garmin and the pace band

i had a question on my pace band methods and realized it was quite the process i go through! 

this is the timing method i have used for my BQ attempts, or when i had a strict time i was adhering to.  i definitely don’t do this for all my races.

not my pace band for this weekend

pace band

  1. go to this site
  2. plug in the goal time(s) i want for the race (yes i wear multiple sometimes… goal for the first half of the race; A, B, C goals; etc)
  3. print out the band
  4. cut it, the thinner the better
  5. laminate it with clear packing tape on both sides
  6. trim the tape
  7. tape it on your wrist race morning!

this band shows you where you should be at on a cumulative time to run an even race to reach your goal.  i use this to make sure i am track overall, or to see if i am in front of or behind a goal time. 

for example, using the above pace band when crossing the mile 21 marker, my cumulative time should be 2:56:12 or less to be on track for a 3:40 marathon.  when crossing the 21 mile marker i compare my overall time to the pace band to know where i am at in comparison to my goal time.  you can use a regular stop watch with one of these, or i use my overall time screen on my garmin. 

why use one?  because as we all know, marathons tend to be longer than 26.2 miles, so you need to take that into account when pacing yourself for a specific goal.  this you compare to the mile markers so it takes that extra distance into account.  plus it just gets complicated doing so much math in your head during the race, its nice to just look at the band and know where you are.

main 1 screen


some people lap their garmins manually during races so the miles are accurate based on the course.  i always leave mine on auto lap so i don’t have to think about it and it laps evenly every mile.  but i do pay attention to how far i am off of the mile markers and take that into consideration when pacing.

when racing i tend to keep my garmin on the “current lap” screen.

main 2 screen
this is kind of a bad example since i don’t have a good picture of more of a lap, but you get the idea


the above screen show my second window which has lap pace which is your current lap average pace.  i find it’s the best way to know what you are running that current mile in.  “current pace” is always all over the place and i never use that window, i don’t even have it on my garmin anywhere.  lap pace i use for all my speed work and all my races.

to switch between screens you just use those arrows on the right side above the enter button, super easy!

combining the two

i typically leave my garmin on current lap/lap pace (or screen 2) for most of the race, making sure each mile is coming in close to goal time.  then every few miles, i will switch my garmin screen over to screen 1 which has the overall time and compare it to my pace band as i cross the course mile marker.  this takes into consideration any extra mileage you are running and makes sure you are still on track.

confused yet?  sheesh i am confusing myself.

simply put: i pace myself mostly off my garmin and make sure i am on track overall every few miles with the pace band.

it’s pretty simple once you get the hang of it!  at least i think so. 

garmin settings

to change your garmin screen settings (at least on the 205) go to:

mode – settings – general – data fields

then choose your main 1 and main 2 settings.  mine are set to:

main 1: time, average pace, distance 
main 2 set to: lap pace, current lap (time in current lap) and lap distance (distance in current lap)

do you use pace bands during races?  a garmin?  both?  nothing?


this morning i met up with kristin for a very dark, cold, short morning run.  it’s been forever since we have run together during the week so it was great that it worked out!  we had a ton to chat about and the 5 miles were over before i knew it.

5.0 miles/45:14/9:02 avg pace

less than 4 days to go now!

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36 Responses to garmin and the pace band

  1. Her Name is Rio December 1, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    You're pretty good with your Garmin to be switching screens in midst of running!

  2. Nicole December 1, 2010 at 6:33 pm #

    I tried changing the settings on my garmin right before LB and it effed me up. next time ill learn what i need on each screen so i dont end up lost with no idea what my time is until i see the finish clock!

  3. Paleo Dan December 1, 2010 at 6:36 pm #

    For you dailymile runners out there, you can represent DM by using this pace band:

  4. Heather December 1, 2010 at 6:47 pm #

    I'm impressed with your garmin skills – I know I don't use mine nearly to its full capacity. :) Have a restful last four days before the marathon!

