>3/31/14: A Runner's Guide to Garmin Fitness

by staff contributor Alex Rosenblatt


If you are reading this, you are probably a runner, and if so, you probably like boasting about your times, races, training… we all like to brag about our accomplishments a lot. For those of us that “stretch the truth” or tell runners’ tales, the end is here – you can thank Garmin for that. With the new line of Garmin Forerunner products along with the release of the new Garmin VivoFit fitness band, your training log, your racing calendar, your everyday sleep and walking patterns are (potentially) revealed to the world! 2013-2014 is a huge year for our tech savvy friends in Olathe, Kansas at Garmin. The updates to their running watches/HRMs (heart rate monitors) are exceptional, and I have been using the Forerunner 620 along with the Vivofit for the past few months. While wearing my VivoFit fitness tracking band for the past month or so since it was released, I may have become increasingly lazy in my running habits, but I justify that by showing everyone that I walk between 6-10 miles every single day! Through the Garmin Connect website/smartphone application, runners are able to sync their activity through their computer AND their phone, whichever is more convenient. Upon releasing the VivoFit, Garmin revealed an epic face-lift on Garmin Connect as well. This allows the website to interface both the fitness tracking and GPS running/multisport activities on one customizable page, allowing for individuals to monitor sleep schedules, daily walking metrics, their workouts and activities, burnt calories estimates… It’s like having an exercise physiologist in your own home!

Now, it is time for me to introduce the fabulous product line that graces the floor of all Marathon Sports locations. To begin, we have the Garmin ForeRunner 10. At $129.95 (+ tax), the ForeRunner 10 is the go-to watch for a newer or casual runner looking to hone in on distance metrics a bit more than they are used to. It comes in five different colors, two men’s (larger faces) and three women’s (smaller faces). It is very lightweight, looks good as an everyday watch, and can be worn on a run right out of the box, like all of the ForeRunner series. There are different features with each watch. The ForeRunner 10, for example, will tell you how far you are running and how fast, so basic distance and pace features, along with the amount of calories you burn during your run. One of the paramount features of this product – especially for beginner runners – is the run/walk feature to ease newer runners into continuous aerobic fitness by gradually building up aerobic strength. This watch also includes the Virtual Pacer feature, which you can program online to set a pace you plan on running, with the watch telling you if you are ahead of your goal speed, behind, or right on. This helps to measure individual effort level, teaching newer or even more experienced runners how to run on feel for the pace they are shooting for. The ForeRunner 10 also will keep track of your personal records and sync them to Garmin Connect, a feature that helps keep you motivated and focused and can show how you improve over time and continuous training. The ForeRunner 10 has a battery life of ten days when used on average for 30 minutes of GPS running.

Next in the ForeRunner line we have the ForeRunner 220, which comes in two different colorways, This model is more advanced than the ForeRunner 10, where the features start to stand out from the entry level model in order to get a bit more technical, coming loaded with features such as auto pause (a personal favorite), auto lap. The HRM model will do a simple measure of your heart rate along with heart rate zones to show you how intense a run or a workout was on your body. It also differs greatly from the ForeRunner 10 in the fact that it has a color (touch) display and auto pause. The touch screen works fantastic. For those of you worried about that aspect, do not fear, the watches are all waterproof. The touch screen is actually engineered by placing two layers of glass on top of each other, with the tiniest space in between, which allows for a small amount of pressure to be applied on the outer screen to confirm pushing a button on the bottom layer of glass. The screen is much more improved from past Garmin offerings such as the 405, which had a touch bezel. The new screen is functional, it is timely (no pun intended), and it reacts accordingly to touch. Users are also able to lock the screen so they don’t actually hit any of the buttons along the bezel.

Now the lynchpin of the ForeRunner line is the 620, which I have been using for the past six months or so. This is my absolute favorite GPS product I have ever tried. There’s no doubt that when I have my 620 on my wrist, my watch is smarter than I am. Though it cannot do everything I need on a day-to-day basis, it enhances my outlook on fitness and running more than I ever imagined. In the past, I have owned other HRMs and GPS watches, but this is the most innovative product. It is fast, reliable, and it gives you so much more than what you expect, also featured in two colorways. Before you dismiss the HRM strap and the expanded capabilities, listen to what I have to say about the ForeRunner 620 and how it will forever alter your perception of running. In add on to the features that the ForeRunner 220 offers, the ForeRunner 620 also gives you readings of your VO2 max estimate, a recovery advisor, a race-time predictor, running dynamics: cadence (steps taken per minute), vertical oscillation (ground contact time), and a built-in training coach. VO2 max, also known as maximal oxygen consumption, is a measurement that reads a user’s individual aerobic fitness, measured by the relative rate of millilitres of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute (mL/(kg*min)). As a user enters his/her height and weight into their Garmin ForeRunner 620 upon the first use, they are beginning the steps of having their watch ‘learn’ their body type and develop a database of information on their running patterns. If you are really looking for a breakthrough in your running and want to nail those elusive PRs, the ForeRunner 620 is the technological answer to hitting the times you desire.

The final product that Marathon Sports is carrying from Garmin is the VivoFit fitness band. For someone looking to get up off the couch and monitor their daily activity. It is a small, lightweight band with interchangeable colored bands (purchased separately), and it comes in the box with two sized bands. The display has one button, a clear view of time, steps you have taken during the day, steps you have to reach your daily goal, calories burnt, HRM capability, and Bluetooth connectivity to your Bluetooth SmartPhone or a USB port on a computer through an ANT+ USB stick. This device is also compatible with the same Garmin Connect app/website as the other models mentioned above. One of the best aspects of this product is that unlike the competitor products available, the VivoFit does not need to be taken off at all. It does not need to charge, it does not miss a single moment of tracking, plus you can also program your sleep cycle in the next day. All in all, the VivoFit is a great stand-alone device for someone looking to look more intricately into their day-to-day physiological behavior, or a great complimentary device to look into your life outside of just your running if you already use a Garmin GPS watch.

All in all, these products are user-friendly, fun, and they liven the competitive spirit inside us as individuals and as opponents come race day. Come into Marathon Sports, talk to some of us about what you are interested in, and we can help find the model that perfectly fits YOU! Here at Marathon Sports, we want to keep your life in motion, and we have the tools to help you achieve that seven days a week at our many Greater Boston area locations!