Stuff We Love: The Garmin Forerunner

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Back in September 2009, I reviewed the Nike Plus sport band. Back then, I wasn't a serious runner. Running was a casual thing I did because I thought it was a good workout—not something I actually liked doing or looked forward to. When I reviewed the Nike band, I spent a lot of time using it to see how well it worked, and it definitely helped me enjoy running more. It's still a great running gadget at an introductory price point that I would definitely recommend to others.

But it wasn't perfect: It didn't calibrate very well, and wasn't the most accurate tool. Plus, it lacked a heart rate monitor, which I really love to use when I train. I was ready for an upgrade, so I bought myself a Garmin Forerunner in January 2010 and WOW. I love my Forerunner so much that I can't imagine running without it. It has been instrumental in helping me become a better runner—and in transforming running from something I tolerated into something I actually enjoyed. So why has it taken me more than a year to tell you about it? Good question! (I have no excuse other than procrastination.)

If you're curious about how the Garmin Forerunner works, or interested in a new workout gadget that can making running (or walking) a little more fun, here's what three SparkPeople's coaches who all use the Forerunner have to say about it.

Coach Nancy
Model: Garmin Forerunner 405 with heart rate monitor (SRP $349.99)
"I purchased my Garmin Forerunner 405 in May 2008 and have not missed an outside run with it yet. It has totally revolutionized my running. I love the wireless capability to upload my runs to my computer (and online to Garmin Connect), and the transfer is quick. Once uploaded, it also lets me see changes in elevation levels and pace throughout my run. By permitting me to see my pace per mile immediately, it allows me to pace myself for any run that I have scheduled for a particular day: from a tempo run, to intervals, to the long, slow distance run. I no longer run according to heart rate alone, but pace per mile. I think it's cool that I can view elevation changes, too."

Coach Jen
Model: Garmin Forerunner 305 (SRP $199.99)
"I received my Garmin Forerunner 305 as a gift, but was excited to have something to track the pace of my runs. When my mind starts to wander, it's nice to be able to glance down at my watch and know it's time to pick up the pace again. The only downside is that I used to be very good at naturally pacing myself. I didn't need a watch to know about how fast I was going—I could tell just by how I was feeling. I'm not as good at that anymore because I've relied so much on my Garmin. But it's definitely been a helpful tool as I train for various races."

I have the same model as Nancy and sing the same praises for it. I can't imagine running without my Garmin these days. I love uploading my routes, seeing how my pace changes, watching the changes in elevation, and tracking all of my runs. I also use it for hikes and walks with the dog. It's really cool to see the map of my route on a hiking trail that I otherwise would not be able to map with traditional online tools alone.

Before the advent of Smartphone with location devices built in (and workout apps to go along with them), the Garmin was about the only tool you could use to accurately track the speed, distance and elevation of your runs. While some new Smartphone apps may do this for you now, I'm still loyal to my Garmin, especially since it also connects with my heart rate monitor.

I think certain gadgets can make workouts more fun and interesting—definitely more entertaining—but they're not without their downfalls. On a cloudy day and sometimes in a big city, the Garmin has trouble connecting to satellites. Still, that's rare for me, and I still credit the Garmin Forerunner for helping me "get into" running more and continue to stay interested in it over the long haul.

Have you tried a Garmin Forerunner? How about another running gadget like the Nike+ or a specific Smartphone app? Tell us about your experience below!

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