  5. The Laminator December 1, 2010 at 6:53 pm #

    Hmmm…so if I have A, B, C and D goals, should I wear two Garmins, one on each arm and synchronize the two so that I can choose which pace I like more? Haha!

    I like your detailed explanation. Mine are similar, although I only do the manual lap thing without autolap and don't look at overall time or average pace when I'm racing.

    Best of luck this weekend :)

  6. marathonmaiden December 1, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

    tres complique!

    i use just a regular ole watch. i'm such a mental runner that i get freaked out looking at the big picture. i do keep a running tally but i only calculate the time between mile markers. it breaks the large 26.2 in 26 X 1 mile. then the .2 of course :)

  7. Running and living December 1, 2010 at 7:05 pm #

    I don't use pace bands any more since I find them too restrictive and stressful. I like to start by feel. I mainly focus on the average pace, time, and how I feel. This means that some my miles are faster or slower based on terrain, which is fine with me, as long as the average stays the same or goes down.

  8. shannon December 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    I don't run with pace bands. Instead, I try to "feel" a certain pace and then stick with it. During my first marathon my laps were all within 20 seconds of each other. During my last marathon, Outer Banks in November, I paced myself to finish at 3:45 (my BQ time). The last 5 miles I didn't look at my Garmin, but still crossed the finish at 3:44:40. :)

  9. Docrunner @Tri2Thrive December 1, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    You can also have the Garmin auto-scroll thru the 3 screens (Main1, Main2, Running) at slow, medium, fast speeds. I usually make 2 of these 3 screens identical with the data I'm most interested in, like your lap pace.

  10. Petraruns December 1, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    I'm impressed at those who hit target times without pace bands or garmins. I go one step worse – I have my garmin going and a pace band AND a cheap sportswatch just running cumulative time. It's amazing I manage to run at all…

  11. Laura December 2, 2010 at 6:04 am #

    I have multiscreens on my Garmin in a race and focus on average pace, overall time and current pace.
    I print out a pace band…but so far have lost it every race as I put in the same pocket as my gels and it ends up falling out.

  12. Stephanie December 2, 2010 at 6:10 am #

    That is exactly how I use my Garmin during races, I follow on the current lap screen almost exclusively, only flipping back to total time and distance occasionally to see how I am tracking overall.
    I think it is the most helpful during a race because it lets you focus on just the mile you are in rather than thinking about the huge distance you either have or still have to cover!

  13. Marlene December 2, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    I have almost EXACTLY the same system. I hope this means it will bring me my BQ at some point. :)

  14. December 2, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    i just use my garmin and then do hail marys at the end of the race hoping i finish in time.
    good luck this weekend!

  15. J December 2, 2010 at 7:29 am #

    Confusing but necessary! All that planning and pacing is needed to make sure you run the right time! I know I cannot do math while running!

  16. December 2, 2010 at 7:39 am #

    Whoa…ok. I need to sit down with my Garmin to put this to use. Thanks for the tips and I will see how this goes.

  17. December 2, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    P.S. You should check out PaceTats. I used that for Chicago and LOVED it.

  18. Bethany + Ryan December 2, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    i always leave my garmin on average pace bc thats what's gonna get me the time i need. BUT with the added distnace i'm really not running as fast as it says according to the official results which, of course, does not take into account the distance i added on. FOr example, one time my average pace after a marathon was 8:17 according to my garmin, but with the official results it was 8:27. I like the pace band because the extra distnace doesn't matter. i have to run it in that time shown on the band whether it's 26.1 miles or 26.5 miles. I guess i'd rather not know about the extra distance. The next time i run a marathon for time i don't think i will be using either!! (i say this everytime and always end up wearing my garmin, hehe.)

  19. Lin December 2, 2010 at 8:56 am #

    Thanks for the tip on programming the garmin. Very helpful =)

  20. Shellyrm December 2, 2010 at 9:16 am #

    My head is spinning! I keep thinking a new Garmin (My..uh my husband's is very very old and unreliable at times) but I am not sure I would have the patince to figure all that out!

    pace bands work fine for me most times and not button pushing required.

