Running with the Forerunner 620

Boxing Day is a day for soggy running, or at least it has proved to be for the last 2 years running. It is also becoming a traditional day for trying out new running gadgets.

Garmin Forerunner 620 ReviewThis year I was spoiled with the Forerunner 620, the latest and most advanced GPS running watch from Garmin with a built in personal coach.

I love the style of the new forerunner, its the first GPS unit that I could imagine wearing as a regular watch and this one has already supplanted my Seiko. Its only marginally thicker than my old watch and so long as I can remember to charge it on a weekly basis I think I’ll be quite happy with it as a jazzy timepiece.

I had a short Christmas Day run with the FR620 on the treadmill where I was able to test out the in built accelerometer, which means that this version of the Forerunner can monitor treadmill running without the need for a foot pod. The Boxing Day run was an outdoor 10k around Richmond Park for true field testing.

The FR620 is pretty slick on the run but most of the new or improved features show themselves either before you start or as you complete a run. To start you have improved satellite connection as the forerunner caches the location of satellites from previous runs, which dramatically reduces the time to lock on to your location.

Garmin Forerunner 620 Review

During the run, you have the typical selection of screens – all fully customisable, and you switch between them by means of the touch screen. I’m not too sure about touch screens for running gadgets, they tend to be a bit fussy and not very responsive to sweaty finger jabs but I had no complaints on this run. The screen feels a little bit smaller than the 910XT (and 305) so I found myself peering at the watch trying to fathom out what I was looking at. This will become less of a problem when I know what each field represents.

Another new feature, the Recovery Advisor, forms part of the personal coaching suite. I’m not sure how I feel about this one, my forerunner coach appears to have gone to the fluffy school of personal training, where they tell you to take it easy and listen to your body. After a 20 minute treadmill session the watch determined that I would need 36 hours to get over the ordeal. I prefer the more hardcore, military style of coaching, where I am encouraged to push harder and go for the burn.

About 15 mins into today’s run my watched beeped and left the message “recovery good”. It’s a little cryptic but I interpret it as saying:

ok wise guy, I told you it was going to take you 36 hours to get over yesterday’s little run but you chose to ignore my advice. You appear to have got away with it this time but don’t cross me again

It got its own back at the end of today’s run by upping the recovery period to 72hours. I don’t think it would take much for the watch to give me permission to sit on the sofa for a full week.

Forerunner 620 VO2 MaxAt the end of the run I’m alerted to any changes in stats eg. Fastest mile, longest distance so far etc. The watch also gives me an estimate of my VO2 max and based on that my predicted race times. The race times given are little challenging for me but possibly within the realms of possibility with a good wind. I’m not terribly impressed by the visual representation of my VO2 max on the Garmin Connect dashboard, but I suppose it is fairly factual – I am a pants runner.

A first for Garmin is the ability to sync with your phone via the Garmin Connect app. This is a brilliant feature and meant that I could sync my run while walking back to the car and see my route and multiple charts within seconds of finishing the run. I could get maps on my phone previously by using a GPS app such as runmeter but it drained the battery in the process. Now I have the best of both worlds – accurate data, full colour stats on a large screen and a phone with sufficient battery to call for a lift home.

There’s a whole host of new charts available with the 620. The run heart rate monitor includes some sort of gizmo that detects vertical oscillation and acts as a pedometer so I can now view stats such as oscillation, ground contact and running cadence. I haven’t a clue what to do with this information yet bit it’s certainly interesting or pretty at the very least.

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Garmin Forerunner 620 Additional Statistics

The Forerunner 620 is a really impressive running companion and there are stacks of other features that I haven’t even mentioned. If you’d like a seriously detailed review of the Garmin Forerunner 620 you should check out DC Rainmaker’s blog.

I strongly recommend this for geeky runners but if you have multisport tendencies or like the routing functionality of the older models you might be better off with the Forerunner 910XT.

