Creative use of CORE data - New third-party app

We are excited to spread the word about a Garmin app that uses CORE data to assist marathon runners. It analyses core body temperature and heart rate data to evaluate a runner’s current effort level. The runner is then notified whenever this effort level changes. This can lead to more conscious pacing decisions and yield better results.

The app was created by Maris Heinaru, a CORE user and runner. In the article below, she details the purpose of the app and how it can be used in a marathon.


Helping Marathoners Become Aware of Their Effort 

Marathoners aim to listen to their bodies to run by feel. Yet, in race conditions, athletes often struggle to perceive their effort correctly. At the beginning of a marathon, it is easy for a runner to underestimate the effort and start off too fast because emotions are high and running feels easy. This may lead to a considerable drop in pace towards the end of the race as glycogen stores become depleted, exhaustion grows, and effort inevitably increases. Even seasoned runners may overestimate their capabilities and hit “the wall”, especially when running in the heat. 

Setting out with the goal of helping runners become more aware of their effort to maximize their potential while racing led to the creation of the new Garmin Motivation App. The solution is based on CORE technology and follows the underlying idea that the physiological evidence from the body can provide the athlete with an objective and automated indication of effort. This real-time information enables the runner to check whether how she thinks she feels is confirmed by the body, which may lead to more conscious pacing decisions and yield better results. 

Combining the feedback received from the CORE device and heart rate sensor (wrist or HRM strap) paired with a Garmin watch, the Motivation App calculates the current effort level and notifies the runner as it changes. Both heart rate and core body temperature differ from person to person and can be impacted by certain conditions when viewed on their own. Integrating these metrics, however, makes the body’s physiological evidence more conclusive - the higher both of these values are, the harder it is for the runner to sustain the average pace for a longer distance. 

The Motivation App that can now be downloaded from the Garmin Connect IQ Store is meant for long-distance runners to be used at marathons or half-marathons and on longer (8+ km) tempo runs when training. Altogether, the app determines 5 general effort zones that are indicated by color to reduce the cognitive load on a runner while racing - light (blue), moderate (green), borderline (yellow), hard (orange), and maximum (red). The runner sees the current effort level and gets an alert if a higher or lower level has been reached. Additionally, a detailed lap overview is shown every kilometer. The data is recorded to an activity file and displayed in Garmin Connect. 

Knowing how hard it feels for the body and what drives the effort dial enables the marathoner to avoid reaching the harder effort too early in the race and take immediate steps to lower the values if necessary (reduce pace, cool down, drink fluids, etc). At a marathon, for example, the athlete should ideally not reach the orange (hard) level much earlier than in the second half of the race to be able to postpone the cardiac drift. The Motivation App was created by testing 7 experienced amateur distance runners but the effort zones defined by the app may not correspond to each individual the same way. It is advised to test the app first on long tempo runs to understand how to interpret the information for the benefit of a particular runner.