  21. Denise December 2, 2010 at 9:42 am #

    i do the same thing. pace band and garmin for total time. i can't remember to eat during the race let alone hit the lap button!

  22. Joanne December 2, 2010 at 10:50 am #

    For my marathon in Oct., they had pacers so I set myself right in the middle between the two where I thought my time would be. So I didn't look at my Garmin, just made sure I didn't get behind the 3:50 pacer while trying to catch up (without success) to the 3:40 pacer.
    I want to use my Garmin like you do but I'm so afraid it will freak me out if my time is way behind my goal. I kind of want to truck along and enjoy the race at the same time I would like to PR. Guess you can't have both.

    Great info.on the pacing. Thanks!

  23. RoadBunner December 2, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    I often wear pace bands but I don't think I have ever actually looked at one. I guess it is more of a crutch for if my watch/garmin broke.

    Nowadays I do lap pace and average pace. I keep an eye on average pace to know how I am doing based on my goal. But you are right about the garmin distance always being off so I try to be a second or so under the average pace I think I need.

  24. Nelly December 2, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    Awesome idea on the pace band website! I will totally use it for the next 1/2 or marathon that I do. For the marathon I ran I just made my own in excel, and taped it to the back of my race number. I forgot to cover it with tape, so when I sweat during the race I couldn't read much of it! haha

    During marathons with hills I also like to list out when the hills begin and end based on mile markers, so that I'm prepared for them.

    I run all the time with my garmin watch, I couldn't imagine doing a race without my watch now.

    I have a garmin 305, and I always have the following fields displayed:
    total time
    current pace
    heart rate
    total distance

    I don't have the auto pause feature enabled, because I don't mind stopping the watch every time I stop during training. That way I also don't have to turn off auto pause before I do races, haha

    • Amanda@RunningOnCoffee March 27, 2011 at 8:19 pm #

      Nelly, I like the idea of indicating where the hills are, so they don’t sneak up on you!

  25. Sassy Molassy December 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    I just leave mine on the overall screen. i don't want to confuse myself. But during Portland, my Garmin WOULD NOT turn on for the life of me and I had fully charged it. I ran the entire marathon just guessing on my pace. I wasn't going to BQ that day, but still. Ugh. Wish I had picked up a pace bracelet at the expo.

  26. Holly December 2, 2010 at 3:29 pm #

    i've been come completely dependent on my garmin (310xt)…love that gadget! i have a custom screen that shows me lap pace, overall pace, overall time and distance on 1 screen. that's what i run/race with displaying. might try the pace band for the houston marathon–if i'm feeling ambitious! :)

  27. Tara December 2, 2010 at 4:22 pm #

    I've heard good things about the pace bands and have known many people who BQ because they stay on track because of them. Thanks for the website; I'm going to go over there and check it out.

    Thanks for the suggestion of ART. I have never heard of it, but I am certainly going to check it out! I'm desparate and will try anything now!

    Good luck at your race. :)

  28. Jenn December 2, 2010 at 5:30 pm #

    I used both a watch and a Garmin for Boston. I set my Garmin to autolap so I could compare the splits to my training and I self-lapped the watch with a pace band. I'm just a little anal….I'm excited for you-So soon!!!

  29. Susan December 2, 2010 at 8:15 pm #

    I don't wear a pace band, but I do constantly go back and forth between cumulative time and lap pace on my garmin…I love the lap pace feature and use it often on most of my runs. Probably my favorite part about the garmin!

  30. onelittletrigirl December 5, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    I made THREE pace bands for Philly and ended up not even looking at them once. I was too afraid to jinx it!!!

  31. Kristine @ Running on Hungry August 1, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    My Garmin 205 is on it’s way so I found this post SUPER helpful! :) Although I’ll probably be asking a million questions once it arrives!

  32. 26.2 bracelets September 20, 2014 at 7:39 am #

    I enjoy, cause I found exactly what I was looking for.
    You’veended my four day long hunt! God Bless you man. Have
    a nice day. Bye


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