Wellocracy: What kind of tracker(s) (device/app) are you using and when did you start wearing it?
Jarret: I use a Garmin Forerunner 305. It has a GPS receiver and wireless heart rate monitor. I first started using it in 2010 to plan my route when I was away from home. By 2015, when I joined the Greater Boston Track Club, I was wearing it consistently and taking full advantage of its functionality. I also use the Strava running app which is compatible with most GPS devices, including the Garmin. I track my time, distance, heart rate, cadence (the number of steps per minute) and respirations, as well as elevation, direction, and other GPS functions. The Strava app analyzes my data. For example, if I upload a group of runs, Strava will recognize the routes that I ran and conduct a pace comparison for me.
Wellocracy: Why did you start using a tracker?
Jarret: When I got involved with the Greater Boston Track Club I no longer had a college coach to monitor my workouts. Most of my teammates were using a GPS device in combination with the Strava app for their online running log and I decided to give it a try.
Wellocracy: Do you have specific health/wellness goals?
Jarret: Yes. For me, it’s more about improving my fitness rather than just staying in shape. I want to run fast and hard 5k and 10k road races. I want to be fit year round. I am always working on getting my run times down. It goes beyond just doing it for my health. I consider myself to be an athlete.
Wellocracy: What did you learn about yourself by using a tracker?
Jarret: There would be days when I would come back from a run that felt like it was hard but it also felt like I was out of shape. When I checked my heart rate profile it confirmed that I had had been working hard, maybe even harder than other days. And then there were days when it felt easy and I would think I was in pretty good shape. But in fact, it was really because I just wasn’t working as hard. Having a device allowed me to see the truth. Numbers don’t lie. I also realized I am motivated my teammates. Using a tracker in combination with an app allows me to see what my team is doing and how I compare.
Wellocracy: What do you like best about your tracker?
Jarret: I like that I can plan a route before I run. This is especially helpful when I am traveling and may not be familiar with the area. If I want to run a route that I ran before, I can save that route, recall it and follow the “previous track.” The Garmin gives me external feedback about the workout I really did and the Strava keeps me motivated because I can share my workouts with the rest of the team.
Wellocracy: What do you like least about it?
Jarret: The battery life is good but it needs to be charged 1-2 times per week so you have to remember to do that. The Garmin is big, but even the newer ones have to be big enough to show a read out of all the information you want to see while you’re running. Also, the GPS doesn’t work inside, so using it for indoor track or on a treadmill, is out.
Wellocracy: Do you share your data with family or friends?
Jarret: I share data from my Garmin with my team via the Strava app. In addition to the individual setting Strava has a club feature so everyone on the team can see each other’s workout data. Being able to see what my teammates have done is motivating because if I can see that they ran earlier in the day, I know that I need to get my run in too.
Wellocracy: What advice would you give someone thinking about tracking or, do you have other thoughts you would like to share?
Jarret: I would recommend using a tracker for a good length of time in order to get some continuity with your body. And use your tracker every time you go out for a run. If you only use it occasionally, the measurements aren’t really meaningful. For example, if I go out and run 8 miles in 55 minutes at a 6:50 pace and have an average heart rate of 153, and I spent 4 minutes and 22 seconds to stop and stretch, just knowing that doesn’t really tell you much. If I can collect the same data points over time, then I can begin to get a feel for my body and what it can do. Fitness tracking doesn’t work unless you use it consistently. If you are not willing to use it for every workout, it is probably not worth your time. Seeing your results further motivates you to use the device or the app. You can get to the point where you want to go out and put up good numbers and impress your tracker with a great run!