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Using a Garmin Forerunner 305 as a Training Tool

Back in November, George posted Favorite Health and Fitness Tools (a reader response roundup) after an earlier post about hardware and software tools that help keep us fit and healthy.  George’s posts outlined many helpful tools, and the readers of his posts offered even more, tools that help them workout or keep their workouts interesting.  One of those readers, brianborchers, mentioned the Garmin 305 Forerunner.  At about the same time my daughter—who is training for another half-marathon—showed me the one she uses.  Reading how useful the Garmin is from a ProfHacker point of view and then seeing how the Garmin helps my daughter in her training, I wanted one.

I’m not training for a half marathon, but I am striving to take care of myself, and this includes running on a regular basis.  I’ve been doing a Couch-2-5K program for a few weeks, and using the Garmin 305 has helped me stay active and on the C25K schedule because I appreciate the technology.  In other words, I’ll go for a run if I can input data into the Garmin that will later show me how far I’ve progressed in my workout.

The Garmin Forerunner 305 GPS Receiver With Heart Rate Monitor is what Garmin calls a “wrist mounted GPS device” that delivers accurate heart rate monitoring and performance tracking.  While not a traditional GPS navigation device, the Garmin 305 does include mapping and routing capabilities.  It is also waterproof.

The GPS function is nice, but the truly important function of the 305 is the amount of data it provides:  distance, elevation, calories burned.  It includes lap and pace modes.  With the included heartrate chest strap, the 305 can monitor heartrate in a number of training situations.  The Garmin Forerunner 305 allows you to decide what information you need to see at any given point.  You can configure the monitor to display the calories burned, your pace, your lap pace, your distance, your heartrate, and the overall time of your exercise session.  You can display some of these or none of these.  It’s your choice.  With the Garmin’s Virtual Partner, you’ve got a virtual competitor to help you increase your time or distance.  My daughter’s comment was that the VP is a little difficult to use, but it’s helpful for some.

As ProfHacker reader brianborchers noted in his comment, the Garmin 305 can connect to the Training Center software via a USB connection, and your workout history can be uploaded and stored on your computer.  The software is both PC and Mac compatible, and it allows you to define courses on your computer that you can then upload to your 305.  This feature might come in very handy when you travel to a conference or take a trip away from home.  You can upload possible routes into the Garmin 305 before you travel so that when you arrive, you are ready to roll.

All of these are good reasons to use a Garmin 305.  My reason—other than I liked the technology—was that it accurately told me how far I’d run.  I wasn’t a good guesser.  After my first run with the Garmin, I realized how “off” I’d been.  I ran the same route I’d run before, but instead of the four miles at a 10-minute pace I’d assumed, I actually ran 2.5 miles at a 15-minute pace.  From those lowly—but accurate—numbers I’ve been able to see my distance increase and my time decrease.

The only downside for me has been the Garmin’s size.  Compared to an average wrist-watch, the Garmin is huge and a bit bulky.  But it would be unable to do all that it does if it came in a smaller size.  That’s a trade off I’m willing to accept.

The Garmin 305 has been a great motivator for me to get out and get some exercise.  Maybe the Garmin 305 would work for you, but you might consider many of the other Garmin products available.  Some do more than the 305 and some do less.  You can check out the Garmin site and choose a product that might better fit your needs.

How about you?  What kind of motivators do you use to get exercise into your life? Do you use a Garmin or other similar device to help you train?  Please leave comments below.

[Images by Billie Hara and used under the Creative Commons license.]

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