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Forum: Anything Else - Running Related
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Topic: Joining the 21st Century - GPS
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Posted By: Webmaster Mary Posted: Apr 12, 2011 Reply
I have been running for 11 years. Though I am completely fixated on my running watch, until a few weeks ago, I never used a GPS.

I am a numbers junkie.  I am obsessed with knowing my overall distance, and pace.  Back in the olden days (early to mid 2000s), I would diligently measure my home courses with a bike, but that wasn't accurate enough, so I got one of those wheel things.  I told you I was obsessed.

In recent years, I started mapping my routes on www.runstoppable.com, or other online mapping tools.  I compared these numbers to my known measured routes, and decided they were pretty accurate.  OK, they were generally within 0.01 miles, and I decided that was close enough.

I had heard that GPSs for runners were only accurate within about 5%.  Sorry, not good enough.  Occasionally, I'd go for a long run on a new course, with friends who had a GPS, and would rely on them to give me the total distance.  Surprisingly, I was able to do this without having to breathe into a paper bag.

On March 10, training partner Dennis had double hernia surgery.  Before his surgery, he lent me his new Garmin Forerunnner with the request of: "Will you figure this thing out and show me how to use it?"

Dennis is good at a lot of things.  Technology and computers are NOT on that list. He had been struggling with this new gadget since Christmas.

So, for the last month, I have been using Dennis' Garmin. I discovered it is one of those things that you don't need until you use it, and once you use it a few times, you can't live without it.

I love it. I have compared it to my known measured routes, and routes mapped online, and found it is pretty darn accurate.  It does seem to loose a bit of distance out on the trails where there is a lot of tree cover, but I like it better than my running watch alone.

I also discovered that the running routes can be uploaded, and I can see a map of where I ran.  I am also a map junkie. Love love love it. Reviewing the route lets me see exactly where it thinks I ran, compared to where I actually ran.  I can see where it shorted me on the trails.  Occasionally, on a windy trail route, the Garmin shows a straight line.  Then I know it lost me for a few minutes, and then found me again.

Once the activity has been uploaded, I can see every mile split, a chart with pace, a chart with elevation, in addition to the map of my route.

Dennis is returning to running, and it will soon be time to return the Garmin, and show him how to use it.  Husband/Webmaster Bill, and our son, bought me my very own for my birthday last week.

I had no trouble figuring out how to use it.  A couple things were not intuitive, and required a brief scan of the instruction book.  Uploading and reviewing the routes online was very easy.

Showing Dennis how to use it... just wish me luck.  And him.