I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I’m not the only one who has inappropriate feelings about their Garmin Forerunner. An astonishing 48 percent of the readers who voted on the GPS poll at CRN use some version of the Garmin Forerunner. Several of you have even lovingly named (and secretly caressed) yours. And for those of us who have a need to simplify and analyze our runs, the Forerunner is a dream.
In contrast to those who love to analyze, a fairly large group of CRN runners (18 percent), use no form of tracking. And while I have absolutely no mental capacity to understand such nonsense, I envy the free-spirited group who step out the door and run just to run. Although, I suspect this is the same group of runners who secretly measure the distance with their car.
But whether you are in a car or using an online pedometer, there are many tracking tools out there. Dianna, the Running Chick, uses the Nike Triax and claims it is as accurate as any other running gadget. Jessica, from SoCal Trail Girl, swears by the Nike + iPod Sports Kit. Mark, the Running Blogfather, uses a Polar with its top-end running computer. He says that once it’s calibrated it is unbelievably accurate—and does the laundry.
The Forerunner may not do the laundry, but it does provide many beneficial push-button functions to aid runners in getting the most out of training. The main features include distance tracking, wireless heart-rate monitoring, lap recording, and calories burned. A new feature on the 305 models even allows you to download courses to compare and compete against previous workouts. Bob, from A Running Destination, says “I know for a fact I train smarter and set more realistic goals having this feedback.”
The Forerunner also comes with a feature called the Virtual Partner. I have to admit, I am intrigued by this function. The Virtual Partner lets your train against a digital person at any specified time or goal. Set it to race against your personal best or a virtual Michael Johnson. Personally, I’d use mine to boost my ego and set it so I’d always win. Yes, technology can be a wonderful thing. It can also be not so wonderful. Katy in Australia, says “I often run where satellites can’t find me. I get really annoyed that my pixel-self stops to pant while my virtual trainer passes me. I resent that.”
With all the built-in features, the masses are right, you can’t beat the Garmin Forerunner as a training tool. But a tool it is. Whether it’s running for fun or to qualify for that big race let your body decide what works best for you.
Now, if we can just get the Forerunner to vibrate …