Garmin MARQ – new Extended Firstbeat features

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On the face of it, the new Garmin Marq‘s Firstbeat metrics seem little changed to what is on offer with the Fenix 5 Plus. Indeed, on the Firstbeat site, the only apparent difference is the addition of Firstbeat’s RACE TIME PREDICTOR. Other than the Huawei Watch GT and a few sports bands, no other device yet has Firstbeat’s RACE TIME PREDICTOR algorithm, so this is the first time that this Firstbeat feature appears on ANY Garmin.

Race Time predictors will typically extrapolate your performance from one race or workout and apply it to a target race distance. For example, your 10k race PR/PB of 40 minutes would extrapolate to 19:11/5K using Daniel’s Tables. Garmin already did this with data and calculations from other sources and now, presumably, see potentially better insights from the alternative calculations offered by Firstbeat.

IIRC Firstbeat will base the predictions on your VO2max, which their other algorithms determine as your training progresses. Ultimately these rely on your PACE and HR data being accurate. With Garmin’s new GNSS chip AND new ELEVATE sensor making their appearance in the Garmin Marq, perhaps this will also increase the accuracy of the data that Firstbeat have to work with?

Theoretically, this part of your physiological stats held by Garmin should then be fully synchronised across all your devices on their platform via the Physio TrueUp feature introduced in June 2018.

Next, we come to the Training Load metrics which impact on TRAINING STATUS, TRAINING EFFECT (anaerobic vs aerobic) and probably more besides. The point I want to bring to your attention here is shown on the image on the right. Look closely. Then look more closely just above where it says Garmin.

It looks like Firstbeat have tweaked their algorithms and refined them according to environmental factors by including the effect of heat, humidity and altitude, which are all known to impact on performance.

Let’s say that your 10k performance of 40 minutes from above was achieved at 16 degrees Celsius. Then you can see that with each one degree Celsius rise in temperature your performance is adversely affected by 1 to 2 seconds per km. So it’s likely that Firstbeat will, in some way, be normalizing your performances in a similar way. I’m not entirely sure how accurate the temperature sensor is on the MARQ, I know that the temperature recorded on my 935 often better reflects body temperature than ambient temperature….they’re quite different.

Temperature 16° c 18° c 21° c 24° c 27° c 29° c 32° c 35° c 38° c
Adjusted Time 0:40:00 0:40:18 0:40:36 0:40:54 0:41:12 0:41:30 0:41:48 0:42:06 0:42:24
Adj Pace / km 4:00 4:02 4:04 4:05 4:07 4:09 4:11 4:13 4:14

Regarding altitude, there are definite advantages for cyclists at altitude and this is why next month Victor Campenaerts will be trying to break the hour record at the Aguascalientes Bicentenary Velodrome in Mexico. Again the effect of altitude (and humidity) can be adjusted for to determine your baseline performance in ideal conditions

I would imagine that the environmental factors will be assessed on the watch. Although it would be cool to see Garmin Connect interrogate correct altitudes from an SRTM database and correct temperature and humidity from a weather database. These would only apply to outdoor sports profiles of course.

So that’s what you are going to be hearing more about from Garmin over the coming weeks. ie the temperature/altitude stuff. I think those features all fall under the ‘nice’ heading.

However I think more of the interesting stuff from Firstbeat, that Garmin will not apprently be majoring on in their marketing, will be features like the LOAD FOCUS shown below on a modified image from dcrainmaker . I don’t think he should have shown this ;-). In the example shwon below, it looks to be training load for three sports which I would assume to be the triahtlon disciplines. However, if you look closely you will see that there is an oval region for each sport and this is the opimal region for your training to lie in. [Q: Define ‘optimal’]



Edit: Here is what Garmin say

Heat and Altitude Performance Acclimation

Environmental factors such as high temperature and altitude impact your training and performance. For example, high altitude training can have a positive impact on your fitness, but you may notice a temporary VO2 max. decline while exposed to high altitudes. The Garmin MARQ ATHLETE provides acclimation notifications and corrections to your VO2 max. estimate and training status when the temperature is above 22ºC (72ºF) and when the altitude is above 800 m (2625 ft.). You can keep track of your heat and altitude acclimation in the training status widget.

Edit: See comments below. More new Firstbeat features are starting to appear.

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