I’ve been thinking hard about getting fit. One can’t just rush into these things. I could just throw on some shoes and start running, but where would all the data go? Speed, distance, heart rate: all this information being pumped out with every step, going to waste.
I tried and failed with a few approaches. Manual exercise recording with fatsecret.com isn’t granular enough. I did have some success with Runkeeper on the iPhone, but battled with GPS sensitivity, and ironically (if you’ve been following me on Twitter), lack of multitasking – not to mention the inability to track heart rate information. Carrying some bulky GPS device in addition to my iPhone isn’t an option.
Not a giant wrist computer
Chris, quite the unreasonably fit geek, suggested a Garmin Forerunner. I remembered these as bulky wrist-computers that even the most unabashed geek would have trouble living down. Imagine my surprise when the Garmin Forerunner 405 arrived on my doorstep.
The 405 looks nothing like a GPS device. I’d be quite happy wearing it as a regular sports watch, if it weren’t for constant recharging required due to the 2-week standby time. Kick it into full GPS training mode, and the battery will be chewed up in 10 hours. It does seem quite power hungry, but I guess this is fine for all but the most advanced endurance athletes.
When you consider what Garmin have packed into the 405, you can understand why it needs so much power. At its heart the 405 is a 1000-lap stopwatch with a sensitive GPS receiver that will track your speed and distance. The watch supports the ANT+ protocol, so any compatible devices can be paired with the device to add their own data. It comes with a heart monitor as standard, and you can purchase add a cadence meter if you’re a cyclist.
Using the touch-sensitive bezel, you can pull up any information during training in the form of customisable screens. Pretty much any combination of speed, pace, distance and heart rate are available. There’s also a “virtual partner” mode that tells you if you are behind or ahead of a set pace or previous recording.
When you get back to your PC, the real magic happens. After pairing (yes, Bluetooth users will find the process familiar) with the ANT+ USB stick, the Garmin 405 will send its information up to the Garmin Connect service.
This is more like it. There’s all that data I was talking about, laid out in gorgeous infographics. You can see a track of your run, along with speed, elevation, and heart rate. You can even play back your training event and see how these measurements correlate.
Regardless of your measure, I am not an athlete. I have heard that these bizarre humans do in fact use this information to improve their ability to inflict pain on themselves. You may have felt like you were going to die running up that hill, but if the stats show you that you had 10 more bpm in your heart muscle, then you’d better go out there again and punish yourself.