* Prices may differ from that shown
If you're not a runner, you may be surprised at how much running watches can do nowadays, not only measuring time taken but exactly where you went, your pace at any given moment and even the elevation profile of your run - information which is really helpful when you're training for a specific event, such as a marathon. The market leader in GPS (Global Positioning System) watches is Garmin, who also make sat nav devices, and use the same satellite technology to produce watches which track distance, location, etc etc.
The Forerunner 405 is the most recent model in the Forerunner series, and after much humming and ha-ing, I finally decided to upgrade my non-GPS Forerunner 50 with footpod - a device which tracks distance by means of measuring steps taken. While I've grown fond of my Forerunner 50 - and thought it was the bee's knees when I got it - I was increasingly frustrated by the inaccuracy of the footpod, despite repeated attempts at calibrating it. Although significantly more accurate overall than the traditional pedometer, even running simple out-and-back routes it would sometimes record different distances for the outward and return journeys. Not drastically different, but still, I was losing confidence in its ability to tell me how far and how fast I was running. So, GPS was the obvious solution.
I picked the 405 over the older 305 for, to be honest, mainly aesthetic reasons. It looks similar to the 50, i.e. like a watch rather than something which is about to launch into space at any moment, and this appealed to me. Having said that, it's a bit chunkier than the 50, but still very wearable, and feels secure on my wrist.
The watch needs to be charged for 3 hours before use. The method of charging is rather unusual, involving a clip which needs to be attached to the contacts on the back of the Forerunner. This involved me staring at the various bits for a while trying to figure out what went where, but once I'd worked that out, it was straightforward enough, and just a case of waiting (im)patiently for the three hours to be up so I could get on with actually using it.
Once fully charged for the first time, the watch takes you through various introductory screens, enabling you to get it set up as needed. The only thing I had a bit of trouble with here was setting the time. Technically, you don't need to set the time. Once you're receiving the GPS signal, time and date are set automatically. What I couldn't initially work out (yeah, not that bright, I know) was why, having done this, the date was correct but the time was several hours behind. Eventually I figured out I needed to change the time zone. No further problems.
The 405 comes with a USB ANT stick which, once set up, will automatically upload your latest data to the Garmin Connect website, including a map of where you ran, your total distance, mile splits, average pace, pace per mile, and even elevation profile. I should admit that I'm not great with technology - this may have already become apparent - so getting the wireless computer connection set up was a bit of a concern, especially as I'd previously had a bit of a nightmare getting the ANT stick to talk to my Forerunner 50. However, I was pleasantly surprised that - perhaps because I'd done it all before with the 50 - this went without a hitch, and I was able to upload my first run with no problems whatsoever, before spending some happy hours poring over all my data. (Not a normal person's idea of fun, perhaps, but runners are different - right?)
There are an awful lot of features on this watch. I've yet to get to grips with all of them, but am gradually learning. The touch-sensitive bezel (round the edge of the watch face) does take a bit of getting used to, but a little practice goes a long way, and as "start" and "stop" are still controlled by buttons, you don't necessarily need to use the bezel while on the run. As a newbie to GPS, I'm enchanted by the ability to see not only how far and how fast but exactly where I've been running. (Well, almost exactly. Zooming in on the map after my first run showed me apparently running through hedges and over houses. Which I wasn't. But it was close enough.)
The only real disadvantage which I've found with the 405 is that it doesn't cope well with rain. It really doesn't like getting wet. While it's normally easy, with a tap on the bezel, to scroll through the various screens which you can set to inform you of your pace, distance, heart rate, average lap pace, etc etc, rain seems to send the whole thing haywire, causing it to either continually scroll through when you don't want it to, or refusing to budge when you do. The former problem can easily be resolved, however, by locking the bezel.
In summary, it's early days, but so far I am very happy with my new toy. If necessary, I suppose I could have lived without it - my Forerunner 50 performed lots of handy functions including recording heart rate, and online resources such as www.mapmyrun.com are pretty good for measuring distance. But in the words of Oscar Wilde, I can resist everything except temptation, and the 405, with all its features, was very tempting. As a new recruit to the wonderful world of GPS, I am enjoying it greatly.
As you might expect, the 405 doesn't come cheap - prices do vary from place to place, but at present it is available on Amazon for £218.26 (including heart rate monitor) or £192.98 without heart rate monitor. So it's not an inexpensive option if all you're wanting is a watch to tell the time with, but given all the additional features it offers for runners, it's definitely a worthwhile investment.
