How closely do you time your runs?
If you’re like me, up to year and a bit ago I never timed anything. I’d run a distance I thought was close to when I should run and call it a day. I didn’t really measure much. I guess that’s why my results were less than stellar when I’d finish a race. They were respectable but certainly nothing amazing. I’ve heard the saying “What gets measures, gets improved” but never really paid it much attention. I had running to do and I wasn’t going to waste some of that time, fiddling around with numbers and times.
That changed a bit after I started reading article after article about training and how to do it properly. How do you know when you’ve reached a goal or that you are on track for a certain time. You don’t if you don’t measure anything. The only way to find out is to measure things like speed, pace and distance for running. Maybe heart rate if you’re aiming for a workout at the same time. Part of the reason I didn’t do that was I didn’t know an easy way to do it. I didn’t want to spend hours crunching numbers just to find out how I was doing.Then I found the Garmin sports watches.
Turn it on. Run. Turn it off. Put it by your computer. Done.
That’s all you need to do to get accurate numbers and gps tracks uploaded straight to Garmin’s Connect website for you to peruse at your leisure. I can do that.
The price wasn’t exactly what I wanted to pay for what, in my mind, was just a watch. I’d never paid over 30 bucks for sports watches in the past so shelling out over $200 on one was a bit hard to take. I waited until I could get one on sale and then leapt. I was excited because it was new tech gear but I had no idea what to do with it.
What I like
Small and light. Much smaller than the older Garmin watches (but smaller screen)
Wireless track upload
Easy to use after learning (not intuitive but fairly easy interface)
Garmin Connect website displays all information well
Heart rate monitor is comfortable
What I don’t like
Bezel is very easy to touch so you have to lock it if you don’t want it to beep, even water sets it off
Battery life is short when the GPS is on ~8 hours
Ultimate Training Partner
Over the last year, I haven’t been training for much in particular. I’ve run a couple races but they’ve been more for fun than anything. I didn’t pull out a training program for them and pore over stats and my progress.
A couple weeks ago I signed up for the Vancouver Marathon. I’ve never done a marathon and 42 kilometres is not something you can just go run after sitting on the couch for a while. So I got out the Garmin Forerunner 405 and started my training.
Tapping one side of the bezel that goes around the face of the watch and you’re into training mode. If you’ve got GPS enabled it will start looking for satellites and usually finds them quickly. If you’re in dense tree cover it might take a bit. I found it finds them faster if you’re not moving much.
After it’s got a signal you’re ready to go. There’s a start button to begin recording your workout and the GPS track. While you’re running, you can see your time, you’re pace and distance travelled. There are many options and screens to go through so however you like to see your workout data as you run, you probably can. I tend to just look at the default screen that shows overall time and pace. Most of my runs right now are a set distance and a set pace so that information is all I need when I’m moving.
Sometimes I’ll run with the heart rate monitor just to see how I’m doing in that department. It’s not a huge worry for me as I’m more focused on the time and distance versus the workout I’m getting but it’s still interesting to see. Another data point to compare when you begin your training to the middle and end.
When you’re done, stop the timer and set it beside your computer. The ANT technology built into the watch wirelessly communicates with a USB attachment plugged into your computer. When it’s within range it sends the tracks to the computer which can be automatically uploaded to Garmin’s Connect website. Then it shows you the GPS track if it’s available, speed, pace, elevation and heart rate information if you had a monitor on.
The Deadly Kusam
When I first got the 405 I was excited to see what it would do. I was already signed up for one of the most intense races I had ever done. It’s called the Kusam Klimb and happens every year a couple hours away from where I live. It’s a half marathon that goes up and over a mountain. As you can see from the GPS track I got from the race, it’s not flat. It goes from near sea level up to over 1400 metres in under 8 kilometres. That means steep! I had the heart rate monitor on as well. You can see that it was quite high over the whole race. I was pushing hard.
7 Hours of Running
A friend and I ran the Juan De Fuca Trail in 2010 which is 47km of far too many peaks and valleys of ocean-side trail near Victoria. We had planned for about 10 hours of running but it ended up only taking 7 hours. I wanted to get the entire run on the watch so I could see the pace and elevation of it all. I missed the first section down to the water from the parking lot because the 405 couldn’t get a signal through the trees. Near the end of the trail, 38 kilometers from where we started, the battery died and it stopped collection any more information. I’m glad it saved what it did. I thought if it died as it was recording, I wouldn’t get any information from the track. Apparently those guys at Garmin are smarter than I thought.
For how much my 405 gets bumped around when I’m running, I’m surprised it still works. It’s still going strong. I have had one issue with it.Last winter I was ski touring and had it on to track our time and GPS track. Near the end of the tour about 3 hours in it started restarting constantly and beeping every time I did it. I couldn’t do anything to stop it. The racket it was making only stopped when the battery died and luckily that wasn’t soon after the beeping started. Every time I started it after that and went into training mode, it would start restarting and beep like crazy. I talked to Garmin and they suggested updating the firmware on it as there was an updated version and then sending it in if that didn’t work. I really liked the watched and used it a lot so I didn’t want to be without one for too long so I tried the firmware update right away. Since then I haven’t had any issues with it. No more beeping!
I definitely recommend the 405 to those that are looking for a powerful training watch for running or riding. You can get all sorts of accessories for it like the heart rate monitor or a food pod to record other information while you exercise. The screen isn’t as large as some of the other Garmin watches so if you need to see more information on the fly, that might be a factor in your decision. I liked the smaller size of the 405 that didn’t look like I had a computer strapped to my arm and the lower weight that goes along with that form factor.
Do you have a training or GPS watch? What do you use it for and how do you like it?