I’ve had a Garmin watch for almost 10 years. Before that, I loved running because of how little “gear” you “need.” I would throw on my shoes and go. No wires, no fuss, sometimes no sunscreen (oops). But a friend of mine (and amazing runner) gifted me her old Garmin, so I started wearing it. I didn’t “need” it. I definitely forgot it a lot, but it was fun to see where I hit new PRs and I had an especially fun time playing with elevation! About 4 years ago, I decided it was time to start on the path toward my lifelong Ironman goal, so I thought an upgrade would be nice. A watch that could track runs, bikes, and swims? Sounded awesome!
Now, I opted out of the heart rate monitor addition (I can talk myself out of almost anything on any given day, so this was an easy “you don’t really need that, you’re already spending too much money” moment) but ended up getting the Garmin 920XT triathlon watch.
Over the past 4 years, I’ve recorded almost everything. I have looked at a few workouts, and analyzed almost nothing. It is definitely nice to not have to plan routes, but instead trust the watch GPS and do a simple out-and-back, and stay on pace during runs or bikes. The swim is where I think I love it the most. It doesn’t matter how much I focus on counting laps in the pool, I never fail to get lost in the rhythm of the water, and lose track completely. Open water is a whole other story and I would literally be lost if I didn’t have a way to track distance. So, I’d say it has been absolutely helpful in training.
However, I hate smart watches. I hate them with the passion of a thousand burning suns, maybe more. I don’t need a buzzing reminder to “MOVE!,” nor do I need another screen telling me that something has happened, or alerting me to a text, phone call, or notification (I happily turned off all notifications on my iPhone except for phone calls and texts, but that is a separate soap box). So, I would turn off my watch following workouts and let it rest in a drawer until the next day. That has worked out pretty well for quite some time.
I stumbled across the sleep section on accident. I think I found it first on the Garmin Connect app, which I honestly only have so that it will automatically stream to Strava, which I like the interface of better. But I kept seeing this sleep data that I knew was incorrect, and looked into it more. Turns out, if you wear your watch to bed, it will track your activity and give you a pretty good estimate of your sleep patterns: light sleep, deep sleep, and awake times (see their website for a disclaimer).
Sleep and I have never been friends, but I was curious what (if any) information I could learn from this tool. I decided to give it a test. 20 days of data to start.
Here were my initial questions:
- Nutritionally, do patterns occur to suggest impact on sleep?
- What is my average?
- What do I need to feel “good?”
Here’s what I learned:
- I averaged 8 hours, 4 minutes of sleep over the course of the experiment.
- I clocked an average of 4 hours, 22 minutes as “deep” sleep, and 1 hour, 54 minutes as “light sleep,” with an average of 7 minutes of “awake” time.
- Every day that I had afternoon coffee, I averaged over 10 minutes of “awake” time and less that 6 hours of total sleep.
- I noticed that I did not feel “good” on days with less than 7 hours of sleep. This leads me to believe that I feel at my norm or “good” with at least 7 hours.
- I am not a heavy drinker. A glass of wine every couple of days is pretty much my M-O. On those days, my deep sleep averaged significantly below the norm, and my awake time was the highest of the whole experiment.
I’m assuming this would be more accurate if I did, in fact, purchase the heart rate monitor version, but I’m okay with that for the time being. Really, I was just curious if there seemed to be any noticeable takeaways from looking at the data. For now, I will refrain from having afternoon coffee, and pay attention to when I enjoy my glass of wine. On my journey toward my Ironman, I am excited to see the aggregation of marginal gains to give me my best finish, but in the long game, I am most interested in creating a life that makes me my best self. I think reflection, learning and asking questions can always help out.
Get fired up! What is one thing you could do this week to make your training a little bit better? Or one thing that could make your life a little bit more suited for you?