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Open Access To Exercise Data? 188

identity0 writes "A recent Slashdot discussion about heart-rate monitors in schools got me thinking about getting one for my own exercise. It turns out that the available models have a wide range of features: calorie rate, pedometers, GPS, PC connectivity, etc. Being a geek, I want one that will let me look at my exercise data, and I'm curious what experiences Slashdotters have had with them. Some download data to a proprietary application — are open source alternatives available or is the data format easily readable? Others upload data to an online app — can the data be pulled off the site or is it forever trapped on their servers? While I'm not an open source zealot or a paranoid about my data being shared, I would like to know that I can access my data in the future. Whatever method you guys use to monitor your exercise, I'd love to hear about it."
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Open Access To Exercise Data?

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  • PolarViewer (Score:5, Informative)

    by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:04AM (#29642079) Homepage Journal

    PolarViewer [] only works with certain monitors, but is under the GPL. had an article [] in 07 on the subject as well.

    • Bodybugg (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fëanáro ( 130986 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:50AM (#29642539)

      Bodybugg does not measure heart rate but a few other exercise-related data
      (acceleration, heat flux, galvanic skin response, skin temperature) []

      The data has been hacked by some guy: []
      it still requires some work to use it thought

      • This folks, is an advertisement for giving back to the community. Spend your free time reverse engineering a product, freely share what you've learned with others, get called 'some guy' on Slashdot.

        I bet if he got arrested over it there'd be T shirts.

        • by jvkjvk ( 102057 )

          I'm not sure exactly what you point is. Do you object that he was just called 'some guy'?

          Fact is, being mentioned on slasdot as a provider of a solution for a problem is generally considered praise, not a condemnation.


          • Humor: 3 a : that quality which appeals to a sense of the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous b : the mental faculty of discovering, expressing, or appreciating the ludicrous or absurdly incongruous c : something that is or is designed to be comical or amusing

    • Re:PolarViewer (Score:5, Interesting)

      by corbettw ( 214229 ) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:33AM (#29642707) Journal

      My wife uses a Polar heart rate monitor (, I forget which model). All of the data is stored in CSV files for easy import into spreadsheets and databases.

      • Which model? Some models e.g. F4?) only have a very limited (WIndows only) software set, which only upload the data to the Polar web service ( I don't remember any way to get the data out.

        There are open-source utilities to download the data, but I have not had much success with them, and so could not use PolarViewer etc. with them.

        I guess the more expensive models allow use from other software.

      • They lose points for that unusable website. Put a pause button on it. And I hate scrolling those tiny windows with my mouse, rather use my arrow keys. I had to fight the website to get any info about their products, but gee it sure looks flashy, must have impressed the sucker who paid for it.
  • Garmin Edge 705 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:08AM (#29642095)

    I use a Garmin Edge 705 for my training needs. The device shows up as a normal USB Mass Storage Device, and the file format is an easily readable XML type file.

    • Re:Garmin Edge 705 (Score:4, Informative)

      by stranger_to_himself ( 1132241 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:16AM (#29642133) Journal

      I use a Garmin Edge 705 for my training needs. The device shows up as a normal USB Mass Storage Device, and the file format is an easily readable XML type file.

      Ditto for my Garmin Forerunner 205 (running watch with good quality GPS). There's some kind of SDK available for it as well, and I've always meant to get round to investigating it but the Garmin Connect website does pretty much everything I'd want to do anyway.

      • Ditto the Forerunner 205. I have one
        I've used it since my Polar heart rate monitor died for the second time. The watch works well, uploading to your computer easily and the software is very good (not too much extra bumpf). It will export output straight to Google Earth (using understandable XML). I think they provide drivers for both Mac and Windows and the history can be exported very easily.

        The only point I would make is that the Forerunner 205 obviously doesn't do anything indoors being only a GPS devic
  • Garmin is reasonable (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rufus211 ( 221883 ) <rufus-slashdot@h ... minus herbivore> on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:14AM (#29642117) Homepage

    I'm quite happy with the Garmin bike GPS I have. It downloads the data in a pseudo-proprietary format, but it's easy to convert into an XML format that's fully documented on their website: []

    Also for those that use linux, here's a couple of scripts that sync down the garmin data, do the XML transformation, and uploads it to garmin connect: []

    • by aclarke ( 307017 ) <spam.clarke@ca> on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:47AM (#29642235) Homepage
      I haven't tried playing with the actual data format as I just got it a week ago, but I am very happy so far with my Garmin Edge 305 []. For anyone reading who's more into running, skiing, etc., Garmin also makes a good line of GPS-enabled watches. For instance, there's the Forerunner 305 and 405. The Forerunner 305 in Canada at least is on for a great deal at Costco right now: $185 [].
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by juletre ( 739996 )
        I have the Forerunner 405, and I am quite pleased. You can dump the data as an xml-file with GPS-coordinates, heart rate, elevation etc for each logged point. (I dont have en example at the moment)

        The garmin site for publishing tracks is somewhat cumbersome to use, but works nicely when you get used to it. It has functionality for both importing and exporting.

