On I went, out of the wood, passing the man leading without knowing I was going to do so. Flip-flap, flip-flap, jog-trot, jog-trot, curnchslap-crunchslap, across the middle of a broad field again, rhythmically running in my greyhound effortless fashion, knowing I had won the race though it wasn't half over, won it if I wanted it, could go on for ten or fifteen or twenty miles if I had to and drop dead at the finish of it, which would be the same, in the end, as living an honest life like the governor wanted me to. -Alan Sillitoe, "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner"

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Garmins are stupid

This morning, I went running with a friend I met on twitter. I know, right? Twitter! And she wasn't an axe murderer or a serial rapist! Either that or I wasn't her type. Either way.

Even weirder, we went running at 6am. In midtown. That's right: I woke up at 5:15 to take the subway downtown to meet someone to run at 6am. And it was worth it. It was her first time running with someone, even.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to talk about. My Garmin is. When we finished the run, Kate said, "That was 5m almost exactly! Is that what you have?" and I looked down at my Garmin and saw... 4.46m.

What the what? A half mile difference?

Obviously I must have turned it off at some point during the run, I guess. That would be the logical idea.

But I think I'm going to choose to assume that my Garmin is broken. I'm going to choose to assume that every run I do is actually mismeasured, and is short. My 5m, everyday route? Must (obviously) be 5.75m. My 4m on Tuesday? 5m, at least. Maybe 6m. Could be 10, even, don't you think?


  1. GPS watches are really not at all accurate, at least in Manhattan. It becomes obvious (and comical) if you zoom in and look closely at the map it draws. That said, half mile over 5 miles is a bit more of a difference than you should expect.

    I always remeasure somewhere else if I've run a new course, like dailymile or gmap-ped, to get a more accurate distance. That is also why I frequently re-run the same set of routes, where I know the distance.

  2. I was in midtown for much of the run, and I'm usually up north where there are fewer buildings. But, I think I really must have turned it off - toward the end, I stopped and started it a few times as we were walking through the streets. Gmap-pedometer gave me 5.05m!

  3. Ha. I think we need a side by side comparison of the GPS maps :P I do know that our Garmin always acts wonky in Chicago. I think the tall buildings mess with it?

  4. I like your theory. I think you're actually running 10 miles every day.

  5. I'm quite sure we ran a marathon, really, which excuses the fact that I had a blondie AND a lemon square at my meeting.

    And I'm honored that you got up so damn early just to run with me. It was a hoot and I hope we have a repeat.