Saturday, February 14, 2009

Back on track, literally

I began this Valentines Day with an early run at the local track. It was the first time I'd run there in over a month and it was a nice change from my other venues. I tried an experiment using both the Nike+ Sportband and the Garmin 50 on my run. I wanted to compare their relative tracking accuracy against a known distance.

It was 28 degrees but it felt colder. There was the usual strong wind for half the loop but I got used to it pretty fast. There were four other runners on the track including a couple I often see running in the morning. I passed the husband, which made me feel great until I was passed by another runner who must have been running about a 7 minute mile. The Garmin and the Sportband remained within a few 100ths of a mile of each other and, ultimately, both under reported the total distance traveled compared to the known distance. I varied my speed throughout the run and ran a total of 4.16 miles at 9:24/mile.

The Garmin vs. Sportband experience had its good and bad components. On the plus side, the 50 was a dream to operate. The HRM appeared to be accurate (yes - finally - a HRM worth a damn!) and it was easy to toggle between pulse rate, speed, cadence, elapsed time and distance as I ran. Finishing the run I simply hit stop instead of fighting with the overly sensitive Sportband button. Saving the run was easy too. Now for the bad part. After a run is captured into history you cannot review the metrics on the watch. The data must first be uploaded to Garmin's Training Center. The badder news is that you can't do this with a Mac even though they're touting new Mac capability on the Garmin website. I fell for it and installed the app and "uploaded" my run. The only problem is that the Mac compatibility only extends to the ANT USB link that allows for data transfer. So the data can be transferred but IT CAN'T GO ANYWHERE. Furthermore, the factory default setting is to delete history from the watch once data is sent so my run went away forever. Happily I also had the whole run recorded by the Sportband.

I installed the Training Center on my XP PC in my guestroom and was able to upload a test "run" to the system. I also switched the transfer program to "DON'T DELETE after sending" so I should be okay for tomorrow, fingers crossed.

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