Holiday Gift Guide: Footbeat, A New Way to Recover

by Alison Freeman

 

If you’re like most of us – getting older but convinced you can get faster and beat the pants off your younger self – then you know how important recovery is to your training. Meet Footbeat: a pair of moccasins that house an insole that houses a little engine-driven bubble, which compresses your arch which then increases circulation and therefore removes metabolic waste – including lactate, which is also known as: the reason your legs feel like crap. Tiny little engine, big freakin’ deal.

 

The best part about Footbeat is how darn convenient the moccasins are to use. Finish up a run or a bike, shower (optional), and pop those things on while you eat a recovery meal, answer emails, do a little work, or analyze the data file from your workout. Plus they’re easy to tuck into a backpack and bring on a plane or long road trips – keep your legs fresh while you’re sitting for hours, and ensure your legs are ready the next day for a major bike ride or the big race of the season.

Friday Freeman Fave: The Rudy Project Boost 01 – Aero Every Day

By Alison Freeman (link to About Us)

When I first stepped into the world of triathlon on my entry-level road bike, I was somewhat taken aback by all the fancy, tri-specific equipment – time trial bikes and disc wheels and, in particular, those long-tailed aero helmets. I thought that normal bikes and normal wheels and normal helmets were for normal people like me, and all that fancy gear was for the fancy people winning the races.

Fast forward almost a decade, and my concept of “normal” has changed considerably. I still consider myself a normal person (as in, not one of the fancy people winning races) but I am now surrounded by lots and lots of fancy, tri-specific equipment. My one hold out has been my helmet – I just haven’t been able to get past the idea that I need to be really, really fast not too look like a massive poser in an aero helmet. My mind may have been changed, however, by the Rudy Project Boost 01 helmet.

WHAT IS IT?

The Boost 01 is Rudy Project’s first ever road aero helmet. Which begs the question, what exactly is a road aero helmet? Like a road helmet, the Boost 01 has a standard profile – no tail – and provides ventilation through 10 strategically placed vents. Like an aero helmet, the Boost 01 has a smooth, mostly solid surface and was crafted in a wind tunnel in order to achieve superior drag reduction. So: the Boost 01 is an aero helmet shaped like a road helmet, a.k.a. a road helmet with aerodynamic properties, a.k.a. an aero helmet that you can wear every day.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

To better understand the wearability and aero properties of the Boost 01, but not having access to or the budget for a wind tunnel, I conducted highly scientific field testing based solely on observation. Observation which is definitely not subject to perception bias, as evidenced by the fact that I definitely thought the Boost 01 was a little heavier than my WindMax when it is, in fact, almost 30 grams lighter.

So while we can acknowledge that my high school physics teacher would not have signed off on my experiment, I still did my best to be as scientific as possible. I rode a rectangular, rolling route on a gorgeous, 65 degree day with a slight breeze that (because: Boulder) was always either a crosswind or a headwind. I tested three different setups: Boost 01 with Optical Shield, Boost 01 with Sintryx sunglasses, and Boost 01 with Stratofly SX sunglasses, and made sure to experience both climbs and descents with each setup.

I started out my ride wearing the Boost 01 with Optical Shield. The shield itself can be popped in and removed easily, but feels snug once it’s in place, and has a hinge so you can flip it up and down (that’s so you can get the helmet on and off while the visor is installed, which I quickly discovered). Having sun protection without wearing glasses was a new experience for me, and I did initially have to resist the urge to push the visor up the bridge of my nose. I also fidgeted a bit with the fit of the helmet to get the proper shield position, but that may be the result of my head being slightly miniature.

I spent a lot of time throughout my ride popping back and forth from my basebars to my aerobars to get a sense of the aerodynamic benefit that I would (or wouldn’t) get from riding aero. With the Optical Shield, I noticed a distinct and sizable difference in wind noise each and every time I dropped into aero. (Holy cow it’s working!) I also noticed the center hinge on the shield disrupting my view each time I popped into aero, and couldn’t decide if this was a big deal or not.

