New Tech Growing Pains

I've been using the Garmin 945 for about six weeks now.  I'm really enjoying it, but there are definitely a few quirks.  I'm using the 945 as my everything watch - workouts plus daily activity tracking.  Previously, I was using the Fitbit Versa for daily activity tracking and the 920XT for workouts.  It was a bit weird exercising with both the Versa and 920XT on, but the only way I would get "credit" for the workout on the Fitbit platform was if I wore the Versa (if I wanted the benefit of the HR metrics associated), but the actual workout-centric metrics provided by the Versa were laughable, hence the 920XT.  So combining both into the 945 has been great.  And it was only slightly painful to manually export nine years worth of activity-tracking data from Fitbit one month at a time to import into the Garmin platform.

I ended up getting the triathlon bundle for the 945, which I was not planning on, but it was the only version in stock, and with the discount I got through my work it was cheaper than the watch by itself, so I bit.  I've actually really wanted the HRM-SWIM for a while, but could never justify it, so this was a nice excuse.  It's been pretty neat quantifying my swim workouts - manually taking my heart rate at the wall always provided disappointingly low numbers based on my RPE, so it's nice to see what my effort is during the set.

I stopped my master's swim program because I couldn't make it work with a newborn in the house, not being a zombie from lack of sleep, and having a happy wife.  I only recently got back into the pool again and I wouldn't call the swims that I've been doing workouts - just things to remember how to swim.  Well, last night I had my wife make a swim workout for me and I was able to transcribe it into Garmin Connect and feed it to my watch.  This was my first time following a workout on my watch.  In the master's program, the workout was written on a dry erase board.  The workout functionality is pretty well implemented, my biggest complaint is that the workout screen doesn't show the elapsed time since the start of the last interval.  It shows the interval time and the rest time, but if I'm swimming 100 m @2:00 minutes, it's a lot easier to look at the elapsed time than try to do the math of looking at how long my last interval was and figure out what the rest timer needs to get to before I start my next set.  I have this set up for normal swimming, so maybe it's just a screen I need to set up specific to workouts.

My biggest disappointment with the 945 has been the fact that the battery life was nowhere near what the claimed life should be.  It was closer to my Versa, which is about four days between charges.  It should have been getting about double that based on my usage.  I chalked it up to having the all-day pulse oximeter enabled, which is generally regarded as a huge battery drain (and considering I am only ~300 feet above sea level, not terribly useful), but yesterday, I somehow managed to burn through 50% of the battery in about five hours.  This was just normal smartwatch usage - no GPS, so clearly something was amiss.  I searched the Google and found out that using the pulse oximeter in all day mode was a battery drain.  Thanks.  After some more searching, I found that doing a hard reset may address the issue.  I had already tried doing a normal restart, so I figured I would do the hard restart too, and luckily that seems to have resolved the issue.  After about 16 hours and an hour pool swim activity, I'm at 88%, but the good part is that I don't notice the battery life dropping every time I look down at my watch.  Maybe I'll even turn the pulse oximeter back to all day mode - all the metrics.

My current complaint is the fact that the 945 says my FTP is ~189 and it won't update, despite the fact that I literally just did a ride on a trainer for over an hour where my average FTP was 213 watts.  Considering the definition of FTP is the maximum output you can hold for an hour, you'd think that my FTP should be at least 213 (obviously, it should be higher than that as my ride was not an all-out effort for that hour).  Apparently, the way the FTP gets updated is by looking at the Heart Rate Variability during an intense workout, and I guess I'm lazy (or a typical triathlete that runs too hard and doesn't bike hard enough) and haven't had a workout intense enough to even trigger the evaluation.

I did go in and manually update the FTP to what is in ZWIFT, but I want Garmin to use its fancy metrics to give me the number.  The 945 has a guided FTP test, which is great, except the 945 lacks ANT+ FE-C.  That is pretty much the only protocol the watch is missing, but it's an important one as it allows the watch to control a trainer.  That means that I can't do ERG mode for the FTP test.  It's not the end of the world, but it takes a lot more mental work to do the workout free-form, whereas doing it in ERG mode let's me just concentrate on getting the most out of my pedaling as possible.

When I was doing Lactate Threshold tests with the BSX Insight, I would program the protocol into a simple little trainer app called Indoor Cycling Workout,which supports FE-C.  That way all I had to do was pedal until I couldn't anymore.  It was great for consistent testing.

I'm going to do the guided FTP test tomorrow, kids permitting, so we'll see how it goes.  I think the program is adaptive, so there's no fixed protocol I can program into ICW.  Of course, I'm not actually sure, because you have to have a heart rate strap paired to even enter into the guided FTP test, so I can't even play around with it to know what I'm in for before actually taking the test.  There's nothing worse than putting in all the effort for an FTP test only to not get the results due to some technical issue.


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