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The Garmin Forerunner 405 packs a lot into a small wristwatch, but what makes this special is the whole package from online web app, to virtual partner, to run markers. Although you need to get back to base to see in detail how your run has panned out, the quality of the web experience make it a great investment for a new or experienced runner, and without the bulk of previous devices.
Having looked enviously at other runners with snazzy GPS devices before I jumped at the chance of road testing the Garmin Forerunner. First impressions are great, it has a really compact sleek look, unlike the GPS watches of old which looked enormous and seemed to take up most of your arm when strapped on. I expected it to be really complicated to use but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was.
After the initial set up - personal profile and setting your pace and timer settings the watch just gets on with the job of charting your run. The most exciting bit was coming home and looking at my run on Garmin Connect (online training centre) to see my route in glorious Technicolor. You can also share your run with friends via social networking sites like Facebook. I also installed the PC based Training Centre, but I probably wouldn't bother again. The graphics are pretty clunky looking compared with the online version.
The true test of my Garmin Forerunner came on my first race with it. It was great to be able to set my pace to help me race my finish time. It also good to switch off and enjoy the run without having to worry about looking out for mile markers all the time. The only trouble is it made me work much harder than usual, trying to keep up with my virtual partner. Now, I guess this isn't a bad thing, but it does make it harder to go at your own pace. Left to my own devices I tend to start slowly and get faster as the race progresses, so this made for a tough first three miles. But it was good to be able to have an idea of my pace throughout the race rather than just relying on adjusting after each mile or kilometre marker.
It is a great way to look back at how you did in the past and compare different routes.
The only niggles I've had is with the data upload to my computer. At first it was brilliant, as soon as I walked through the front door it would beep at me and tell me that it was transferring data to the PC, but over time it has become less reliable. I have to close and re-open ANT agent (the little data-transfer programme) and take out my USB stick numerous times before it would spring into life. It also got confused as my partner and now both have GPS watches!
I run with a group of women and it is very social with quite a few stops and starts to go back and pick up the slower runners. This is a bit of a problem when looking at your pace after your run, as any slower points mean your average speed data gets a bit out of wack, it works best when I am racing or out on my own on a non-stop route.
Despite this the Garmin Forerunner has made me much more aware of the kind of pace I run on a regular basis, making it easier to set my self goals when racing. It is fab to have an online record of all my runs and races. It is a great way to look back at how you did in the past and compare different routes, and I haven't even had time to try out the heart monitor yet. There is loads more scope with the watch than what I have done with it so far. For example my husband, who does the same route twice a week, has a marker set so that he can see his time for that particular point in his run.
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