After a lot of thought and consideration -- I have decided to retire One Foot in Reality and leave it as an Archive. I will still monitor it to keep the trolls at bay, but will not be posting here any longer.

If you are looking for my new posts, please go to www.haroldlshaw.com .

Thank you for all they years of following One Foot In Reality.


Monday, June 22, 2015

Which GPS Watch Did I Get

After a lot of thought I have decided to move some of best of my old posts from Aging Runnah and A Runnah’s Story blogs, primarily the old reviews, maybe a few of the better posts and race reports that I have written over the years. I have a feeling that at some point, my WordPress.com blogs are simply going to go away and I want to still be able to go back and read some of the stuff I wrote.

If you are reading this blog post, that is why it is has been re-posted here.

Originally posted on: June 22, 2015

Last Thursday, I ordered a new GPS watch from Clever Training, using the discount code from DC Rainmaker's website - it is a Father's Day gift to me from my wife. However, before I tell you what it actually is, I want to go a little more into the thought process I used to choose it.

1. Keep things simple.

GPS Devices are an enhancement to running, not the reason to run and sometimes if you have too much data it complicates your running more than it improves it. Earlier this year I went a couple of months without using a GPS watch and for most of my running life, I never had the option of using GPS, so I don't look at GPS Apps or Watches as something that is a necessity when it comes to running.

  • They are a tool to be used, not drive your running.

I track my running by distance/miles and I see them more as an enhancement to my running that frees me to explore new courses, suddenly take a left turn versus my normal right turn and not have to worry about figuring out how far I did run, by using a map program, driving the course (if I can) or just guessing based on my overall pace.

So while a GPS device is nice, it is an optional part of my running and yes, I can run without one quite nicely.

2. Connectivity to my smart phone or activity tracking

I really don't need/want these capabilities. As I was telling Mike in the comments the other day "When is too much, too much?" I don't want my wrist buzzing and beeping telling me I have emails/Facebook updates/Twitter messages or anything else. I carry my smart phone with me on 90% of my runs and even on that device I have turned off most of the notifications that interrupt us so often and yes, believe it or not, I have uninstalled most of the social media applications - sometimes less is more.

Life has enough distractions without a constant bombardment from my wrist too.

I don't care about how many steps I take during the day, what my heart rate is at a given time (as long as it is still beating it is a good thing), or even whether a device tells me I am sleeping well or not. I don't need/want a device that keeps track of all my activities.

At some point the external motivations need to be superseded by just going ahead and doing it.

So the Apple Watch, Garmin Vivofit/Vivoactive and all the other fitness/activity trackers or smart watches didn't interest me.

I am not a Luddite (look it up) by any stretch of the imagination, but I have to wonder what at what point does technology and fitness, begin to have diminishing positive effect and become something else. That and how the different companies are or will do with all that data we are so freely giving them through those devices and our phones of their's that we choose to use.

At some point we have to decide when is too much, too much?

3. Cost

No, I don't think I am cheap, but at the same time I am not going to break the budget to get a GPS device that will be last generation in 6 months time. Let's just call me frugal when it comes to technology. To be honest, getting the newest and greatest Next Generation product is expensive and usually of questionable value to me. Which means that I usually end up with last-generation technology, that has the bugs pretty much worked out and usually is more reliable i.e. more Harold-proof.

Something under $200.00 is the price-range is what I wanted. Yes I could have gone higher and did look, but for something that will last me about 2-3 years (I hope) that is the price-range that works for me. Which cuts out most of today's newer watches and features and leaves me with either lower capability watch choices or clearance items.

4. Specific GPS Watch features I am looking for

Quick connectivity to GPS signal - A must. 

I HATE standing at the end of the driveway or wherever I am looking like a doofus staring up at the sky and then my watch waiting for it to get satellite signal.

Ease of use. While I expect a learning curve with any new device/computer/equipment when I start to use it. However, once I figure things out and get things setup the way I want it, I don't want to have to keep re-inventing the wheel, by having to constantly "play" with my GPS device. I just want to charge it, use it during the run, then upload the data quickly without a lot of fuss and muss.

Easily read the data on the screen. Yeah, I am nearly blind and have progressive tri-focal lenses in my glasses, so those tiny watch faces with the extra small numbers are pretty hard to read when I am running.

Reliability - The watch has to be pretty much bomb-proof or at least Harold the Destroyer proof. If it has cables they have to be sturdy and the watch itself isn't going to haywire, if I go ass over teakettle on a trail run (which seems to happen all too often for me).

Waterproof - Yeah this is part of that Harold the Destroyer thing. I forget to take off my watch and it will get wet (not a good thing for some watches). I know that I will go swimming with it on , fall down in a water crossing on some trail, do dishes, shower, kayaking (you can get pretty wet), etc. So if it ain't waterproof to 50 feet, it ain't an option.

Repeatability - I don't want a GPS device that has major discrepancies as far as distance goes on the same course. Every time I run that course or segment of the course, it should be fairly close to the same reading every time.

Uploads easily/quickly to a decent website - I generally use Strava, but if the brand does have a website for their device/application, it needs to be useful, not useless. I also don't want a watch that is limited to a closed upload system, where I can't get my data where I want it easily. I want to believe that it is still my data, not the company's as much as they might beg to differ with me and attempt to hold it hostage through their Terms of Service agreements.

Vibration Alerts - I have a hard time hearing high frequencies and I do like to glance at my mile splits on a run, so the vibration alert is a feature that I like.

So what did I end up buying?

The Garmin 310XT and the footpod for under $200.00
My new Garmin Forerunner 310XT and Footpod

Yes, I looked several others: TomTom's newest, Timex, Polar and Suunto, along with the Garmin 220/225, 610 and 920, but when it came down to doing what I wanted at the price I was looking at, the Garmin 310XT came out closest to doing everything I wanted.

Thanks Ron, for giving me the idea to look at it.

I read more than a few reviews and as usual the site that made the biggest difference was DC Rainmaker's in-depth reviews of the GPS watches. He does a great job of going through the features, strengths, weaknesses of the different GPS devices that are out there.

While the 310XT is "old", it came out in 2009 and is a little bulkier than I originally wanted. However, when I read at what the different reviews were saying, not just the brand's marketing spiel, it seems to do what I need/want from a GPS device.

Yes, it is BIG, which means that I will not be as tempted to wear it too often as my daily watch and that it won't be put in Harold the Destroyer harm's way as often.

Well it arrived this morning and over the next week, I will figure out how it works and more importantly how it works for me. Since it is so "old", I don't see me doing a complete review of it, but I have a feeling that I will either sing its praises or be whining and complaining about it in my blog posts.

Either way, I still get to run. A GP device is simply a tool that can enhance my running by providing me some data points and nothing more - an option that I have in today's world.

I just have to remember that my Garmin 310XT and the data that it spits out are not the reasons that I run.

Sometimes we forget that. :-)

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