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 running watch recommendations
Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

running watch recommendations Posted: Sat Feb 04, 2006 8:58 pm 

I'm angry at Nike. Two years ago I bought their (then) top of the line running watch, the Triax Elite, including a heart rate monitor, a foot pod for measuring speed and distance, a wireless USB receiver for connecting it to the PC, and software to record and log all your workout data. It was like $300 at the time.

The plastic watch strap and casing distintigrated within about 18 months. Now it looks terrible, and the strap is cracked and frayed and will completely split at any moment. I checked online, and to repair the strap and case will cost $85 in parts, plus labor and shipping costs!

I could suck it up and pay $100+ to repair this watch. Or I could pay $50 for a new Timex Ironman without all the fancy heart rate and speed monitors. Or buy something completely new. The new Forerunner 305 looks nice, but it's not available yet, and it's $350 bucks. The Forerunner 301 might be a better deal at $180-- I need to research what the important differences between those two models are.

Any suggestions? What watch do you run with? What would you do if you were in my position?


Bricks
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
Chicago
Joined: 09 Dec 2004
Posts: 222

Re: running watch recommendations Posted: Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:21 am 

I wear Timex Ironman's Performance Monitor that works with a GPS reciever for speed and Distance as well as a Heart Rate monitor. I, personally, think it's the best all around thing out there, price included. The Polar people will tell you their HRM are better, but on many of their watches, you can't even do laps/splits, much less GPS capabilities and I can't imagine the difference in HRM is that drastically different. The Garmin people will tell you the GPS isn't as capable, but personally i don't like the clinky watch/gps in-one. The best thing about the timex is that it's versitle. You can use just the watch and have it be a traditional lap/split running watch, use it with the HRM, use it with the GPS, or all of the above at the same time. You can also buy them seperately, allowing you to save money if you don't want the GPS now, for example, and add it on later... I like the look of it, and wear it every day, running or not. The band is far improved from the ironmans of old and hasn't shown the slightest sign of wear in the 2 years i've had mine. I think the price is down now from when it first came out. They also have a new trail running version that has elevational info too!

Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: running watch recommendations Posted: Mon Feb 20, 2006 9:55 pm 

I like the Ironman as a stand-alone watch, but all the separate pieces of the Bodylink system strike me as a little clunky. From what I understand, the GPS is a separate unit from the watch, and the data recorder is a third unit. That's a lot of baggage compared to two things strapped to your person with the Nike, or one with a Forerunner.

If I were doing it all over again, I'd definitely go with a GPS-based system. Originally I was worried about reception in places with tall buildings or dense trees, but I rarely run in such places, and feedback from others suggests that it's not much of a problem anyway. The GPS systems have the advantage of never needing calibration, and they aren't tied to a particular pairs of shoes the way the accelerometer foot pod is. Plus they'll tell you where you are, not just how fast you're going and how far you've traveled.

It looks like the Forerunner 201 can be had for about $100 on eBay, which isn't much more than the strap replacement cost for my Nike. Of course I'd lose the HRM capabilities, but that's not so critical to me anyway.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: running watch recommendations Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:56 am 

I really like my Nike Triax. It has a Distance setting that allow me to enter the run distance to the nearest 1/10 of a mile or kilometer. So it will give me a PACE value as well as AVG value at the end of my run or race. The distance can be set either before or after my run. But Nike no longer sells this version and the descriptions I see of all their other watches don't appear to include this feature and I'm not sure why not.

Since I replaced the bettery on the Triax it sometimes fogs up and is difficult to see. So I've purchased a backup watch, the Timex Triathlon Sleek 100. It has some nice features but one major drawback. This may be unique to me and my fat wrists but because of the placement of the split button it often gets pressed when I flex my wrist back (especially when bike riding).

I'm intrigued by the new Garmin 205. They claim it's more sensative than the older models and thus more accurate. I'm interested in hearing from those who have tried both and whether or not there really is an appreciable difference in accuracy.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: running watch recommendations Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 3:25 pm 

mfox wrote:
I really like my Nike Triax. It has a Distance setting that allow me to enter the run distance to the nearest 1/10 of a mile or kilometer. So it will give me a PACE value as well as AVG value at the end of my run or race.

