FAQ


Quick Start

Go the Customize tab and fill in the three colored sections (this step is optional). Then go to the Graph tab, click on the Choose File button, and select a GPS file from your computer. That’s it!


General

Does GraphMyRun support metric units?

What’s the best way to use this website?

What smoothing value should I use?

I forgot to turn off my GPS watch on after my workout. Can I edit my data in GraphMyRun?

Why did GraphMyRun change/forget my customized data?

The Graph Tab

How can I use the information on the Graph tab?

How can I use the calorie, power, or training intensity data on the Graph tab?

What are the splits in the Summary Table on the Graphs tab?

What is the Weather Summary for?

The Zones Tab

How do I use the information in the Zones tab?

Why are there grey spaces between some of the pace zones in the chart?

The Zones tab shows that I spent X% of my workout at paces that fall between my pace zones. Are those wasted miles?

Why are there only 4 pace zones but 5 heart rate zones?

What are the bottom two graphs in the Zones tab?

My GPS captures heart rate data and pace. Which should I use in the Zones tab?

The Analysis Tab

How should I use the Pace, Heart Rate, and Cadence vs. Grade charts?

How should I use the Walk/Run Heart Rate chart?

The Trends Tab

What are the boxes in the Pace Trends chart?




Does GraphMyRun support metric units?

Yes! Go to the Customize tab and select the Metric radio button. GraphMyRun will remember your preference on your browser.

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What’s the best way to use this website?

The first thing that you should do is to customize GraphMyRun's analysis to your fitness level. After all, why use some imaginary “typical” runner’s vital stats to define how you well are doing? Go to the Customize tab and enter your Maximum Heart Rate and Resting Heart Rate to calculate your heart rate zones. (If you don’t know your MHR, GraphMyRun will predict it from your age.) Then enter your weight to get an accurate calculation of your calories burned and power output. Finally, enter a recent race result to determine your pace zones.

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What smoothing value should I use?

GPS data often has a lot of variation from one reading to the next. You know that you’re not constantly accelerating and decelerating during your run — but that’s what your GPS data shows sometimes. GraphMyRun’s smoothing function reduces this variability by averaging chunks of your data together. The higher the smoothing value that you select, the bigger the chunk of data. 

How much smoothing that you use is up to you: Is the data in graph giving you useful feedback? If you smooth too much, you might not see the granular changes that link your running effort to elevation, your pace, or heart rate. But if you don’t use any smoothing at all, you might not get meaningful totals for your time-in-zone values in the Zones tab. 

In general, use as little smoothing as you need. That way you won’t lose details that may help you analyze your run better. Try several different smoothing values and pick the one that you think works best for you; GraphMyRun doesn’t alter the original data so any smoothing you pick is completely reversible.

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I forgot to turn off my GPS watch on after my workout. Can I edit my data in GraphMyRun?

No. GraphMyRun can’t save your any files on your computer (it’s a security feature of JavaScript) so it can’t trim data from your running files. However, you can use the zoom feature to limit the portion of data that is displayed. But once your reload that file, you’ll see the entire workout again.

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Why did GraphMyRun change/forget my customized data?

You’ll notice that there’s no login for GraphMyRun. GraphMyRun stores your customized data in your browser. (That’s actually a security feature. JavaScript is not allowed to create files on your computer, but it can store a small amount of data within the browser displaying the webpage.) If someone else shares your computer and enters their personalized information into GraphMyRun, it will over-write your previous values. Likewise, if you clear all your browser data, GraphMyRun will no longer be able to determine your customized zones. You’ll need to re-enter them on the Customize tab. In a similar way, if you open GraphMyRun on a different computer or use a different browser (Firefox instead of your usual choice of Safari, for example) there won’t be any data stored in the new browser. You’ll need to go to the Customize tab and enter your information to get your personalized zones.

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How can I use the information on the Graph tab?

The Graph tab displays your pace and elevation from one of your workouts on a single graph. If the data is available in the GPS file that you selected, your cadence and heart rate will also be shown. You can toggle the display of each category on and off by clicking on the category name shown just under the x-axis. You can also zoom-in on specific portions of the graph by clicking and dragging. GraphMyRun will calculate your average pace (or any other category shown) within the limits of the zoomed-in portion of the graph. 

Use this graph to gain understanding about your run: How well did you stick to your desired pace over your workout? Did you maintain an even pace or an even effort (heart rate) when climbing that hill? Are you reaching your desired cadence? This kind of feedback can help you refine your strategy for your next runs.

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How can I use the calorie, power, or training intensity data on the Graph tab?

