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Good starter GPS watch, but satellites are a problem in NYC
on December 5, 2013
I was frustrated with the lack of accuracy I was getting from free running apps like MapMyRun, RunKeeper, Endomondo, etc. and simultaneously annoyed with/creeped out by the automated voices giving me my pace (and yes, I realize you can turn them off, but it's the most efficient way to stay aware of how fast you're going, especially if your phone is in an armband). I decided to pony up for a watch and went back and forth for quite a while on what entry-level running GPS to buy. I have a pretty small wrist and didn't want the bulk of some of the higher-end Garmin models anyway. I liked the FR 10's easy interface, and I didn't feel that I needed a lot of bells and whistles (heart rate, waterproof, touchscreen and (heaven forbid) live tracking).
I guess it is a truth universally acknowledged that "you get what you pay for" because after 2+ months of using the FR 10, the experience has left something to be desired.
- Without a doubt, the biggest frustration has been getting satellites. I live in New York, and while it is hit or miss, it's mostly a miss. If it's a cloudy day or at night, I just leave the watch home at this point. I don't live in a neighborhood with many tall buildings, but I basically need to stand in the middle of the street of the avenue a half block away to pick up anything, even in the best possible conditions. Even then, there is a lot of starting / restarting of the watch that has to go on. I have had problems getting satellites on bridges and in Central Park (away from tree cover) as well. Not the best way to start a run.
- After spending 5 minutes trying to get satellites, I have had the GPS just crap out after 1.45 miles. When you're halfway through an 8-mile run and you look down at your watch and it says you've gone only 1.45 mi, your motivation drops far faster than it takes for logic and reason to set in. I assume this is because I was wearing a heavier jacket, and the watch slid under it a bit. I suppose for winter running, I'll have to wear the watch on the outside of my jacket, which will look cool...
- The beep at the end of each mile is barely audible. If you are listening to music, you will never, ever hear it.
- The watch tells you what you'll likely need and want to know if you are an amateur running enthusiast. It will also let you know when you've had a PR, which is fun. Yes, it doesn't spit out your average pace for the entire run until the end (you get your pace for that mile at each mile's conclusion and can see your current pace by scrolling down), but if this is not your very first run and you have some basic math skills, you can probably make a pretty reasonable guesstimate as to your overall pace so far.
- I've been impressed with the battery life. You can probably use it for about 5 hours without recharging.
- I guess this applies for all Garmins, but I truly love the breadth of data I get when I upload my runs to Garmin Connect. I love geeking out at the maps, the elevation profiles of my runs, etc. One unexpected thing that Garmin Connect offers that I love is an overview of the weather conditions during each run (temp, humidity, wind speed, sun/clouds). It's just basic stuff, but as someone who has definitely tried to Google for weather conditions at a specific date and time (which is more difficult than it sounds) in order to dress smarter, this has been a huge help.
- Race finish photos are now of you looking at your watch, so you are spared a certain number of photos where you have the face of someone at death's door, but you also look like a giant tool for staring at your watch.
Summary: I think if I were buying my first running GPS watch again, I would spend a little more (or not, since currently they are currently the same price on Amazon) and get the Forerunner 110 without the heart rate monitor because of the higher sensivity GPS, or stick it out with the apps and wait until I was ready to spend more serious money. I'm really intrigued by the new Forerunner 220, which seems to be getting great reviews, albeit at $250.