That sounds handy. Although I've got so used to doing division in my head to calculate my average pace after a run, I don't even think about it anymore. 50:22 for 6 miles? Let's see, 8min/mile would have been 48 minutes, so I had 2:22 extra which is 142 seconds, which divided by 6 is about 24. So average pace = 8:24.

mfox wrote:
I'm intrigued by the new Garmin 205. They claim it's more sensative than the older models and thus more accurate. I'm interested in hearing from those who have tried both and whether or not there really is an appreciable difference in accuracy.

Me too. The price is a big turn-off, though. It's more than twice as expensive as the Forerunner 201 that it's replacing! At $114 from Amazon, the 201 looks like a pretty nice deal.


mfox

South Orange, New Jersey
Joined: 19 Dec 2004
Posts: 367

Re: running watch recommendations Posted: Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:02 pm 

Sure, those exact miles are fine for calculating your pace yourself. Though, most watches have the option to display your lap AVG which will suffice when running an exact number of miles. But I rarely run an exact number of miles. My usual route is a sort of figure 8 route made up of a 2 mile loop and a 1.1 mile loop. Doing both segments is slightly more than 5K (3.11 to be exact). By doing variations of the two segments I often run either 5.1, 6.2, 8.2, or 9.3 miles. So the pace feature eliminates the need to any math.

The last GPS watch I had was the Timex Bodylink. It was 97% accurate. This wasn't good enough for use as a training aide. It'sfine for casual aerobic training where time and distance accuracy isn't necessary. But, for tempo runs and marathon pace long training runs it's not accurate enough. Being off by +/-3% when you're trying to maintain a 7:30 tempo pace means you could be off by +/- 13 seconds. For example, you finish the first mile at 7:17 and not know if you should slow down because your running way too fast or just maintain your effort because your watch is off. And if it's off...how much is it really off by. Say you are truely running a 7:30 pace. But your watch may say your pace during one mile was 7:17 (-3%) and the next mile it might say your pace is 7:43 (+3%). you just can't know for sure how much you're pace is wavering from mile to mile.

I'm considering ordering it from a reseller that has a "Satisfaction Guarenteed" 30 day return policy. I think it's size, though still a bit bulky, makes it more attractive than the 201. And if it's more accurate it might make the price a little easier to swallow.


Rickshaw
Runworks 2005 5M Racer
San Francisco, CA
Joined: 26 Nov 2004
Posts: 1157

Re: running watch recommendations Posted: Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:31 pm 

mfox wrote:
The last GPS watch I had was the Timex Bodylink. It was 97% accurate. This wasn't good enough for use as a training aide. It'sfine for casual aerobic training where time and distance accuracy isn't necessary. But, for tempo runs and marathon pace long training runs it's not accurate enough. Being off by +/-3% when you're trying to maintain a 7:30 tempo pace means you could be off by +/- 13 seconds.

That's a good point. The foot sensor I have now is roughly the same in terms of accuracy. 3% doesn't sound like that much, but if you bought the watch in order to help maintain a very consistent pace, then a 10 second/mile error will be a big deal to you. Maybe we're all just better off running by our bodies' feel, instead of by some gizmo. It worked well enough for generations of other runners, but us gearheads like to have the latest running toys.

mfox wrote:
I'm considering ordering it from a reseller that has a "Satisfaction Guarenteed" 30 day return policy. I think it's size, though still a bit bulky, makes it more attractive than the 201. And if it's more accurate it might make the price a little easier to swallow.

Just a guess here, but I doubt the accuracy will be improved much. I think it's more a question of better overall reception in difficult areas, so that you'll now be able to get pace/distance data where you couldn't before. I suppose that means you'll get a stronger signal in other areas too, which can help improve accuracy, but even at their best I think GPS readings are only accurate to about +/- 15 feet. If successive readings are bouncing around by 15 feet or more off your true position as you run, then I can certainly see how that would make 100% accurate time/pace measurements impossible.


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