After about 7 miles I swapped the Optical Shield out for the large profile Sintryx sunglasses, and I immediately noticed a smaller visual field relative to the shield – and decided that the minor annoyance of the hinge from the shield was a small price to pay for that wide angle view. I again popped back and forth from basebars to aerobars, this time noticing an occasional but not consistent difference in wind noise between the two positions. At higher speeds there was a lessening of wind noise – and in my mind, drag – in aero, but at lower speeds there seemed to be no difference.

For the final leg of my ride I swapped out the Sintryx for a pair of small profile Stratofly SX sunglasses. At this point I was really jonesing to put that Optical Shield back on, to return to the wide angle view and get the pressure of the sunglasses off my nose, but I stuck with the Stratoflys to complete my testing. I was a little tired of the back and forth between aero and basebars, and when I found no discernible difference between the two I decided to stay in my comfy position and just ride home.

Overall I really like the Boost 01. Based on the fact that cyclists in the opposite direction were waving in response to my wave (and sometimes waving first!), I concluded that I did not look like a giant bozo wearing the helmet. I also appreciated how forgiving the aero profile was – I didn’t notice any crosswind issues while riding or when turning my head to check for traffic, and didn’t feel that I had to hold a specific head position in aero to attain the aero benefits (yes, I did try several head positions!).

What I actually appreciate the most is the fact that I can get that race day pop in speed by saving the Optical Shield for racing only, and wearing my smaller profile sunglasses for every day training rides. So unlike my race wheels, the Boost 01 is an investment in free speed that you can use more than a handful of days each year.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?

The Boost 01 is available direct from Rudy Project in a variety of colors, and both with and without the Optical Shield. I highly recommend springing for the shield for race day speed as well as the uber cool vibe.

Women’s Wednesday: Injured Triathlete- Fat, Drunk, and Out of Shape is No Way to Go Through Life

By Alison Freeman

Fat, Drunk, and Out of Shape is No Way to Go Through Life

That’s the line that’s been going through my head almost daily for the past four weeks, ever since my off-season got extended well beyond what I’d intended. (And yes, it’s an Animal House reference.)

I’ll back up by saying that I am a strong believer in the importance of an off-season, on having some time when your focus isn’t on training: When fitting in your workout isn’t the driving force behind how you organize every day. When you have the option to go for a hike or take a yoga class instead of a swim/bike/run workout. When you ease back on the miles and give your muscles and your joints some time to recover.

And that’s why I extended my off-season from the originally planned four weeks to a solid, plenty-of-time-to-get-antsy, eight weeks. I was really enjoying the hiking and the yoga and totally blowing off masters swim and drinking margaritas at lunch. Part of the reason I enjoyed it so much, I think, is because I knew (or rather believed, incorrectly) that it was pretty finite. And then on September 9th I developed a stress reaction in my foot. (How I managed to do that on reduced mileage is a story of total idiocy that I won’t include here. Just chalk it up to my being a moron.)

Suddenly my off-season was extended to … twelve weeks? sixteen? I thought I handled the news pretty well, but looking back on it I was hilariously, quietly, unknowingly, losing my marbles. I figured I was really taking things in stride because I wasn’t making a big deal of the stress reaction. Sure, I couldn’t run for 4-6 weeks, but I could swim and bike and I wasn’t training for anything so really it wasn’t a big deal. People would ask me what was new, and I wouldn’t even tell them about the stress reaction. I mean, when a triathlete doesn’t talk about an injury you know that shit has gotten weird.

So, I can’t run. I am just working out aimlessly, with no goals and no plan and no purpose. Fall is crazy, crazy quiet when you’re a triathlon coach because most of your athletes are in their off-season, so I don’t have much work to do. And since I don’t have a lot of work, and don’t have to be feeling good to tackle some tough workout the next day, I am consuming a glass (or two or three) of wine every night. But if I average out the whole year including my big training weeks where I didn’t drink at all, it’s really totally fine.

