D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Lap)

Some of you know I am a big Jay Z fan. In fact my pre-race music always will included a few of his tracks. For many of us we use music to pump us up, however this one particular song D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune), actually had me thinking of how to change my settings on my Garmin. In this case, it isn’t Death of Auto-Tune rather, it is death of auto-lap.

I know the auto-lap button on our various Garmin watches or other running trackers is a nice function to have, essentially for me it was taking up too much of my focus. It was also never exactly the same distance as either a mile marker at a race or the distance around a track. I have reverted to using my Garmin 310xt as something that gives me approximated distances, but rather have used it as a watch to time my workouts and splits. 
I have gone away from using the auto-lap button and hit the lap button manually on my own. This does a couple of things for me, it makes me focus on my actual running and gives me a sense of how I feel rather than what is my pace. Now don’t get me wrong overall pace is important, but feel is just as important as well.

For my track workouts, I am working the actual distance a 400 is a 400 and same for 800s and so forth. If you rely only on the Garmin’s distance, next time you are on the track check out where you start and where you stop, it will be very different. Below is an 800 workout I did the other day, I hit the lap button at each start line and finish line.

800’s workout on the track

Another difference that it has made to my workouts, is that I am actually focused on the overall time for my tempo / goal marathon pace runs. For example my Thursday runs are typically my goal marathon pace workouts, essentially it is 3 parts, the warm-up, the marathon pace mileage and the cool down. If I worked based on the auto-lap function, I am having too many different splits and trying to figure out too many times and overall time etc. There is just a lot going on there. Since my goal is to run a sub 3:05:00 marathon, I need to complete 26.2 miles under that time, it doesn’t mean that I have to finish the marathon with exact times of 7:03 for each mile. I might have a 7:10 or a 6:50 somewhere in there and other times in between during the course of the race.

my tempo / GMP workouts look like this

Additionally by no longer using the auto-lap function, I have been able to run GMP distances that are a bit longer than what the Garmin reads. I have started to run over the distance prescribed. For example, if it is 6 miles at GMP, I will run 6.10 – 6.20 miles at GMP. This method teaches me to run or be able to run assuming that I am not running a tangent, ever run a marathon where your Garmin reads 26.4? I do it all the time. This teaches me to work on running a GMP that is based on 26.4 miles rather than just 26.2.

Do you rely heavily on the auto-lap function on your watch? When you are on marked area do you trust the Garmin more or the track or markings?

4 thoughts on “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Lap)

  1. I am still trying to figure out how to do tempo and interval runs. Do you run these on the track or do you go to a specific route that you run on a consistent basis? So far, I have just been setting my mileage goal and just take off. I see how my body feels as to speed up or slow down. I think I need to start honing my runs more to get the most out of them.


  2. I rotate between the autolap feature and the lap key on my garmin depending on the workout. On normal runs I'd set the autolap for every mile. For track workouts, intervals, fartleks, etc. I would go for the manual lap key. I feel this gives a runner data that is more relevant to the workout. I'm not sure If I have the ability to change the auto-lap distance on my garmin, but I don't even bother. for runs that may require that, the lap key is actually a much better option.

    As for the Marathon, I may be preaching to the choir, or telling you something you already know, but here goes:
    1) The distance of Marathons are usually very slightly longer than 26.2 to be sure when they are certified.
    2) If a runner doesn't run the tangents on every turn during a race he/she will inevitably add a little distance, which is why we sometimes see runners with 26.5 or 26.6 on their Garmin after a race.
    3) Mile markers are not always accurate on race courses! They try to get them as accurate as possible for sure, but sometimes, for logistical reasons, they are unable to put them in the right spot, and also sometimes volunteers simply mess up. I've even heard of pedestrian pranksters messing with signs during a race.
    4) Garmins rely on sattelite signals, and sometimes those may drop. I suggest to anyone who things their distance is off, to analyze their garmin map post run to see if there are any weird spikes on the route.


  3. I do my interval runs on a track. While my tempo / GMP runs are mostly done on the American River Parkway which is a 32 mile path here in Sacramento that is marked at each mile.


  4. Eddie, thanks for the reply. These are items that most people should know about races. In fact I had post a few months back that poked fun at the “Hey this Course is long” comments and the “My Garmin Says” …


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