Gadget Snobbery

I’m a confessed gadget snob, always chasing the next best thing in the running world (*). In contrast, Lynn is from the make do and mend side of society. I’m a little jealous, it’s the right way to be, but I seem unable to resist the lure of sporty bling.

She has however, caved in to the lure of statistical gadgetry and bought a GPS watch. While I’m lusting after the latest £360 running gadget, Lynn ignored all my advice and went for a bottom of the range Forerunner 10 – the model doesn’t even hit triple digits so it’s got to be duff, surely?

Garmin Forerunner 910XT vs Forerunner 10It arrived, and looked decidedly basic. I had a little play around and sneered as I didn’t require a manual to suss out the screens. Basic with a capital B.

Today we went out for a “round the block” run. Me with my Forerunner 910XT (Triathlete super model), Lynn with her play school style 10. Both gadgets locked onto satellites within seconds, they synchronously beeped at km intervals and at the end of the run we were within 2 metres of total recorded distance.

I sat down, content with a run completed when the cheapo watch let out another chirrup and declared “Fastest Mile achieved”. My watch remained silent on the subject. On further investigation the Forerunner 10 revealed itself to be a mine of personal statistic heaven. There were records of the fastest km, mile, 10k and the longest distance achieved. I flicked through the myriad screens on the 910XT but to no avail – personal statistics were not available.

Of course Lynn’s watch is not multisport enabled – my forerunner was able to tell me that I haven’t swum in about a year and haven’t cycled since I received it last xmas. You can’t get that sort of info on a forerunner 10!

* Should Santa be listening, this is currently the Garmin Forerunner 620 and I’m happy to announce, this model does include personal statistics!

Garmin Forerunner 310XT – The Review

Having abandoned treadmill running in favour of the great outdoors it wasn’t long before I began to bemoan the loss of my preferred running watch the Garmin Forerunner 305. I long for pretty maps to illustrate my outdoor running routes and spur me on to explore my surroundings and for that you need GPS.

Fortunately for me I am spoilt, and my good lady wife didn’t listen to my moans for long before coming home with a beautiful orange gift – the Garmin Forerunner 310XT.

The Forerunner 310XT has been the long awaited upgrade to the Forerunner 305. The Forerunner 405 (reviewed here) let us down with it’s silly bevel features that went haywire at the first hint of moisture, so the Forerunner 310XT marks a back to basics approach, stick with the tried, tested and much loved functionality of the 305 but add the long called for water resistance that should mark this as the triathletes choice.

Not of course that I can call myself a triathlete having done only one sprint event about 3 whole years ago. I am occasionally known to dabble in open water swimming though, or at least I have done twice, but I don’t think one should limit oneself, who knows when I may decide to pull on the wetsuit and explore the local waterways.

So the biggest change between the Forerunner 305 and the Forerunner 310XT is that Garmin have made the 310XT waterproof and therefore suitable for the swim. Having looked into the watches swim capabilities though I think I understand why Garmin took their time to introduce the feature and make a truly triathlon oriented GPS watch.

If you wear the watch on your wrist, as most people do, the watch will be plunged under water with each stroke reducing and possibly even removing its connection with the satellites and the stroke action will have the wrist unit moving forwards and back and effectively mapping out a greater distance than the rest of your body. The result is a very messy GPS trail and a wildly overestimated swim distance. A firmware release has added open-swim functionality to the Forerunner 310XT which averages out the missed points and gives a smoother GPS and distance closer to the truth but still not what you could call accurate.

DC Rainmaker has written an excellent review of the Forerunner 310XT as it performs in open water and compared the results with that of the Forerunner 305 worn underneath the swim cap.
I recommend you check out his analysis if you intend to use the watch for swimming or triathlon. The point I’ve taken away is that the 310XT really needs to be worn under your swim cap if you want to be able to trust the data and get a pretty map. It doesn’t show any improvements over the Forerunner 305 which you can shove in a sandwich bag and also pop under your swim cap but I suppose it does offer some peace of mind in case you drop it and it gets waterlogged.

