9 Top iPhone Apps for Runners

athlete diary

I’ve been running with my iPhone for a couple of years and I think I have now got a fairly stable armory of running or health related apps that I would be prepared to recommend. I’ll split them into 4 sections and go from there.

The Running Logs

The iPhone is my ever present mobile computer. It bothers me that my training logs are locked away on the laptop at home, or worse, spread across a few online logs like Garmin Connect, Adidas miCoach and Fetcheveryone. Surely when someone asks me how my training has been going for GNR or VLM, I ought to be able to pull out my phone and demonstrate with a pretty chart or a weekly distance log. It’s taken a bit of effort but I can now do that. Of course no one has asked how my training has been going for a while.

Athlete Diary (web link) (iTunes Link)

So for example I have set up a few keywords such as wt, Avg HR, Shoe 1 etc. Each keyword can be defined as total, avg or non-numeric which determines how it is shown on the charts and summaries. As far as I know there aren’t any limits to the number of keywords you can have but it does pay to think about it at the start so you can build up a consistent data set as you go along.

Having set up the keywords I can head back to the search facility and select the date period covering the last year, select running as my sport and perhaps select the training type as race. If I now look at the log it will show me all the running races in the last year. Moving to the summary sheets the same applies – running races in the last year. If I now choose the chart option I can select the keyword of interest so for example max HR to show the variation across the selected events. If I selected a specific keyword in the search facility such as Shoe 1 my log and summaries would show all the runs where I wore shoe 1.

It is such a customisable application that is very nearly worth £11.99

The feature that makes me so particularly happy about my purchase is the import/export functionality. The designers have gone to huge effort to enable you to get all your data into the log. It’s a bit of a faff and I had to wipe the database clean and start afresh a few times before I got the hang of it but I do now have every single run from the last 4 years loaded up. I pulled data out of Sporttracks, Garmin connect, Fetch and others, faffed around with it in excel to get the right format, converted to a text file, emailed it to my phone and the copy and pasted it directly into the import screen of Athlete Diary – Genius!

It’s hard to believe how happy that makes me. All my data inside my little phone. The Athlete’s Diary – Stevens Creek Software is well worth the initial investment in time and money.

HRM Log FM (web link) (iTunes Link)
Before I came across the Athlete Diary I was convinced that the answer to my problems was an app that synced with Garmin Connect. Admittedly I don’t have all my runs on there, I had a life pre-GPS and sometimes I run on the treadmill but in recent times it is fair to say that most have been uploaded to Garmin Connect. Garmin Connect is a terrible website though and it doesn’t help me get the stats and data on my phone.

After a lot of searching I came across HRM Log FM. As an app it doesn’t do a lot, you can’t add runs or modify data in any way but it is a perfect way to view data stored on Garmin Connect. The sync is fairly painless and new runs are added to a calendar view, clicking through enables you to view the details – summary, lap details and a pace and heart rate chart. The route map isn’t shown unfortunately but it’s still very useful.

The GPS Apps

I am not a big fan of the GPS apps but then I have a Garmin Forerunner so why would I bother?

The GPS reception is not as good as the purpose built watches and the effort drains the battery far too quickly for my liking. The last time I used it I nearly found myself stranded at the end of the Wandle Trail with no juice left to call for my pick up vehicle.

Having said that I have tried a good few and have been impressed with two: Adidas miCoach and Nike+ GPS. I’ve previously reviewed the Adidas mobile miCoach app and you can read that here.

Technical Running Stuff

PaceCalc (web link) (iTunes Link)

A very simple little app. There are many websites around that will perform the same function but it’s handy to have it wrapped up in a stand alone program.

You enter your time for a race or a custom distance and Runner’s PaceCalc FM returns a screen with pace and speed conversions in metric and imperial and then on another screen it displays projected race times on the basis of your entry. It also provides a series of recommended training paces.

Cadence (web link)

This is perhaps a bit gimmicky but I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about efficient running styles at the moment. I don’t have one but would like one and apparently one of the ways to get there is to shorten your stride length and increase your step rate or cadence. 180 steps per minute is the holy grail apparently. Seems unattainable to me but I’m happy to give it go.

