During this project I asked lots of different companies for help, be it help with kit or simply asking for some charity sponsorship. I must have written 100 emails in 2018 alone, however I only heard back from a few, usually with a 'sorry we get asked a lot and can't really help you'. One of the 2 best emails I received was from Garmin UK.
One of the problems I had during my 40 mile Stormtrooper run the previous year was that my faithful running watch the Garmin Forerunner 620, ran out of battery at the 35 mile point. Fortunately I was able to give it a quick recharge with a portable charger during my final rest break, so I did manage to record the full 40 mile distance. However, battery capacity did pose a problem for 2018: if my watch wasn't able to manage 40 miles, what would I do to track me for 100km??
I wrote to Garmin explaining what had been achieved so far and asked them if they had anything that was powerful enough to last the distance. To my delight Garmin replied and informed me that they really liked what I was doing and they'd send me a replacement watch which they were confident would have the capacity to last the distance! When the watch arrived I was overjoyed to discover that they had sent me their Garmin Forerunner 935, the reviews for this beast online were brilliant. I was eager to see how it would perform!
Technology had seriously come on leaps and bounds. Not only did the Forerunner 935 boast an impressive 24 hours on GPS, this watch blew my mind and revolutionised how I looked at my lifestyle and my training. Seriously the amount of data coming off of this watch and the Garmin App has turned me into a bit of an obsessive. By using clever sensors on the back of the watch the device analyses all of my training, sleep, body stress, heart performance and VO2 Max as well connecting me (if i want) to all of my emails and social media etc. What was scary is that by looking at the 'stress' screen on the Garmin App I could see how much of an affect alcohol had on the body the day after. For example if I had 3-4 pints of beer on a Friday night I could see on the Saturday that my sleep quality was poor, my resting heart rate would be elevated by about 15% and my body stress level doubled! All of this whilst i'd actually be feeling fine because after all 'it was only 3 or 4 pints'. So it just went to show why some serious athletes cut out alcohol. This was one of the main motivators for me deciding to cut out alcohol entirely at the beginning of April until after the 100 Km run.
I delighted in seeing my performance indictors improving on my App over the months of training my resting heart beat slowly came down, my VO2 Max increased and I was being given hints and tips by the App. It was all great.
What was also brilliant was Livetrack, a very clever Garmin system which would email a link to anyone I had programmed into the app, it would also send a link to my connected Twitter and Facebook account, this link would then give access to my activity, hence Livetrack. People could see where I was how far I'd run, what my current speed was etc. It meant that when I would begin my 100 Km run my Garmin would tell my phone to start Livetrack and anyone who was following me on Twitter, Facebook or whose email I had previously added would be able to follow my progress throughout the day. This worked a treat and enabled everyone in my support team to know where I was. It was a relief knowing that my parents and family would wake up in the morning and immediately see how I was doing. My friends could keep an eye on me during the day, which all added to the experience. You will notice that the photos show me with my phone in my hand as it does require one to transmit the data. Livetrack can be programmed to start automatically for every run or you can select to begin it manually. As a user, you are entirely in control of Livetrack, the decisions on where the link goes (if anywhere) are all yours. Livetrack was a great innovation.
100 Km Garmin Performance
I loved the data that the garmin would give me, including heart rate information, however when I was wearing the costume this data was unavailable. Well that was until I cut a whole in my Stormtrooper glove to allow the sensors to work!
I turned off all social media notifications on my iPhone and Garmin to preserve power and I set the watch to auto start/stop which meant that when it detected that I had stopped the Garmin would pause my time. I also changed the settings on the Garmin to record/transmit distances in Km instead of miles. With both devices fully charged I began running and immediately checked with the team to see if they had been sent a link and to see if the link was working. They had received an email and it was working. This link would now be able to get sent to anyone who asked the team and it had already appeared on my Facebook page and Twitter. Garmin had truly connected the Running Stormtrooper!
The system worked like a dream. Everyone was able to keep tabs on me, which I later discovered after the run when I turned on my social media notifications and could read peoples reactions. I stopped for an hour half way through at 7 a.m. which understandably stopped the live feed to the link. When I began running at 8 a.m. I checked my watch and it had automatically started again, things were looking good. However, not long later a couple of worried people (including my wife) contacted my support team to ask what had happened and why I wasn't moving. This demonstrated my lack of understanding at the time about Livetrack, the system had detected that I had stopped for a very long time and had stopped the live data feed. At this point I had run another 5 kms and was worried that the data wouldn't have been recorded, however on checking my watch everything was great. All I needed to do was to reselect 'Start Livetrack' on the App and everyone got sent a new link with ALL of the data on it. Everything was still great. Livetrack was nailing it!
I needed to use a portable charger on my iPhone on a couple of occasions but my Garmin battery was doing me proud.
So the end was in site, my Garmin had nailed it. This elegant device (unlike some huge bulky trackers) continuously tracked me in GPS and send the data to my phone by Bluetooth for a total of 18 hours and it still had enough battery to act as a normal watch the next day.
You can see from the selection of photos the information which can be obtained from this device. It truly is a great bit of kit.
Note: I was kindly gifted this device by Garmin. I have not received any form of payment for this review. However I would wholeheartedly recommend this product to anyone who wants to improve their performance or needs a device that is capable of tracking over a long distance.