Fat, Drunk, and Out of Shape is No Way to Go Through Life.

Clearly it’s time to pull it together: I find a plan on TrainerRoad and start burying myself in some sweet spot bike workouts. I hatch plans for multiple projects: I’m going to write a blog! (Evidence of this effort is obvious.) I’m going to finally organize all my coaching systems and notes into a Filemaker database! (That’s what happens when you were once a management consultant.) I’m at least keeping myself occupied … but something’s still off.

It took me another week to put my finger on it, but then it hit me: I am filling my weeks with coffees and lunches and have absolutely nothing to say during any of them. I don’t even know who I am when I’m not training for something.

Does that statement make me sound totally unhinged? Or at least massively addicted to training? Sure, I’ll own that. But batshit crazy or not, this is where I am. So my off-season now has an official expiration date of Oct 31st. It’s time to pick an Ironman for 2018 and start setting some goals for next year. And then maybe I’ll start to feel normal again.

Let’s do Wildflower! … What’s Wildflower?

By Alison Freeman

As soon as I heard that Wildflower was back for 2018 after a hiatus in 2017 due to drought conditions, I knew I wanted to race it. Except that I truly, honestly, knew nothing about the race. OK, maybe that’s an overstatement: I knew that it includes a challenging bike course, and I knew that it involves camping. But for real that’s all I knew.

Which kinda means that I have a lot in common with Terry Davis, the founder and race director of the Wildflower Festival (now called the Wildflower Experience). Yes, that sounds crazy – so let me explain. Back in ‘80s, Terry was working as the Marketing and Events Director of the Monterrey County Parks Department and they were looking for events that would utilize the Lake San Antonio venue outside of the summer months. Terry and his team were busy developing the Wildflower Bluegrass Festival, that would feature – you guessed it – wildflower exhibits and bluegrass music, when a friend suggested including a triathlon during the festival weekend. “OK, let’s do a triathlon,” said Terry. “What is it?”

So that’s how one of the most iconic races in the triathlon world was born – spearheaded by a wonderful fellow who didn’t know what a triathlon was, and who to this day has never participated in one. The race has grown from 82 participants in 1983 to 7,500 participants at its peak. But the Wildflower Experience is more than just a single race – the weekend includes triathlons on both Saturday and Sunday of various distances, live music, food trucks, wine tasting, retail vendors, and family events including a Friday night kids’ fun run.

While a two-day, multi-faceted weekend of activities already sets the Wildflower Experience apart from other race experiences, what makes Wildflower truly unique is the venue itself. Lake San Antonio is thirty-five miles from the nearest city. Thirty. Five. Miles. Thirty-five miles from the nearest Motel 6. Thirty-five miles from the nearest Target or Walmart or major grocery chain or anywhere that sells gel blocks. Which raises the question of how on earth does Wildflower host tens of thousands of participants and spectators for this incredible weekend?

Turns out, Terry and his crew spend months creating a temporary city at Lake San Antonio solely for the Wildflower Experience weekend. They build out infrastructure including restrooms, parking, medical facilities, and transportation to move bikes and people from camping and RV sites to the expo and race venue. They bring in water and massive tents for the pasta party and temporary housing for the 1000 students from nearby California Polytechnic State University who comprise the majority of their volunteer staff.

What Terry’s crew doesn’t build, however, are temporary four-star hotels. Instead, 80-85% of the participants, along with their friends and families, are camping or RV-ing it up in the area surrounding Lake San Antonio, creating a sprawling make-shift city comprised mostly of triathletes. This is why the Wildflower Experience is often referred to as the “Woodstock of Triathlon” or the “Burning Man of Triathlon” and this is why I am SO EXCITED to head to the Wildflower Experience this May.