Many training plans use total miles or total time run as a measure of how much effort you should run each week. Of course, running a hill workout (to improve your strength) or running intervals (to improve your speed) are a lot different than an easy Saturday morning jog — although your mileage or workout time may be the same for those three different workouts. 

Another way to quantify your weekly training that may better reflect your effort is to look at your cumulative calories or cumulative power per week. A third method, developed by Coach Jack Daniels in his book, Daniels’ Running Formula, is called training intensity. Training intensity is determined from how hard and how long you run. A Daniels training plan might call for 50 training intensity units on week X followed by 40 units on week Y. GraphMyRun estimates Daniels’s training intensity from your heart rate data (if there is any) or your pace (if there isn’t).

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What are the splits in the Summary Table on the Graphs tab?

Training plans often call for a portion of your workout at a specific pace or target heart rate. Threshold runs, in particular, are run at a comfortably hard pace but only for some of your workout. Since most runs start and end with an easy pace to warm-up and cool-down, the average pace of your entire workout would not tell you if you achieved your threshold pace goal. 

GraphMyRun takes your overall running data and determines your pace, calories, heart rate, and cadence per split. You can set the splits for a mile, half mile, or quarter mile. By looking at your running data granularly, you can see if you’re meeting your training goals — especially if you’re purposely varying your pace during your workout.

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What is the Weather Summary for?

Ideal running weather would be about 50F, with low humidity and a gentle wind at your back. According to the RunnerAcademy, running at 60F will slow your pace by about 2-3% and running at 70F will slow it it by 6-7% for marathon distances. High humidity affects your ability to cool and will slow your pace, too.

If your results seem unusual, the Weather Summary gives you a quick look at the average temps and humidity on that day.

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How do I use the information in the Zones tab?

Some training plans use periodization which breaks your training cycles into phases with specific goals. For example, long, slow runs are often used to build endurance in the beginning of a training plan. Tempo runs and intervals may be then added later to improve your speed. Each run has a specific purpose and is meant to be run at a certain pace or heart rate. The Zones tab gives you a graphical view of how much time you spent in each zone during your workout. Mousing over each segment in the graph will show what percentage of your workout was in each zone. You can select to show the zones by pace or heart rate (if you have any heart rate data available).

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Why are there grey spaces between some of the pace zones in the chart?

Different paces are suited for different training results. You won’t build speed effectively in the Easy pace zone. Likewise, the Interval pace zone is not optimal for building endurance. And the four different pace zones may not all connect. That means you can spending time running in a no man’s land” pace.

For example, workouts run between your Easy pace and your Long pace are sometimes called junk miles. You’re running a little too fast for an optimum recovery, but a little too slow to build endurance efficiently. The main thing to worry about is that if you run too fast on an Easy pace workout, you may not be recovering fully and that could lead to overuse injuries. 

Use the graphs in the Zones tab to determine if you’re training effectively. The information in this tab is only meaningful if you’ve personalized your GraphMyRun analysis with the Customize tab from the menu. (You only need to do it once. GraphMyRun stores your input in your browser and will be able to remember" it from session to session.)

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The Zones tab shows that I spent X% of my workout at paces that fall between my pace zones. Are those wasted miles?

If you’re running for a specific purpose — for example, to teach your body to burn fat instead of glycogen or to increase the capillaries in your muscles — then your time run out of the correct zone was not spent efficiently. Any time spent running is good for your overall health so those miles aren’t “wasted”. But they’re not helping you reach your goals in the most efficient manner.

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Why are there only 4 pace zones but 5 heart rate zones?

GraphMyRun uses heart rate zones determined by the Karvonen method which has 5 distinct zones. It’s not quite so simple for pace zones. Coach Daniels has 5 different paces (4 pace zones and 1 specific marathon pace) on his website, RunSmartProject. Coach McMillian has 4 main zones and multiple sub-zones fine-tuned to very specific workouts. Joe Friel’s method on TrainingPeaks.com has 5 main pace zones and 3 sub-zones (5a, 5b, and 5c) for a total of 7 different zones..

But most training plans have the 4 distinct paces zones for Easy (or Recovery) Runs, Long (or Steady State) Runs, Threshold (or Tempo) Runs, and Intervals (or Speed) Runs. The training plans that have more than these basic 4 pace zones seem to use the sub-zones for very specific workouts and they may overlap partially with one of the other 4 paces.

The people who would benefit from those extra, very specific paces probably don’t need something like GraphMyRun to analyze their data so I decided to keep it simple.

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What are the bottom two graphs in the Zones tab?

