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Are these "Electronic GPS Devices" more harm than good? Lets talk Devices. (Read 250 times)

    Are these "Electronic GPS Devices" more harm than good?   I'm talking about the Garmins, the Nike devices, the etc.

     

    I'll run through a quick history of myself:  Minimalist runner, not a fan of GPS's initially, my run method 2 years ago was the "clock on the wall" method.  (IE.  I Noted the time on the clock on the wall when I left the house, noted the time when I got back, and thus, my time that it took to do a run).   I got "fancy" and kept track of my times and miles in an excel spreadsheet.  Then I got real fancy and started documenting them here on RA.

     

    Next step of me moving into the 21st century:  I went out and bought a nice Nike Sportwatch, powered by Tomtom.    I've had it 2 weeks now and used it in a couple races and also a few long runs from the house.

     

    Pros:

    1)  It tells you the pace you are running.  This prompts me to want to push a little faster to drop the pace.

    2)  When you get done, it tells you time, pace, mileage.

     

    And now, Cons:

     

    1)  It decharges after a few days when the "satellite track" portion is not being used.  (IE.  It forgets what day it is, so after recharging, most of my runs reflect as Jan 1st.

    2)  When in satellite mode with a full charge, it runs out of battery at about 8 hours.  (In my case, it died at near mile 40 of the JFK-50 I was running).

    3)  It takes time to start.  You don't just hit "start", it takes time to find the satellite and connect like a traditional chrono would, so by the time you start it, you may be 1 minute into your race already...

    4)  It doesn't track the mileage accurately.  At mile 26 of the JFK race, it said I was at 27.2.

    5)  It doesn't track the pace accurately.  This weekend I did a 10-mile race, it consistently said my pace was 7:42, 7:55, 7:58, 7:45,.... but consistently in the upper 7's....   (When I actually completed the race, my goal was 7:59 pace or faster, but I was disappointed to see my pace was 8:10)

     

    Main point:  There seem more cons than pros with the Nike!  -- Is Garmin or any other device any better?

     

    Tough to start in exact timing with the race start gun, shuts off on those really 'long' races, and most importantly, tells you that you are maintaining about an average 7:50 pace the entirety of a race, only to get done, hit "complete" and have it put the race pace at about 8:10!  

     

    Someone please tell me what is so great about running with an "innacurate" GPS device.   I am tempted to go back to the "clock on the wall" metthod.    Or wearing my Timex and noting my time on the chrono as I crossed the race mile markers would have been more helpful and accurate.    Any thoughts?

    The Plan (big parts)→  ///  March:  Shamrock Marathon  ///  April:  24 Hour Run for Cancer  ///   May:  3 Days at the Fair (12 Hour)  ///  Nov:  New York Marathon ∞

      I like my Timex Ironman with the chrono, alarm, and light. I've had some version of this watch for the last 20-25 years. I count blocks (8 per mile) or map my run to figure out mileage. The numbers side of me kind of likes the idea of a GPS watch but it wasn't accurate the one time I tried it which drove me nuts. I don't know, I still like just pushing start and stop on my Timex.

       

      MTA: So, nothing against them, but for me: more harm than good. It would just be one more thing for me to obsess about.

        GPS devices can be helpful as a tool. I use mine to log data (course, distance, amt of climb, time into run, etc) while running. I don't like having to remember where I did something for how long. My 910xt (wanted barometric altimeter) is supposed to last for 20 hrs on one charge. I've actually used it for 9+ hrs with about half the battery discharged. My marathon had 26.29 miles at the end. (course isn't certified, but I believe some of it is rolled. I know they pay attention to distance accuracy) Sometimes the altimeter gets off.

         

        GPS can be misused. There's also limitations to the technology, but they work better than my brain for figuring out many things and definitely remember it better.

         

        You might read some background on how to operate a gps as well as its limitations. You need to turn the device on and let it collect the satellites, and in my case, enough satellites to be sure I've got decent elevation data. When the gun goes off, then you hit the start button to start data collection. Yea, if you start collecting satellites at the start line, it won't measure the first part, and likely the first 1/4 mile or more may be off. So yea, it doesn't surprise me that your distances were off.

         

        How do you know you were at mile 26 on JFK? Were there markers that were measured (rolling tape or bike wheel) or some landmark? Race distances use tangents. Your gps measures where you go - all the edges, around people, whatever. Please read the 1000 prior threads on GPS accuracy. If you only used a clock before, why all the concern about distances and paces?