        However, as with the iphone, the elevation tracking jumps wildly. I know from painful experience that the Berlin Marathon is quite flat, but it
    • This makes me very happy. I've owned a Forerunner 305 for a while and use it for running and biking (with heart rate monitor and bike speed/cadence sensor) but hadn't yet looked into getting at the data from my Linux desktop. I just assumed that it was yet another Windows and Mac-only proprietary binary blob; glad to hear otherwise!
  • if and when non invasive blood sugar / insulin monitors monitors were going to become possible. Being vaguely interested in the rammifactions of the Atkins diet, as a geek i'm bloody interested to know (not suffering from any metabolic problems (yet)) just exactly what happens to blood sugar and hormone levels as I consume various products. One see's so much stuff labled "Low GI" now, but how do you really know?
    • by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:04AM (#29642311) Homepage Journal

      Don't worry, soon you'll be able to watch your carotid artery with Google Earth.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by plastbox ( 1577037 )

      There are already a few available continuous blood glucose meters [] available and last time I checked at least a few of them were approved by the FDA (thus covered by medical insurance in the USA).

      Being a type 1 diabetic myself, I have fought to get one of these myself but the powers-that-be here in Norway seem to think there are no advantages to having your blood glucose measured every 1-2 to 5 minutes for 3-7 days (depending on which monitor you get), at least not compared to the price of these gadgets. Pre

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by R2.0 ( 532027 )

        Wait a minute - are you saying that there's some aspect of the US health care system that's better than some other country's?

        Sorry - you can't post here anymore.

        • Well, the trick is, in his country, all diabetics have health insurance.

          • Well, the trick is, in his country, all diabetics have health insurance.

            .. while in our country, all diabetics have health care. It's a subtle difference that few people understand yet.

            • by DavidTC ( 10147 )

              You do realize that you are factually incorrect, right? That no matter how clever you think you are, all diabetics do not, in fact, have health care?

            • Ah yes, good catch. I've made that point myself on several occasions, but we all slip up every now and then.

      • Being a type 1 diabetic myself, I have fought to get one of these myself but the powers-that-be here in Norway seem to think there are no advantages to having your blood glucose measured every 1-2 to 5 minutes for 3-7 days (depending on which monitor you get), at least not compared to the price of these gadgets. Pretty insanely ignorant, as having this info available would let me easily have perfect blood glucose levels at all times. Hell, some of these meters even come with an optional automatic insulin pump!

        No offense, but the powers that be are right, for now. The advantages of these devices are vastly outweighed by the current comparative price of these devices. Monitoring your blood sugar often is good, but if you can only buy a thousand of these meters and treat a few thousand people, verses buying millions of other, vastly cheaper, but otherwise perfectly good meters and treating millions, from the view point of "the powers that be" the millions are better served. Right now they are essentially high-tech

  • Odd question (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
    Isn't this the wrong forum to ask this question? Pimply 11-year-old slashbots and exercise? Well, hello?

    *ducks* ;-)
  • C2 Rower (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mike260 ( 224212 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:17AM (#29642141)

    Concept2 rowers will dump their full workout log to CSV, and also allow realtime monitoring via USB + a supplied SDK.
    I've got my rower hooked up to a WinAmp plugin I wrote which pipes heartrate, rowing speed and stroke rate into the visualisation system. This gets projected onto a 2m wide screen, so the harder I work, the more intense and psychedelic the visuals get.

    My next project will be to connect the playback speed of VLC to the rower so I have to keep rowing at my target rate to keep watching House.

