Wednesday, December 06, 2006

To Garmin or not to Garmin?

So, the hubby and I were discussing cool electronic devices last night. He was trying to convince me that I need an ipod for Christmas and I was trying to convince him that a Garmin might be a better gift idea.

To be honest, I have always been content as a low maintenance runner. I like to have my trusty ironman watch, but that's about it. However, I have to admit that the features on a Garmin do sound great. I'd love to know my pace at each mile among other things. So, high tech folks please tell me:
  • What do you like/dislike about your Garmin? Or, do you use something other than a Garmin?
  • Which model do you have? 201? 205? 305?
  • Do you really use the heart rate monitor?
  • Do you spend a lot of time playing with your Garmin? (Hey, time is a very limited resource for me these days!)
As someone who is scaling back on her running for the next 2 years (until school is over), do you think I will really use it? My goal is to work increasing my speed for the shorter distances (i.e. 5Ks - 1/2 marathons). I'm curious to see what ya'll think...

Thanks in advance!


JustJunebug said...

i only have the 101 and its fine for me. i found it on ebay for like $75 and its all i need.

i dont need that HRM and stuff.

so my answer is get the cheaper version AND the iPod Nano (the cheaper one, $149 at Walmart!)

LeahC said...

i have the 205 and I absolutly love it. It has so changed all of my workouts and long runs. I live in Chicago and so it gets annoying to get stuck at lights. However, with the Garmin of course I can just head down a different street if I get stick at the light or whatever. Plus you can so easily see all of your splits and so on. I dom't use a heart rate monitor and I think it's just extra cash if you don't already use one. I say go for the 205 because the reception of the device is much much better than the 201 series. You could spend hours analying each run if you want to. For the summer however, I just basically looked at my splits on the watch and that was it.....have fun! The Garmin is way more important to me than music on a run, so I would say go that way before an iPod

Barbara said...

I have the 301 and really like it. I am one who does set it to tell me about my heart rate. I think in general if you use a heart rate monitor for any of your runs you would want it because you don't want your Garmin on one wrist and your Polar on the other wrist.

But if you don't use a HRM already, then you probably wouldn't on this one either. I like the smaller size of the 205/305 and at some point I'm sure I'll move up but for now the 301 suits me just fine.

I generally don't list everything on my blog for each run, but in my spreadsheet, I do note the average temp and humidity % (just like my blog usually has on Saturdays).

It's definitely helped me see where in the run I tend to slow down, and I've found my running group asks me on a pretty consistent basis "what's our pace". At the end of our long run each week, I email everyone what our splits were.

One of them just got one for her birthday because of hearing me say how much I got out of it.

I would suggest going down on an iPod to the new shuffle even (although June's is very cool too). It holds a gig of songs which is way more than what you need to run a marathon in.

I think you need both!

Vic said...

205 if you don't use HRM, 305 if you do. It not only tells you your pace at the end of a mile, it give you constant, current feedback (e.g. current pace, current lap pace, average pace for the whole run.) I go back and forth betweeen not watching it much and looking at it every couple of minutes. I REALLY like it during long races. It helps me pace myself and make sure I don't go too fast too soon.

I don't play much. It really does not require much playing. Even if you are a stat hound, you just plug it into the computer, a couple of clicks and voila, every stat you could ever want. And you can see your route too and save it, then race yourself. You can program very complicated interval workouts or long runs with target pace, distance, heart rate, anything.

It's cool.

Anonymous said...

If you want a good deal on new Garmin's, go to I got the 305 for $261.00. I tried it for the first time tonight. It must work really well because I went flying by June at the park tonight.

Anonymous said...

I wrote out a long reply, but Blogger ate it. Grrrr. So, I'll try to be more brief this time...

GPS--I use it about once a week for my long run, more when I travel to map out distances. It's worth every penny for that purpose. For intervals, tempo runs, regular runs, I run at Memorial, so I get feedback every 1/4 mile. I'm *pretty* good at judging my pace while I'm running, so that's all the feedback I really need for most runs.

HRM--some folks do HR-based training (i.e. run 6 miles @70% max HR). I only use mine when I'm doing a non-running workout (biking, aquarunning) to make sure my heart rate is high enough.

iPod--I have a Shuffle (older, "bigger" one) and I use it all the time. Very small and light. I've heard good things about the nano as well--both are flash drives so they won't skip. Get new headphones, though--the earbuds will just fall out of your ears.

Just my $0.02...


jamoosh said...

I just purchased a 205 from Amazon for 179.00. I absolutley love it. If you just want the basics and do not want to fonk with it, a simple one time set up is all you need and from there you just turn it on and hit start. Vic's comment pretty much covers everything you need to know.

I cannot condone running with headphones so my biased recommendation is the Garmin.

Matt said...

I would definitely recommend a Garmin over the ipod. I have a 201 and an mp3 player. I use the 201 on every run and the mp3 only on easy or long days. Interval/fartlek days, I tend to leave the music at home.(Although I did just find which has some interresting dance club style music at constant cadences and it helps me with turnover so I may now include music on shorter runs).
back to the Garmin... I like the 201, but after a year and a half I wish I had the heart rate monitor too, so if price is not a real issue I would go with the 301/5. I don't play with it much although for true spedwork I am starting to use the interval training tools which allow alarms at a certain time or distance alerting me to change pace. When I first got it, I spent a lot of time after each run to download then analyze my run. Now I generally wait until Sunday, download the week, let the Garmin charge overnight, and maybe spend some time looking at the performance for the week.
I recommend at least a 201 because it is rechargable, if you spend a lot of time downtown or in heavy tree coverage move up to the x05 series because it gets better reception. My choice would be 305 1st, 301 2nd, 201 3rd depending on your price range.

JustJunebug said...

SteveS is right...he FLEW by me last he was shouting encouragement though! Something about "purge that alcohol!"

Anonymous said...

I really like my 305. So far I am not using all the tools like I should - but will start learning more about HR and stuff, so I will use that more in the future.

I do intervals during my runs - and it keeps track of that and such. I just wish that it would beep at every mile, also. I can set it for intervals or I can set it for distance, but right now I do not know how to do both! Not sure if it does it.

Other than that - I have really enjoyed having it.

I do not listen to music when I run (makes me nervous not being able to hear people, cars and bikes) - so I would recommend the Garmin.

JustJunebug said...

Jill mine wont do both either!!! i can do one or the other...however thats why i asked for a second watch for Christmas (the Timex Ironman, purple!)

Anonymous said...

well I have the Polar RS200sd-- it sucks. Go with Garmin!!!

In fact I am getting a 305 from Santa and giving my Polar to Manny.

As for the iPod--the new shuffle is so cute but if you don't already run with music, you prob don't need it.

Anonymous said...

although you could use that ipod when you're studying!! we have 4, so I must like them! LOL!

Anonymous said...

I have an iPod Shuffle (also the old big one). I love it, it's small and fits right in my pocket. Just an iPod hint, you can go to and in the store do a search for refurbished. You can usually save $50+ by buying the refurbed models and they still have a one year factory warranty. You can get old style shuffle right now for $29.00 and nanos for $99.

Let us know what you decide!

TX Runner Girl said...

Wow, thanks for the tips everyone! This has been very helpful. Of course, this morning I thought...hmmm, for what I spend on a Garmin, I can almost buy a new Coach purse! :O) I'll keep you posted.