Another major change is related to battery life. You can now run or swim or bike for around 20 hours vs the 10 hrs quoted for the 305. This is great news for endurance athletes or indeed anyone who can’t be bothered to charge the unit after each use. I have noticed a reduction in the data recording options though and wonder if this has gone someway to improving the battery life. With the 305 you could select the data recording option to every second or every 4 seconds with the “Smart Recording” option. With the 310XT the option has gone and now you only have smart recording. This isn’t really a problem for me although I do notice the charted data is a little less granular than it was in the 305 and it’s always nice to have the choice.

As with the Forerunner 405, the 310Xt is ANT enabled which means you get the automatic upload of workout data using the ANT stick and it means that the watch is compatible with assorted ANT devices such as cycle power meters. I don’t have one of these but I’m sure if you did, you’d be very happy with the enhancement. If you want to use the watch as your main cycle computer it is worth investing in the optional quick release kit, which is relatively cheap.

I’ve paired my unit with the ANT footpod that came with my Garmin FR60 but you could also pair it with the Adidas footpod that comes with the miCoach if you happen to have one. You can set the 310XT to use the footpod for distance measurements if you are running inside or on a treadmill or leave it set on GPS in which case the footpod will be used to measure cadence only.

I’ve been using mine mostly on the run and have noticed a few other improvements:

Physically the wrist unit is smaller and sleeker and is of course orange. It picks up GPS signals very quickly and seems to hold onto them, so despite running in wooded areas I haven’t noticed any spurious results on my map output. The unit is easier to use with less delving into menu systems required. For example if I want to switch from bike to run I just press and hold the mode button for about 3 seconds and it pops up the option to select the sport.

The multisport function has been improved as well. You can set up in advance the different stages of your race eg. Swim, T1, Bike 1, T2, Run and then when you press the lap button it automatically moves you into the next sport mode.

As with the 405 you can change the pace of your Virtual Partner on the fly. Press the up or down for a second and then you can slow the little stick man down long enough for you to be able to overtake him. Perfect, but perhaps shouldn’t be used too often.

A number of features are common to both the 305 and 310XT but I’ve noticed improvements to the “Back to Start” and the alert features.

If you want alerts you can choose to have sound or vibration or both. The vibration is particularly strong and sends ripples up your arm to ensure you don’t miss your lap times or interval notifications.

The Back to Start feature is very useful if you run on unfamiliar routes. It effectively lays out a bread crumb trail for you to retrace your steps with. When I used it the other weekend, I was trying to get back to my car which was who knows where. I’d gone a little bit around the houses and didn’t want to literally retrace my steps so I ignored the first turn off and headed back to an earlier point in the route. I was impressed to note that the watch forgave me and soon started picking up its directional instructions, buzzing at me when it was time to left or right. I don’t remember this being a feature of the 305.

So here’s my assessment.

Pro’s and Con’s

Pros
1. Small, pretty and new
2. Waterproof
3. Longer battery life – 20 hrs vs 10 hrs
4. Better GPS reception
5. ANT enabled which allows for wireless syncing, footpod pairing and power sensor compatibility
6. Back to start routing available – Included with 305 but not 405

Cons
1. Not really a swim watch – it still needs to sit in the swim cap
2. A lot more expensive than the 305 which currently retails at amazon for less than £140: Garmin Forerunner 305 with Heart Rate Monitor

I’ve got a lot of pro’s there but then I like shiny new things and I didn’t have to pay for it. I have to say though that I am a bit disappointed about the swim functionality, I can see that it’s a tricky concept to engineer but I’m paying a lot for it over and above the price of the 305.

If you are a cyclist and want to use the power meter features then I think you would be happy with the 310XT, if you are a regular swimmer you may settle for the safety aspect of having a waterproof item even if you do have to wear it in your swim cap.

If you are a runner and don’t have need to record workouts in excess of 10 hours, I think you may want to take advantage of the reduction in price of the Forerunner 305 and spend the money you save on a swanky pair of Vibram Five Fingers or some such.

