Here’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) Garmin 305 Mode During Swim
2) Race Day Nutrition
3) Garmin 310XT Pin/Falling off issues
4) Changing up things on race day
Question #1: Garmin 305 Mode during swim
“What mode do you have the 305 in when swimming? Run mode?? What about the 310? Run or swim mode? Run mode seems more useful if it’s the only way to pick up distance.”
I actually use neither. ;)
For the 305 and 310XT I use ‘Other mode’ and then slightly customize the data fields. But, since by and large I won’t see the data fields since it’s in my swim cap, I usually don’t worry about it too much. By using ‘other’ though, it differentiates it when I upload it, so it’s easy to find and categorize. And in the case of GTC, it’s easier to sort than in swim mode. In Garmin Connect, I can of course re-categorize on the fly to ‘swim’, so it’s not as much of a big deal.
Note that with the new firmware update on the 310XT, it’s super important you’re in ‘Other’ mode, so that it will correctly calculate the distance during the open water swim. It’s also important that the open water swimming feature is enabled within the ‘Other’ mode. I’ll be talking about this in depth on Tuesday.
Question #2: Race Day Nutrition
From Chris in St. Johns, Newfoundland-
“I have a question for you… I was looking at your website but I couldn’t find much on nutrition. This summer I will be doing my first 70.3 Ironman and I’m wondering what are my best options for intra-race nutrition. I understand that fueling during the race is a very individual thing and what works for some might not work for others but I’m curious to hear what you do.
What I’ve done up to now has just been gels (carb-boom), Gatorade, and water. From my training I should be able to complete the race in under 6hrs but that could add up to quite a lot of gels… is there anything else I should take?”
Nutrition is a tough one. Recently I’ve switched to all-gel’s. Meaning, I’ve got water, and gel. But – it does present the issues you noted (lots of gel). To get around that I use little refillable/re-usable gel bottles (6oz each, found at most running/cycling stores). This typically lasts me about an hour per bottle (depending on how long I need to fuel for). Which on a half-iron would probably be about 2-3 little bottles for you on the bike. They fit really well in a jersey pocket, but I also found that a bento box really well too. And is much easier than a ton of gel packets (and usually much much cheaper). On the run, I just take a little bottle with me out of transition. I hold it while running, but there are both gel-holders made for running hydration belts, as well as simple holders for your hands.
Of course, the trick to any nutrition plan is figuring out what works. It’s taken me years to ‘get it right’ – and even sometimes it still doesn’t work out on race day. Sometimes the gel works at one intensity, but I throw it up at another. The one item to consider additionally is some form of electrolyte supplement (such as Enduralytes) during the race. Essentially, more thoughtfully architected salt tablets. Though, it depends on the gel. For example, I use EFS Liquid Shot, which has more than enough sodium in it already that any extra wouldn’t even be processed by the body. So keep that in mind. Good luck!
Question #3: Garmin 310XT Pin/Falling off issues
“I’m now on my second unit in the last 6 months because of a failure with the pin holding one side of the wrist strap on. Lost my 310XT during the swim at this years Oceanside 70.3 and assumed I’d failed to firmly set the closing mechanism. At the end of the race I checked with the event staff to see it had come off during the swim entrance or exit and sure enough they said one had been found. I picked it up from them with one side of the strap completely missing. When I got home and looked more closely I discovered it was not my watch. Someone else had had exactly the same problem. I returned the watch to WTC in case the owner checked back with them.
Now a few month later with a new 310XT I’ve had the strap come off at the same point during a track workout. And not only that but another runner in my training group has had the same problem. That seems to be a fairly large rate of failure in a pretty small group, but I have no idea how really widespread the problem is. I’m going to contact Garmin with the issue, but thought I touch base with you first to see if you have had (or heard about) any similar experiences.”
Indeed, this is a semi-common problem that I’ve heard about a few times. The issue comes from the pin arrangement and the (quite frankly) cheap plastic used in the holes where the pins attach. This in turn causes the pins to easily pop-out if there is any (even tiny) damage to the orange pin holes.
The good news is that Garmin has admitted this is a problem and will swap out the watch and the quick release kit for a newer one made that uses bigger, more resilient pins. You can get this from them by simply giving them a ring and they’ll arrange for the swap. Hopefully this will help you get everything happy!
Also, this actually came up during my call with them Thursday night. The one suggestion they all agreed with is to use the quick release kit, as the pinouts are much much stronger there and attach at a better angle to the watch (flush) – making it far harder to get ripped out. Given the cost of the quick release kit (less than $20), it makes a lot of sense. There’s a new orange band one that’s out in the UK, but hasn’t seem to find it’s way into US retailers yet. I asked why, and the team pretty much was surprised as that was actually the only version they were using (orange band quick release). They’re looking into it.
Question #4: Change up Garmin Firmware day before race
From Marc in Brazil-
I am sending on this post but on reality it is about the update of swimming on the 310xt, I do have my IM Brazil this Sunday 5/30 and I am wondering if I should use the new feature or should I use the 310XT under the swimming Cap.
So…I learned this lesson the hard way…twice actually. Which is somewhat funny – only because I’m a person in technology and also someone who always preaches the same thing here as well ‘Never change something on race day’, or in the case of technology “Never change something at the last second ‘just cause’”.
Now how did I learn this the hard way? Well, at one of my races last year a new update for the Edge 705 had just come out about two days prior. While I was sitting around the day before the race I thought to myself ‘Hey, I’ll use this time to update the firmware, get some new features and all will be great for the race tomorrow – surely things could only get better’.
Sure enough, the next day I ran into firmware freezes on the bike leg and ended up losing my entire ride – during the race. Yup…sucked. Thus, while you would be able to get data while on your wrist with the new update, the satellite picture won’t actually turn out pretty anyway (just the distance accurate), so the swim cap is probably your best bet still for what you’re looking for. Once you’ve completed the race then I’d give the upgrade a shot. Until then, I wouldn’t risk the unknown the day before the biggest race of your year.
Good luck tomorrow!
– Traveling and Training
– Garmin 310XT or FR60/Edge 500 Combo?
– Timex Ironman Global Trainer
– Mixing Linux and Garmin fitness devices
– Phone training applications
– How I’m feeling post car-bike tango
– Camera gear during training/racing
– Using Garmin Connects player feature
– Garmin Edge 500 recording options
All past mailbags here.