This app is just a running styled metronome, I set the rate to 180 (or some other number) and the little feet beat out the pace for me to follow.

That’s all there is to it.

Diet and Weight

Some runners and particularly this one, need to keep on top of their weight, or more accurately chase after it like a hurtling runaway train.

I’ve got two favourites weight logs, True Weight and FatWatch.

True Weight (web link) (iTunes Link)
I’ve used True Weight for a long time, it’s very simple and uses the Hackers Diet principles to show the “true weight” after all the fluctuations have been smoothed. The display is clear and you can view the actual weight recorded as well as the trend line.

I have to admit that unfortunately, these figures are not mine.

FatWatch (web link) (iTunes Link)
I recently moved over to FatWatch as I wanted to record both my weight and my fat %.

It uses a very similar method for plotting the trend and allows you to set a goal and show your progression (or lack of) against it.

Both applications enable you to export your data via email so you need never lose data to a locked in app again.

As you can see I have an unfavourable divergence between the green (target) and red (trend) line so it’s time to take remedial action and start the calorie controlled approach for a while. This is where the last app comes into it’s own.

Tap&Track (web link) (iTunes Link)

This app gets reviewed all over and has proved to be incredibly popular because its so intuitive and smooth to use.

You start by entering your height and weight details and after setting your weight loss goals it determines your daily calorie allowance. By the grace of god or perhaps metabolism, you can increase your daily allowance by logging some exercise. I’ve just this minute bagged 30 mins on the treadmill so that I can polish off half a bottle of bubbly without having scale anxiety tomorrow morning.

Tap & Track -Calorie Counter is a typical food, exercise and weight log and works on the principal that if you diligently record everything that you eat, you might just think twice about putting it in your mouth. I find it quite effective but you have to be strict and record everything.

Like most of these logs it has the American bias but it does still seem to have a lot of foods available locally (including Sainsburys and Pret a Manger) and besides its an absolute doddle to enter your own items which you can then save to your favourites list. I don’t mind doing this, when I go on a diet I tend to eat a rotation of very similar foods so after a fortnight I’ll have just about all the options covered.

I read reviews where people doubt the accuracy of some of the nutritional entries, I’ve found a few problems as well so its advisable to sense check new items or enter them yourself from the label.

It doesn’t seem to handle alcohol particularly well. I’ve entered the details for Stella manually but it doesn’t have a section for alcohol content and so the nutrition chart doesn’t include a piece of pie for the proportion of calories that comes from alcohol. That’s a bit of a shame for me but maybe something they could easily add as an update.

Despite a few niggles, this app is a joy to use, very well designed and so far it seems to be helping me towards my goal.

So there you have it, 9 top iPhone apps for runners, have I missed any must have apps? Let me know.

Garmin Forerunner 310XT – The Review

Screen shot 2011-10-24 at 23.04.28

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

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

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.

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


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.


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 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.

While Not Running

RunSaturday Facebook

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t run an awful lot of late, in fact if you want to be reasonably precise, I have run only once in the last month, which also happens to equate to once this year. How neat.

If we want to be 100% precise it could be argued that I’ve run a few more times than I’ve let on, for example, I may have attempted the occassional dash to the bus away from work and I sprinted to the train station last night after my blood doning session but all in all the consequences were ugly and should remain hidden from public conciousness.

I feel like I’m taking confession and will have to start with the hail Mary’s soon but in my defence, I do have some excuses.

For one thing, as the last two months of my fairly sparse blog writing will attest, I am far too happy for running. Running appeals to the miserable side of me, it’s the perfect alternative to a pack of Benson and Hedges and bottle of JD. Mind you it also appeals to the exceptionally jolly side of me as well, so maybe that’s not such a good excuse after all.

Secondly, and this one has to be foolproof, I’m working on a ridiculous placement that means I have to travel between 4 and 5 hours every day.
Not a chance that I feel like running after all that nonsense.

Still, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I have secured myself a proper job, midway between happiness and home and I forsee many exciting new routes ahead of me, incorporating the best of London’s seedy commons and the highly rated Wandle trail. Expect updates of the running variety in March.

In the mean time, what better way to spend one’s non-running time, than by analysing data from runs gone by?

