As has been discussed on her blog, we got Jodi a Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS watch a few weeks ago. One of the first things we were excited about was the way you can take the data/route collected by this device and make maps with it.
So, a bit of back-story… a few months before getting the 305, I had been poking around on the Interweb to see what we could expect to be able to do with this watch. In fact, since this was before the 305’s release, we were finding out what we could do with the older generation of the watch (the Forerunner 301).
When we got the 305 and I went back out looking for these sites, one of the first things I realized is that a lot of the websites and tools out there are designed for the older Forerunner models (and, as such, didn’t seem to work quite right with the new “Training Center” software and history data from the 305).
I tried offline software that purported to “split” the HST data file from the new training center into the individual runs (the file is a monolithic data store of all the runs in your training center, with no obvious in-band way to split them out). No love. The files was considered corrupted afterward. Ok.
I tried the online version of the log splitter. Again, no luck.
Now, your mileage may vary, but at this point I finally gave up on using the HST file data and moved on to other mechanisms.
I ended up at MotionBased. There was a flyer for this online analysis service for the Forerunner in the box, so it was a logical next step. Although they seem to be having growing pains (slow performance, etc), they offer quite a cool service — and way more analysis detail than the Garmin-provided Training Center software. For instance, based on the time/date/location of your run, MotionBased will provide you information on temperature and wind-speed/direction. Wow.
Ok, so after a bit of fidgeting (loading up the agent software, etc), I was able to get the data from Jodi’s first few runs up into MotionBased’s “digest”. The maps in MotionBased were pretty cool, but not quite what I wanted. My end goal here was to get exportable/reusable route-overlay maps that Jodi could post into her blog along with her training data.
At this point I stumbled a bit. My goal at this point was to end up with a URL link to a Microsoft Virtual Earth map showing the overlap (which I could, presumably, link to as an IMG SRC in the blog posts). Bam. Straight into a wall I ran.
Note to Virtual Earth folks: your satellite imagery is awesome — way better than that from Google for many areas — but there’s not any ready-made ways of using it with overlays (from a GPX file, for instance)… at least not that I could find. I’d love to be proven wrong here.
So, with a resigned sigh I loaded up Google Earth. For anyone not familiar with it, this is a software bit that uses Internet back-end satellite data to let you do lots of cool mapping stuff (including very flexible overlays, etc). And since I knew I had a KML file generated for each run, I knew I’d be able to do the overlayed maps successfully.
So, if you’ve read this far, you probably care about these last steps, and what is the final result. So, with the backstory behind us, here were the actual steps I took and what was the end result:
Steps to create a map:
- Do your run with the Forerunner 305
- Using the MotionBased Agent, synchronize the run into your “inbox”
- Enter all the details for the run at the MotionBased website to move this run into your “digest” (I’ll leave it to Motionbased documentation on how to do all of this)
- Drill into the run in your digest and export the run as “KML” format to a file on your computer.
- Open up Google Earth, and then open the KML file. At this point you’ll see Google Earth slide the world around and zoom gradually in on your run overlay. Sweet.
- Once Google has zoomed in on your run overlay, adjust the various other layers you want in your saved image (we use “terrain”, “populated places”, “parks”, “roads”, and “geographic features”… but salt to taste).
- Note that your overlay is listed way down at the bottom of “places” under “temporary places”. You can enable/disable your overlay easily by checking/unchecking that box.
Jodi’s then been using BlogJet to do her posting, and creating thumbnailed views of the map images so that they’re a bit more usable as inline images in her blog posts.
They end up looking great! Have a look at these most recent couple weeks of her Portland Marathon training postings and you can get a sense of how these maps end up looking (and how cool it is to have maps from around the country if you run while you travel on vacation!):
- Portland Marathon Training Week 4
- Portland Marathon Training Week 5
- Portland Marathon Training Week 6
In any case, I hope this post helps others who have this great new device and are struggling with how to make great maps from the data!