  • I have a Polar 625SX. It stores heartrate info for easy transfer to the computer. There are two files generated. Both are proprietary, but one is considered secret and the other is well documented. I can't remember what the contents was of the first file, but the second, readable, file had all the HR, speed and distance information I needed. I have written some simple programs that calculate kilometer times and other basic stuff, so I can confirm that it works and is as simple as you can hope for. As for p
  • PASCO (Score:4, Informative)

    by Effugas ( 2378 ) * on Monday October 05, 2009 @05:22AM (#29642159) Homepage

    Use the PASCO gear, with their Datastudio app. It's great, and will take all sorts of data wirelessly.

    • by guisar ( 69737 )

      I don't get it- what does this expensive PASCO do that a normal HRM or something like the much cheaper Oregon Scientific recorder doesn't do?

  • (Score:4, Informative)

    by it0 ( 567968 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:01AM (#29642297)

    You should also look into [] this site imports/exports data to a lot of sites and devices if you are feeling vendor locked.

  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:20AM (#29642385)
    I'm serious about this. Doing something and then obsessing about the statistical data - it's using up a part of your life you won't get back again. I've always argued (over a 30 year engineering career) that the purpose of automated data collection and analysis is to enable us to do human things, not robot things. Rowing, for instance, should be a fun exercise that keeps you fit, improves your social life, and makes you aware of your environment in new ways. It's turned into something where people listen to canned music while working exercise machines in gyms, trying to turn themselves into machines. Cyclists blast along footpaths and cycle tracks more concerned with what their monitors tell them than looking where they're going, shouting at people on foot. I find this bloody depressing.

    If it's your business, if you want to build an application that takes all this data and turns it into something easy to understand that doesn't intrude on people's lives, that's one thing. But fussing over numbers for the sake of it? There are many, many better things to do in the world.

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Funny)

      by cjfs ( 1253208 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:40AM (#29642475) Homepage Journal

      trying to turn themselves into machines

      What more admirable goal could one have?

      • The Sublimed []
      • trying to turn themselves into machines

        What more admirable goal could one have?

        Living as a human being, of course.

        Sorry to burst the trans-humanist bubble, but human life is uniquely bound to biology, just as we humans are uniquely bound to Earth in ways we are not aware enough of to even begin to understand. There is something precious and irreplaceable in the ability of a human mind to experience its lived environment, and pretending to be a robot (whether that's putting all one's focus into the numbers, or spending twelve hours a day in a basement on slashdot) is a waste of that p

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by NoYob ( 1630681 )
      The data is very useful when you are training. It can be used to train more efficiently, see how altering training can improve performance, monitor how diet is affecting exercise and it can help immensely in preventing injuries and over train - to name a few. It can also help prevent you from slacking off. It's real easy to start to slow down and with something to remind you of performance you can keep a check on yourself - it kicks into the natural competitiveness.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      It's an interesting point, but I disagree. I run for fitness with the occasional race, and I love the data I get from my Garmin. Its motivating to compete with your personal best and see improvements, and useful to see for example how consistent you are across a run. During training or a race the Garmin can help me run at an even pace. It's really just an easier and more detailed way of keeping a training log. I should add that I'm a statistician and seeing what cool information I can extract from list

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AlXtreme ( 223728 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:04AM (#29642595) Homepage Journal

      It's turned into something where people listen to canned music while working exercise machines in gyms, trying to turn themselves into machines.

      Maybe, just maybe, people exercise in order to get fit?

      Not everyone has the time/equipment/weather required to get a healthy workout outside and not everyone who enters a gym wants to become a bodybuilder. And if "obsessing" about statistical data keeps you motivated to get fit, I can't see a problem with it.

      Much better to grind a real treadmill and remain healthy than grind in WoW and become an overweight blob.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sobrique ( 543255 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:05AM (#29642599) Homepage
      I'm using an exercise monitor to ensure I get enough of a workout each day. I want to know calories out so I can balance my calories in, because doing so 'automatically' I end up gaining weight.
      I therefore use my heart rate monitor to try and sustaince a 130-150bpm workout for 40-60 minutes. I then know I've done 'about the same' amount of work, despite it being rowing one week, covering 8km, and jogging to work the next week. I try to maintain the workload threshold about there, because that's about the optimal intensity to maximise the amount of workout I'm getting - much harder and I get tired too fast.
      I've observed this by using the statistics of my heart rate monitor, combined with exercise distances travelled. I can row hard at So.. yeah. I found that a heart rate monitor has helped me greatly in being efficient about my daily workout.
      So I kind of agree. I'm collecting statistics to allow me to 'take an engineering approach' to my daily calorie intake and general workload.
      • by EEBaum ( 520514 )
        Actually, if you're looking to optimize, I'd look at high intensity intervals rather than sustaining 130-150bpm for 40-60 minutes. Lots of recent training methods and research are pointing to multiple short bursts of very intense exercise with rest in between as being far more effective than significantly longer periods of steady-state exercise. While it may not burn as many calories during the workout, it increases the metabolism afterwards, burning extra calories over the course of the next couple days.
    • Had had a different understanding of the OP. I do not believe the basic statement was against exercise or even collecting data, it was the obsession of doing both. I fidn that in my exercise times I cannot use headphones because they do distract from the world around me. People who jog, ride, row using headphones clsoe out the world around them with the consequence of getting hurt ("I did not hear that bus"), or hurting others "("I'm sorry, I did not hear you screaming at me"). Now if the only exercise