Just picture it: thousands upon thousands of triathletes and their sherpa crews, hanging out and listening to music and discussing how much time they spend in zone 2 and whether they train by heart rate or pace or power or feel and the weekly workout that increased their FTP by 10% and the swim drill that instantly shaved five seconds off their 100m pace and the merits of living solely off of gel blocks versus a strict keto diet. I mean if this doesn’t sound like heaven to you (and sheer hell to my husband) then you have a much more balanced approach to triathlon than I do.

So, maybe this Triathlete City is heaven and maybe it’s more like an asylum for uber-fit individuals. Either way, it’s also temporary home to the pros who take part in the Wildflower Experience – pros like defending champs Jesse Thomas and Liz Lyles, who could conceivably be in the camping spot right next to yours. You could give Jesse some suggestions for new Picky Bars flavors, and ask Liz some advice on the best way to handle “Beach Hill” while you cook your pre-race breakfast over a shared campfire. I mean, if that’s not a unique racing experience, I don’t know what is.

Great Things To Know About the Wildflower Experience

DATES
Saturday, May 5th, 2018
• Long-course (70.3) triathlon
• Off-road sprint distance triathlon

Sunday, May 6th, 2018
• Olympic distance triathlon
• Sprint distance triathlon

THE LONG-COURSE RACE
• 1.2 mile swim; 56 mile bike; 13.1 mile run.
• The bike course has 3600 feet of elevation gain, including the climb up “Beach Hill” right out of the gate and “Nasty Grade” at mile 42.
• The run is partially on roads and partially on trails, including some nice, challenging hills.

THE OLYMPIC DISTANCE RACE
• 1.5k swim (0.9 miles); 40k bike (24.8 miles); 6.2 mile run.
• The bike course is challenging, including “Lynch Hill” and “Heartrate Hill.”
• Like the long-course route, the run is partially on roads and partially on trails. And, you know, hills.

THE OFF-ROAD RACE
• 0.25 mile swim; 8.5 mile bike; 2 mile run. And, you guessed it, hills.

THE SPRINT DISTANCE RACE
• 0.25 mile swim; 20k bike (12.4 miles); 3 mile run.
• The Sprint is new for 2018 and course details are not yet available. I’m assuming there are hills.

SPECIAL BRAGGING RIGHTS
• Wildflower Squared: Long-course on Saturday + Olympic distance on Sunday!

LOGISTICS
Keep your eyes out for a future 303 Triathlon article with a “How To Wildflower” primer. For now:
• If you want to book flights, the closest major airport is San Jose; San Francisco and Oakland are also decent options.
• Pro Bike Express is offering bike transport plus will bring your tent and sleeping bag for you. Sign up here to reserve your spot!

REGISTER FOR THE WILDFLOWER EXPERIENCE HERE!

WTF Is My Hand Doing? And Other Thoughts From Swim Physio Testing

By Alison Freeman

As many of us triathletes approach the off-season, we tend to think about how we can improve for next year. The off-season is an awesome time to focus on one sport at the expense of the other two and make some big gains in that sport. And if you come away from your tri season post-mortem realizing that it’s time to step up your swim, I highly recommend booking time at the CU Sports Medicine & Performance Center (CUSMPC) for a round of physiological testing in the swim flume.

I did physio testing on the bike at CUSMPC last spring and found that to be incredibly useful. I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical about whether the swim physio testing was going to have the same impact. I love it when I’m proven wrong!

WHAT IS IT?
Similar to bike or run physio tests, the swim physio test measures your heart rate and blood lactate levels across a range of swim paces, with the goal of scientifically determining your individualized training paces. Beyond that, you also get the benefit of a swim stroke analysis, complete with before and after video of your technique.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
In swimming, there is a distinct intertwining of effort and technique: if your technique is flawed (and really, whose isn’t?), then you’re less efficient and it’s going to take more effort to swim – at any pace. The swim physio testing begins by identifying your swim training zones, which are cool to know but aren’t game changing. The stroke analysis is where the magic happens.

