Garmin and the Challenge Carrots

One thing I’ve noticed more of from Garmin is that they’ve recently rolled out time-based challenge badges.

For example, you opt into a challenge to bike 300km in the month of August, or take 70K steps in the next week, 300K steps in August, run 40mi in two weeks, etc.

Perhaps they’ve always done this. Perhaps they’ve caught my eye more recently because the Coronavirus restrictions have taken away all live races and there’s nothing to train for. Maybe this is a new thing that Garmin’s social-engineered to keep users motivated in the short term.

In any case, last week I opted into the step badges, 70K in a week and 300K in August. I’ve recently averaged about 8000 steps a day, a far cry from the easy 16K or so I’d average daily in Chicago. And this 8K was an improvement over previous months, where average days were 3K-4K and I had several 2K days. Even recently, my rolling average would ebb and flow up and down as my overall activity ebbed and flowed.

But in trying to cut some more fat, I’ve decided to get more active with walking or running. Once the challenge badges came about, I figured the artificial goal of trying through the end of August for 10K steps a day by hook or by crook would spur some valuable extra calorie burn. This took me from sometimes trying sometimes not trying to hit a rolling automated steps goal to setting a hard baseline of 10K steps a day. It was like the first time I wore a Fitbit all over again.

A 2 mile morning walk or 2-3 mile run every day gets me about 5K-6K steps right away. Incidental walking at the office gets me a few more, and longer walks during breaks at work pad the totals until I finish a typical office day at over 9000 steps. At that point, incidental end-of-day walking at home gets me to 10K if I haven’t already hit the mark.

On weekends I take that walk or run, then go to the gym at some point during the day which adds a couple thousand more incidental steps (my gym has a large footprint and you need to do some walking to get around). If by work-at-home day’s end I’m short a couple thousand steps, I go for an evening twilight walk in the neighborhood, however long is needed to hit 10K (usually 10-20 minutes is enough).

My days off begin with a walk or run, and a variety of day-off activities usually logs a good deal of steps, not including another trip to the gym. I usually have no trouble getting to 10K on my days off.

I’m sure the overall net calorie-burning effect is minor, but the hamfisted goal has certainly helped me be more consistent about moving around every day. Previously I would let days get away from me due to work and other concerns and I’d finish with maybe 3K steps. This likely played some role in my not being able to burn fat as I slim back down. This keeps my metabolism on point, and now it’s just a matter of eating right.

Now I’ve decided to do the 40mi two-week run challenge, which will require a 2-3 mile run every day through August 29. I had jogged sporadically in the mornings, opting to walk most days. I want to see how doing those short runs everyday at 7am will affect me. Since there’s no races to train for, it’s not a big deal if it doesn’t work out or a setback forces me to bail on this. It’s a chance to see if easy everyday running for two weeks can work for me.

Plus, more importantly, running burns more calories per minute than walking, and will generate more muscle/mitochondrial benefit than just walking. I will ultimately be in better condition for it, and might even lose a few more pounds of fat in the process.

Will I keep up with the Garmin Challenges of the day/month/etc once this month is out? We’ll see. I always like to trial-run ideas like this, a la Steve Pavlina’s 30 day challenges. Once I finish it out at month’s end, maybe I’ll have gotten everything I wanted out of it and forget about it. Or maybe I’ll just keep taking the Challenge Carrots every week, every month, building up fitness through hitting artificial Garmin-badge milestones until a more serious challenge emerges.

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2 thoughts on “Garmin and the Challenge Carrots

  1. […] today’s 4.5 mile run I earned this August Rundown badge on Garmin, for running 40 miles within 2 […]

  2. […] taking on a Garmin Badge Challenge to bike 300K in a month, bike 16 hours, and walk 16 hours… I ended up riding the spin bike at the […]

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