Forerunner

Never trust the weather forecast, very rarely is it correct. Today, day number 5 or 6 in the rain-a-thon that we Minnesotans have experienced turned up fairly dry. The sun even managed to peak out from behind the clouds a few times today. Thus, at 47 degrees and mostly cloudy, today was the best day for running in the past several days. Seizing the opportunity to try out the birthday gift from my parents, I went for a quick 20 minute run.

It turns out, if I had done an out-and-back of my route, I would have covered 3 miles. I did not realize that the start lap button must be pressed before the Forerunner will record the run, I ran over a mile before figuring that out. Hence, the GPS recorded 1.72 miles but the actual route was more on the lines of 2.72 miles according to walkjogrun.net (a very cool site by the way).

The GPS is not sensitive to running under power lines, which is good, but I can not say the same for the heart rate monitor. From the get-go it said I was at 100BPM or higher (not even close to resting heart rate). Most of the time it though I had a heart rate near 190BPM, and for a good stretch of time it was at 204BPM. Doing quick math, 204BPM is near to what my max heart rate should be. This high of a heart rate is not possible to sustain for extended periods of time with out heart failure. According to this, I should have collapsed during my run. After the run I did a little pulse vs. heart rate monitor and found it off by nearly 40BPM. For one moment I was able to get it measure an accurate heart rate of 74BPM at rest, it then spontaneously jumped to double that. The heart rate monitor will need to be figured out eventually, but for now every thing else works.

When just looking at the Forerunner, it looks a bit awkward due to the L shape of the body that wraps partially around the arm. When running that oddity makes sense, as the GPS antenna is located in this part and the way human arms move when running this part of the GPS is always facing the sky. The weight of the Forerunner, which is not that high to begin with, is transparent while running. Design wise, Garmin did their homework with this GPS and created a very nice product.

The feature lacking Garmin Training Center (GTC), which allows the transferring of data to and from the GPS, is basic but useful. GTC creates nice graphs and has data/lap view and statistics. Its mapping is practically useless as at anything under 1 mile = 1 inch scale is considered over zoom and has literally no local roads, what it does do though is plot your course on the map accurately. Hands down, the best feature of GTC is the import/export data options. Data output is in a nice XML formatted document, which will make life easy for me when writing WP Trainer. With this one run and the data from it I will be able to begin writing WP Trainer as no “hacking” of the export files will be necessary, and my experience with RSS will really help here as both are XML documents.

The Good:

  • Fits well
  • GTC software exports a XML formatted document
  • GPS locks in quickly after initial region discovery, even locks in when indoors in some cases
  • Accurate even in non-ideal conditions
  • Software and firmware updates are easy
  • Not-evil software, easy to disable windows tray icon

The Bad:

  • Had to install a firmware update for the new day light savings time
  • Heart rate monitor is inaccurate

The Ugly:

  • GTC software maps leave much to be desired, Garmin could learn a lot from Google Earth

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

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