Jared Berg, CUSMPC’s testing specialist who’s also a certified strength and conditioning specialist as well as a former pro triathlete, focuses on stroke improvements that will reduce your effort level and/or improve your pace within your training zones. In other words, (cue lights and “aha” music) Jared looks for ways to help you swim faster while expending less effort – IMMEDIATELY. Not after four months of hitting the pool three to five times a week, but within just a few workouts.

HOW DOES IT WORK?
Swim physio testing takes place in a swim flume, essentially a treadmill for swimming … which I translated to: bo-ring. I was so wrong. I hopped in, started warming up, noticed the mirrors on the bottom and sides of the flume, and was immediately fixated on WTF was my right hand doing and now I understand why my masters swim coach keeps telling me to straighten my wrist. Seeing yourself swim is about as eye opening as it gets.

Flume Video

The testing itself takes approximately 30-45 minutes and goes like this: after your warm up, Jared takes you through a series of four minute swim intervals at increasingly challenging paces. The first few are endurance to tempo pace, as in: no big deal. But by the third I was sucking wind and by the fourth I was desperately trying to just keep my feet off the back wall. The only reason I survived the testing is because in between each interval Jared has you pause swimming to check your heart rate and lactate levels. I used that time to gasp for air and beg for a countdown during the final interval so I knew how much longer I’d have to suffer.

After you complete the testing portion you move on to stroke analysis. Jared sets up two incredibly high end, super cool underwater video cameras in front and side view positions. You’ll swim for a minute to capture your baseline stroke, then Jared reviews the video with you and provides an overview of what looks good and what needs improvement. Next he’ll pick one element for you to concentrate on, have you swim a minute focusing on this particular improvement, and show you side-by-side before-and-after videos to see how you did. After that he’ll move onto a second point of focus and repeat the process. All in all you’ll walk away with three or four discrete form points that you will have practiced in the flume and can continue to work on after your session. More importantly, these form points are specifically selected to provide near-term results – as in, you’ll swim with less effort and/or faster almost immediately.

How did this shake out for me? Well, it turns out the alternate-side breathing that I thought made me super cool was in fact my undoing. Jared noticed during my physio testing that my lactate levels were unusually high during the initial rounds of testing. He had me change to a single-side breathing, galloping style stroke (a la Katie Ledecky – even cooler!) to improve my oxygen levels and reduce lactate levels, and then gave me some specific form points to concentrate on to maximize my stroke efficiency for this new style.

Think it all sounds like a bunch of mumbo jumbo? We put it to the test. I came back exactly two weeks later – after only three swim workouts – and re-did the physio testing. My lactate levels started lower and stayed lower during the initial testing intervals, and my heart rate stayed lower as well. My stroke rate was lower across all the intervals, and I was able to add a fifth, faster interval that had been impossible two weeks prior.

I still have work to do to get faster and refine my stroke, but now I know what to work on. And with Jared’s help I will come out of the water at my next tri feeling less tired, and therefore having more energy for the bike and run. #ForTheWin!

HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Just pop on over to the CUSMPC website’s page on performance testing and select “Physiology.” Scroll down to “(SWIM) Lactate Profile,” click to pop up the scheduling tool, pick a time and you’re good to go.

While you’re at CUSMPC for your swim physio testing, be sure to check out their state-of-the-art facility. They offer everything from physio and metabolic testing to physical therapy to an alter-G (anti-gravity) treadmill. It’s all open to the public, and it’s right in our own back yard.

The Sprint Work Stand by Feedback Sports : No More Grease Stains on My Carpet When I Change a Tire?

By Alison Freeman

You know when you’ve been struggling with something over and over and over again, and you get so used to clunky and difficult and annoying that you never pick your head up to think about alternative solutions? That pretty much describes me, in my basement, swapping out trainer tire for outdoor tire for trainer tire for outdoor tire, getting chain grease all over the carpet, and just assuming that this is how it’s done. And then I learned about the Sprint Work Stand by Feedback Sports.
TAAAHHH-DAAAHHH!!! Light bulb does not even begin to describe it.