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by hab136 ( 30884 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:35AM (#29642999) Journal

      It's turned into something where people listen to canned music while working exercise machines in gyms, trying to turn themselves into machines

      Do you know of a faster, more effective method of getting fit? These people do not have a healthy activity that they enjoy; instead they make a game out of the numbers in order to motivate them to continue to excercise. People like seeing that they've improved week over week.

      Cyclists blast along footpaths and cycle tracks more concerned with what their monitors tell them than looking where they're going, shouting at people on foot.

      There's only so many times you can cycle down the same path before it gets boring. Adding a meta-game of statistics adds fun to the activity.

      Rude people are rude; if they weren't timing their cycling runs, they'd find another way to be rude.

      But fussing over numbers for the sake of it? There are many, many better things to do in the world.

      Some people enjoy obsessing over things, including statistics; these people are probably over-represented in the Slashdot crowd compared to the public.

      There is truth and beauty in science and mathematics, just as there is in nature and human spirit.

    • by LihTox ( 754597 )

      For many people, exercise is something they HATE to do, not something they enjoy; they only do it to stay healthy and live longer. Keeping statistics turns exercise into a game, and that makes it a little easier to motivate themselves.

      And for some who enjoy exercise, it adds to the enjoyment. After all, most of the people who enjoy playing sports like to keep score.

      If you enjoy being active and don't need the motivation, more power (of unspecified wattage) to you!

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      Not everyone finds "rowing" or "running" remotely enjoyable. It's a means
      to an end and nothing more. It's a means to keep from turning into a Hutt
      or being mostly debilatated during middle age. This notion that it's some-
      thing to be enjoyed for it's own intrinsic value is absurd to most people.

    • by Imsdal ( 930595 )

      I've always whined about progress (over a 90 year life)


    • I don't download the files or keep logs or anything like that. But I do have the watch to give me some feedback when I'm slacking off or pushing too much. It helps keep me in line. But the most interesting part for me has been getting more familiar with how my body works -- noticing that my heart rate is 5-10 beats higher in hot weather (due to vasodilation as the body tries to cool) or how it varies as I run inclines. I've gotten to the point where I can pretty much tell you what my heart rate is just by p

    • by guisar ( 69737 )

      For me the problem is that it's, in general, a PITA to record the data. I'd like to keep a record of my exercise mainly because it's to your body as a diary is for your mind and feelings. However, beyond a little black book and stubby pencil all these electronic gadgets seem to be both troublesome and unreliable to use as well as forever becoming more difficult to exchange data among. It should be that you strap the damn thing on perhaps with an HRM round your chest and GPS/recording device/display on your

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Comatose51 ( 687974 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @10:05AM (#29643783) Homepage
      Speaking as someone who until after graduating college couldn't run more than three miles, I can tell you that my HRMs have made a huge difference in my fitness and exercise. If nothing else, watching my stats improve over time is a huge motivator for me. Maybe it's the same nerdy instinct that drives some of us to play MMORPGs. Give me stats and tell me how to improve it, and I won't stop until I get there. Then when I do, I set the goal even higher, etc. Since my first HRM I've trained to cycle 100 miles and am a week away from doing my first marathon. I know nerds aren't what people imagine as athletes but endurance sports, especially ones that are measurable and can be done solo, can be really appealing to nerds. Our obsessive nature gives us an advantage in exercises that reward mental discipline (unwilling to give up) and patience.
      • by MikeURL ( 890801 )
        This type of thing can also easily bleed over into other outdoor (and even social) activities. Geocaching, hiking, mountaineering, cycling, etc.

