren’t restricted to foot pod data for distance.

PS – Don’t forget the Forerunner 310XT has a rebate available on it – $50 off!

Question #3: Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Watch
From Andrew…and a few others-

“Are you planning to test out the new Timex Global Trainer GPS that starts shipping soon?”

Yup, I am indeed.  In fact, I’ve been in touch with their PR team since last summer about it.  And oddly enough, I just talked to them last week.  They’ve hit a slight delay which has slid schedules a bit.  They aren’t expecting it until early June at this point – but I’ll have one of the first final production units out there to play with and give my feedback on.  I’ll be sure to let folks know once I have it in hand!  I’m looking forward to it too!

Question/Comment #4: Linux options for those with Garmin’s
From Ryan-

Background: One of the challenges that often face Linux users is finding software drivers for the various devices that you’ll find out on the market today.  Some manufactures make such drivers available, but others are less willing to do so given the time/development efforts required to support additional platforms.  And thus, enters an e-mail from one of my readers this week:

“One item that I wanted to pass by you is a link to a webpage that I found incredibly useful. Since I use a computer that runs the Linux operating system (specifically, Ubuntu), the http://www8.garmin.com/products/communicator/’>http://www8.garmin.com/products/communicator/’>Garmin Communicator Plug-in does not work for me. This guy put together a Garmin plug-in (and a process, involving user agents and all!) that allows data transfers between Garmin devices and Garmin connect (among other places) within a Linux work environment.”

If you go and check out the page you’ll see the developer is starting to support a few devices (such as the Garmin Forerunner 305).  Devices that use mass storage drives, such as the Edge 500, typically don’t require additional drivers and thus work more easily out of the box.  In any case, if you’re a fan of the penguin – go check it out!

Side note: Lately I’ve been downloading/testing all sorts of different phone applications for being able to track your workouts, and there’s a few new entrants into the market as of late as well.  As I was putting together this mailbag I happened to get an e-mail from one such company – Strands, about their new iPhone App-  which reminded me: What’s your favorite phone training-tracking app?  I’m thinking of putting together a bit of a ‘shoot-out’ of sorts between them all at some point, and want to make sure I don’t miss any.

Recent Mailbags:

Weekly Mailbag – May 15th, 2010

– How I’m feeling post car-bike tango
– Camera gear during training/racing
– Using Garmin Connects player feature
– Garmin Edge 500 recording options

Weekly Mailbag – May 8th, 2010

– Swimming Metronome Legality
– Makeshift Swim Buoys
– Coaching
– GPS Survey
– Garmin 310XT and Garmin 405 rebates

All past mailbags here.


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  1. Anonymous

    funny typo….farklets

  2. Love runkeeper pro for iPhone it does everything I need for 10 bucks!