When I trained for my very first half marathon at the end of 2008, I found a beginner half marathon plan online (Hal Higdon) and I did nearly all of my weekday runs on the treadmill. For my long runs, I’d use Google maps to map out a general course and I wouldn’t even carry a watch. I had no idea what my pace was and I didn’t’ really care .I just wanted to finish. And I did finish, in 2 hours 13 minutes and I couldn’t have been more proud that I was able to maintain close to a 10 min/mile pace for 13.1 long miles.
After taking a year and a half hiatus from running, I got inspired to sign up for my second half marathon and this time I’d have a training buddy. My dad had received a Garmin watch a few years prior as a Christmas gift and he had stopped using it, so he offered to let me borrow it as I trained (of course it was my idea, not his). Immediately I found that tracking my every step was not only addicting, it was motivating. I found that when I wore the Garmin, I’d push myself harder, knowing that at the end of my run, I’d have an average pace to compare to previous runs. I started setting goals for myself for workouts and for races and the rest was history!
What began as a torrid romance with my Garmin Forerunner soon turned into a rocky relationship. From the beginning, I couldn’t sync my Garmin with my computer despite downloading software from Garmin Connect website and troubleshooting it. I gave up, and figured since I was just running it wasn’t a big deal. I started logging my Garmin data in Excel and that was that. On several runs over the last couple years, my Garmin will get to a screen that won’t allow me to get out of it, and I can no longer see my run data real-time. I can leave it running and check my 1 mile splits but I can’t see anything else. The bezel on the Garmin Forerunner has always been touchy and all in all, although it didn’t matter all that much. These little annoyances weren’t worth the cost of buying a new watch.
However, once I started triathlon training, I started using my Garmin for biking and after I got my heart rate zones tested, I was using the Garmin even on my trainer just to calculate my heart rate. I knew that there were devices that calculated swim distances and pace but I wasn’t quite at a place where I absolutely needed that yet. However, as my training got more serious and my bike rides got longer, I came to the sad realization that my old Garmin was not going to last for the whole Ironman, and most likely not even for the entire bike portion. I didn’t care that much about the run – I figured that I would be running by feel anyway, if I was running at all and not walking. However, I wanted my heart rate data for the Ironman bike portion and I wanted my watch to last at least long enough for my training rides. My fears were confirmed on several long rides when my Garmin would die many miles before the end of my ride. At first I assumed I would have to buy a separate heart rate monitor for the Ironman. However, when my watch died at mile 45 of my 100 mile ride, I started to think. If I’m already going to spend $100 on a heart rate monitor, why not get a new Garmin that I can rely on for training and the race?
Insert photo of Garmin with 100 mile ride data on it here – Oh wait, it doesn’t exist.
So after another 57 miles to think it over, I decided that I was in the market for a new watch. I went to the internet to research multi-sport watches that week as well as asked for advice from the Twittersphere. The more research I did, the more obvious it was that the Garmin 910XT was the creme of the crop of multi-sport watches and I had to make it mine. Here are some of the most awesome features of this amazing watch:
- Battery life of 20 hours (According to the website, “with up to 20 hours of battery life, the 910XT is ideal for athletes training for ultras or iron distance tris”).
- Detailed swim metrics including swim distance, stroke identification, stroke count and pool lengths (in case you are like me and zone out in the pool and forget how far you’ve gone)
- Real time navigation in the open water – you can see just how far you’ve gone while swimming in open water and when you upload your data later, you can get a map of the path you followed
- Biometric altimeter for the most accurate elevation data, including ascent, descent and grade.
- Multi-sport mode so you can wear the watch for all three sports and change from sport to sport with one button
- Wireless upload of data to Garmin Connect which includes a program called Training Effect which rates you on a scale of 1-5 to indicate whether you are improving, stagnating or maintaining your fitness.
- No annoying bezel – lots of buttons and the navigation is very simple and intuitive.
This morning I used my Garmin for the first time in the pool. I have to say it was love at first stroke. It is very user friendly, intuitive and easy to use. I loved seeing my pace and distance without having to do cumbersome math and I can’t wait to check out my stroke count and all that fun jazz. I’m even more excited to use it during the first Aquathon this Thursday!
Although our relationship may be in the honeymoon phase, I must say I’m smitten. Sorry Forerunner, you didn’t stand a chance.
Do you geek out over data as much as me? Do you know any cool tricks or tips for using the 910 XT?