Garmin Forerunner 201
My latest gadget acquisition is a fantastic piece of kit - the Garmin Forerunner 201.
This is a 'watch' that works as a virtual training partner using GPS technology to plot and monitor speed/distance/time. It is designed for cyclists/runners and enables accurate plotting of distances and times. As a runner this is very valuable as current methods of calculating distance include either driving in the car or trying to work it out based on time taken to run and heart rate!
There are a ton (tonne) of functions including standard stop watch, virtual partner, interval training timers, lap counter, and history.
The virtual training partner allows you to create a virtual runner to compete/pace against. If you are seeking a target time simply set the partner to run at that pace and when you start the 'watch' will plot the virtual partners performance against your own. The interval training allows you to set your interval distance and recovery distances with beep notifications. Again as a solo runner this is a very valuable tool as interval training is where you can really make gains in performance yet is difficult to track/pace with any real accuracy. The lap counter is my favourite function as on any run you can set it to lap every mile (or any distance) . When you have finished you can review your pace over each mile that you have covered and evaluate where you are strongest etc.
The GPS functionality allows you to create and save locations eg. Home, work, etc and this forms the start point for tuns. There is also a visual plotter that shows a route of your run in much the way it would if you dropped breadcrumbs on your route. The display does include any map overlay information so is purely a visual indicator. Useful if you get lost to plot which direction you need to run in to get back!
The History function allows you to review up to 2 years (!!!!!) worth of data split by run, day and week etc.
The display is large and very easy to read even when on the road/trail.
There is a PC connector (serial port) and software that you can download from the Garmin website. I have not done this yet but will probably get around to it at some point!
The device comes with a wrist strap and wrist strap extender (!) An easy fitting velcro type strap similar to that found on Animal type watches. A charger is included that also has the pc connector. This means that the watch is a sealed unit and therefore is waterproof.
A really great gadget and for anyone who is really looking to get excellent accurate data about their performances on a bike or on foot this is great. I would not necessarily recommend this to a happy jogger but for a runner (there is a difference) this is a great tool.
There are other such devices by Timex and Nike but Garmin seem to be the main developers of GPS devices. The advantage of this one versus others on the market is that it is all in the watch whereas the Timex one uses an arm strap to communicate with satellites and the Nike one uses different (less accurate technology altogether). A disadvantage is that there is no scope to add a heart rate monitor into the same device which the Timex and Nike ones can do.
All in all, so far, I am very impressed with this device. It really does something that I was not able to do before and is a welcome addition to my gadget stable! It does mean yet another charger and yet another PC connection but that's all part of the fun. Like a friend of mine (who owns the Garmin eTex Legend said) "?They are fantastic and like mobile phones, I sometimes wonder how I lived without one?"
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