Running quote of the week

“We run because it makes us feel like winners, no matter how slow or how fast we go.” – Florence Griffith Joyner and John Hanc, Running for Dummies

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rethinking GPS versus foot pod

Today's run (treadmill): 2.5 miles

My first method of capturing running data was with the Nike+ chip that fit into a concave spot located under my shoe's sock liner. The accuracy of the this system was surprisingly high, but the software was buggy and the wristband that displayed metrics like pace, time and distance had serious corrosion issues. After going through three of these wristbands in less than a year, I got my money back and bought a Garmin FR50.

FR60

The Garmin 50 (and after that the FR60) uses a foot pod that works in a similar way to that Nike+ chip and I got used to tracking my distance and pace that way. The foot pod needed to be calibrated each time I switched running shoes (in my case, frequently) but the accuracy was very high. I started running with the Saucony Hattoris that have no laces to hold a foot pod, and made the switch to the Garmin FR210 GPS watch thinking I'd be upgrading my experience.

As it turned out, after almost two years, I've discovered I've given up more than I've gained by switching to GPS. The accuracy of GPS (~ 3%) is far worse than with the foot pod (~ 1%). The foot pod also captures cadence, an important metric, but the FR210 does not.


FR210


I had an amusing experience on the treadmill with the FR210 this morning. I wore the watch to capture my heart rate but, even indoors, it had locked in on satellite. When I finished my run I saw that the watch had recorded my distance at .14 miles. I've been considering using the FR60 again with the foot pod for treadmill runs. But for outdoor runs, I have to say the one big advantage of using the GPS watch is that there's no fussing with calibration or switching foot pods. Nothing's perfect, but at least I have a choice.

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