         

        I'm not sure what your #1 con is, since I've not heard of it before. If you're saying the watch discharges in a few days, and resets everything to Jan 1, I'd classify that gadget as a piece of junk. (sorry, but a real gps will get the time from the satellites. Or are you saying that your gadget doesn't keep time without the satellites? Or that you're using it as a watch with the gps turned off and when it dies it forgets where it is?)

         

        I don't run by pace and rarely look at that display, but I wouldn't count on instantaneous pace displays. Please see the 1000 threads that discuss this. Actually, I don't look at the display that often for anything except elapsed time in races. (I use landmarks rather than distance markers, if I've got that information ahead of time)

         

        In your case, it sounds like you should go back to the clock on the wall since the gps you have doesn't do what you want. I'm not sure if any gps would do that.

         

        A general comment I will make is that between gps gadgets and canned programs based on pace, it seems like fewer and fewer new runners are learning to run.

         

         

        Others of us love the gadgets for what they do. I personally think it's hard to beat Garmin products for general recreational gps receivers. I have no idea what Nike uses in their products. I volunteer a lot on trails, including making trail maps. I just did a few new trails and redid some old ones. My handheld gps works as well as wrist mounted one, and the tracks line up with the background imagery - including the foot approach to some small fishing docks. (borough has half-foot resolution aerial imagery that we're using for background = imagery to drool for) Some of the new trails have been rolled with a tape for accurate distances.

         

        In races, paces may vary by 50% as go up and down hills on dirt and asphalt. I judge effort by breathing / talk test.  I really don't want to worry about looking at paces on a little window on my wrist.

         

        (now maps on iPhone or iPad are another matter - at least around here. Google may not have made it to a school in one of the subdivisions where I was headed today.)

        "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog

          dup

          "So many people get stuck in the routine of life that their dreams waste away. This is about living the dream." - Cave Dog


          Evolving body parts

            My experience with a Garmin FR305 (previously had 205 too) :

             

            1. The battery lasts for 10 hrs, never was a problem for me, I actually wish it was Smile It usually gets recharged while I transfer the data to the computer. If I have no access to a PC while travelling, etc. it can definitely handle about a week's worth of training as far as charge and waypoint data. I use it in the smart mode, whit a little lower sampling frequency. 
            2. It does need up to 30 seconds to find the birds. Small price to pay for what it does, IMHO.
            3. I find it VERY accurate for what I use it for. In an area with good sat reception (e.g. not in a dense forest, not between highrise buildings) it's off maybe 30-40 meters on 10k races. That's less then half a percent, which is impressive, I think. 
            4. NEVER use momentary pace reading. Set it to auto lap for half a mile or a km, then you still have a pretty good idea of your current pace a 100 yards into your lap.

             

            I find it a very useful tool, especially with HR monitor. They came a long way in the last 4-5 years.

             

            Sometimes I use the virtual training partner feature, which is a lot of fun and can break the monotony of the medium to long duration trainings. 


            Fat butt on couch

              Let it connect BEFORE you are actually starting the race (unless the Nike works differently than every other GPS watch I've used).

               

              Never look at instantaneous pace; the reasons for this limitation have been covered many times.

               

              They have limitations....won't work well under heavy tree cover...but I'm not seeing how this is more negatives than positives.  I use mine when knowing pace and distance is needed (running places I don't know where every mile marker is) and if I'm in a situation where it is disadvantaged (trees, tall buildings) I just use a watch.

              "If you want to be a bad a$s, then do what a bad a$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

               

                When I started wearing a cell phone, and my old watch died, I went watchless because the phone had the time. But when I got back into running, I bought a Timex Ironman for the stopwatch feature, with the side benefit of knowing what time it is without having to dig into my pocket.

                 

                The stopwatch lap feature allows me to push the button each mile, for seeing the pace I ran that past mile, and storing it so I can review all the mile times after a run, as well as the total time. To get those mile times, I of course need a physical marker for each mile. You of course know how to do all this with your watch/stopwatches, so I'm not saying anything new.

                 

                Wife wanted a garmin so I bought her one. It is nice that she can tell me where the 5k point is on our trail, although it always gives her a different answer, even though she runs the exact same 1 foot wide trail, from the exact same starting point. One time it even tracked her running diagonal across a field, it must have been tracking a deer or something, because my wife had stayed on the trail that stuck to the perimeter. The garmin also maps the elevation changes, which is nice. It also does all the math to figure pace at any point of her run.