WHAT IS IT?
The Sprint Work Stand by Feedback Sports  is a bike work and wash stand. Unlike the work stands that you often see at your local bike shop that use a seat post or top tube clamp to hold your bike, the Sprint Work Stand uses a fork mount to secure and stabilize your baby. I mean bike.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?
For starters, I am now convinced that anyone who does any work on their own bike – tire changes included – should own a work stand. If my grease-on-the-carpet story didn’t resonate with you, how about the fact that my race wheels stayed on my bike for 8 weeks because there wasn’t a day warm enough to pop my bike on my car’s bike rack and swap out wheels. Does that sound familiar? Now just imagine changing wheels and mounting rear bottle cages, all in the comfort and warmth of your house – without getting grease everywhere. SOLD, right?

Glad that we’re on the same page. So, then, the reason that you want the Sprint Stand specifically is because, since it uses a fork mount, you don’t have to stress about the top tube shape of this bike and the seat post shape of that bike and is there any one stand that will work with all of my bikes? Yes! The Sprint Work Stand. DOUBLE SOLD!

HOW DOES IT WORK?
The Sprint Stand is a cinch to use. Even though I only glanced at the directions the first time I whipped it out to change my daughter’s tire, I had it set up in just a minute or two. The stand uses four clamps similar to the clamps on your bike’s seat post to manage the entire setup and breakdown process, which makes everything quick and easy.

You open one clamp to expand the tripod base, a few others to adjust the height of the stand, and then there’s a nifty clamp to lock the horizontal mounting bar in place. Just like that, the stand is set up. To mount your bike, you simply remove the front wheel and throw it on the fork mount using one of the three provided skewers and their accompanying spacers. The fork mount has a slide adjustment, so once your bike is mounted you can easily slip the fork mount forward or backward so that your bottom bracket rests on the rubber base.

Once you’ve got your bike mounted, you can rotate it 360 degrees to provide easy access to whichever part of your bike you’re working on. In just a few weeks, I’ve used it to change tires, swap out wheels, wash my bike and un-attach my rear bottle system. Previously I would’ve attempted this with my bike either on the car’s bike rack or leaning against the wall in my basement, neither of which provides the same access or stability as the Sprint Work Stand. My bike was super sturdy once cinched into the fork mount and, with the rotation and adjustable height, I could easily get to anything I wanted to work on. The only two drawbacks were that my hands still got greasy dealing with my chain (granted, that’s totally a user error thing) and that you can’t adjust the front brakes on the stand since the front wheel isn’t on your bike. It’s easy enough to adjust those brakes once you pop the wheel back on, though, so it’s really not a big deal.

Once you’re done working on your bike, the stand folds down more easily and quickly than it sets up, and collapses into a compact unit that you can easily tuck away in your garage or the corner of your pain cave. It’s only been a couple of weeks, I’ve already used it several times, and I really don’t know how or why I managed to go this long without scooping one up.

HOW DO I GET STARTED?
The Sprint Work Stand is available direct through Feedback Sports for $269.99 plus tax and shipping.

7 Things You (Probably) Didn’t Know You Can Do With Your Garmin 920XT

By Alison Freeman, D3 Multisport

You’ve worn your Garmin for countless hours in the pool, on the road, and out on the trails. But you may not know that your Garmin can do a helluva lot more than just track your distance and pace. Here are seven of my favorite Garmin 920XT features, many of which I use week in and week out. Have a favorite that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about it.

Note: Many of these features require the Garmin Connect website, the Garmin Express desktop app, and/or the iPhone/Android/Windows phone Garmin Connect app.

