Thursday, December 29, 2011

Garmin update: A shocking discovery

Got up this morning with a fresh 1" snowfall blanketing central Wisconsin.  I got out and shoveled our walks and also played the good neighbor by shoveling the walk for the house next door - old timer there said he blew out a knee so thought it best to lighten the load.

Went out for another loop on my Wausau streets and trails. I'll make the run 8 out of the 10 days here and there has been a bit of variance each day.  Some winter runs are almost perfect - one has to appreciate the nuance of winter, with fresh snow and mild temps. Not all winter is pleasurable, but some segments are a great alternative in a runner's life.

Please let me rant for just a moment on the new Garmin. Upside is that I'm having giggles each morning when my laptop sucks the data out of the watch and I get to see how slow master man traverses his course.  I ran an 11:21 pace per mile average today and that's good to know. But the part that goes beyond comprehension is the array of settings this watch offers.  I may need to return to university for another PhD in technical engineering in order to get the full ROI on this little unit.

For example, the Forerunner 405 offers 1, 2, or 3 field settings on the watch face.  And once you set the number of fields, you have the opportunity to customize each field.  You can have running time, lap (mile) time, pace per mile, overall average pace, heart rate...the list goes on. What's funny is that with the three field setting I can barely read the numbers...I don't run with reading glasses!

There's also an interesting personal trainer setting, that I have yet to understand.  I set my watch for "scroll" so I'm getting time, time and pace, then time, pace and heart race in rotation.  And along with that comes a little man running across my watch face...guess that's the trainer.

I appreciate Garmin and its commendable effort at all things running, but I think they missed it with the trainer function.  I have a hard time understanding how the little running man in the watch helps me get better. I'd suggest the following option:

Think about a true motivator to help runners around the world improve.  It's rather simple. Set your minimum heart rate and/or pace per mile in the watch and let the Garmin do the rest.  When a runner drops below threshold, Garmin would send a hot shot of electricity into the chest-mounted heart rate monitor. Now before you start posting negative comments, please understand I'm not talking a harmful shock.  Just enough to take the runner down to one knee; once the white spots in vision clear, he/she can be on their way.

I understand battery longevity is an issue, so this new feature might required a belt-mounted ancillary battery.  That shouldn't be too high a price to pay for those runner who really want to get ahead with this no excuse, fear driven Garmin training option.

As with all things, the Garmin is designed better but continues to strive for best. A few minor adaptations will bring the product to top of class.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, thanks for the update on the Garmin.
    I have considered getting one but couldn’t really justify doing what my iPhone app already does pretty well.
    Not sure if you are an iPhone user, but I use
    Log-your-run, it tracks elevation and time (laps), plays music if you want it. the data is accessible online in spreadsheet form if you want to digest it..