The Garmin Forerunner 310XT with Heart Rate Monitor currently retails at Amazon for just under £265.

Swimovate Watch

Entries for next years Great Swim series are open already. Christmas is not a great time to start contemplating squeezing into an overly snug wetsuit, the annual quality street box is already half empty and the strawberry creams are not improving my silhouette.

Christmas is a time for trying out new gadgets though so it’s time I reviewed my latest toy.

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I was sent a swimming watch from Swimovate to try out for a week. It promised to count all my laps for me, freeing my mind to concentrate on higher level issues such as “what should I cook for tea?” and “did I remember to put any Stella in the fridge?”

It does more than that of course, storing my lap history and providing historical data such as distance, stroke rate, calories and efficiency.

It was the counting bit that appealed most to me though. I am always surprised at how inept I am at counting lengths. I start well enough, reciting 1, 1, 1 in my head til I reach the end and turn. Of course I then move on to 2, 2, 2 cos I’m bright and can count but I’m also easily bored so I start adding variety like 2, 2 and the next lap will be 3, next is 3, next is 3. If course when I get to 3 I think blimey that number is familiar I’ve already counted it. Then I have to go through the odd even calculation and match it to the direction of my travel. Basically I never get as far as 10 laps before I’ve stressed myself out and felt the need to re-enrole in kindergarten.

So it’s a lap counter, but a pretty good one. Beyond the first button press you don’t have to bother again until it’s time to get out of the pool. The motion sensors apparently pick up on the drift portion of the stroke at the change round. It will pick up tumble turns and your more sedate stop and turn technique. Provided you don’t change strokes within a length it will supposedly maintain accuracy.

I did my best to fool it but it was 100% accurate up to 16 lengths, beyond that I’m sure the watch maintained its accuracy but I didn’t and decided to just free my mind of the counting. Swimming with a blank mind is really rather freeing, it feels so much more like running.

It’s given me an efficiency rating of 73 which equates to below average which I suppose will be about right. They measure efficiency in terms of distance covered per stroke and I’ve always felt that I swim on the spot anyway.

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It would be quite useful to monitor efficiency gains if you were trying to work on your stroke but I didn’t get to play with it long enough to see how responsive it was to minor improvements.

The battery is supposed to last for 1 year after which you have to send it back to the company to be replaced. I suppose that shouldn’t be a big problem provided they have a quick turnaround.

You can’t currently use it as a distance monitor for outdoor swims because it multiplies pool length by laps but I have picked up on some internet murmurings that suggest that might be about to change.

It could do with an overhaul of the user interface, moving through the history screens required me to pull out the instruction leaflet twice but all in all it’s a pretty good adition to the sporting gadgetry world and costs around £69 from Swimovate.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

Garmin Forerunner FR60 – The Review

I can get over the treadmill boredom frontier by sticking a gruesome thriller on the iPod but the absence of a reliable data capture device (or sports watch) could call the end to a beautiful gym relationship membership.

I’ve worked my way through a number of fancy running watches over the years but my latest, the Forerunner 405 (reviewed May 2008) was just not designed to be a gym bunny buddy. Fortunately the Garmin Forerunner FR60 was released earlier in the year and appeared to be just what I required.

In summary, it’s a footpod/HR monitor which is ANT enabled meaning you can wirelessly upload data and connect to other ANT enabled equipment such as gym machines and the fancy new BC1000 Tanita weighing scales.
Unlike most of the others in the forerunner series, this watch does not have GPS, it is waterproof though.

I’ve had a few footpod watches before, including the Nike+, Polar 725 and Polar RS200SD and I’ve been impressed with all of them. In most cases they have proved to be accurate out of the box without the need for calibration and are ready for action from the moment you put the watch into training mode so there is no need to hang around stretching out your hamstrings while you wait for a the GPS unit to lock onto a satellite signal.

