Garmin Fail- Training with cadence and without a local coach.


I’ve fallen through a few cracks when it comes to training.  First of all I’m a sprinter, a female sprinter;  we’re a rare breed.  Training wise, I’m too old for the local institute program’s, to Canadian (and not quite fast enough) for the state program’s, and a little too young for the masters and too far away from Canada to get any support from there.  That left me in a rut training on my own.  That also meant, I spent a year being a roadie thinking more was more.  The theory worked in the beginning, I rode more, I got faster.  Once I was past the novice effect, I started to go backwards (in sprinting but I was totally killin’ it at RAW).  I even considered a road career…briefly….

Up until this point I had garmin on my bike, lazily recording my k’s.  I used it for the occasional strava sniper session, and every now and then be totally devastated when it would fail/glip/die during the commuter cup.  But it was never really the end of the world.

Enter June 2014.  In January I saw Canada was getting a velodrome and nationals was to be in October.  I had booked tickets home and I was 5 months into an 8 month nationals prep.  I was at ITS adelade and totally bombed.  I sucked, it was horrible.  My first international race and I totally embarrassed myself.
I needed a coach.
When I got to work after the trip I googled sprinting, coaches, program’s, on line training, whatever I could think of, and the name that kept popping up was Carl Brewer.  He seemed to be the guy to talk to.
So after a bit of e-mail convincing, I had a program to follow! And here is where my technology woes began

First Carl lives in Melbourne
Second my garmin hates me


Dealing with a satellite coach is actually the easy part.  We chat, discuss goals, he writes a program, I kill myself.  Well maybe easy isn’t the word.  To do solo training it takes a certain amount of crazy.  You need to be able to preform at your peak without an audience or feedback.  You need to be honest with yourself with how you feel at training and the effort you give.  It is so easy to drop down a few inches and make the targets that little easier.  I do have a few casual sprinters that join in, but nothing reliable, and definitely not a squad.  Then once I’m done killing myself, I update a shared google doc so Carl can see it.  He then has a look, and writes the next block.  Sounds simple, sounds like a good system, think again.


My. Garmin. Hates. Me!
Oh yes, the more you rely on technology, the more it let’s you down. It’s not always the garmins fault, but the woes are still real.

Death- I killed my first garmin.  To much use and too much sun screen. As a ginger, I need to wear sun screen on all rides, and when I turned the garmin on that oily residue on my hands started to eat away at the power button, until one day I lost the button, then after a rainy commute, I killed the garmin.  That left me with one with a cracked screen, to use while the dead one was being assessed to be fixed(binned).  That worked ok.  I got data, I just couldn’t see what the numbers were at training.

Forgetting to hit start-  Kinda sucks when you are a few km into a ride and you realise you forgot to hit start, really devastating when all you have is a 200m full on effort and you forgot.  All that data lost, and the effort, on paper, worthless.  This plays with your mind, you don’t know if you should re-do the effort (tempting no one will ever know- but NO!) or go up/down a gear for the next one.

The cadence magnet/sensor not working/ not aligned/ set up for the wrong bike.  So you do an entire session, the speed looked good, you’re feeling awesome, you upload the data and fail.  No cadence data.  Boooo.  You can calculate cadence from speed, but you know garmin always overestimates and under estimates speed on the velodrome using gps.  Even if you totally smashed the targets, the doubt is always there.

GPS/gatmin glips.  Indoors/outdoors gps on/GPS off, you won’t know when you won’t know how, but all of a sudden you hit 172km/h on the track!  Boo ya, but a lie.  The real data will upload properly a few hours  later.  More frustratingly, it will tell you 67 when you only did a low 60.  When this happens you have a niggle garmin is lying, but go with it, and change gears, only to upload and find out no targets were met during training.  That is the worst feeling.  Sitting at the computer, pumped from the night before, only to see you failed.

Acting up- I donno.  My garmin just likes lying.  It usually happens when I’m away.  It usually happens when I need garmin the most.  It usually happens when Carl wants to see the data.  And it always ends in me having a melt down.

I know something as simple as a garmin shouldn’t result in a melt down but it does.  You need to understand the context.  All my feedback comes from this little electronic devise.  It allows Carl to see me when he can’t be in Sydney to see me.  When I’m killing it at training I can message him and get instant ‘good’ s out of him.  In a way I have conditioned my worth at training to be determined my the little digital numbers on a screen.  When the numbers are totally wrong, not appearing, or the garmin won’t turn on it feels like I’ve been abandoned.  Mentally I’m totally alone and lost.  When this happened at ITS Adelaide this year, my garmin was giving low readings in warm up.  Carl took it away,  he took it off my bike threw it in a tool box and locked it away.  I would have loved to have see my face, I was shocked, I even had a good cry.  I was racing blind for the first time… This resulted in me hitting a bunch of PB’s and killed it in the keirin.  It was not the end of the world.

When I got back from Adelaide, garmin worked fine.  Stupid garmin.

I had a few more glips but nothing melt down worthy… Until… Just before Canada, I was training in Melbourne, and the data was reading high.  I trusted the data for the first session, uploaded it realised it was wrong.  Got a wrong reading in the next session, and turned it off (much to the annoyance of Carl he wanted data).

Then in Canada, garmin had a hissy fit.  I guess it’s not me it hates, just Canada/Canadians in general.  After fighting with it on the team sprint night, I took it off my bike and ignored it for the week.  Lucky me I also got the double whammy.  My phone joined in and I had no garmin no wifi and no communication with Carl.  I had another mental melt down.  Luckily I did have support from Rick, Maddi and the other sprinters at NCCH.  They kept me sane, and allowed me to kick ass while racing.

People have told me to use more simple technology.  I’m just about to add a cheep wireless computer that only displays but does not record cadence.  this way I can see the maxes, and rely on them.  And then use the garmin ato record the session and analyse the curves.  So. Much. Technology!  It sucks.  But when dealing with a  coach that cant be physically there  for all the sessions it is necessary to deal with it and just try not to take the glips personally.

Moral of the story, don’t trust technology.  And sprinting is hard.
The end!

2 thoughts on “Garmin Fail- Training with cadence and without a local coach.

  1. I used to have the same issue with cadence and speed data acting up because of magnet alingment or leaving the magnet on a different set of wheels etc. Now I use the new garmin sensors that sit on the wheel hub and crank arm only. No magnet and no ugly attachment to the chain stays. Just two sensors that use internal accelerometers. They independently broadcast to the head unit. They work like a charm. Never had a “lost data” ride yet.
    You probably already have these?


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