Wireless / Bluetooth Sync

I’m really hoping that this is a super disappointing start to my list because you already know that you don’t have tophysically connect your Garmin to your computer in order to sync your workouts. You can sync wirelessly after setting up your home wireless network using Garmin Express, or you can sync to the Garmin Connect app on your phone using Bluetooth. Either way – no cords required.

More information about wireless setup can be found here

More information about pairing your phone with your Garmin can be found here

Phone Notifications

And just when you were thinking that my list was going to be a total bust … Did you know your Garmin can kinda be an iWatch? First you connect your Garmin to the iPhone/Android/Windows phone app on your phone. Then any time you open the app it will push phone notifications – like incoming texts and phone calls – to your Garmin. So, if you launch the app and head out on a ride with your phone in your jersey pocket (and, really, who doesn’t?), you can read your incoming texts and see who’s calling on your Garmin, while you’re riding, without ever touching your phone.

More information about pairing your phone with your Garmin can be found here

More information on phone notifications can be found here

Intervals

OK, so let’s say today’s workout is a bunch of repeats of the same interval – not hard to remember, but you reallydon’t want to have to stare at your watch and hit your Lap button at the start/end of every interval. Plus: precision. No problem! Just go to “Training,” select “Intervals,” and set up your 10x 1/4-mile intervals with 90 seconds rest. Hit “Do Workout” and your Garmin will tell you when to go fast and when to rest. Voila!

More information about intervals can be found here

Structured Workouts

Maybe today’s workout includes some horribly complex set of run or bike intervals, and – unlike with the single interval repeats – there’s simply no way that you’re going to be able to remember them. Again, no problem! Your Garmin can still tell you exactly what to do and when to do it. Just set up the workout on the Garmin Connect website and send it to your watch using that nifty wireless sync feature we already covered. Then, when you’re ready to do the workout, go to “Training,” select “My Workouts,” select your workout for today and hit “Do Workout.” Voila again!

More information about structured workouts can be found hereNOTE: If your workout intervals are set up in TrainingPeaks’ new structured workout builder, you can send the workout from TrainingPeaks right over to your Garmin. See the TrainingPeaks help article on this here

Routes

Here’s one that I don’t use a lot, but when I do it’s mission-critical: if you’re running/riding a new route and youdon’t want to get lost, you can set up the route on the Garmin Connect website, send it to your watch using that nifty wireless sync feature, and then follow the route on your watch. (It’ll be hidden under “Navigation,” in “Courses.”) It does take some paying attention to follow the route because it’s a line without a map underneath, and so it helps to play with the scale to make sure you see the turn before you miss it. But once you get the hang of it, the course map will keep you from inadvertently adding several errant miles onto your day.

More information about routes (which Garmin calls courses) can be found here

Live Track

A “LiveTrack” is a website with a live feed of your ride (or run), which can be made available for 24 hours after yourride/run ends. This is a feature that I use EVERY SINGLE TIME that I ride outdoors. Why? Because if I don’t come back, then someone knows where to start looking. Also, if I run into mechanical issues, then it’s really easy to let my ride know where to find me. I’ve even used the LiveTrack + Phone Notifications to receive texts from my husband with weather updates based on where I am and where I’m heading. (“Turn around and ride fast! Storm heading straight for you.”) Within the Garmin Connect app on your phone, you simply go to “More” and “LiveTrack,” enter one or more email addresses, then hit “Start LiveTrack” to send the web link to your support crew.

Custom Alerts

The last of my favorite features is great for long rides and runs where you want to stay on schedule for your nutrition: You can set up custom alerts at specified intervals, with specified messages. On bike rides, my watch reminds me every fifteen minutes to “Drink!”. If you want to take salt tabs every 40 minutes, you can set an alert for that. If you want to tell yourself to suck it up every 1.75 miles, you can set an alert for that – just go to “Activity Settings” and “Alerts” and you’re in business. The possibilities are endless. (Just remember that alerts are specific to the activity, so if you set up an alert for Bike, it’ll stop reminding you when it’s time to Run.)

More information about custom alerts can be found here