Friday, August 31, 2012

The gadget splurge

Every morning I check Amazon's Deal of the Day. It's generally nothing I want / need, but every so often something strikes me. A few Mondays ago, it was the Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS watch with heart rate monitor. I absolutely did not NEED it, but I've been wanting one, and the price was right.
OBVIOUSLY I got the pink one :)

A solid week later it arrived and it's just ok. I absolutely despise the idea of carrying GPS on my wrist, believing with all certainty that the government monitors such things. Yet, I really like the convenience of it.

The 110 is the base model, which only tells me three things: total distance, total time, and average pace for the current mile. There is much gnashing of teeth online over the lack of "instant pace," but I'm totally ok with it. In fact, I prefer knowing my average time. Knowing my pace THIS EXACT SECOND doesn't tell me a whole lot. Knowing my average pace for the mile is really helpful because it lets me quickly and easily see if I need to speed up to hit 10:35 or if I can just maintain my pace.

For two years I've been using routes I calculated on Map my run, everything from 1 mile to 8. After wearing the watch once, I immediately realized the distances were different. What the heck?! Obviously one of them was wrong, but how would I even begin to figure out which one???

I did some research online and realized something significant: they're BOTH wrong. Argh! I've been using wrong distances for 2+ years :( Mapmyrun over-estimates distances because it tracks the middle of the street, and calculates every turn as a right angle. GPS under-estimates because it marks and connects individual points, so if I'm running a triangle, I might go both sides, but the GPS only calculates the hypotenuse. Or if I do a lollipop run, it might miss the circle at the end. The actual distance is somewhere between the measures.

I don't use the heart rate monitor when I run because it needs skin contact to work and fits right where my sports bra does. I'd rather keep the girls locked in place than know my heart rate. I tried it on the bike and elliptical before, just for kicks. Every single fitness magazine and article mentions how the machine heart rate sensors are so inaccurate as to be worthless, yet when I tested the elliptical, the machine was accurate to the Garmin WITHIN 2 BPM!!!

So it's ok. I don't love it, but I'll keep it for two reasons - it gives me freedom to deviate from my routes, and it lets me know if I need to speed up to hit 10:35, when I still have time to hit the goal.

There are many other options and most of them are tons fancier with more options, but for a casual runner, the 110 is just fine.

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