Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Out With The Old... In With The New... Garmin

I rely on my Garmin Forerunner 305 for training.  I use it everyday that I run which is usually 6 days/week.  I don't even run most of my workouts outside.  I also use it on the YMCA's indoor track, and I'll even wear it when I'm on the treadmill or elliptical to take advantage of the heart rate monitor.


On Wednesday, my Garmin started out like it usually does, and I was using it to record splits during my track workout.  After a few miles, I looked down and it had turned off.  I turned it back on, and it would try to find satellites, but if I hit a button, it would turn back off.  Finally, it wouldn't turn on at all.  Later on I tried all the tricks I could think of to get it to work: charging it, hard and soft reboots, tips off Garmin's website.  Nothing worked.  It was D.O.A.

My Garmin Forerunner 305 ready for the scrap heap.

Before I toss it out like a Charlie Sheen hooker, I want to offer a small tribute in its memory:
Ode to My Garmin
By: 2 Slow 4 Boston
Concept From: Bible 
The Garmin is my GPS (God Powered Savior), I shall not want (to get lost).
It maketh me to run down green trails:
It leadeth me beside the still aid stations.
It restoreth my constant pace:
It leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for PR's sake. 
Yea, though I stink through the valley and smell of death,
I will fear no ice bath: For thou art with me;
Thy heart rate monitor, it comforts me.
Thou preparest a database table before me in the presence of my competition;
Thou annointest my spreadsheet with splits.  My Gatorade runneth over. 
Surely Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness shall follow me all the days of my life:
And I will dwell in the memory of my Garmin 305 for ever.


Please don't put me in for the Pulitzer surPrize in Poetry, I'm much too humble to accept any awards, unless it's an age group award.


I had my Garmin 305 for a good 3 and a half years.  I was perfectly happy with it, as are the majority of runners who have the 305, but of course it has to be able to work.  So it was time to replace it.  My first choice to replace it?  Another 305.  I went to buy one only to find prices $100 above where I thought they were.  I started looking at Garmin's other offerings, and was elated to find the newer Forerunner 405cx for $198, over $75 cheaper than the 305.

Garmin 405cx


Now when it comes to having a GPS watch, I don't play around, I ordered the 405cx that Thursday morning with overnight shipping, got it Friday, and wore it for the first time Saturday morning.  So far, I'm loving it.  A kid with a new toy.  I was almost 8 miles into my run on Saturday before I realized I forgot to put on my mp3 player.  Oops.


While I haven't had the 405cx long enough to vouch on it's durability/reliability, I'll go over some of it's pros and cons compared to the 305.

405cx Pros:
  1. Cheaper than the 305.
  2. Smaller, sportier, looks more like a watch.
  3. Quicker to lock onto satellites.
  4. Has a blue indiglo backlight.
  5. You can turn the GPS function off to conserve battery, and use as a stopwatch.
  6. Displays a charge % complete meter during charging.
  7. Downloads workouts wirelessly to the PC.
  8. Has a touch bezel like an iPod for quicker navigation.
405cx Cons:
  1. Less data can fit on the screen, and the digits are smaller.  Up to 3 fields per screen compared to 4 for the 305.  This is a compromise for the 405cx to not look like you're wearing a TV.
  2. Easier to accidentally activate a function on the bezel (but it can be locked). 

BTW, as I was researching the Garmin 405cx, I discovered their foot pod which attaches to the shoe laces (or inside a compatible shoe).  When sync'd with the watch, it can tell you your speed, distance, and cadence.  Since I run inside a lot, I bought one of them too.    It seems pretty accurate based on my 2 indoor track workouts where I know the fixed distance of the track.  Currently $45 on Amazon.com.

Garmin Foot Pod
Foot Pod on shoe, for scale.  Those aren't my feet, I have
way more hair on my legs.

Sound off.  Do you run with a GPS watch?  Which brand/model?  Do you analyze your run's data?

24 comments:

Johann said...

Interesting! Hope you have lots of fun and many miles with your new toy! I still don't own a GPS and use a stop watch only. I suppose the time will come...

Shawn said...

yep...305 for the past 2 years...love it and find I have a hard time running without it.

Boston Bound Brunette said...

I can't live without my GPS watch and I always have it with me on a run! I own a 305, 405CX and a 310XT. I am really used to the 305 so I have only used the 310XT once. The bezel on the 405CX kind of drove me crazy so I haven't taken it on a run yet.I guess you have to get used to the change. I think my 305 is starting to die because it has been acting up so I might be using the 310XT on a regular basis! BTW, I only own three GPS watches because I got them for dirt cheap!

Ali Mc said...

Next time give me the old one :) I'm always up for free gear lol

I've never run with a GPS

Jill said...

I have the 405 also, but it's the only Garmin I've ever owned so I don't know how to compare it to others. I don't like how huge the 305 is and don't think I'd like that monster on my wrist. Oh, I did test drive some GPS watch the other day by Polar and I LOVED it. I think if I had to get a new watch, I'd go Polar. At least I think so.

