Ironman Journey: Body Fail: Garmin Fail

It seems that neither my body nor Garmin are infallible.

No surprise there, really.

My Ironman training has brought new and yet more wonderful ways of me finding how to injure myself. I’m relatively cautious when it comes to placing myself in physical danger these days … except when it comes to adding yet another hour onto the training load.

I’d been very careful with my legs/calfs and generally have nursed them through many tens of hours of stupidity (aka training). I’d focussed a little more than usual on my bête noire (left hip) and I’d been mindful with my back. Obviously this meant that my right hip went.


I think I covered in a previous post that this happened just as I was about to enter an easy training period so, initially, I wasn’t concerned. 3 weeks later I WAS concerned.

In that period, swimming and cycling have gone from strength-to-strength as they, miraculously, were not particularly affected. Yet I couldn’t run, or even walk, sometimes. Naturally physios gave me a few flexibility/strength exercise that I already knew (but didn’t always do). It’s always good to pay for that.

I seem to be able to run now but, historically, I have found that 3 weeks off is too much for me and my running fitness seems to fall back quite a long way. So I return to the zone 2-only training once again to supposedly build up my resilience to this kind of injury. On the positive side at least I won’t be sweating quite so much at that speed now that the weather seems to have turned good.

The incredulity of my own ambitious stupidity was highlighted last week by all of this. As I said, I ‘ve hardly been able to run. 5k was a push – it was that bad. Luckily, I discovered some new and wonderful performance enhancing cocktail combinations, this time it was 2x ibuprofens AND 2x paracetamols taken about half an hour before running (yes I know that’s not too good an idea). Fully fuelled by these performance enhancing wonder-drugs, suddenly I was past 5k at a half-decent speed, then 6k, then 7k, then 8k and soon into double figures…10k. Awesome.

As I got to the 9k mark, almost in no pain, my mind wandered towards next weekend. I had a half marathon PR/PB attempt originally scheduled for that. My thoughts now turned to something more sensible. So I considered running the HM slower, at marathon pace, instead. Of course that was do-able. Brilliant. Even though it will be faster than race pace in the IM it should be do-able. Then, after 9.5k, I decided that maybe I should also cycle to the HM and add a bit of IM race-like realism to the mix. Then after 9.75k I pondered and probably even decided to go for a quick dip en-route in some freezing lake somewhere (my first of the season). Perfect timing for an almost proper-HIM.

Of course all this neglected to take into account that the previous day I could hardly run. 🙂

As I said…sigh!

I’ll probably cycle there and go for a plod in reality 😉

So that has covered the body fail. Let’s turn to the Garmin fail.

I had a group 90 mile ride planned yesterday. This was a brilliant time for me to check any elevation drift in the Fenix 5X that I have heard rumours of. Also I would be able to get a super nice and super long optical HR track for Z1+Z2 to compare to my HRM-TRI on the Edge 820.

As an aside (this is the secret bit I normally add at the end). None of my riding friends know I do this the5krunner thing. They just think I have too much money to spend on gadgets and a bit of an unhealthy obsession with aforesaid gadgets.

So I turn up with over a thousand pounds/dollar/euros of kit (excluding 2x PMs) and they’re lucky if they have anything more modern than a 2015 Edge 810.

Garmin Fenix 5X, Suunto SPARTAN SPORT WHR, Garmin Forerunner 235
Garmin Fenix 5X, Suunto SPARTAN SPORT WHR, Garmin Forerunner 235

Imagine my embarrassment, at my house, as I turn on the 5X and get ‘Loading Maps’.  A knock at the door. A quick and hurried chat and a search for gels. A return to the 5X and it’s still ‘Loading Map’. A bit more delaying and 10 minutes later it’s still ‘Loading Maps’. So I have to head off with the piece of XXX*$&”& expensive junk left at home. Yes I realise that with the help of Mr Google I could have discovered that pressing and holding the LIGHT button for half an hour would have sorted me out. Unfortunately I sometimes live in the real world of not having a Googlelike memory of the recovery sequences for every gadget in existence, especially at 6:10AM. Probably a bit like you.

The ride also required quite a lot of navigation as we were on a new and complex route. At my turns to navigate Garmin’s Edge 820 & I were relatively useless.

For once, the touchscreen on the 820 seemed vaguely OK. I had read elsewhere the singularly unhelpful advice to “not expect the Edge 820’s touchscreen to work like that of an iPhone”. Thank you. I’m obviously so stupid that I never realised that myself. But I am ‘clever’ enough to know that banging, long pressing and gently tapping it in various combinations should at least make it do something. Normally it doesn’t do anything; rain or sweat does though. Anyway today I figured out a wondrous taptic combination that worked and was generally in receipt of a working touchscreen. Ta Da!

FYI: Taptic combo was; swipe, swipe, tap, tap, long swipe, spit.

Except the Edge 820 kept freezing and failing to fully re-draw the screen (swipe left and then swipe right to re-draw every 5 minutes). Not helpful in navigation. It kept saying ‘off course’ when I wasn’t. It kept planning circuitous routes back to the proper route (that I was actually on) and taking 30-odd seconds to do so. It kept asking me to do a U turn when I was going the right way on the right route. It kept showing some bizarre instruction to turn left at Ferry Road (somewhere vaguely near where I live, NOT en route). It occasionally said Course Navigation Failed (or similar). It seemed to draw lines of every possible colour: to my destination ‘as the crow flies’; of where I’d been; of where I was going; of similar colour but for other roads; and probably a few more that I still haven’t figured out. It kept “navigating” when I told it to stop. Jeez. I just want to follow a route. Even my TomTom Go One from 1642 did better and that was only a hundred gold soverigns at the time. Luckily my back-pocket Lezyne recorded all the riding goodness in cheap-gadget secrecy.

Garmin Fenix 5XBut this was all very embarrassing as my buddies were perfectly able to manage the ‘complex’ task of navigation with older devices (that worked). I took some solace in that my Garmin had WAY more functions than their devices. WAY more.

Then of course my battery ran out after 6 hours. NOT as advertised. And, yes, it was fully charged with lots of the unnecessary bits turned off.

Actually it wasn’t all bad. We had a great time. One of my mates actually DID have a Fenix 5 (I exaggerated earlier) so I’m going to borrow her track for the route for the elevation drift thing. Although I don’t think her elevation would have been correctly calibrated at the start.

Oh well. At least I can run now!

Here is how the Fenix 5’s elevation profile drifts compared to a corrected elevation track





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4 thoughts on “Ironman Journey: Body Fail: Garmin Fail

    1. latest and I have done a factory reset. No special CIQ apps. I think it is a hardware issue. I had one of the earliest devices. I suspect many manufacturers make hardware changes unbeknown to us. I know others with the same problems and others who do not have them.

  1. Annoyingly, when you start navigating a course on the 820 it seems to have a mandatory prompt appear that says “Navigate to the start?” even if you’re already on the course. It sounds a lot like you pressed the tick and the Garmin was just continually trying to navigate you back to the start of the route. That might also explain why your battery died inside 6 hours.

    For what it’s worth, I used my 820 on an 8.5 hour ride at the weekend, navigating a route and recording power the whole way (both of which I believe are somewhat of a battery drain) and it worked absolutely fine with some ~30% battery left at the end. Your mileage may vary… literally 😉

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