Garmin Connect and the Daily Step Goal

Yesterday I took 16,132 steps

Yesterday I took over 16,000 steps. Some of those steps were during a short run from Eysins to Nyon and the rest were during the walk around Nyon and back to Eysins. By the end of the day I had manage to accumulate the step goal of 15300 steps.

With Fitbit and other activity trackers this would be fantastic because you would have met your step goal and you could look forward to meeting the same daily goal day after day. Garmin Connect is different. If you reach and exceed the goal on one day the goal is boosted the next day, and the day after that.

Last Tuesday the step goal was 10950 steps. Yesterday it was 15,300 and today 15,510 steps. That’s an increase of 5000 steps in a week. The issue I face is not with getting to that step count but rather with the amount of time it takes and the fact that cycling and workout intensity are not considered.

I went for two ten minute runs with a three minute break in between today and when I got home I had no spring in my step and I just wanted to rest. I am still getting back into the habit of running so it takes its toll.

I love that it encourages me to take those extra 200 steps compared to yesterday and I love that in theory I could get to the point where the step count requires me to walk for 24 hours to reach it. In practice I want to do other things as well.

In the past I have taken up to 40,000 steps a day on more than one occasion and regularly reached over 20,000. After a hiking weekend the figure will be high, but you’ll be stuck in the office with your daily commute and lunch hour to make up the difference.

The other option is to run. I walk at up to 110 steps per minute but run at around 140 consistently. If I run for as long as I walk I would reach the goal in less time.

When you miss a step goal the counter degrades the required number of steps for the next day. The emotional cost is that you lose the streak. In practice I will lose the streak every Wednesday, as I save energy to go climbing so it doesn’t matter.

Physically I find getting to ten thousand steps really easy. It doesn’t tire me. The challenge when using fitbit was getting to that step count for two or three months in a row. If you’re driving for twelve hours or if you go on a bike ride you miss the goal and you’re stuck with the prospect of going for that many days+1 to beat your old goal. The better you are at reaching your goal the harder it is to beat it.

The easy option would be to edit the daily goal to a fixed number. I could set it to the standard 10,000 steps and beat it daily or conversely I could do the opposite.

The opposite would be to look at the graph above and to select a daily step goal that puts me above 95 percent of other users. According to this chart if I consistently reached 15,000 steps I would beat almost everyone on the graph. I could be more, rather than less ambitious.

The summer hiking, climbing and Via Ferrata seasons are about to start and already I am in the top eight percent for floors climbed per day. 92 percent of Garmin activity tracker users climb less than 21 floors a day. On a good hiking day I climb the equivalent of over 400. I look forward to seeing the stats over the summer months.

In the last two or three days as I tracked my activities I noticed this anomaly. When I checked the GPX file it seems that Garmin tracks activities automatically and when you’re outdoors it knows where you are. When you go indoors or the signal is lost it auto-corrects the location to a cell tower that it can sense.

The tracker is intelligent enough to detect where we are and what we’re doing but when the GPS signal it auto-corrects to a location kilometres away. This is a flaw. If a GPS signal loses location information it should persist at the last known location until it has a solid fix. If I have such a big fluctuation in a location I usually delete the track. It is worthless.

I would like Garmin to take the data from thousands of fitness trackers and create a formula that automatically degrades or increases step count according to weather, number of hours of daylight and other factors. Imagine if instead of “if user “a*” beats previous day then increase by 200″ it updated or decreased according to whether someone cycled, ran or regularly went climbing. As things are I will never have a seven day streak.

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