You're the first person I know who's written a little diddy for his watch's death. That's some watch! Can't wait to hear what you write for my eulogy. Oh wait...

abbi said...

I have two of the 305. One stopped working but then by the time I got the 2nd the original one was working again. They seem to both have issues every once in awhile but they are still kicking...even though I may secretly still look at others. Enjoy your new one!

Bill Fine said...

I love my big clunky 305......I got it as a birthday present when I was training for my first marathon 3 years ago.....I'd swear the darn thing is bulletproof.....it's certainly big enough to deflect bullets!

Bill Fine said...

I love my big clunky 305......I got it as a birthday present when I was training for my first marathon 3 years ago.....I'd swear the darn thing is bulletproof.....it's certainly big enough to deflect bullets!

Coy Martinez said...

I just bought a new GPS this year! I got the fancy one! The 910x. It's the one you can swim in in the ocean and it'll tell you how far you've gone! It also does run and bike but the swim part I totally dig!

Paul said...

I had the 405 and liked it a lot. I always locked the bezel when running, esp if wearing long sleeves or jacket.

I find the cadence sensor a lot of fun too (also works for biking) You can see if you are able to keep your stride rate up when you get tired. You can also see the effect of lighter shoes, etc.

Enjoy Ur new toys ;)

Robin said...

Enjoy the new Garmin! I use Nike+ GPS Sportswatch.

Fair Weather Runner said...

my first thought at the end of this is 'when did you start wearing vibrams?'... wondering if you were spending too much time with barefoot frank ;)

and look at me, commenting two days in a row. GOLD STAR! we will no longer be garmin twinsies, and now i am totally jealous of your new garmin!

Indi said...

what kind of battery life does it have? Looking at a new watch myself....but battery life is kinda of key!

Meghan said...

I am waiting for my birthday or my next big sale to get one of these watches! Thanks for the review.

My GPS dropped on my run yesterday on my phone app and I was so sad to not see my results. You'd think I would have noticed when my music didn't pause to let me know how I was doing at each mile. Oops :)

Laura said...

That's what happened with my old Garmin.
I went and used a bunch of loyalty points and got the Garmin 610. LOVE it. I hope it never dies.

Nelly said...

lol on your garmin poem! Snoop Dogg will be calling you to collaborate!

I had a 305 for a while - until the band broke and I returned it to the store. I haven't bought another watch since because I've been injured since right about when the watch broke. When I get back to training hard I'll probably buy another watch.

Bummer that the 405 only has 3 display fields, I feel like I need 4 (time, heartrate, distance and current pace). I guess I could cut out overall time if necessary, but that would be a tough decision to take out overall time or current pace.

As I've just ran with a regular timer watch recently, I'm realizing that I don't miss the garmin as much. Maybe because I'm not training for anything right now, only trying to get back into shape. Garmins are really useful for all the data that you get from each run and just being informed.

Terzah said...

I use the humble Garmin 110 and it's always been fine for me. It looks like a watch and can be used like one, too. The only slightly inconvenient thing is that you can delete only via your computer, but you're on there anyway to upload your data, so that's a small complaint.

I have no need to get a new GPS, but I have to admit that reading your post makes me want to anyway. With this injury, I have urges to buy running stuff constantly. It's like I'm trying to live vicariously through products. Sigh.

ajh said...

I have my second Garmin. When my other one failed I needed a new one immediately. I went to the store and got it. I got a cheap model - maybe the 200? because I didn't want a lot of data and it was perfect for me.

Char said...

I'm sure you'll grow to love your 405 as much as your 305. It's worked that way with our new puppy and puppies and watches are pretty much the same aren't they?

runningsurvivor said...

Not yet, but I do run with a Timex stopwatch..and it works fine for me at least right now, maybe as I get into the longer runs I'll think about getting a Garmin or something like it.

NY Wolve said...

I have had a Garmin 405 and now have a 410. One word of advice: go to Garmin website and download latest firmware for your device. They fix all kinds of bugs. One bug I recall involved the time out function, where my 410 would suddenly just shut down, thinking I had left on in error. Welcome to the world of the touch bezel. It is a strange, exciting and unpredictable world.

On the Right Track said...

I LOVE, LOVE your poem...so creative!!! I have the Garmin forerunner 610...I love it! But, it is the only one I have ever had, so i can't compare it to anything...I guess I'm no help ;)

Michael said...

I bought my first GPS watch a couple of months ago and got the Garmin 910XT. I'm not currently a triathlete, but it is working perfectly for me for the reasons I made the purchase.

It locks onto the satellites relatively quickly (not as fast as RunKeeper on the iPhone, but still not bad), it has a 20 hour battery life, and it has the ability to set between 1 and 4 data items per display, with 4 displays per activity. That works well for me since I can be a bit "visually challenged" during the run, so I typically have two items per screen and switch between two of the displays.

I don't have the foot pod, but I do have the heart rate monitor, and that is nice as well.

Have fun with your new toy !

Ben said...

I have a 305 and really enjoy it. At first I thought it was big and clunky, but not it doesn't even feel like anything is on my wrist. Hoping for many more years out of it!