Thursday, February 12, 2009

Measure twice, cut one

Shortly before I left the office yesterday my wife sent me an email that said "Good News, I think your new watch thingy came today." I got home and was very excited to see that it had, in fact, arrived.

The watch thingy is a Garmin Forerunner 50 with data linking, heart rate monitor and foot pod. Theoretically, this watch has everything I need to capture the metrics from my runs and wirelessly transmit the data to my PC. Compared to my Nike+ Sportband it does quite a lot. That's partially due to the Sportband's tendency to self destruct, usually within two months of receipt. The Sportband's display has become increasingly difficult to read (apparently the design has big problems with corrosion) and it no longer shares well with others. By this I mean that when I try to upload my run data to the Nike+ site it refuses to acknowledge that there is any available data. For that last two weeks I've had to record all my run data manually.

Now that the 50 has arrived I'm anticipating the opportunity to capture my training information in all different ways. The 50 has a stopwatch so, at the very least I can accurately time outdoor running and compare distance from Gmaps for pace. The watch also calculates splits and times intervals. The HRM captures length of workout pulse rate and the foot pod captures speed, pace and distance.

So theoretically I'm set. But what about reality? Experience has shown that running technologies often sound better than they perform. I've had a continuously bad experience with the Sportband but yet I continue to use it because it does one thing very well; capture run distance very accurately. This weekend I plan to perform a faceoff between the Nike+ Sportband and the Garmin 50. I'll wear them both and compare the distance data they report. I'll then compare that data to the benchmark of Google Earth measurement.

One will win and the other will be returned. I really hope the Garmin's capability is more than theoretical.


  1. Can't wait to see the results! I'm in love with my 405, but it might be more about the "possibilities" than anything right now - or maybe it has something to do with the fact that I can't seem to function without a laptop, an iPhone, a Nano AND a Shuffle within my reach at all times? Seriously, I know this is too much, but these gadgets so much FUN! :-)

  2. Except for the data transfer issues I'm pleased with the Garmin. Have you tried the HRM yet? It seemed to work well. I spend a lot of time professionally trying to figure out how to create a device that combines the power and utility of a laptop with the form factor of an iPhone. It's coming soon, believe me.

  3. I have tried the HRM, but I haven't used it consistently yet. Most of my running has been outside lately, and it seems to me that using it on the treadmill at first would be easier - I've found it really is hard to keep within a certain zone, so being able to make slight adjustments in pace might be helpful. Of course, this may be more of a testament to my less-than-optimal cardio fitness than it is of my inability to maintain a constant pace.... I think I'm going to stick to the treadmill this week for running (we're supposed to get snow!)....I'll let you know how it goes.

    As for as the iPhone/laptop issue - the sooner the better! Working at home (or in coffee shops, or in my car when Shelby is napping, etc., etc.) has made me extremely dependent on technology!


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