RunSaturday is new website stacked full of new and intriguing ways to analyse data held across multiple sites and generated by multiple gadgets. I’ve been able to bring together runs from my Garmin Forerunner 405, Nike+, Nokia Sportstracker along with all my historical runs stored on SportsTracks. I can also bring in runs manually entered onto Fetcheveryone and analyse my stats from the Saturday morning 5k park runs.

All this makes RunSaturday the most comprehensive database of my running shame prowess, which is quite a lot of fun because the site provides loads of ways to share the data across social websites such as facebook and personal blogs.

Here’s a particularly ancient route showing the mammoth run/walk I did along the Capital Ring. If you click on the heart symbol you’ll see a colour coded route indicating the specific heart rate zones during the run. You can see similar images for speed but as I’m a one speed wonder you’ll have to upload your own interval workouts to see rainbows in this feature.

There seem to be loads of new features coming along, so I’d recommend checking it out for yourself. I’ll add more images from the site just as soon I manage another run but don’t hold your breath til March.

**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.

Great North Run 2008

I love this event, it is a complete pain to get to, it costs a fortune, it’s almost impossible to get out of South Shields before night fall, but it still remains the highlight of my year. Grubby street urchins high fiving you, toddlers squirting bottled puddle water at your feet, spectators cheering and offering out ice pops, pizza and vodka. The folk from South Tyneside really get into the spirit of this event and you can’t help but feel privilidged to be part of it. At times through the race the emotion gets the better of me and I have to fight to stop myself blubbing.

I couldn’t fathom a way of setting myself a target for the 13.1 mile distance on the forerunner 405 so instead I had to set the pace of the virtual trainer and just watch my progress against my shadow. Being a “tad” heavier and not having shown an immense amount of commitment to my training this year I thought the best I could hope for was to aim for a 3:05 hr finish and so set the training buddy to 14min/miles. With the watch stuck on this screen I couldn’t tell what pace I was running at and so effectively ran the race blind. At each mile mark though I seemed to be gaining minutes on my buddy – I was kicking virtual sand in his face.

At mile 7 as was hosed down by a teenager in full firemans garb, it coincided with the end of the first episode the Archers and its replacement by P!nk’s “I’m Not Dead”. The combined effect was so refreshing that I experienced the best 20 seconds running of my life. I overtook walkers and everything!

Unfortunately in a half marathon, there is no escaping mile 10, it arrives like a soggy duvet and throws itself around your legs. At this point I was 9 minutes ahead of my target but with the duvet around my ankles I was losing minutes every few hundred yards. I was cracking up but at this time last year I had to step of the sideline to perform first aid on my thighs, something must have improved despite my preparations.

At 11 miles I had slipped back to only 6 minutes above the 3:05 target but I was smelling the sea air and getting all emotional again. My folks had driven down to catch me cross the finish line and started to feel a pb in my bones. I upped the pace at the 12 mile marker and kept looking down at my watch to see if I could get that the distance between me and my shadow to increase. It started to happen and I felt strength in my legs.

That final mile was exciting for me. It was just like the final leg of the Bushy park run, giving it all for a chance at some glory. At 7 minutes ahead of target I was struggling with my maths again to see how much I had to do to beat last year. The finish was coming upon me so quickly I didn’t think I had enough distance left to make the time but I was willing myself on anyway.


I crossed the line in 2:57:00 about 50 seconds slower than last year. Not a pb but I was so chuffed that I’d come anywhere near it. Here’s my thank god it’s over shot, I don’t think I look quite as happy as last year but then OGB had gone AWOL. His training had been a bit lacklustre as well but at the start line he’d decided he was going to push it anyway. When he wasn’t sitting at the agreed meeting point with my pint in his hand I assumed he must have been carried off in a helicopter. I was probably wondering what I was going to tell his mum as the photo was taken.

We found him eventually in an emotional heap after spending about 45 mins battling in the baggage bus for our clobber. Shoes and bags and shirts had been strewn all over and it sounded a bit like a blood fest. Luckily I got to avoid all that – that’s the benefit of running with fast friends, thay get to collect the bags while all you have to do is struggle over the finish and stumble into the nearest fish and chip restaurant.


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.


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.

