Running Fiesta

Writing and running in Austin, TX.

Kill an Hour or 3 with Garmin Heat Maps

Note: I am not being compensated by Garmin in any way for this post. (Although if anyone from Garmin happens upon it, I have been admiring those spiffy new white watches…)

Nah, as any of my longtime readers know, I sacrificed any potential marketing deals years ago in the name of blog fodder. I often referred to my original Forerunner 405 as “my nemesis”, and wrote in excruciating detail of our exploits. The time(s) he abandoned me on Columbus Ave. at mile .2 of the Chicago Marathon. The time he spent an entire train ride from Glasgow to London beeping incessantly from a deep dark hiding place in my luggage, single-handedly setting US-European relations back 200 years. The numerous times he made me foolishly hold my wrist to the sky in the vain hope that the extra 3 feet of loft would help him “acquire satellites”. And let’s not talk about the circles I’ve run in front of my very own house, fueled purely by the compulsion to see my distance roll over from “3.97” to “4.00”.

Well, I take back all my mocking, because Garmin just released an awesome new feature for their Garmin Connect web site. Awe-some. Like, “I really did kill a good hour and a half just playing with it before actually writing this post” awesome.

And it is…drum roll please…heat maps! Running (and cycling) heat maps!!

It’s brilliant.

They’ve used the vast amount of data they’ve collected on all of us psycho-obsessed runners — the type who will drop $200-$600 on a GPS-enabled watch — to show where all the runners are.

(They’re in Austin. Duh.)

Just think of the possibilities! No more vacation runs gone awry because that “nice straight road” turned out to be a superhighway (or the path to a war zone)! No more accidentally turning a “nice, easy bike ride” into a death-defying bomb down a Cat 1 mountain! Vacation is fun again!

Fine, fine, let’s be real. 95% of the time, we’re all going to use this feature to check out places we already know and like to make fun of.

For example, let’s compare and contrast the fitness habits of the Austin suburbs:

Cedar Park FTW! What’s happened, Round Rock??  Huh? Huh??

Or talk about how every runner in downtown Chicago ALWAYS runs along the lake:

Yeah, yeah, I do it, too. Do YOU want to get flattened by a CTA bus? Didn’t think so.

Or show off how the popularity of my crew’s weekly Bagel Run has clearly spread to the masses:

Okay, y’all missed a couple turns, but that’s cool…

Seriously, I could do this all day.

But I won’t, because I’ve lost you already. You’re all looking up heat maps. (Well, except you Canadians, but I’m sure they’ll roll this feature out up there soon!)

And if you’re wondering, no, I don’t think you have to buy a $200 watch to play with this. Garmin does let you sign up for a free “myGarmin” account. Just go to and click Get Started to register. Once you’re in, the maps are under Explore. (They should totally hire me, right?)

PS – I accidentally wrote 5 more paragraphs about my exploits with Garmin that didn’t actually have anything to do with heat maps. So…stay tuned tomorrow for more in the Garmin saga!

PPS – A shout-out to the Rogue Running Facebook page for alerting me to the awesomeness of Garmin heat maps. Go Rogue!

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This entry was posted on March 24, 2013 by in Garmin, resources, vacation, web sites.
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