On the spare of the moment last year, I decided to enter the 2009 London Marathon, never in my wildest dreams expecting to actually get a place in the ballot. However, the months rolled by and in October 2008 I received a letter to say that I was in! I was in a panic; I hadn't run for years and even with the race approaching, I still had a lack of motivation to get out there and train. I knew I had to do something about it and therefore started looking at GPS watches in the Garmin series. At first the price startled me, but I hoped that if I spent £200 on a watch, I would be determined to get out there and not waste it.
Well, 8 months and hundreds of miles of running later, I am ready to review the equipment that led me to a healthier lifestyle.
Garmin watches have been around for a number of years now and are a common sight on any runners wrist. The earlier models, such as the 201, 205 and 305 were very popular, although were very large in size. The 405 however has been designed with size in mind. It is a lot smaller and a lot more modern and stylish.
The thing that makes it so appealing is the built in GPS receiver. You just simply put the watch on your wrist, turn it on and press start when you begin running. It records how far you went (accurate up to a reported 10 feet), how fast, ascent and descent, split times per mile etc, calories burned and more. Plus when you get home you can upload it to the supplied software on your PC, which displays the data in numerical and graphical form, along with a map of where you ran. Unless you really want to play around with all of the modes, this is really as simple as it is. You can use it straight out of the box once it has been charged.
If you buy the watch with the Heart Rate Monitor (HRM) included, which you strap across your chest, you can also monitor your heart rate in real time whilst running, or see a chart of it once you have uploaded your run data to your PC.
The Garmin 405 is available in black/grey or a light green colour, which is mostly aimed towards women. It is slightly bigger than a normal watch, but it is designed to be worn all day as it displays the time and date when you are not running; something that the earlier versions did not. The strap of the watch is black and flexible, with many holes helping to accommodate any wrist size. The parts of the straps closest to the watch are rigid, as it houses the GPS receiver. This means that it cannot be bent round your wrist, but this is hardly noticeable and the placement of the receiver in the strap means that it is always facing towards the sky, making the readings more accurate.
The 405 has less buttons than you would expect, with just a start/stop and a lap/reset button on the right. The reason that there are not many buttons is because the watch features a silver touch bezel. This surrounds the face of the watch and is very simple to use (although others may disagree). There are 4 areas which you touch to open up menus for training, menu, GPS and date/time. Tapping one of these will bring up a new menu on screen, which you can scroll through by simply running your finger around the bezel. Selecting an option is as simple as tapping anywhere on the bezel. The back light can also be activated by pinching either side or touching the bezel in two places at the same time. This sounds complicated, but if you buy one you will see how easy it is and how well it works.
Personally, I much prefer the current design than the earlier models with a lot of buttons. However, there is one fault that many users have noticed; this being the lack of response once the bezel is wet. It does not react to the touch of your finger and the weight of the water on the watch makes it flick through the menu uncontrollably. This does not really bother me as I simply lock the bezel when I start running by pressing the start/stop button and the lap/reset button at the same time.
There are so many useful functions on the Garmin 405, some which I always use and others which I use very rarely. As well as simply being able to record how far you went, how fast, where, ascent and descent, heart rate, current pace, average pace and splits, you can use the Virtual Partner function. Simply go to the option on the watch, put in your distance and time and start running. On the screen you will find two stick men showing how far ahead/behind your scheduled time you are. This is very helpful in races when you are looking to beat a PB, or in training when you need to run at a certain speed.
You can also put in heart rate zones or speed zones and the watch will beep if you go out of them, letting you know that you either taking it to easy or pushing too hard. It is a very useful function, especially if you are currently training for a specific time in an event. As well as this, you are able to program what you would like the watch to display whilst running. This is done in the watch itself and allows you to have either a few or many displays on your watch at one time. If there is too much information on one screen, it expands onto another and alternates between them at a speed determined by you.
Another function allows you to set up a training routine on your watch, so when you turn it on it will automatically have what workout you should do for that day loaded and all you have to do is press start when you begin running. These schedules may seem a hassle to set up. However, if this is how you feel, you just need to visit runnersworld.co.uk, where you can download specific distance training schedules directly to your watch.
The watch itself stores all the data from one hundred of your runs and is available to view both on the watch or the supplied software once it has been uploaded.
As I said above, I have run hundreds of miles since buying this watch and absolutely love it. You just need to simply stand around for a minute before you start your run for it to pick up your location. Once it has picked up the signal, I have had no problems with it cutting out at any point of a run. I have used it whilst running around my local streets, in the countryside and through thick woodlands. It has always mapped out my run perfectly with the correct distance and times; something that I still find incredible from such a small piece of equipment.
