It’s a long one

There are many things in life that I wish were longer.*  For instance, my hair.  And my legs.  And episodes of Entourage (Dear HBO, thirty minutes of Adrian Grenier is not enough).

Not on the list?  The local high school track where I like to do workouts.

Because then my 4 X 1200M ends up looking like this:

And leaves me scratching my head.  Because I promise, those splits were exactly three laps each.  Is the track long?  Is my Garmin off?  Was I accidentally running in lane 8?  Did I somehow break through the fabric of space-time and gain an extra 0.06-0.07 miles?


On one hand, if the track is long, then that means that all of the workouts I’ve done on that track have been at a slightly better pace than I thought.  Win!

But could that really be?  I mean, it’s a high school track.  They have high school track meets there.  Surely 400M and 800M runners would notice those obnoxious extra seconds on their home turf, right?

Which means…my Garmin is off?  In which case…that really sucks.  And it’s not nothin’ – 0.07 for a 1200 is 0.09 per mile, which could easily be 45 seconds.

Am I missing something here?

Or am I just over-analyzing this?  I mean…whether the repeats were 0.75 or 0.82 miles each, I accomplished the goal.  I got out and ran a solid track workout.  Whether the pace was 6:20 or 6:30 or 6:40?  Not really relevant in the long run, I guess.

But still.

Garmin, I’m watching you.  Track, you too.  There will be further investigation of both of you in the near future.

*Yes, I am keenly aware that that is what she said.

Today’s EAT: I tried a new designer grain tonight!  Quinoa with garlic and pine nuts.  And chicken, and peppers too!

Simple, easy, healthy, tasty.  I followed this recipe: Quinoa with Garlic, Pine Nuts and Raisins (via Food Network) and simply added some chicken breast and yellow peppers.

The hubs doused his with hot sauce, which was slightly odd to me, as I found it plenty flavorful but – whatever.  Different strokes, right?

Today’s DRINK: I’m taking a photo of an empty bottle of wine.

Empty because it was delicious!  I will admit – I don’t buy Italian and Spanish wines all that often because they often have boring labels with flowery text that I can’t read.  But when it’s on special for $6 at TJ’s, I go for it.  And this Marques de Montanana was worth every cent!

Today’s RUN: Along with the 4X1200 track workout (~7.1 miles total, 8:00 overall pace) I shook out my legs with a nice wake-up run this morning (3 miles, 8:25 pace).  Even though I’m not doing a ton of mileage this week, I’m front-loading it.  Because we have friends coming to visit this weekend and I fully intend to neglect my running shoes on Saturday and Sunday. 🙂

Today’s QUESTION: Which do you think is correct – the track or the Garmin? I feel like the answer is probably TRACK, but then….WTF, Garmin?


25 responses to “It’s a long one

  1. I would guess the track is right (full disclosure: I have never owned or used a Garmin). But it sounds like it’s time for an experiment. Are there other tracks in the area, and does the same thing happen there? Can you use Map My Run or a car odometer to mark off distances and then compare the Garmin reading?

  2. i’d say the track is right. i’d imagine that mr. garmin got confused because the track is a circle with a small diameter (at least relative to the earth).

    • Is there some physics thing behind that, like related to the curve of the earth? 🙂 Or do you just mean because it’s a small area with a lot of turns?

      • I have contemplated this a lot also because my local track seems to be long as well. My conclusion is that my track really is too long. My reasoning:

        The Garmin calculates the distance travelled around the turns by adding up a whole bunch of tangents along the curved part of the track. These should add up to a distance shorter than the actual curve in the track.

        Makes sense to me anyway.

  3. Quinoa is my favorite chenopod. Tumbleweeds run a close second.

    That Garmin crap would totally piss me off too. That thing is like, my holy gospel of running. To find even a slight inaccuracy might un-do existence. So to speak.

  4. That used to happen to me too, now I just use the timer when I do track workouts, since I trust the track over the garmin. Old school style.