        The advice I'd offer to GP is to make sure that whatever you use gives the option of saving the data in .gpx format in a way that lets you save that file locally. As long as you have all the data in a .gpx format you can use it in lots of different programs and on many websites.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by thesandtiger ( 819476 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @10:44AM (#29644233)

      This always seems to come as a shock to people on slashdot, but... Not everyone thinks like you do, or does the same things for the same reason.

      For instance, some people (me, and several other folks I know) are interested in getting data on their progress when exercising - it can be interesting to see if subjective experiences of a workout/performance/improvement over time match up with the objective information. It can also be a great motivator - I started on the "couch to 5k" running thing a while back and it was really interesting to look back over the data from runs and see at what time & distance points my pulse was shooting up and at what points it slowed down, or how long it actually took me to cool down to a normal heart rate after a run, etc. It's also been motivating for a few of my friends and family as well as myself - I have a fitness blog that tracks my progress automatically, and when I *don't* run, I've gotten email from my mom asking me if I skipped the day. My father - who is 84 - promised me that for every mile I run, he'll walk. My best friend, who was morbidly obese, said that having photographic evidence of me dropping 20 lbs., and who got to see it happen gradually, said seeing the progress like that helped motivate her - she's dropped almost 40 lbs. in the last year. My ongoing efforts - tracking changes I've made to nutrition, exercise, stretching, all supplemented with data - it's been an interesting project for me to work on. You may find such data pointless, but that's you, not everyone else.

      As to your reasons why people should work out... When I run, I don't *want* to socialize with people. I run for me. I run to forget the stresses of work. I run to not have to think about other people at all. I run to enjoy the way my body feels as I crank out the miles. I run to think things over. I run and have time to listen to things I don't have the time to listen to at other times of the day. I have puh-lenty of socialization going on in my life, plenty of opportunities to hang out with people in many capacities, and exercise is my refuge from that. You may feel like your time spent working out is time for you to be social, and that's great for you if it makes you happy, but I would be really annoyed if someone tried to chat with me while I was getting my me time on the paths.

      You seem to think that tracking the data is incompatible with more "human" reasons for working out, and in my case, and in the cases of many other people, that's just not the case - I'd say it's helped me form better connections with some people at best, and at worst it's simply entertaining for me. I'd suggest learning how to step outside of your own viewpoint and try to see things from different points of view - just as you find the cyclists ignoring the rest of the world around them depressing, I find it a bit sad whenever I see someone who can't seem to understand that other people are different from themselves.

    • Collecting exercise data and keeping it for later analysis or comparison can be a great motivational tool especially when you're in the early stages of an exercise program. On a day to day basis it may not feel like you're getting any more fit or going faster, but you can look at a trend line based on a month's data and clearly see that you're going farther, faster, and at a lower perceived effort level (or with a lower heart rate).

      Some fitness metrics are hard to quantify based on a single exercise sessio

    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @11:08AM (#29644539) Journal
      If you're just out for fun then that's fine for you; if you're training more seriously for an endurance sport (training for 100 or 200 mile cycling events, or for half or full marathons, racing of any kind, etc) then you need to train more purposefully if you want to succeed at it, and having performance data is a basic part of that.
    • Rowing, for instance, should be a fun exercise that keeps you fit, improves your social life, and makes you aware of your environment in new ways. It's turned into something where people listen to canned music while working exercise machines in gyms, trying to turn themselves into machines.

      I'm certainly onboard (so to speak) with the idea that "real" rowing is more fun and environmentally enlightening than rowing-machine rowing. But the thing is, if you're trying to get your exercise over your lunch hour, t

      • I would say that "fake" running (on a treadmill -- though admittedly I usually walk) is *more* interesting, because I can veg and watch TV while doing it. I could maybe get myself to listen to podcasts and run outside for a while, but not as regularly as going home & walking on the treadmill while watching TV I was likely going to watch anyway.

    • by angio ( 33504 )

      Who's to say what's one person's fun and one person's not-fun? Is it better to use up a part of your life fussing over exercise numbers, to use it up playing video games, watching movies, reading books, talking politics in coffee shops, or posting to slashdot? That cyclist you're disparaging may look at your hobbies with similar disdain. I used to have a similar attitude about people who listened to ipods while running, and then I discovered escape pod's podcasts -- and now I'm completely hooked on liste

    • Doing something and then obsessing about the statistical data - it's using up a part of your life you won't get back again. I've always argued (over a 30 year engineering career) that the purpose of automated data collection and analysis is to enable us to do human things, not robot things. Rowing, for instance, should be a fun exercise that keeps you fit, improves your social life, and makes you aware of your environment in new ways.

