Friday, September 02, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 305 $149 at Costco.com


Wow, I've been running with the 305 for the last 3 years, and the prices are dropping faster than my run times. I must have paid $350 for mine originally. Regardless, this watch is the ultimate running companion. The GPS locks onto the satellites quickly and always performs reliably even when running under heavy tree cover which used to give my old generation 301 fits. I'm also happy to say that the Heart Rate Monitor is much improved and doesn't require a ton of water or electro-gel to get a decent signal.

Compared to foot pod speed distance watches like those from Polar, I much prefer the GPS. While the HRM strap of the Polars are the best in the business, the foot pods were never accurate in my experience. You need to calibrate and recalibrate them often to get a good result. Some people prefer the pods since they can track your mileage on a treadmill, but that seems overkill since the treadmill will give you the same information. At best it's useful in the winter if you ever get stuck running around an indoor track and need a better way to guesstimate your mileage.

The Nike + foot pods are a joke by comparison, but for just $40 it's an ok deal if you run with an ipod anyways.

The Killer App of the Garmin though is the mapping functions. One, you can always download your routes to the computer after a run, and see exactly where you ran overlayed on google maps (best done with Sportstracks free software). That's great and makes for a nice souvenir of marathons or special runs in a new city. But, what's really cool is that when you're running somewhere new, you can just scroll to navigation, click "Back to Start" and it will show you a breadcrumb map of your route for you to follow back to your starting point. It's saved me from getting lost (or the anxiety of worrying about it) more times than I can count.

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