Can You Train Without Your Garmin?

Can you train without your Garmin title image

As technology progresses we have more and more fitness data available to us from taking part in a sport. ‘If it’s not on Strava, did it even happen’ being a phrase regularly thrown around the fitness world. Cycling with a Garmin or running with a watch, we all get that Kudos on Strava afterwards. With the recent glitch with Garmin Connect, it made me think what happens when you take that technology away?

I never use to ride or run with a watch when I first started out, but the original push to get a watch was to record how far I’d gone. I didn’t know what a good time to run a mile in was, or what a good speed on my bike was either. I just wanted to know how far I’d gone.

When I started taking road cycling more seriously, that was when I got my first Garmin cycling computer. Fast forward to now and I have a Garmin Edge 1030 directing me round pre-plotted routes off Garmin Connect. All of a sudden I’m getting told how much water I should drink and what calories I should have consumed on the ride. My point being, the data I now have access to has grown profusely.

As I got use to having so much data to go through telling me if I’ve improved or not, it wasn’t until Mallorca this year something dawned on me. What would happen if I took the cycling computer away? On the training camp back in March, one of the tasks was to ride Sa Calobra without looking at the numbers on your Garmin. That stomach turning phrase making you wonder how on earth you’d pace yourself without knowing how many Watts you were putting out.

After a week of analysing data in Mallorca clocking a 300+ miles, we were leaving Spain at the beginning of their Lockdown. The UK obviously followed suit shortly after, which put me off going out on my bike. I could train indoors and not put myself at risk of crashing (reducing the risk of A&E), so it was a good few weeks before I got back on my bike outside after that.

I can still remember my first ride out when everything seemed to calm down slightly. It wasn’t a ‘training’ ride, but it was just riding. Cycling along country lanes with just a map on my Garmin. It felt like it had been months since I’d done that. Just ride.

When I got home I found my ‘data’ to not be that much different than normal, so why does the lack of a Garmin still fill people with dread? My point being is…what if you have a technology malfunction on race day? I’ve heard it happen. A chain snap affecting your performance I can understand, but blaming a poor performance on the fact your Garmin died is a bit harder to believe. Whilst data can help, can you ride and assess your performance by tuning into your body and how you’re feeling?

Do you know what riding at X amount of Watts feels like? Or do you just rely on your Garmin to tell you?

So whilst you might not want to leave your Garmin at home completely, why not try turning the numbers screen off for a ride or two and see how you get on?

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