Thursday, April 30, 2009

Using Blackberry Bold (9000) gps with bbtracker to monitor training runs

A few months back I started running again. It's been tough. But one of the good things about it is that without any extra cost I've been able to monitor my progress and track my runs with gps via bbtracker on my Blackberry Bold 9000 & I'm able to export the tracks to google earth.

But for me the best bit is tracking my progress via kilometre split times. Giving me a km time split so I can see where I'm fastest, slowest and compare it to my average. I've placed all the data into a excel spreadsheet and have graphed the information so it looks all nice and pretty.

It gives me real time data too. So while I'm running I can look at my km split times and compare them to my average or goal. I've always had trouble pacing myself while jogging so for me this is very useful.

My bbtracker options
1st I needed to find a pretty accurate setting for bbtracker to get meaningful information out of the tracks.

I've set the sample interval to 4 seconds, which seems pretty good. Any longer and it throws out the km split times.

Blackberry Settings
I experimented with the GPS option of having Location Aiding on and off. It's definitely better with it on, which is the default.

Then all I do is start a track, wait for signal and head off with the thing bouncing around in my pocket.

It does struggle a little, especially with trees. But it does not lose signal but rather skews the plot of Google earth, so I'll find that the track is 3 or 4 meters to the right of my actual location on the map.

The other problem is that I've then used the ruler option in Google Earth to accurately measure my actual path and found that on most occasion my run appears to be about 200 meters shorter on the Blackberry. But that's not a problem really as it appears consistent so when comparing run against run and my individual progress it's not a problem. oddly it's about 200 meters on my 5km, 7km and 10 km path. So it's not consistently out, which leads me to believe it related to the tracking problems with trees.

Recording the km splits is a little bit of manual process. I've a spreadsheet with the time cells set to date/time. Then on bbtracker I have to scroll the plot point to each km and note the time (scroll up and down for big jumps, then left right to get more accurate, selecting the time when it 1st changes to the next km).

Anyway it will just have to do until I get the $$$ together for a Garmin 405 watch.


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