      As someone who is about to run his first marathon and who has plans to enter my first Ironman triathlon next year, I can absolutely tell you that without this type of data you are at a serious disadvantage to the other competitors and likely won't even cross the finish line.

      Training for these type of endurance events is a science, and like everything else requires data. I'm only just beginning to consume the massive volume of information available on the subject but already I have a deep appreciation for th

    • Do you disagree with the feedback mechanisms in some cars nowadays that shows how "green" they're driving? I think the "fluffiness" of some of the feedback is silly, but the idea is good. (BTW, I don't own a car that has any of this feedback.)

  • by wehe ( 135130 ) <wehe&tuxmobil,org> on Monday October 05, 2009 @06:30AM (#29642437) Homepage Journal
    There is at least a small number of Linux applications for watches and heart rate monitors [], as well as some free and open source tools for bikes [], including applications and open hardware for data acquisition from exercise bicycles. You may find (yet little) information about appropriate data formats, too.
  • Headline used the word "open" without following it with "source".

    Where is this, and what have you done with the real slashdot?

  • I bought one a few months ago. My brain was swimming with options and I didn't want to spend $500.00 on this equipment. I ended up going with a $100 timex solutions that does everything I need. I felt it was a good investment.
  • pedometers (Score:4, Funny)

    by pallidmask ( 1523513 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @07:50AM (#29642775)

    a wide range of features: calorie rate, pedometers ...

    cause you never know how much of a pedo you really are

  • by cOdEgUru ( 181536 ) on Monday October 05, 2009 @08:01AM (#29642823) Homepage Journal

    I used to run prior to buying my Garmin 305, and I even ran a 10k with decent timing, after deciding last year to leave the couch behind. I had a myriad of foot related injuries and at one point my sports med pretty much told me that all lower extremities will require replacement. I hope he was joking. But the fact was I had no clue as to how I was pushing myself. Even the course around my house I knew as if the back of my hand, I didnt know whether I was doing better one day vs the previous, whether I am pushing myself too hard, how far I was running etc. I would drive my car around the course usually, If I ran different to calculate the mileage, but that became a hassle (found out later that there are other ways such as Mapmyrun which overlays google maps etc.)

    My two bit advice to you would be dont buy a gps training device (which is what it is) unless you were training for something. And something bigger than a 5k or a 10k. If you just started running, then run for the fun of it and when you have got that in your blood, get a training device, when you are ready to step up to the next level. A gps device the first time you start running would overwhelm you with all the data (and Garmin 305 buries you with it, and I love it!). You need all the data when you are ready to make sense with it. Initially, you should smell the crisp air outside (or the smog), feel your heart pounding inside the ribcage, see the next hill as you race towards it and its more gratifying than a lot other things, like reaching for the next bag of chips.

    A Garmin 305 with its heart monitor will give you tons of data. It will poll your position every 3 seconds, and you can use a tool like SportTracks to overlay that on google maps or Google Earth to see what you burned through. Garmin has its own training tool, like Garmin Connect, which previously sucked, but now is much better. Still I would like to direct you at Sport Tracks as its free and gives you a cumulative representation of your training than other tools. There is nothing better than seeing a month worth of data and see that you have ran 100 miles in the last one month, which days you ran, what your average pace were, your splits/laps. And oh..and graphs, more and more graphs. You can also track as to what parts of the course you were running fast vs slow, your heartbeat zones and the areas of the course where you were about to pop so that you can be better prepared etc. The Garmin 305 does a piss poor job at calculating the calories burned, as it computes it based on the distance covered, not on your heart beat which is a better route. But as long as you burn more than you take in, even if its a rough figure, you would lose weight gradually.

    Sure, you dont need Garmin 305 (which is rather bulky, but once its on your hand you dont feel its there) or any other training devices unless you are prepared to take your training to the next level. I am running a half marathon in November and I am treating my training just as I would treat anything else thats important in my life. I have a goal of a set number of hours:minutes before I cross the line and I am not ready to leave that to speculation. I train because I want to be injury free and better prepared. And thats what I have my Garmin. YMMV.

    • I have to second using SportTracks instead of the ghastly software that comes with the Garmin (I have a 705 myself).