                 

                I'm glad she likes her gadget, but I have no interest in getting one. I do however like my Timex Ironman watch. Stopwatch and lap keeping fuction for recording splits is technology I want to keep in my running. The stove clock method just isn't accurate enough for my taste Smile Also makes hit hard to figure the pace each mile, because you have to run back inside to look at it, ha!

                  Some of the issues you describe sound device specific. I've never seen the kind of inaccuracy you describe with my Garmin 210 or even with it's predecessor the 205.

                   

                  I ran for many years without GPS and I'm not in the habit of looking at the watch much. I used to use my 205 very sporadically, basically only on long runs. When I got the 210 earlier this year, it was so small and simple (and my old timex stopwatch was on its last legs) that I started using it as my only running watch and even as my every day watch. I mostly like it for collecting data. I still don't look at it all that much when running.

                   

                  The Vermont City Marathon in May was the longest run I've ever done with GPS. It measured the course 26.47 miles. Pretty damn good for a $200 consumer watch that's communicating with satellites in space and tracking my position at running speeds on the surface of the earth. There was a firmware update this summer that I swear made it even more accurate--I ran 2 different USATF certified 5k's in the last 2 weeks and my Garmin measured both to be 3.13 miles. That's ridiculously good.

                   

                  Some of your issues sound like a simple matter of using the wrong tool for the job. Why would use a watch with a battery life of 8 hours in a race that's going to take longer than 8 hours? User error. (Why anyone would run a race that takes over 8 hours in the first place is another matter.)

                   

                  I like my GPS watch for convenience in collecting information and I don't experience any of the downsides you're describing, but I definitely could live without it.

                  Runners run.

                    This morning it was really nice.  Couldn't run on the sidewalks or follow my usual routes (where I knew the distances) because of snow on the sidewalks and too much traffic on the main roads.  So, I just wandered around on smaller neighborhood roads until I hit the miles I wanted.  Didn't have to plan and try to remember a route in advance.  Just ran.  Tried to get it to come out to 11 miles by the time I got back to the house.  It worked out to 11.1.  Good enough.  That's the beauty of running with GPS to me.  Just run and let the watch count the miles.  Oh, and everyone will say I'm biased, but it's a fact that almost all Garmin devices are better than that stupid Nike watch, for lots of reasons.

                    - Joe

                    all running goals are under review by the executive committee.

                       it's a fact that almost all Garmin devices are better than that stupid Nike watch, for lots of reasons.

                       

                      You may be biased but this is true.

                        You all seem to have had a lot of success with the gps watch which makes me want to pull mine out of the closet and try again. One quick question, not to derail the thread, but I wonder if my previous problem was with stopping/starting multiple times on a run due to stoplights. Seemed like it would have to find a signal each time which then would throw off the pace (overall run and auto lap pace). I tried both pushing stop/start at lights and also tried the feature where it would auto stop if the pace was below a certain level. Is this something that can be reconciled? Maybe it's just "user error", I don't know.  I tried to look this up but could never get it figured out. Anyway, carry on.

                           

                          You may be biased but this is true.

                           

                          Personally, I would not buy running shoes from Garmin, or a GPS from Nike.

                            You all seem to have had a lot of success with the gps watch which makes me want to pull mine out of the closet and try again. One quick question, not to derail the thread, but I wonder if my previous problem was with stopping/starting multiple times on a run due to stoplights. Seemed like it would have to find a signal each time which then would throw off the pace (overall run and auto lap pace). I tried both pushing stop/start at lights and also tried the feature where it would auto stop if the pace was below a certain level. Is this something that can be reconciled? Maybe it's just "user error", I don't know.  I tried to look this up but could never get it figured out. Anyway, carry on.

                            Unless your pauses are so long the watch is timing out (x10 models time out at about 5 minutes) it would be strange that they need to re-acquire signal each time.

                             

                            That said, I don't pause my watch at stoplights (unless the stop is going to be more than a minute), I am  getting a break and likely can run a bit faster once I resume, thereby overstating my pace.  Although Auto pause should work OK for any pause over a few seconds if you want only to measure your running time.

                            NHLA


                              GPS doesn't work here in the mountains.  I loose signal three times on the north side of the mt I live on.

                              nike+ broke   nike replaced it and the 2nd one broke.  I did learn one thing.  I knew I was slowing down uphill but was surprised how much time I was loosing on downhills.  I started working hard on downhills.

                              Altitech is what I use now.  Works great.

                                Having never used a Nike GPS watch I suspect that the Garmin watches are far, far better.  But the Garmin watches will have some of the same 'cons' you listed, they're tools that you just need to learn how to use.  Or not.  That's all.

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