The latest Garmin sportwatches, from the Forerunner 255 on up, have a feature that until a few months ago, I’m honest, I had snubbed with conceit and a certain amount of arrogance: suggested daily workouts.
My Forerunner 955 (as well as the other models), when waking up in the last screen of the morning report, always suggests two daily workouts: one for running and one for cycling. And, for this test, I wanted to rely entirely on Garmin algorithms to see if it works and, more importantly, if it can be useful.
As you may have guessed from the title, the answer is yes to both questions, but it would be reductive to close the question in this way, especially after having spent two months on it. ;-)
In addition, another important question is: in what context can you use the suggested daily workouts?
It’s an interesting context because – talking to many people – I realized that many of us use only a few functions of our Garmin sportwatches while, if used correctly and completely, they can become reliable companions and push us toward easier, faster and fun improvement.
Let’s start from the beginning
Summer is a time when we all have more time on our hands, not only because our workload decreases, we go on vacation, we get lazier, we claim our right to exercise, but also because the days get longer and we have many more hours of daylight available to slip on our shorts and t-shirt, and get outside. And last summer I decided to do a particular training. Or, better yet, instead of preparing a detailed schedule, I preferred to have only key workouts and leaving the day-to-day management to my Garmin Forerunner 955 ( review here), based on its parameters and the way it has gotten to know me over the past months.
To further “complicate” the test, I decided not to have specific days when to do the quality workouts; it was all left to chance, in my vision of anarcho-punk running.
That is, in the utmost summary, I said to my Forerunner 955, “Can you be useful to me even when I am a waffler to the nth degree?”
For his part, 955 asked me for some regularity in sleep and daily rhythms as regular as possible. Only under these conditions the Training Readiness and HRV status values(we have already discussed them here) were suitable for training. And not surprisingly, there were a few days that, due to various problems and commitments, I had slept very little and the Forerunner simply told me “today it’s better to rest” as well as not even showing me the sleep data in the morning report — well, if you sleep three hours I’d say that’s okay.
But let’s back to the test
Two months completed in this way. If my Garmin Forerunner 955 suggested a workout, I performed it as a good and diligent pseudo-amateur athlete. The only variation was if I decided to do quality training, and then I would structure it.
Many of the proposed activities were simple easy runs, but he also put in long runs, short and long intervals. All of this makes sense: in fact, the amount of work had to be balanced according to the Focus Training Load (here you can learn more about it) with the right amounts of low aerobic level, high aerobic level, anaerobic level.
It’s like having a coach who always knows how you are and suggests the right workouts from day to day. And it is very difficult to lose direction, perhaps by pushing too much. In fact, with some frequency I was coming home with the Stamina (one of the Forerunner 955’s most important metrics) above 50 percent: a data that demonstrates a more than manageable commitment on a daily basis.
The result? Being able to run every single day!
I confess: I was very surprised by the result. Day after day, the recovery time – always very accurate – was consistently less than 20 hours, so I would wake up in the morning that I could train. Above all, I woke up energetic, toned, with the Body Battery perfectly recharged.
Every. Single. Day.
As I told you, the only exceptions were due to sleepless nights or unwell states but nothing that depended on the workouts the Forerunner 955 recommended. This makes us realize how much sleep and stressful conditions weigh in our lives, both sports and daily. And Garmin measures that as well.
However, the most relevant fact is how with the Recommended Workouts the training load is always perfect and constant. Clearly there are some workouts with greater peaks of effort than others, but the result that should be most highlighted is how this style of training – typical even for pro athletes – is based on the perfect balance between volume and quantity: in this way our performance will increase gradually and with remarkable consistency. Every day you put a brick in and, in the end, you end up with a wonderful castle!
So in what contexts are the recommended workouts useful?
As I told you, it is remarkable that, with the recommended daily workouts, we always have a perfect workload for our condition.
Consequently, starting from here, we have two contexts in which we can fit:
- if you train without programs or goals: you can rely on this system to always have the right workout for your physical state and count on the steady improvement that comes from the correct distribution of Focus Training Load.
- if you train with a program and a goal: having the right training load allows you to optimize each and every training session, especially in the first phase of preparation when you need to improve in both endurance and performance. Keeping from the table only the specific work dedicated to your goal.
In both cases – and in addition to all the benefits we have discussed – having the right workload at all times also has the great virtue of reducing the chances of injury.
Beautiful, isn’t it?