I have gotten quite a few queries asking me how I like my GPS device. For those who have asked the question, or wanted to, this post is for you.
Forerunner 201 [my 1st GPS]:
It all started with the 201. This was the first of my GPS devices. Right off, I loved the technoloty but I hated the cumbersome size of the long device. The 201 rubbed on my wrist bone for the entire run. When my wrist was nice and bruised from the device, I was forced to address the issue. I ended up cutting the top off of a pair of ankle socks to use as a wrist band underneath my GPS. I made it fun by using the tops of defeat socks (which I found to tight for running). I coined names for each of the designs. “Lady Luck” (with lady bugs) was reserved for races, and “Flower Power” was more for long runs. It worked out.
When I began exploring the tri scene, I got the quick release kit which is available for the 201. Included in the kit is a bike mount which makes viewing your speed easier than if it were on your wrist. When you transition from the bike to the run, you simply unsnap it from the bike mount and swivel it onto a wrist strap that you already have on. Also, I did swim with the 201 (in a baggie) inside my swim cap. You just have to be careful not to drop it during the swim to bike transition.
I was happy with the 201, but wished it wasn’t so big. I also wondered if I should have gotten the 205 which had the ability to track my heart rate.
Forerunner 305 [aka “Garminia”]:
When the 305 came out, I upgraded and Tom happily inherited my hand-me-down 201. He pretty much used it for his cycling and kept it mounted on his bike 100% of the time. He was happy, and I was happy too.
I liked the new design of the 305 as it didn’t bug my wrist bone as much. I dropped the wrist bands as they were too hot with this GPS device. I just pushed the watch up my wrist a bit farther to avoid the bone. I began examining the trends of my heart rate (HR), and also programed my interval workouts using the advanced workouts feature. It was pretty nice to be free to do interval workouts no matter where I was.
Then last spring, when my 305 was out for run in the rain (the first one due to limited runs during the winter of Tom’s decline) the face leaked in a bad way. I was annoyed in a HUGE way and promptly took it back to REI to exchange. The device is way too expensive to be a fair-weather friend. Shortly after the exchange, I heard about the 405’s release. I returned to REI and gave my 305 back to them since it was essentially fresh out of the box (even though I’d paid for the original long before). In my head (and probably only in mine), I justified this move as the latest 305 device was giving me different readings from the old 305. I was already questioning the accuracy; I just didn’t know which 305 was the unreliable one. The coming of the 405 was enough to push the return the 2nd 305.
I went without a GPS for more than half a year, which was tough. I came to realize just how much I rely on my GPS for motivation. It seemed like forever waiting for the 405s to arrive.
After a very long wait, my new an improved running partner arrived. Ms. Garminia and I had a rough start but, in a short period of time, we have become best buddies. Like any relationship, there was a period of evaluation. Here is my progress report for her.
Forerunner 405 [aka “Ms. Garminia”]:
Garmin advertises the Forerunner 405 as a “high performance watch is easy to use and comfortable to wear when not training.” I am not so sure that I would have used the word “comfortable” to describe it, but it is better than my experience with the 201. I would say the fit is similar to the 305 in the comfort department. As for the size, it doesn’t seem much smaller. The hard (inflexible) portion extends to the portions on either side of the bezel making it feel bigger than it should. This is probably the “unique design that gives the GPS antenna a better view of the sky” that Garmin refers to in their blurb about the product. Take it from me, it does not wrap nicely on a small wrists. I close the strap on the 5th slot (which is slightly loose), but the 4th is too tight. No matter where I fasten it, the gap created by the extended stiff portion is there. As Ms. Garminia and I have gotten acquainted, she has seemed to find her spot on my wrist better. I keep thinking that I could use the gap to hold a Kleenex on those high pollen days.
The bezel, once you figure out, is really cool. Different from what you might think, the bezel doesn’t actually move. Of course I tried to figure it out BEFORE reading the directions and could not get the thing to move. Basically, there are three ways that you access commands using the bezel. In the menus, you actually drag your finger across the side of it to scroll through the items. Then you can either tap the top rim of the bezel to access the item or push the top side button. To go back, you either tap again or hit the bottom side button. During runs, you can scroll through the screens by tapping the bezel. This is nice when you want to see your HR. When wearing the device as a watch, which although it is big, is nice when you plan to be running later in the day, it is really important to lock the bezel. If you don’t lock the bezel the device will beep at you, and change screens, whenever you accidentally tap it. It’s sort of distracting when this happens in meetings.
The screens are easy to see, even when moving. With the 305, I often found it difficult to see the summary screens at the end of the run because of the smaller fonts. I have not found this to be an issue with any of the 405 screens. For those of you who have the 305, I am sure that you have been asked what time it is at some point. No longer do you need to be embarrassed by having such a large contraption on your arm that doesn’t easily show the time of day. During a run, it is easy to access the clock just by holding your finger to the bezel where it says “time.” It’s like magic; there are four words on the bezel that are used in this manner. The best part about accessing the clock is that you don’t have to use up a spot on your custom screen to do it (like the 305 requires). As for the color, I LOVE it. Green is my favorite color, you know.
Then there is the ANT+Sport™ wireless technology. I thought that I would just LOVE this, but truthfully I find that it isn’t all that big of a deal. This is probably because I synch with my laptop. If I were to keep the USB ANT Stick hooked to my laptop all the time, I would be afraid that it would break. I only take it out to upload to the Garmin Training Center, as well as online community (Garmin Connect). Otherwise, it is stored “some place safe.” Unfortunately, I can’t seem to remember exactly where that “safe” place is. Thank goodness I can still upload with the cable and charging clip (which is far easier to find in a workout bag). There is also a feature where you can wirelessly share workouts and courses with other 405 users, but I have yet to use this feature. I haven’t seen anyone else with one yet.
If you are one to throw your watch in your workout bag, and leave it there until you are ready to use it, you will want to be sure to lock the device. If you don’t, you may pull it out to use it and find it completely drained of energy. On the way home from Los Angeles, I had my device in my workout bag. The bag must have gotten moved around and a “run” accidentally started. My 405 tracked the drive until it died from exhaustion. It is a long way from Southern California to Northern California. I only figured it out when I uploaded my runs and found a really long run with crazy fast mile splits.
I am still building the relationship but, all in all, I love my new and improved “Ms. Garmia.”
If you are still getting acquainted with your Forerunner 405, Garmin now has some cool tutorial videos on their website. Check it out.