Tip of the day: Avoid Doing The GPS Dance

Given it’s Friday and if you’re like me by this time of the week you’re probably just looking for a quick read.  So I’m offering you a quick tip that I use to ensure I spend less time waiting around, and more time working out (or being lazy, as it may be).

This time of year I now have weekly bricks that revolve around an initial trainer portion, and then segue into the run.  I do the trainer inside – and the run outside.  The challenge is that if I were to wait to turn on my Garmin GPS watch after I was finished with my bike, I’d be waiting around outside as it searches for satellites.  While sometimes this happens in less than 30 seconds, there are some day’s that it decided to take a spring break.  Thus all that time waiting around starts to defeat the purpose of a quick transition between bike and run, where I’m attempting to mimic race conditions.

Therefor, I introduce you to…the window:


My window placing habits actually grew out of my very low desire to stand outside pre-run in the middle of winter when it’s single-digit temperatures outside.  This way, I simply place the Garmin device in the window and turn it on. By time I get around to running, it’ll magically be ready.  It’s almost as exciting as watching caterpillars grow into butterflies.

Even if you’re not doing a brick, I find that if I stick it in the window before I get my shoes on, locate my nutrition/water bottles, put HR strap on, etc… it’s more than ready once I am.  At which point I simply head outdoors and run, no waiting required.

So there ya go – a quick tip to save you from doing the GPS Dance outside your front door.

Have a great weekend all!

Oh, actually, one more quick thing!  Whether or not you work in/around DC, you’ve undoubtedly heard of the impending government shutdown.  Regardless of how it ends up, Adam wrote up a pretty good post on what it means to athletes and your training schedule – both near and far.  Check it out!

Ok…now, have a great weekend all!


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  1. This tip, I clued into early on but it’s a great one that I often forget about. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Mr Garmin was on a chair under the skylight this morning before I headed out for my morning run…

  3. Bateman

    Great tip, I’ve been doing that for a long time now, too.

    I think on some Garmins (e.g. EDGE 705) there is also the possibility to set a home location. That way you can tell your device where you started even if it has not found the satellites yet. However, I guess you would have to rund a straight line until reception in order to no loose anything ;) So I think I’ll rather stick with the window.

  4. Jim

    Ray – Great tip but I use my Garmin to track ride distance and my LYC to track power. I started using Garmin to manage things like adding tires, determining when I need to change my chain before I had my PT. Inevitably I always end up waiting about 15-20 seconds to start my run due to the satellite issue. Have a great weekend and “stay classy”.


  5. @pierre

    It’s orange. Check its (l)ap button in previous posts ;-)
    Have a nice weekend to all
    Ray keep on good work.

  6. I do the same thing…only the trick is finding out WHICH window (we have windows facing 3 directions) works best. Sometimes east, sometimes west, sometimes south…Mr Garmin likes to change his mind sometimes.

    • Uwe Hercksen

      It is not the changing mind of Mr. Garmin, it depends on where the GPS satellites are and from which window the view to the satellites is best.

  7. Great tip. I learned this int he winter. Let it start while I get dressed.

  8. Brillant! Thanks Ray.

  9. Kim

    i do that too! i used to open the window and put it on the sill, but now i just put it on top of the window! it is such a time/cold saver!

  10. Jen

    I did that the other day. It saved me so much time.

  11. I found your blog to be great stuff, congrats. I had the 305, 405, 405CX and now the 410. I always hated this GPS lag, it happens everytime you’re in a hurry, I thought to be some deffect, but know I realize it’s quite common. I hope the 410 overcomes this. As a tip to your amazing blog, I miss only some “final words” like a overall balance after a long review. It would help someone in a hurry. Can you tell me if the 405/CX/410 GPS receive is better than the 305? Or does the 410 with hotfix will be equal to the 305 (which has hotfix too, right?). Cheers.

  12. Too funny :-) The nice part about my house is the roof is apparently not that thick – I get the GPS signals inside so I can run out the door and just go.

  13. I am always afraid I am going to lose my signal between setting it by the window and getting out of my apartment. Of course, that wouldn’t happen if I didn’t routinely forget a variety of things and keep having to run back inside…

  14. So I am not the only one who does it ;)

  15. Roy

    Forerunner, I rest the car’s wiper on the strap. Edge I leave it on the bike to pick up power meter, calibrate and load a previous ride for VP which can take sometime, all the time in porch against the glass of the door to pick up satellites.
    A side note, come home from a ride, upload data, back it up and recharge Edge, shower, examine data, and then check out a blog called DC Rainmaker, whoever he is.