Once you have finished your run, thanks to the Ant+Sport technology, you do not have to do anything but plug the supplied USB stick into your PC and turn it on. The watch wirelessly communicates with your PC through the USB stick and uploads all of your run data to your PC. It is so easy to do and allows you to go through all of your run data as soon as you are through the door!
The battery seems to last about 2 weeks if you are not using it for running. It apparently lasts up to 8 hours if you are using the GPS, although I always charge it before it is dead and therefore cannot guarantee this. It is charged by the mains using a charger that clips onto the top and bottom of the watch. The build quality is also very good. It can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes and I have fallen over on it twice, scratching it up a bit, but it still works perfectly. Something you should expect from a £200 piece of equipment.
The Garmin 405 is obviously not just for running. It can be used for any sport in which you need to determine how far and fast you went, such as cycling or just walking. You can also use it in a gym if needed. All you need to do is buy a foot pod which attaches to your shoe. This will measure how many steps you take and depending on how it is calibrated, will tell you how far and how fast you went. This is not as accurate as GPS, but is better than having no data at all. The foot pods have to be bought separately and retail for approximately £60.
A tip that I picked up from other users was to not use the supplied software and download a free program called Sport Tracks. This is much easier and quicker to use and allows you to analyse your data much more thoroughly. It is well worth downloading.
To conclude, I don't know where I would be without this watch. It is so small, yet does so much; something that I find incredible. I got mine from Amazon for £180, which may seem a lot of money, but if it gets you out there running, isn't it worth it? It is excellent for beginners and will keep even the most serious runner entertained.
If you are one for numbers and love running, get one of these, you will not be let down!
For the cheapest place to buy one, go to www.running-watches.co.uk
The Garmin Forerunner 405 is easily the best birthday present I've ever received! It tracks your running routes, measures your heart-rate, tells you if you're going faster (or slower) than you wanted, and will even measure your progress against a Virtual Partner to give your competitive side a bit of a shove.
Just a word of warning: this is very long review - I wrote lots of notes for it, so I've appended them below. Once you get to the bit about the price, everything after that is just details.
The Forerunner 405 integrates a GPS unit into a running watch and then connects wirelessly to a chest band to record your heart rate. When you get home, the USB stick (which comes with it) detects your watch and downloads any new exercise sessions; these are displayed on your PC and / or uploaded to the web.
I can't say enough about how clever and functional this system is. The watch is slightly bigger than a normal running watch, but not any heavier. The screen is large and clear, and you can customise which data you'd like to see: choose from heart-rate, speed, distance covered, time elapsed, sunset/sunrise(?), and others.
Running on my normal routes, I found the watch helped me run faster almost straightaway; the reason for this is that I used the heart-rate monitor to keep me in the correct zone, which stops you going off too quickly, running uphill too quickly, and running downhill too slowly. I was amazed at some of the tiny inclines I encountered on routes that I thought I knew inside-out.
I also find it to be a great motivational tool. The included software lets you design workouts and assign them to certain days, which are then stored on the watch. When you go into 'Training' mode on that day, it will tell you which workout you have planned. When you set off, if will give out beeps as audible feedback to keep you inside the heart-rate or running pace zone you've specified.
Having a workout set for a certain day (you can see it in the integrated calendar in the software) spurs me on to actually do that workout on that day. If I have to shift a workout by a day, I can just drag it in the calendar and then update the watch using the wireless link.
I was a bit apprehensive about creating workouts and training schedules, but the Runners World website actually has a tool which creates them for you, based on your heart-rate/pace and your target (10k race, marathon, etc) - you just upload them to the watch and go! There are also lots of articles available on the web; I read quite a few, and after a couple of months I was confident enough to formulate my own training schedule.
The software overlays your running (or cycling, or hiking, or skiing, or ...) route onto a map and presents you with tabulated breakdowns of distance, time, elevation (ground height), heart-rate, speed - all of which can also be seen on colourful graphs.
The best place to buy this currently is probably at http://www.heartratemonitor.co.uk/garmin_forerunner_405.html. It costs about £205 (delivered) with the chest strap and ANT USB key (there's not too much point buying the kit without those two bits).
If the price at www.wiggle.co.uk comes down to this level, get in touch with me and I'll "refer" you - we'll both get a little bonus out of it.