      1) The software for it sucks
      2) The built in maps for my BICYCLE computer only has high ways ... yeah, that's very helpful!
      2a) The issue with that (ignoring the GPS unit map) is that the software is unable to pull down map overlays from anywhere! No Google maps or anything. Completely fucking useless

      One thing I will recommend that you do: Change the default location of your logbooks, lest you f

  • Get a Garmin forerunner. I have one and I'm very happy with it. It tracks you by GPS and records your heart rate. It has many more options than you will ever need. If you don't mind a little scripting you can download garmin tools and pull raw data from it, feed it into google maps, and have really cool jogging maps and speed and heart rate calculations.

    The only annoying thing about it is the time it can take to pickup your location when you first turn it on. Even that's rarely more than 10 to 20 seconds if

  • Every minute you spend drooling over the 'data' you collected is a minute you could have spent exercising instead and produced real results, not farking numbers.
    Seriously...while there are some people few and far between that may have a need/use for extended data and need appropriate gear I promise you that 9 out of ten people usually only buy something like that because they attempt to *buy their fitness*. Which, of course, is nonsense.
    Yet people spend insane amounts of dough on all kinds of promised mirac

  • My Suunto HRM uploads to an app which can then export it as a series of XML files, which is nice.

    On the iPhone I use TrailGuru which enables me to upload the tracks and then export them as KML. A little bit of XML/XSLT/XPath later and I've got a mashup of the two which give me all the information I need on HRM again position/speed etc.

    Is this really a big geek challenge? Pretty much everyone I know these days uses systems that upload to sites which enable the data to be exported in XML formats.

  • If you just want to track weight loss, the Hacker's Diet []online weight tracker is great. It's by John Walker (one of he creaters of AutoCad)

    One of the things that can be discouraging when losing weight is the daily fluctuations. The Hacker's Diet log software provides a nice weighted average so even if you gain a bit (say, 180.5 one day and 181.2 the next) you can see that the trend is still downwards.

    There's also excel sheets [] with macros for those of you dislike the idea of putting your weight info into the

  • by roalt ( 534265 ) <> on Monday October 05, 2009 @09:19AM (#29643387) Homepage Journal
    I've written some blog entries about my Garmin Forerunner 305. I also got it to work under linux: [] Just one month ago, I also added a quick release fix and a Cadence meter, so I can use it both with running and with cycling. With the release kit it's also perfect if you want to do triathlon (although I'm not so sure it's swim-proof)...
  • I just started playing around with CardioTrainer [] on my new Android phone. It would be really cool if it would eventually work with a bluetooth heart rate monitor like the Spurty Chest Strap [].
  • I'm a pretty avid runner and a cyclist before that and have Polar HRMs. The RS800 syncs using infrared and really doesn't work that well on a Mac. I use a Windows VM to handle that. Getting the data off the HRM, as far as I can tell, is proprietary. I haven't tried to reverse engineer it or anything like that. Once the data is on your computer, you can export it as csv so at least the data is not locked in. The RS800 is pretty crazy in what can record, which includes, heart rate, temperature, altitude

  • Great way to pre-ride a mountain bike race course to know where you are high so you can plan your race for better recovery at each climb and an overall faster time. It's hard to teach yourself to slow it down on the descents (it's just so fun!) without the feedback. This is a great service that I use for all of my post-ride analysis: []

  • Beware: HRMs may give you estimated calories burned, and Polar will even claim it's accurate within 10%, but the formulas they're using to estimate calories burned makes some rather broad assumptions about human physiology and your specific level of fitness as well and will err on the high side to encourage people to continue exercising. Higher-end HRMs will allow you to enter your VO2max, which would make it more accurate, but VO2max is something that is done using a very strenuous and expensive lab test t
  • I was hoping someone had bitten the bullet and writen an Access replacment.

    Back to the salt mines... grrr....

  • by bugi ( 8479 )

    You may want to reconsider your distance from "open source zealotry". Your careful neutrality is admirable, but wait until it gets personal.

    Open data format (or a broken one) is the way you get a driver to control the speed of vlc playback. What great motivation for consistent exercise! Then again, you wouldn't want to run afoul of DMCA while simply trying to access your health data; perhaps best to just leave it hidden away.

    What about your data on their servers? Are you sure they're not sharing it with

  • The Garmin Training Center app uses a sqlite database to store the results, which I use to do some further munging, using some of the code from here [] as a base.

I use technology in order to hate it more properly. -- Nam June Paik