The footpod speed and distance monitors also have a huge advantage over GPS when it comes to monitoring pace. Pace readings on GPS units have a tendency to fluctuate all over the place while the footpod units prove to be more stable and therefore more reliable in any given instance.

What the footpods lack when compared to their bigger GPS brothers, is the ability to create lovely map trails of where you’ve been. GPS makes you feel like an adventurer, an explorer of uncharted tracks, but let’s face it, GPS isn’t for everyone.

If you run the same few routes over and over again the joy of the GPS map soon begins to wane and if like me, you spend a good proportion of your time on the treadmill, the GPS output would result in a terribly unsatisfying mess centred above your gym coordinates.

Garmin Forerunner FR60 in Action – Screenshots

Here’s a few shots of the Garmin FR60 as I move through the history screens for one workout. The final image shows the virtual partner screen which is one of the view options while training.

Garmin Forerunner FR60

Garmin FR60 Compared to Nike+ and Polar

Nike+

The Nike+ wrist unit offers an accurate footpod with a minimal design. It’s ideal for social networking as it makes it so easy to upload stats via twitter, facebook and assorted other widgets. It’s the cheapest option as well but I can’t help finding it a bit disappointing, I just can’t stand the cartoon style display of the stats.

Polar

I really loved the RS200SD, the display was brilliant and the history data lent itself perfectly for being transferred to a training log. It has now been superseded by the Polar RS300X and I was momentarily tempted by it until I started pricing up the extras. The really annoying feature of Polar is that they require you to buy all the necessary attachments separately. The ridiculous “flowlink” is required for uploading data to the web but costs £49.99 whereas Garmin include their usb ANT connectivity stick in the box along with the watch.

Garmin

Garmin has the edge over the competition, everything is supplied in the box and the connection is relatively straightforward.
Having uploaded the data it is easy to import the data files into sporttracks or other training logs.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

Nike Humanrace and Waterlogged Gadgets

Saturday evening, after entertaining my family with a slightly charred roast lamb joint but a perfectly acceptable bottle of vino (or two), I get an email from Nike. Apparently, if I could resurrect the long dead Nike+ Sportband, and push my sorry arse out of the door, complete with Sunday morning hangover, to complete a 10k of my choosing, I would soon be the proud owner of a freebie Nike Humanrace t-shirt.

Hard to resist a freebie t-shirt, so I left my visitors to rustle up their own breakfast and arranged to meet them in Kew Gardens approx 1hrs 20mins later.

Syon

Lovely day for running, providing you don’t have a pointy head or too much body jewellery.

I have a particularly round head and enjoy running through electrical storms and downpours but I was surprised to see quite so many other water babies running along the river. I searched for signs of commitment to the global humanrace but saw none, it seems that some folk don’t need freebies to run.

3 months on the sub-bench allowed the Nike+ Sportband to dry out sufficiently for me to read the screen again, but I thought it prudent to spin the screen round to the underside of my wrist to provide a little water protection. Pity I didn’t do the same for the garmin forerunner 405!

A few weeks ago I had a comment on my forerunner 405 review, warning me of short-circuiting type responses when the garmin bezel gets wet. Apparently a few reviewers had commented on the bezel bleeping and flicking through screens randomly when exposed to water or sweat. I was quick to reject that the forerunner 405 had a problem but I should have kept my mouth shut.

Running through this downpour left my watch bleeping like crazy as I tried to stop the timer and move it off the training mode. In the end I had to wait for it to run out of battery life to switch off. Serious design flaw here.

I’ve had the forerunner 405 for a few months now and as it’s pretty much rained non-stop throughout the whole of summer, I find it hard to believe that I didn’t notice the problem earlier. I’m wondering if it could possibly be related to the recent firmware I downloaded – doesn’t really sound like a software issue but I’ve upgraded to the latest update just in case.

Garmin Forerunner 405 – The Review

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As you all know, I think the Garmin Forerunner 305 is the best thing since sliced bread but I’m so fickle it’s taken barely a thought for me to stick it on ebay and swap it for the new version – the Forerunner 405.