> Great system:
. ~ . Worked flawlessly for me
. ~ . Brilliant integration with web-based service
. . > . . Website navigation could actually be better, but ok once setup is done
. ~ . Used on Vista and XP without issues
. ~ . Reliable: watch has never failed to detect HR band; ANT USB key has never failed to detect the watch
. ~ . Charges from the USB port
. . > . . Comes with all cables required, plus an adaptor to plug it into the mains (using the same USB cable)
. . > . . Small USB key acts as a wireless transmitter - when you come back from your run, the key detects the watch and downloads the data; it then uploads it to the web (if you like) as well as loading it into the desktop software (again, optional)
. ~ . GPS is very sensitive
. . > . . I have a route where it followed me into a barn and kept track
. . > . . You can definitely wear it under a long-sleeved top or jacket if you don't need to see the face (I did this on a walk up Helvellyn when it was foggy almost all day)
> Great kit
. ~ . Clever system with only two physical buttons, plus the touch-bezel for accessing and navigating the four menus
. ~ . Watch is bigger than a normal running watch, but can be worn as a sports watch by the larger male
. ~ . Only the watch and the chest band (some of these systems require an extra "pod" for GPS measurements. See Timex, for example)
. . > . . You can buy a cadence sensor for cycling, a foot pod for measuring your running indoors, and a bike mount for placing the watch on your handlebars in place of a cycle computer
. ~ . Backlight is activated via the bezel - touch in two spots at once; very bright
. ~ . Bezel can be put into "locked" mode, leaving just the Start/Stop and Lap buttons active; stops accidental activation
. ~ . Screen can be customized to display the info you're interested in
. . > . . E.g., I train mainly against heart-rate measurement, so I usually have only HR displayed in large digits
. . > . . If I'm running somewhere new, I usually have elapsed time, distance covered and HR all on one screen. You can have it on automatic scroll if you want to see more data
. . > . . You can have four different displays defined (scroll through them using the bezel) with whatever combinations you like. A few examples can be seen in this PDF: https://buy.garmin.com/shop/store/assets/pdfs/specs/forerunner405_spec.pdf
> Desktop software is basic, but well-thought out and functional
. ~ . Creating schedule and workouts is easy; sync with watch appears flawless
. ~ . Integration with Google Earth (if installed locally), otherwise only basic maps available
> Web-based software is great (and free!) for sharing runs and keeping track wherever you are
. ~ . Nice graphing capability and clever "playback" functionality
. ~ . Ready-made training journal - you can give each run a title, they can be categorized using drop-down menus, and there is space for free-text notes
> Great kit for obsessive and / or geeky types
. ~ . Loads of stats available
. ~ . Runs can be viewed in total, or you can see each "lap" or section separately
. ~ . You can race against a virtual partner - this can be set by pace or (I think) you can race your own previous performance
> Really good dialogue box for creating individual workouts
. ~ . Can specify warm-up/warm-down segments
. ~ . Can specify segments according to different "targets", e.g.:
. . > . . Maintain HR in certain zone for certain length of time or distance
. . > . . Run for certain distance / time at specified pace
. . > . . Maintain specified pace or HR in certain zone until you press the "lap" button (good for intervals away from the track)
. . > . . "Resting zone" between intervals
> Lots of online resources to help with creating workouts (can be a bit daunting if you don't know what you're doing)
. ~ . Runner's World website is best place to start, probably
. . > . . Online training schedule creation utility, based on training goal (e.g., 10k or marathon)
. . > . . Lots of articles explaining heart-rate based training and the differing approaches to training
> GPS functionality is:
. ~ . Cool!
. ~ . Brilliant to supplement your training regime - you will always know exactly how far you've run, even on routes you haven't had chance to measure
. . > . . For example, this comes in really useful when you travel a lot and just leave your hotel for a run without a definite idea of where you're going
. ~ . Gives you elevation information, so you know when you get back how much uphill vs. downhill you've done; I've found it to be quite accurate
. ~ . Useful as a safety fallback - if you were going off into the hills, you could save the location where your car was parked (or any other known spot) and the watch can always tell you how far away it is and in what direction
. . > . . You can store up to 100 points (good for golf - you'll always know the exact range to the next hole!)
. ~ . Although smaller than previous models, it's still just slightly too big for everyday wear on most wrists
. ~ . USB cable only charges - you always need the wireless key to transfer data
. ~ . Desktop software could be a bit fancier; looks slightly dated
I am training for the London Marathon - I am not a speedy runner - more a plodder, and I am very much out of practice, having had a 15 year break from any sort of real exercise (with children as an excuse, although the reason is laziness!).
