I was always told that I needed to get a Garmin. No one could ever really tell me why though, and to be honest, I've only used it in a pretty basic way thus far, but I plan to use it and all the different settings as I continue to learn more about it myself. Therefore I warn everyone, this is a very basic overview of the Garmin and it's capabilities. I am still learning myself and I will post about any other great features as I learn about them. Honestly, I'm quite happy with just the simple way I use it now, so I know there's more things out there, but at the same time, I like to keep it easy and simple.
I was an avid Nike+ user, but was starting to see an issue with it's mileage tracking once I started to hit higher mileage. I ran a 25k (15 miles) and my Nike + told me I ran 17.86 miles. That's when I knew that the mileage was off. I had calibrated it numerous times as well. Also I had gone through around 5 or 6 Nike pluses because of calibration issues and the sensors randomly dying or not being able to connect. I had heard about many people's love for the Garmin, but no one could ever tell me why it was so fantastic. I did hear that it will change your running and racing a lot though.
I finally started researching the Garmin family and decided that I wanted to get the Forerunner 305. I decided on this one because it came with a heart rate monitor and seemed to be less expensive since it's an 'older' model. I researched the 305 on Ebay and craigslist and found one for $130 with free shipping that was brand new. Finally the box arrived and the Garmin was mine. The first rule of having a Garmin is that it must have a name. I named mine Claude and he is the star of the Garmin Review.
One really cool and very accurate thing about the Garmin and that makes it much better than the Nike plus is the fact that it tracks you by GPS satellite. This makes your miles accurate and the mileage is an option that you can show on the Garmin's screen when your running. Here is a picture of the Garmin's Screen
This is the front of the Garmin. The setting I use it on shows the time in the top screen, (18.55) and the bottom two screens are split into two different modes. On the bottom left you can see my pace (20.42) and the mileage that I've gone thus far (2.06 miles) The buttons below, on the left is the lap/reset button and on the right is the start/stop button. It's pretty easy to use and the face is obviously very large and visible. You can change the settings to see different 'modes' but I only use this mode thus far. There is another mode to show how many calories you've burned as well as mileage, time etc. In the upper right hand corner, if I was using the heart rate monitor, that is where it would say what my heart rate was as well.
This is the side of the 305. The arrow buttons change the modes on the front while you are working out. You can see that the 305 is pretty thick and bulky, but I haven't had one problem besides a few adjustable ones and you get used to it. I will discuss the only 'downfall' towards the bottoms in the pros and cons section.
It is pretty basic as a 'watch size' but it's fairly large in bulkiness. It's very thick and the curve doesn't fit on my wrist well, but I have had some other people wear it and try it on and there were no problems at all for them. I think possibly it's because of my wrists and the bone I have on the outside of them that sticks up.
That bone can be easily rubbed raw and scabbed by Claude, that is why I choose to wear my Garmin up a little bit higher or sometimes I wear it on the inside of my wrist to stop chaffing.
A lot of people run and race without any type of tracking system but I have been very pleased with the Garmin, but it is nice that I can track my mileage, pace and overall distances run. It's also great because it maps out the path you took on your run/walk since it has the trackability feature from the satellite.
I really liked how easy it was to use directly out of the box. Perhaps that's why I haven't really delved into the Garmin and really figured out everything on Claude, because it's so simple and easy to use just how it is now. It stays charged for a long time (supposedly 10 hour battery life) and I've only had to recharge it once since I've gotten it.
To start the Garmin, once you are outside, just turn it 'on' via the on button on the right hand side and a screen will pop up with a progress bar that lets you know the Garmin is 'locating satellites'. This is the only annoying thing about the Garmin. Sometimes it 'locates' the satellites immediately and other times, for me it takes up to two minutes. Once the satellite is found you hit start and your workout is started.
I really like the calorie counting feature but the Garmin uses speed traveled — not heart rate — to calculate calorie output on the Forerunner. It doesn't bother me that much though and I even think I like that more since I haven't used the heart rate monitor yet, nor do I want to have to wear the heart rate monitor to find out how many calories I've burned.
Another cool feature of the Garmin is that once you have a few courses you like, you can save and race against them, marking points along the way. You can set up interval workouts with specific distances or time or repeats. You can also use the GPS navigation feature to see your path on a map once you upload your workouts and you can save locations you want to remember — and find your way home if you get lost. (Would have been a good tool for my friend LA Runner when he was lost on his Skyline to Sea 50k) :)
Another great thing that I like is the fact that the buttons are easy to use and you don't have to go through them all to find one thing, i.e. the start and stop button. It has an auto-pause feature that stops the timer when you stop moving and restarts again when you get going — great for stoplights and water breaks.
The only problems I really have with Claude is that is doesn't really like my wrist bone and that I can't really get it to easily work with my Mac computer at home. I am going to have to spend some time with that to find a fully functional way to upload data to a website so I can view it no matter where I am. I have a website to check out, but I just haven't had the time to sit down and work with it for a while. Also this may be weird, but there is no clock that I have found that you can 'show' during your workout. I guess this just means that I have to look at the clock before I leave on my run and then just add the time gone to know what time it is, but it's a little strange.
Easy to use, no set up needed, can use the 'normal' functions and still understand the product, a lot of features that I haven't even discovered, available with the heart rate monitor, not as expensive if you search, large display, possibility to update workouts to websites, long enough battery life, different modes, GPS tracking system which means accurate distances, looks better than the 301 that looks like a giant black twinkie, charges via usb
No exactly the most chic accessory, not many color options, not really kosher with my Mac at home (but I'm working on it), no clock
I will definitely continue to learn more about my Garmin and will post. I'm sure I'll get many comments telling me lots of other 'great features' but honestly, I like it just the way it is! I thought it was a little expensive, but now that I have it, and if I was truly training to get speedier I can see how it would be very helpful in determining my pace. I did a speed workout last week and I did find myself able to hold my pace for much longer because I knew how much was left and exactly how fast I was going because of my Garmin. It's a great training tool and I am really glad I did purchase it. It's worth the money and overall thus far I would give it a A-grade! I will let you know if anything sway my opinon of the Garmin anymore, including more discoveries.
Hope this was helpful! If you have any questions, feel free to email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org