I’d like to say the new and IMPROVED Forerunner 405 but is it?

Reading the spec list it’s hard to see where Garmin made any attempts to improve on what had gone before, they missed out by not making it fully waterproof and therefore tri suitable, for example. Instead they appear to have simply repackaged the existing 305 as a sports watch that can be worn all day with the bonus of a nifty touch sensitive bezel control.

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Out of the box, I decided I liked the look and feel of the watch very much. Garmin put a lot of effort into design and the strap closure is ingenious, a big improvement on the 305 which kept coming loose, snagging on my clothing and risked falling off. A minor point maybe, but Garmin are big on the little details.

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The watch charged fully in 3 hours by the use of a strange bulldog style clip that slips snugly into a couple of recesses on the back of the watch. Another neat design but I fear it is just going to prove an inconvenience. With the 305 you uploaded data to the PC by slotting it into a USB docking station and it would charge at the same time as uploading. I’d leave my device in for a few minutes longer and thereby ensure I always hard a fully charged unit. With the 405, uploading data is automatic and will occur while the watch is still on your wrist, which now means I’ll have to remember to charge the unit separately.

In standby mode (ie time display only) the watch will supposedly last 20 days, although I’m down to 89% charged after 1 day so I doubt it will last much longer than a week. When used in active mode the battery life is expected to be in the region of 8 hours. So that’s another charging gizmo to be added to my pile of wires under my bed.

I thought the software was a bit of a faff to install, it didn’t happen automatically and I had to hunt around to see what it was that needed to be loaded up. It comes with Training Centre but after installing it I immediately removed it again because I remembered how pants it is. Instead I’m using the ANT uploader linked to Garmin Connect which is quite a neat online training log.

Setting up the watch is a doddle and it takes you through the process quickly with a mini tutorial that teaches you the basics of the bezel control. Basically:

  1. press and hold on the relevant label to access either time/date, training, menu or GPS functions
  2. slide around the bezel to move through menu options
  3. tap to accept
  4. tap in two separate places to activate the backlight

Forerunner 405 Virtual Partner

All very easy really. I had no problems using the bezel on the run, not that you need to use it much, you can tap to nudge the screen to a different view and in virtual partner mode you can increase/decrease the pace of your partner by sliding the bezel. I’m particularly fond of that feature as it means I can ensure I win every race now.

I’ve heard a few people fearing that accidental touches of the bezel would mess up the data but they shouldn’t worry. The start, stop and lap functions are all controlled by the big side buttons. Pressing the bezel during a run just alters the view – not a big deal. I haven’t tried it with gloves but as long as they aren’t massive affairs it shouldn’t be a problem.

For my first run I decided to set up a simple interval session, run 90 secs, walk 60 secs. I know that’s lame but I’ve got a cold and needed the walk periods to retrieve my hankies and have a good blow! Easy enough to setup, you don’t even need the manual. Features and settings are much more intuitive on the 405 than with its predecessor.

The intervals were well “signposted”, I was given a 5 second warning of loud beeps followed by a clear “chirrup” that marked the start of the next interval. I didn’t miss one and I appreciated the warning. A good feature.

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I personalised the display I wanted to see on the run, you can choose upto 9 features to be displayed on 3 screens. On my main screen I had pace, time and distance and I accepted the defaults for the other screens. It’s well worth playing around though as there appear to be some great features. This is available on the heart rate screen for example and shows progress within your heart rate zones.

I had set the screens to auto scroll but will turn this off for the next run, I think it is more convenient to control the screen I view by tapping the bezel, that way I don’t have to wait for it to get around to the bit I’m interested in.

Back home, I was just unlocking my door, when the watch beeped to say it was uploading data. By the time I’d staggered through the hall to the laptop, my stats were already displayed on the Garmin connect website.

As a simple everyday watch its functioning fine, but I would have preferred the power save mode to be the time and date screen, not just the time display. It’s a fiddle unlocking the bezel so I can access the date feature. Its also quite chunky so if you have a small wrist you are unlikely to find it very comfortable and it will probably overhang a little. I don’t have a small wrist though so I’m alright Jack.

