My last speed and distance watch, the Polar RS200SD was beginning to get a bit tatty, so I took the opportunity to try out the latest thing in sports watches – the Garmin Forerunner 305.
The forerunner is a massive wrist computer, no chance of wearing it as a day long watch, which is just as well, given that the battery only lasts 10 hrs. It comes in to its own when you’ve finished the run and want to analyse the data on the computer.
The software bundled with the watch is the garmin training centre. It is pretty disappointing actually, and I only use it for programming complex training programs – intervals etc to be uploaded to the wrist unit and for setting courses. Fortunately there are plenty of other available programs to exploit the GPS, heart rate and general work out data. In my mind, the best of these is called SportTracks, it is free and absolutely brilliant. If it weren’t for this program, I wouldn’t enjoy the forerunner even half as much.
This is one of the screen shots, showing the main work out screen. All the numbers are perfectly readable except for the heart rate read out – can you see it in the top right hand corner? I think that is ridiculous! Although there are a number of different views to scroll through, none of them include an enlarged heart rate viewer.
In general I think the Polar RS200SD is a better running watch, at least when you are on the trail. You can switch views easily by bringing the wrist unit close to the chest strap, so no risk of pressing the wrong button. The read out is clear. The pace information seems more reliable – no spurious results, and I can see my heart rate.
Having said that, the polar watch only holds summary data, if you want to know what your heart rate was at any specific point, you will need a watch like the forerunner.
Here is one of the possible training partner views. You can either race against your previous best time on saved course or you can set a distance and target time for it to act as a pace setter. I really like this function – I beat my Chiswick Bridge / Barnes Bridge route by 2 mins this morning.
The GPS seems to work quite well, sometimes I can pick up reception from inside my flat but at other times I have to hang around a bit in the park before I set off. I can’t confirm that it holds on to the satellites during my run yet but certainly the route info seems accurate when uploaded into my mapping program.
Thanks to JS for pointing out the fact that I haven’t RTFM well enuff!
In your review, you’ve done the same mistake as me (the ridiculously small right upper corner heart display)
Page 43 of the user’s manual:
You can change nearly all the data fields, it’s a breeze and much more readable!
select Settings > General > data fields; very easy!
Well he is exactly right, you can alter the fields. I’ve now got my heart rate bold as brass and I’ve added average pace as I think that might be more useful particularly when running under cover.
The Garmin Forerunner 305 has recently been reduced and currently retails at amazon for less than £140: Garmin Forerunner 305 with Heart Rate Monitor
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