  5. This happened to me too with my Garmin. I would try my best to always stay as far in as possible but it was rarely right on 0.75 miles (or whatever distance I was running). It wasn’t usually that far off though… I’ll look at my Garmin log later to see what it was!

  6. @Danielle and @Katie – Yeah, I have also had a Garmin be a little off on a track (different Garmin, different track) but I was surprised that it was THAT far off (0.07 miles!) and so consistently off.

  7. The old school runner in me says track is correct. I know my old high school track and CC coach would be out there in a minute with his awesome measuring wheelie thing that squeaked something fierce, that he measured every CC race course even if it was the exact same as the last 7 years the team raced it.

  8. I use the GPS-based RunKeeper on my phone and everytime I do 4 laps on the track it comes out to anywhere from 1.05-1.10 miles. 1 lap usually registers as around .27 miles. I’ve just learned that when I want to actually time my splits I count laps and don’t really pay attention to the minute/mile pace. I think GPS just isn’t made to accurately handle a track. I do agree; it is frustrating!

  9. I didn’t know Garmins get quacky. Good to know. I’m buying one for my son real soon. If it has quacky potential (the Garmin, that is)…I must warn him.

  10. One more thought…have you “mapped your run” around the track? How big does Map My Run think your track is?

  11. I bet the track is right. I would trust a simple stopwatch (I’m kind of a purist in that respect). Or maybe you ran so fast that you warped space and time. I heard in Physics class you can do that sometimes:)

    • Yup. I leave the Garmino at home for track and just use a crappy plastic watch. Call me a purist or a Luddite (a luddite with flats), but I tend to think getting your splits ever 200 meters is feedback enough.

      Could also go along with the time warp theory.

  12. Provided you were running in Lane 1 the entire time-I’d say the track is right. I find that garmins do measure long on a track-last time I did a track workout, all the 800s were coming in as .52 or .53 miles. Check out the map on your run-im sure there you can see when/where the signal may have gone crazy 🙂

  13. I agree with Nicole’s explanation…you ran so fast that you warped space and time!!

  14. I’m liking the time warp theory. And the idea that your garmin is a little off in favor of you being FASTER than it says isn’t such a bad thing, right? Lord have mercy on the garmin that’s lying to me if I’m actually significantly slower than what it’s telling me… that’s why I’m not allowed to own one…

  15. It’s unlikely that the track is long, or at least as long as Garmin says. Granted, depending on when it was built it might be a 1/4 mile track instead of a 400 meter track, but that’s no biggie.

    What you run is a nice smooth curve along the track, but because of the uncertainty in the sampling points what Garmin sees looks like you zig zagging back and forth across the lane… therefore longer. This is a good visual explanation: Just use a regular wristwatch for the track (or set the time big and ignore the pace).

    • Awesome article – yeah, I can picture it now with the visual. And it makes sense why the problem would be more pronounced on a track than on a sidewalk or road (where you are probably zigging around a little bit anyway – around people, potholes, etc).

      Thanks for sharing!

  16. Oh, Garmin. I love you and hate you at the same time. The link that KristinSchleicher posted is very interesting! I have a feeling that Mr. Garmin is overestimating the track distance…

  17. I don’t have a Garmin but my Nike+ is almost always wrong–even when I calibrate it!!

  18. Garmins can’t handle tracks because of the constant curving, so they always measure long. I read an actual explanation for WHY this is before, but basically, every time you turn…it measures around the widest point? I think? Thus, your track readings are always going to be off. Super super annoying.

    Um, coming over for dinner BRB

  19. What gets me is that our track (at a major university, SMU) has a hill in it. If you look at garmin data, a lap comes out to be exactly .25 but apparently there is 3 feet of elevation change around some part of the track! WTF??!! But every single garmin, every single track day, up and down the same 3 feet each loop. CRAZY!!! Tracks are supposed to be exactly 400 meters to the centimeter and absolutely, perfectly flat. At least in my world they’re supposed to be!

  20. Pingback: A brief tangent | eat, drink, run

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