"I called to order a heart rate monitor and had a better experience than if I had gone into a store in person!! Rusty took the time to help me choose a watch that would match my needs. We picked the Garmin Forerunner 210. Amazingly easy to use!!!!! Even when I accidentally shut it off and called Rusty for help.....was like calling my trainer!! I consider Rusty part of my training team now!! Definitely a Customer for life!! - Erin D., marathon runner
GPS Watch Devices Revolutionize Fitness For Endurance Athletes
A GPS Watch Can Take Your Fitness and Fun Factor To The Next Level
GPS watch devices have been at the forefront of a fitness watch revolution over the past few years and, for good reason, as they generate a great amount of
data to assess performance with.
A story appeared in the New York Times last year questioning the accuracy of GPS watches as opposed to foot pods but we found quite the opposite depending upon terrain type. For very
hilly or mountainous terrain we found GPS watches to be far more accurate. In fact tester John Yarrington found a foot pod to be off by 1 mile in a 17 mile run.
All this is easily explained by the fact that foot pods work off of average stride length so any time you get into a situation where your stride length might change, like run/walk alternation, then
you will always find a foot pod to be less accurate. The same thing is true if the steepness of the terrain causes you to greatly adapt your stride length. John Yarrington wrote a lengthy blog post
about this topic and all the findings he came up with as he tested foot pods and GPS units side by side.
HOW GPS WORKS
GPS watch devices will Geo-cache locational data simultaneously with biometric data, meaning that location, heart rate, distance, speed and other numbers are recorded. These recordings are generally
done on 1, 3, 5 or 10 second intervals but some watches, like the Suunto Ambit 2allow you to set recording intervals as
long as one minute and has over 1,000 apps.
Ryan Hall with his Garmin 210 in Boston
While these longer recording intervals may work well for hiking or mountaineering they do not work as well for sports done at speed like running or cycling. For running or cycling you should set your
recording intervals at one second. The reason is that in one minute you could go around two switchbacks in a trail or a road and the watch only records the distance as the shortest point between the
two points. One second recording intervals entirely eliminates this issue.
DIFFERENT WATCHES FOR DIFFERENT SPORTS SPECIFIC DATA
Triathlon competitors that want power data for cycling will need to consider the Garmin Forerunner 910XT or the Garmin 310XT
as those are the only two watches that gather this type of data.
Mountaineers, hikers and ultra-marathon runners may want to consider a watch like the Suunto Ambit 2 or Garmin fenix because of their longer battery life.
Thus, as you can see, there is no one ideal, one-size-fits-all solution for every situation which is why it pays to talk to an expert.
WHAT TO EXPECT WITH A GPS WATCH
GPS units use lithium-ion rechargeable batteries because GPS takes a lot of power. If these watches used coin cell lithium batteries it could burn up dozens of them per month. This means that you have to
recharge the watch every 7 to 17 hours of use depending upon the watch type.
Nearly all GPS training computers record heart rate, speed, distance, and location data via a bread crumb trail that can be used for later mapping. They also use some GPS based altitude but this
often needs to be corrected as it is not as accurate as a barometric altimeter. Fortunately Garmin has an elevation correction feature using US Geological Survey data so you can screw the accuracy
down to within a couple feet.
For really accurate on board altitude you need to consider the Garmin 910XT or Suunto Ambit as both contain barometric altimeters.
Some of these devices allow for customized screen data and others do not. Generally the lower end running GPS units have fixed data points.
WARNING: THE DATA OUTPUT AND MAPS GET ADDICTING
GPS is highly addictive because you can store rides, share them with friends and with some features, like the Player function on Garmin Connect software, you can even drag and drop an icon to a specific
point on your course, like the top of a hill, and see precisely what your heart rate, speed, distance, cadence and more were for that one particular instant.
Warning, you may start acting like a child and bring your GPS with you everywhere. One day we tried to see if we could scribble in the whole ski area at Grand Targhee in one day because that is the masochistic
type of stuff we enjoy. I did this with the late Doug Coombs and Rick Hunt and we had a blast doing it, but boy were we tired for the 3 hour ride back to Bozeman.
You might even just use it to check your car's speedometer, just stay within the speed limit. It is also easy to ant to see how fast you can go down a steep hill on a bike but just be careful and look at the speed
later, not during - we don't want anymore road kill we've got enough gophers out here in Montana :).
SPEAK WITH A REAL EXPERT TO GET THE SAME THING AS GOLDILOCKS "JUST RIGHT"
We highly recommend talking with one of our highly qualified experts and it is super easy. Simply dial 866-586-7129 toll-free from anywhere in North America and see why the Heart Rate Watch Company is second to
none when it comes to quality advice.