So as I am an overweight, unfit, plodder, why would I need a super duper gadget such as the Garmin?
Well, I certainly don't NEED one - but I sure as heck wanted one!
Now, I could do things on the cheap, and in fact I did so for a while, using a bog standard stopwatch, and plotting my route on mapmyrun.com and this is fine........but a garmin does sooo much more!
Garmin have a name for themselves in Sat Nav equipment - for cars, bikes etc. They also have a range of running gadgets and the 405 is the latest version. I first read about it on the Runners World website and after searching about and reading more on various forums, I decided that this is what my birthday money was going to go on.
So, what fabby things can my garmin do, that my stopwatch/mapping site can't? Well.......
.....It locates satellites up in the sky, so records your exact route.
.....It tells you how long each mile/kilometre takes
.....It tells you how many calories you have used (always good for knowing how many biscuits you can scoff guilt free after your run)
.....It has a "virtual running partner" attached, so that you can set it to, say 9 minute miles, and you can instantly see whether you are ahead or behind your running partner - great for making sure you are on the required target and not setting off too fast, a habit that causes me to struggle later in my run!
.....You can download marathon training plans from runners world specifically for your garmin so it tells you every day what you should be doing - a running coach on your wrist! FAB!!
.....It is neat - just like a wristwatch, so easy and comfortable to wear.
These are just the main features as I use them - I am not a "gadget girl" so could probably use it far better if I actually sat and read the user guide again.......
There is a heart rate monitor that you can link up with the garmin, which tells you your pulse at any point of the run. You can also set it to beep at you if you go above or below a particular pulse in your training, but I haven't tried this method of training yet.
The best thing for me is that when I get back from my run, I plug in the "antstick" - a little memory stick sized thing that goes into the usb port on my laptop, and it downloads all the info from the garmin to my laptop.......It shows me a map of my route, distance, hills, breaks down each mile so I can see whether my minutes per mile were steady, or whether I was doing one mile at 9 mins and another at 12 mins etc. This is then saved so that I can see over a period of time how much (or not) I have improved! A Fab toy!!
You control the garmin using two simple buttons on the side, and a touch sensitive bezel. When I was reading forum posts about the garmin 405, some people seemed concerned that the bezel would be so touch sensitive that it would be affected by rain, or the cuffs on your running top, but I can honestly say that this hasn't been a problem for me.
Battery life is not great - just a few hours in full use, but it is easy to charge and certainly has enough life on each charge for two or three medium length runs, and definitely enough for the marathon! Charging can be done via USB ports or in a plug/socket - simple!
The Garmin 405 comes in a choice of black or sage green - I have the green one. It is "one size" so if you have diddy wrists, like I do, it is not something you would necessarily want to wear as a wristwatch, but for a guy, it is perfectly wearable just as a watch would be (just remember to charge it up every few days!).
When I was setting my garmin up, I got confused (like I say I am not techie, and didn't read my instructions properly), so I rang the freephone customer service number. I cannot fault these guys at all - so patient, even with a numpty like me, and talked me through everything I needed to set it up without patronising or making me feel as though I was wasting time. And all for free! Some "technical helplines" charge premium rates and you STILL don't get good customer service!! They could learn a thing or two from Garmin.
I love my Garmin - it helps motivate me in my training during this long cold winter! I don't NEED it, but I wouldn't really want to give it up! I'm sure other people get even more out of it than I do.........and over time, I will do some more investigating.
Prices vary - you can get Garmins from most specialist running shops, and from the internet - prices are around £200 with the heart rate strap and the antstick, or you can buy the "wristwatch" on its own - but why would you buy the gadget if you can't download it and play with the maps etc.....? I would certainly not buy this without the Antstick, but I would say that the heart rate monitor is an optional extra.....
I bought my garmin from Amazon for about £190, and was very pleased with that price. Like most techie things, they will come down in price, I am sure, over the next few months.
So, I have the gadget, now I have to get the miles in! See you at the finish line........
During a run, this slim, sleek watch accurately tracks distance, pace, heart rate (when paired with heart rate monitor) and calories, and displays it all on the easy-to-read screen. Tap or slide a finger around the innovative touch bezel to change information without fumbling for a button. The optional foot pod can also be used to gather speed and distance information indoors. ANT+Sport wireless technology automatically transfers workout data to and from your computer when your device is within range. No cables, no hook-ups, the data's just there. Users can upload data to Garmin Connect, a new web-based application that lets them analyze, share and store workouts.