Running Over Old Ground

The race packs seem to be dropping thick and fast through the letter box this week, after the painfully slow 5k at the weekend I came home and opened an envelope to discover I was entered in the Great Capital 10k in just 2 weeks time. Goodness knows when I signed up for that, I hadn’t bothered to note it in my diary anyway.

I’m thinking that’s its probably impossible to turn around the worst ever 5k race time within the space of 2 weeks given a backdrop of 5 months of lacklustre training, but I’ve got to do something to ensure I don’t collapse before the finish line. I’ve therefore embarked on a 2 week anti-Stella campaign to be combined with regularish running commutes.

JogBlog is not the only one completing an old new running commute, I’ve shifted jobs yet again and am right back where I started with the very first running commute of 18 months ago. Happily I’ve picked up a bit of local knowledge over the months and can now get from asylum to home with barely any need to run on the grotty streets, it also seems to save me 500 metres which is no good as it ruins my perfect 10 k route.

Garmin Forerunner 405

Running along the edge of assorted waterways provides plenty of opportunity for water related incidents and playing around with the forerunner 405 touch bezel does not reduce the likelihood. I stumbled over some barge docking related paraphenalia but managed to steady myself in a rather sturdy clump of stinging nettles. I’m still itching but I did discover a rather cool new screen on the forerunner.

It the HR graph option and shows your heart rate displayed on a backdrop of HR zones. Quite neat but probably only useful if you are doing intervals, for most of my run it appeared as a flat line between zones 4 and 5. The photo was taken after I stopped.

Distance: 9.58km
Time: 1:22:00

Garmin Forerunner 405 – The Review


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.

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.


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.


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:


  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.


  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.

Utility Run

I’m supposed to be off work at the moment on study leave but it may as well be called gardening leave as I’m spending all my time on the allotment. Today I thought I’d make my non-studying day a little bit more productive by running to the plot and I’m glad I did as it brought me and the sportband just that little bit closer.

As usual I left the house with both wrists laden with super sporty gadgets but the garmin was playing me about big time. I was walking down the street exceedingly slowly but it was still taking an age sighting satellites. As I passed WHSmith I got bored and nipped in to see if they had anymore veg growing gazettes that I hadn’t yet read.
They hadn’t.
I went back out and the flippin garmin started back from scratch scanning the skies. A couple of minutes later, after numerous elderly folk had stood on the backs of my heels I decided it was time to start running – the gps would just have to run along behind me.

500m later the garmin beeped at me and asked if I was actually inside! I switched it off – power to the people! I was only running 2k so I couldn’t afford 10 mins at the start just to capture data, I could have walked it in that time.

No such nonsense from Nike+ Sportband. Just switch on, walk, press start – RUN.

My new discovery, the bit that makes me almost love the sportband, is all down to Buckeye. The training log over there on the righthand sidebar is driven by buckeyeoutdoor and if you have a blog you owe it to yourself to register and get yourself a widget – just look how cool it is! They’ve set up a Nike+ challenge and if you join that and then enter your Nike+ username in your profile, all your runs get automatically uploaded. In this day and age where I seem to be uploading my stats to about a million trillion different online logs, that sort of convenience is just impossible to resist.

Do I Need This?

What a question – of course I do!
Just check out the ring of light, how have I managed to live so long without it?

It’s not too clear how the new Garmin Forerunner 405 compares to our trusty friend the 305. Sure there are the beauty enhancements and some wizadry that enables wireless upload to the PC as you stagger in from the streets, but I want to know if the satellite reception is going to be improved. It is going to be hard to improve on the Forerunner 305 but speedy satellite lock on is the way to go.

I’m still having one though – just tell me when. I might even consider entering a good ole US event if it means I could get it earlier.

Here’s a link to an important FAQ on the new forerunner 405, I’m a little disappointed that Garmin didn’t take the opportunity to make some obvious improvements to the forerunner series. It’s waterproof rating is still only sufficient for coping with sweat and possibly splashing in a particularly shallow puddle. Why didn’t they fully waterproof this beast so that it could become the clear option for triathletes? As it is, swimmers are going to go elsewhere for their gadget fix or continue to shove the unit under their swimming caps.

I can’t pick out any functional improvements at all, it’s just in a different box – quite a pretty one though.