CaptureHaving been working with Tim Ramsden from Blackcat Cycle Coaching since January, I’ve been a heavy user of the Workouts facility on the Garmin 800. It is excellent – but has a couple of bugbears. Last night – I had a flash of inspiration which has made transferring Tim’s plans into Workouts a cinch.

For those who are Garminless, or who haven’t explored the features it has to offer and just use it as it came out of the box – Workouts allow you to program a step-by-step programme of timed or criteria based segments.  If you have a Garmin 800 and haven’t been to Dummies Guide to the Garmin – go now. I’ll wait.

Workouts allows you to program, for example, a 10min warm up, followed by a section to get your heart rate up to 160, followed up by 3 x 300 watt intervals with a 1 min recovery.  Start your Garmin running then all you need do is pedal and follow the instructions on the screen. And sweat of course.

I’ve been doing my structured training on a Tacx turbo trainer, based on the programmes from Tim.  They tend to be timed and either Power or Heartrate based, with a cadence element, e.g. 3minutes at 200W with cadence of 90rpm.

This is where the limitation of the Garmin bites you in the bum: there’s no way to specify more than one Target for the timed step.  You can specify Watts, Heartrate or Cadence, but only one, not two, and certainly not all three.

It would be good to be able to put in both Watts & Cadence so that the Garmin becomes self contained, and I wouldn’t need to remember or have a piece of paper to refer to.

And then the other night: Eureka!  The Target for Watts has two boxes – intended for a lower and higher limit, outside which the Garmin beeps to warn you.  Instead of choosing putting 200W – 200W in the Garmin, and remembering that the cadence should be 90-94rpm (or vice versa). I now put the cadence in to the first box, and the Power into the second.

So – a step for 200W at 90-94rpm is put into the Garmin as a target of 92-200W.  I chose the mid point of the cadence range – I can never hold the damn thing spot-on anyway. So now when the next step appears on the Garmin, it says ‘3:00 Power 92-200W’  I know it’s 92rpm and 200Watts without having to find the bit of paper that the fan has just blown across the room.

The same idea works for a Heartrate targeted step too – so for a step which requires 10 min at 148-155bpm with a cadence of 74-80rpm, I’ll put in a workout step with a target heartrate of 77-155bpm, knowing that the cadence needs to be around 77rpm, and my heartrate should be up near 155bpm.

Ta da! Paper-free workout schedules!

Now I just need to get my Garmin to shout at me when I’m flagging and my training environment will be complete.