I’m pretty pleased with it so far and think there are clear signs of improvement, I’ll be scrutinizing it further though and am particularly keen to see if there are any improvements with the speed in which it locks on to a GPS signal.

*UPDATE 22 July*

If you are in the market for a GPS running watch, this is the leader in my opinion but as for pros and cons of the 405 vs 305 here goes:

Pros:

  1. Faster GPS pick up, I’ve seen responses within seconds even when I’m moving but it is still not perfect. In heavily built up areas of London the reception is slow.
  2. Louder volume on the beep/alarm so you can actually use it for interval training.
  3. You can wear it as a watch all day – should last about 2 weeks before charging.
  4. There are a lot of new screens available and it is very easy to adjust – more intuitive than the 305.
  5. You can adjust the speed of the virtual training partner while you are on the run.
  6. Easy wireless upload.
  7. Smaller, lighter and more inconspicuous.

Cons:

  1. Sometimes the bezel seems to be a little unresponsive, so if I tap the edge to get to a different screen it may not respond, so I tap again and eventually it goes crazy and skips thru multiple screens.
  2. Because I don’t want the useless training centre on my computer I have to be quick if I want to upload the run to Sportstracks, as it doesn’t seem to save the file on my pc.
  3. When the watch gets wet – say from splashing at a water fountain – the bezel goes nuts and the forerunner generally doesn’t respond. Wipe it dry and its back to normal again. See comments 22-25 and here’s a link to one bloggers frustrating although amusing communication with garmin about the issue.

Not many cons really but maybe I’ll to them later.

The Garmin Forerunner 405 currently retails at Amazon for just under £210: Garmin Forerunner 405 with Heart Rate Monitor and USB ANT stick – Black

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

Nike+ Sportband Dies

Nike+ Sportband

The Nike+ Sportband is clearly not designed for use in British weather conditions, after this mornings run in the rain the watch has died on me. It was admittedly tipping it down but it’s supposed to be a running watch and runners run in the rain, they have to.

The screen has clouded up with condensation and half the display seems to have disappeared.

It’s quite a shame really as I enjoyed the motivating aspect of the online challenges. Oh well, at least it frees up another wrist.

Nike+ Sportband

I’ve taken my time to write this post because I’m not sure whether to come clean about my sins or to attempt a bluff.

Nike+ Sportband

I was sent the Nike+ Sportband to try out at the beginning of the week but as I don’t have holes in my running shoes I couldn’t possibly go running before I had some hi-tech means of carrying my speed sensor – you wouldn’t catch me putting gaffer tape on my Kayanos unlike Joggerblogger and Jogblog.

The little thingammy pouch that I ordered from ebay arrived just before I left for work on Wednesday though, so I pretty much had no choice but to pack my bags and prepare for an enforced running commute.

My first impressions of the strap weren’t great, I wondered why Nike would design the watch to have a ridiculous piece of plastic wedged underneath the usb face. It angled the watch and meant I kept catching it on my sleeve. Thankfully I spotted the photo of joggerbloggers sleak sportband before I went out in public, the plastic bit is meant to be thrown away! Moron. Now I’m wearing it as a watch although I have to ask the person sitting next to me to read it as I haven’t got used to deciphering the vertical numbers and the screen is too dark but I still think it looks cool.

Anyway, back to the running.

When I left the house it was chucking it down so I packed the long sleeve top again, of course when I left work it was flippin scorching and just to ensure that I got heat stroke at the edge of a deserted canal I left the building with my empty water bottle in hand. With no means of re-entering the building I had to set off sans hydration system – bollox!

3 seconds later the Sportband is telling me to start walking but the garmin is persistently ignoring my request to locate my position. I can’t start walking now or the garmin will have a paddy fit. By the time the gps picks up the Nike system has gotten bored and gone back into clock mode, who can blame it?

