Just for fun

How To Prevent Running Injuries? Running Insights from Garmin Data

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I’ve owned my Garmin since May 2020 so it’s been about 20 months since I’ve started tracking my fitness with it! I had decided to get it after 4 months of running whilst holding my phone because I found it annoying needing to hold onto my phone during my runs, and also because it *may* have made one of my arms more tense throughout my runs (perhaps I was just imagining things and making up reasons for myself to get one!).

I figured why not have a look at the underlying data that Garmin stores that I can access and see if there are any interesting insights on my fitness habits throughout this time 🙂 I am by no means an athlete or a pro, am just someone who chooses to exercise for health reasons and so I can eat a bit more freely hehe.

Data I’m looking at goes from 21 May 2021 to 4 Feb 2022.

Overview of activites

In the 20 months, I had recorded 335 activities totalling 16,990 minutes or 283 hours of exercise. Wow. Wasn’t expecting that! This works out to be on average 3.8 activities per week, 191 minutes a week or 50 minutes per activity, with an average heart rate of 143 bpm.

Below breaks down my activities over the 20 months.

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As you can probably tell, I’m primarily a runner! And there was part of these 20 months I had dedicated to walking and you’ll see why.

After seeing these numbers, I thought it’d be interesting to compare my level of exercise to the recommended amount of exercise by various health authorities and have highlighted in green what I tick off.

SourceRecommendationLink
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)At least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity such as brisk walking.

At least 2 days a week of activities that strengthen muscles.
https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/age-chart.html
Department of Health Australian Government2.5 to 5 hours of moderate intensity physical activity – such as a brisk walk, golf, mowing the lawn or swimming

1.25 to 2.5 hours of vigorous intensity physical activity – such as jogging, aerobics, fast cycling, soccer or netball

an equivalent combination of moderate and vigorous activities.
https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/physical-activity-and-exercise/physical-activity-and-exercise-guidelines-for-all-australians/for-adults-18-to-64-years
National Health Service UK (NHS)do strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms) on at least 2 days a week

do at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity a week


spread exercise evenly over 4 to 5 days a week, or every day


reduce time spent sitting or lying down and break up long periods of not moving with some activity
https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/

Moderate intensity looks to generally mean between 50-70% of your maximum heart rate, and based on this and my maximum heart rate, my average activity heart rate falls in this zone. I believe most of my exercise is likely to fall in this zone as well. Looks like I have ways to go to hit health standards! lol

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Looking at how my level of activity has changed over time as well..

image 1

There are four distinct drops in my running activity:

  • July 2020 – due to knee problems
  • January 2021 – post Christmas laziness
  • June 2021 – post half-marathon laziness
  • September 2021 – due to over training and my body not coping well

One question this made me wonder was what caused me to have these injuries in the past?

Running injuries – why have they happened to me?

Thinking about it, I’d suspect running injuries would happen due to too high of a running volume too quickly. I’ve looked at my weekly mileage and number of times I’ve run over time leading into these two injuries:

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I’ve suspected that I’ve tended to injure myself whenever I start trying to run 4 times a week, and this looks to be the case here!

One thing that becomes more obvious by actually plotting it out is the speed at which I get to running 4 times a week – it seems to happen quite rapidly. One take out from this would be to slow down the increase in running frequency & mileage. Can take it gradual to ensure my body gets used to it.

In the pre-injury 2 block, I can see that there was quite a long period of time where I was able to train successfully without injury and this was leading into a half-marathon. Looks like what worked here was sticking to running 3 times a week, and gradually increasing my weekly mileage. However, towards the end of this block, it looks like the gradient of increase in mileage was far too steep! This all seems to add further weight behind the first finding.

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This is a good reminder to myself to take things slow as progression in running is a marathon, not a sprint 🙂

What improves my running?

I’ve defined “better running” as having a lower heart rate during easy runs.

Below I’ve plotted my average easy run HR and the number of runs I’ve done every week:

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There are three distinct training periods:

  1. 3 August 2020 to 26 October 2020 [Period 1]
  2. 18 January 2021 to 3 May 2021 [Period 2]
  3. 5 July 2021 to 5 September 2021 [Period 3]

In Period 1 and Period 2, it looks like the consistency in running 3 times a week over time saw a steady decrease in my average HR on easy runs starting at about 180 bpm to about 160 bpm!

In Period 3, it doesn’t look like there were many data points being picked up so the average easy run heart rate line is really patchy. This is despite me having been running consistently during this period. This also happens to be the period of time leading into my over-trained state and needing to take a break! This seems to suggest that consistent easy runs over time will improve my running, and the converse of focusing on faster or longer distance runs, taking away from easy runs, may detriment my training.

Conclusion

The above was really the result of realising that I can get ahold of Garmin data, and deciding to take a look at what there was! This was a quick look at it, and I reckon there’s so much more to potentially look at.

Let me know your thoughts on what else could be looked at to dive deeper into the above, or perhaps any other interesting ways to look at this!

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