Tag Archives: science

Solving the case of Garmin’s missing Altitude Acclimation

Ever since I’ve gotten my Garmin Forerunner 945 (FR945), I’ve had a minor problem. Minor in that it basically doesn’t affect tracking for any of my training, but that one of the included Garmin Connect metrics doesn’t appear to be working properly (at all, really) because of it.

The FR945 comes with temperature and altimeter readers, which allows Connect to track Heat Acclimation and Altitude Acclimation using tech and code designed in conjunction with a company called Firstbeat.

The heat acclimation function works fine. Las Vegas becomes hell during the summer, and Connect has readily noted my high percentage of heat acclimation after many of my walks and runs in the 100°F+ heat. My calculated heat acclimation only dissipates to zero towards winter as the temperature finally dips and stays below 60°F.

However, the altitude acclimation hasn’t really worked as described. Garmin per their manuals tracks altitude acclimation at as low as 800 meters, 2620′.

The Vegas Valley metro area is a giant bowl surrounded by mountains that varies in altitude between about 1600′ and over 3000′ depending on where in the Valley you are.

I work in Summerlin near the western edge of town, and the altitude at my workplace is about 2720′, above the minimum measured threshold. I train nearby, and most of my running is in a neighborhood that sits between 3050′ and 3200′ in altitude. Any running I do in this area should (per Garmin’s description) count towards altitude acclimation, and most of my running is at this altitude.

I live and train on weekends at a lower 2300-2500′ on another end of town. I don’t expect this to count, but again most of my training by time/mileage/incidences/whatever you want to count is near work at the higher nominally eligible altitude.

However, other than after a long weekend trip to Flagstaff last May, Garmin has never shown I have any altitude acclimation. After the Flagstaff data wore off, my acclimation has always shown up as 0.

According to their documentation, however, all my tracked run training over 2620′ should have triggered an altitude acclimation reading. It’s not happening.

Is something broken? Are there other disqualifying parameters Garmin’s support materials do not spell out? I had no idea.

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A note on peer reviewed studies

Many won’t give an idea credence unless a peer reviewed study exists that confirms it.

While this is fallacy, an appeal to authority, I am definitely not opposed to peer reviewed research. Quite the opposite. You’ve probably noticed that I’ve cited a variety of research sources in many of my pieces. I don’t make any of this stuff up. Often, when I perceive or find something to be true, I seek out research on the subject to learn more about what correlative evidence has been confirmed either way.

All of that said, I also worked in varying capacities in higher education for over 7 years, and much of that oversaw financial operations for sponsored research… actual, NSF/NIH/etc funded research. I not only reconciled expenses but also had to assist with the research reporting on those research projects.

So don’t take the following as a vilification of scientific research. I see for myself the value and process of that scientific research.

But it is worth noting that most of what we know about life hasn’t and probably won’t be scientifically researched and peer reviewed to officially stamp with approval.

To conduct peer reviewed research on a subject, any subject:

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On how the body uses energy during a race, why runners hit the wall in a marathon, and what can be done about it

A key fundamental issue with the marathon is that the distance is farther than the human body can capably race in one go without consuming fuel during the race.

Long story short, aka I’m about to paraphrase a ton of science without citing any sources:

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