I was feeling hot, sweaty and lethargic so I pretty much ignored both gadgets for the first 4k as thoughts vacillated between diving in the canal and diving in the canal. When I entered Brentford I headed straight for the nearest shop where I knocked back a bottle of water before I reached the till and handed over 90p for an empty bottle of plastic.

I set off again but now thoughts were of cool beers, enjoyed by the rivers edge. As I’ve never been known to resist the lure of beer and I was just about to reach the Thames river bank, I rather shockingly dived into the next shop and came out with a can of Stella. Now beer can’t be shaken so I paused both gadgets while I wandered down to the river. I thought I’d just enjoy my can and then carry on with the run.

Oh baaaaad runner! I thought it would be rather pleasant sitting with my legs dangling in the river enjoying a refreshing brew but the reality was rather seedy. I’m clearly a runner – running clobber and shoes, beetroot face and sweat, not one but two running watches and headphones in ear, only I’m walking and not just walking, this is no-good can swigging bum walking. About 300 hundred proper runners came past me in and in the end I realised I wasn’t enjoying this whole cool beer thing and tipped it all away.

Art is Not a Crime

Running was pretty tricky from here on in, 300m run, huge gasp, hands to temples and then walk for 1km – repeat. Nice treat at the end as there was a new piece of graffiti on my steps. Not quite Banksy but it isn’t bad.

Painful but the Sportband faired pretty well.
Total garmin distance (running only): 5.78km
Nike Sportband distance (running only): 5.65km

No way of telling which was the most accurate but they were close enough to ensure that I’ll never bother calibrating the Nike Sportband.
Post run, the usb face automatically uploads (after inserting into the usb port of course) to the Nike+ website and displays whizzy graphs.

The Nike+ website is pretty good if you like online motivation. You can join no end of challenges to push you out of the door and it looks like the next Nike organised run will be a worldwide Nike+ only event. The sportband is a great way of a gaining entry to the event, its also got to be one of the cheapest available speed and distance monitors on the market.

**There is a link to my other product reviews on sidebar. Please contact me at angela@warriorwomen.co.uk if you have a product you would like me to review.

Guilt Tripping

I’m feeling pretty guilty and a bit slovenly.

I skipped BPTT today so that I could wait for the postman to bring me my new toy. When it arrived I took it back to bed with me so I could check out its functions, but I didn’t mean for anyone to feel rejected! I hinted at my new love affair in the gadgets page, but I thought we’d all be able to get along fine and just co-habit. You can’t always have your cake and eat it though – someone always gets hurt.

RS800SD_002

I planned on pitting the two against each other on my familiar 3.5km river track, a sort of duel for my affections. The Polar took pride of place on my left wrist and the Garmin was shifted across to my right but it wasn’t to be. The Garmin just sort of sputtered and powered down. I tried the cardiac restart but no use, it opened its eyes once or twice but gave up when it saw the Polar was still around. I tried reinstalling the latest bio-rhthym software version 2.6 but it was too late. The Forerunner 305 appears to have just given up on me.

So it was just me, the Polar RS800SD and the river. First impressions were not good. The speed and distance readings were half what I knew they jolly well ought to be. I looked to see if I had some irritating credit card man dragging by my ankle but there was no such excuse for going so slow. Decided I would have to calibrate the speed sensor but when I got home and investigated it seems the previous owner had already done it and set the calibration to 0.5. Why would you do that, what sort of crazy running style would require you to make such a drastic step. I wonder if anyone has ever tried one of these watches on their dog, perhaps having extra feet would make the difference.

Can’t wow you with any amazing stats yet because running at 4km/h is just not very amazing and also because I need the optional IR port to connect to my pc. I thought I’d be able to use the sonic link function with my microphone but apparently this model doesn’t use it.

I haven’t given up on the Garmin of course, the support centre have already got back to me about the automatic powering down of the unit and are suggesting that I will need to return it to base. Sounds like a fault with the internal battery. Either that or a broken heart.