  16. Oh sweet townhouse living where you are near the outdoors….i am with Danielle-i totally lose signal by the time i get outside of my huge apartment building :/ lots of standing in the cold for me :(

  17. Bob

    I can’t believe I never thought of that. Perfect.

  18. Mike CO

    Hi, great review(s) helped me to decide on the FR305 since my current Polar HRM battery is dying and I just don’t want to pay to have it replaced by Polar since I never really liked it that much. Really liking the 305!

    A couple of questions for anyone:

    1.) I see Sport tracks is no longer 100% free, I’ve been using the free version, but will soon bump up on the free version limits. Is this still the best SW outthere for this? At this point I seem to be doing triple duty on the data – Garmin TC, Garmin Connect, and Sport Tracks.

    2.)With a previous Polar HRM (s610 that fried) the analysis SW allowed me to overlay two or more workouts and make direct comparisons to the heart rate graphs. Is there a way to do this in any of the 3 SW packages mentioned above? I’d like to do this to gauge progress over the same course.


  19. Hi Mike-

    RE: ST

    It’s still the best overall software suite, though, comparable to TP in some areas. In some places TP is best (coaching), and in others ST is best (extensibility). For $35 though, you really can’t go wrong.

    RE: Polar:

    Sport Tracks does this with some of the different plug-ins. I think it’s called either Routes or Courses plug-in, but the big catolog of plug-ins has it listed.


  20. Aaron

    Hey Mike,

    Yes: Get the Overlay plugin for SportTracks – it just had a major update released yesterday

    link to zonefivesoftware.com

  21. Mike CO

    Rainmaker, Aaron:

    Thanks for the tips, I didn’t know there were plugins available for Sporttracks. I’ll check it out.


  22. Ray, I live in NYC (met you at the NYC Tri last year) and always have a hard time getting my Garmins to find. I wound up buying the foot=pod, calibrating it and then just starting my run where and when I wanted to rather than doing the dance. Of course the maps don’t track when using the pod, but it will find eventually and really, how many maps of Central Park does one need?

    Just another tip in case someone out there, like me, doesn’t have the window option.

  23. Ray, I live in NYC (met you at the NYC Tri last year) and always have a hard time getting my Garmins to find. I wound up buying the foot=pod, calibrating it and then just starting my run where and when I wanted to rather than doing the dance. Of course the maps don’t track when using the pod, but it will find eventually and really, how many maps of Central Park does one need?

    Just another tip in case someone out there, like me, doesn’t have the window option.

  24. hi there!

    this is kind of random, but every time we head to dc, we have problems w/ our gps recognizing addresses there. :/ help! it wants to send us to main street instead of M street NW… ack!

    thanks for any advice. :)

    beautiful weekend to run!

  25. We’ve talked about this before, but don’t do what I did once: leave it in the hotel room window and then forget about it when checking out, because it’s “out of sight, out of mind!”

  26. Lasse Buck

    As you may know, a quick GPS initialisation (GPS fix) requires that location and time have not changed too much since last use.
    On race day, it may cause extra stress waiting for the GPS to calibrate. Not to mention the risc of leaving forgetting the watch lying in the window.
    In order to make the GPS settings as current as possible, I turn on the watch the night before or possibly in the morning when on location. Once the sattelites are found, I turn off the watch again – now prepped for a quick startup.
    Only backside to this procedure is forgetting to turn off the watch and then waking up to a depleted battery.

  27. bruno

    works with other device too…


  28. Michael Thorson

    The only place – the most natural place – for my Garmin is in the garbage. Nothing but bad luck since they got past the 305 – which is the only Garmin product that lasted more than about 9 months. What happened to their quality? Did they get bought out or just lose focus on quality?

  29. Simon


    Just started getting back into running after a year off, our new baby was waking 4-5 times a night so any extra sleep in the morning was a priority over a run.

    I have found if you do not have a convenient window for the above trick. Do not to turn your GPS watch on until you are outside. If you are inside and cannot get a signal the watch will start a searching for other satellites, so by time you step outside it is looking for satellites that are not within your current view, so you have to wait until it “comes back round”.

    Assuming you are in the same location as you last switched your watch off, wait until you get outside, switch your watch on and lock time should be much quicker.

    This was true on my FR10 and now on my FR210

    Thanks for all the other advice.



  30. Jesse

    I do this when I travel. Usually one of the first things I do when I get to a hotel is set by watch by the window. That way when I am ready to run later, it will connect to the satellites quicker while I get ready.