The first graph is a bar chart of your average pace (or heart rate, if available) per interval. It’s just a graphical representation of the same data that’s in tabular form in the Graphs tab. The bottom graph in the Zones tab is color coded granular data of your entire workout. If you ran the first half of mile 3 at your Easy pace and the second half at your Tempo pace, that may average out so the bar chart would show that you ran mile 3 at your Long pace. But that’s not really the same thing as running a whole mile steadily at your Long pace. The second graph would clearly show that you were running two different paces.

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My GPS captures heart rate data and pace. Which should I use in the Zones tab?

Your heart rate lags your effort slightly. It takes a while for your heart to speed up it’s beating to match your effort. Similarly, your heart continues to beat fast for a couple of minutes after you’ve slowed down after strenuous exercise. And over very long runs, your heart rate will climb even you’re maintaining steady effort and speed. So for those reasons, pace is probably a better measure of workout intensity to match your training goals. 

There are a couple of places where heart rate excels, though. Many people have a difficult time running slow enough on their Easy runs. It just feels too easy. Monitoring your heart rate and running to maintain a Z1 heart rate may be a more effective way to ensure that you run slow enough. Multisport activities (like triathlons) are also a good place to use heart rate monitors because you need a way to gauge your effort on the cycle and swim portion of the event.

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How should I use the Pace, Heart Rate, and Cadence vs. Grade charts?

Many distance running strategies call for running at a steady effort. The idea is to conserve your energy for the finish instead of powering through hills early in the race. You may wish to practice this during your training runs by maintaining a steady heart rate while running up and down the hills. Proper running technique may call for maintaining a certain cadence range. Increasing turnover while controlling stride length has been attributed with preventing some running injuries.

Use the Pace vs. Grade chart to see if you are maintaining a constant pace while running hills. The dashed line should be nearly horizontal for a constant pace workout. (For hill workouts, that would be desirable. For constant effort workouts, it would not.) GraphMyRun uses a least squares fit to plot the best line through your data. It will also tell you how much you are slowing down in seconds per mile per 5% grade increase. 

The Heart Rate vs. Grade chart will show if your heart rate is steady as you run hills (this would be another way to tell if you’re maintaining an even effort). Since heart rate lags effort slightly, you may not see any noticeable trends if the hills are very short.

The Cadence vs. Grade chart will show you how much your turnover changes as you run hills. Use this information to provide feedback for your running technique.

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How should I use the Walk/Run Heart Rate chart?

How fast is too fast?

Keeping a slow-but-steady pace can lead to a faster overall result than running so fast that you are forced to take multiple walk breaks. (Note that this is different than the Galloway method where you purposely take walk breaks at pre-determined intervals to recharge and utilize different muscle sets.) 

Ever had a training run where you bit off more than you can chew and had to walk a bit? Open that GPS file and then select the Walk/Run Heart Rate chart from the Analyze tab. GraphMyRun will show where your walk breaks occurred as bars on a pace/heart rate chart. Your overall average pace and heart rate are also summarized for you. But more importantly, GraphMyRun will generate a table that displays your average heart rate just before you took your walk break  — and your heart rate when you start to resume running. 

Note your heart rate just before you take your walk breaks. That level is too high to sustain and that answers the question, “How fast is too fast?". On your next run adjust your pace so that you never get to that heart rate. Now you should be able to run steadily — thereby shortening your overall running time by eliminating walk breaks even though your pace while running is a bit slower.

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What are the boxes in the Pace Trends chart?

The Pace Trends chart shows your average pace over several runs. If you’ve been running intervals and want to see if they’ve helped increase your average pace, select several running files from before and after your speed work and open them in the Trends tab. GraphMyRun will display the average pace from each run in order (oldest to newest).

It’s unlikely that the average pace from two different runs will be identical. But the real question is: Are the differences that are shown meaningful

GraphMyRun uses a format called a Box and Whisker plot to show your pace data. Simply put, if two boxes overlap a lot, the results aren't meaningfully different. Thus the paces for the first three runs shown below are about the same. On the other hand, the last two runs shown are similar to each other but are different (faster) from the first three runs.

[The average pace for the Nov 16th run is almost a minute slower than the Nov 10th and Nov 12th runs. How can they be the “same”? 

I didn’t turn off my GPS watch right away at the end of the Nov 16th run. There are several minutes of very slow pace tacked onto the end of that run which brings up the average pace quite a bit. However, the median for all three runs is about the same, and in fact, the paces run for these three workouts are about the same. 

This is the beauty of a Box and Whisker plot. It’s trivially simple to analyze: If the boxes overlap, the data sets are similar. If they don’t, they’re different.]

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 © Phil Miller 2014, 2015, 2016