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Garmin Athletic Gps Units

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I've just recently gained an interest in distance running. I'm not running too far yet, but I'm hoping to work up to a half marathon in the next 6-18 months and a full marathon within the next 5 years. GPS has been incredibly helpful in training for cycling and hiking, and I believe it can help me with my new interest.


The problem of course being that with running, I may not be able to have my big clunky GPS on a belt clip, and that of course presents a few problems.


I've been looking at Garmin's different offerings in the Athletic GPS field, and I'm really interested in getting one. Unfortunately, this would be something I'd be paying for out of pocket, and since I've already got a perfectly workable GPS, I'd like to avoid spending too much money.


I'm currently looking at the Foretrex 101 and 201, and the Forerunner 101 and 201.


Anyone have any experience with any of these devices? Is it worth the money, or am I better off saving my money and just getting a pedometer and a nice stopwatch.


Any information or first-hand use stories you can give would be greatly appreciated...

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My wife and I marathon and love the Forerunner 101. We picked the 101 over the 201 because the 101 uses AAA batteries so we can replace then during the runs if we need to. The 201 has a built in rechargable battery.

It is much more accurate than a pedometer, for me at least.


You can use it for limited geocaching. By that i mean you have to enter the locations manually. If we're going on a trail run in a new location, we will key in the caches new the trail. It seems to have the same processor/memory as the Geko 101. Feel free to email me if you have specific questions.

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For non-casual geocaching use, I'd avoid the 10x units becuase of their absence of computer connectivity. The 201's will let you upload waypoints, download tracks, and so on.


If you think you'd be happy with a stopwatch, these units probably are not for you. They offer things like a virtual running partner ("I want to do this course 2% faster than the last time I did it. Sound an alarm if I fall below that goal.") and workout profiles (you burn calories at different rates biking vs. running) that really does make them more than an expensive stopwatch.


Do take a look at the x05 products, though. They're smaller, with better receivers (the folks on the garminf list complain about the reception of the 20x families a LOT) , and offer USB connectivity. Of course, that also about doubles the money involved...

Edited by robertlipe
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My wife trains with a Forerunner 201 and she loves the freedom it allows her. She has to run some big miles preparing for a marathon, and with the gps on her wrist she doesn't always have to preplan every run. Just take off and run til you're done.


That said, it has terrible reception in the trees. Both she and I have used it in tree cover (redwoods). She runs and I mtn bike and both of us have been frustrated at it's poor ability to maintain lock under tree cover. But it is a small unit, and if you aren't running often in heavy cover, it'll probably be fine.


I haven't used it for geocaching and so can't address that.

Edited by synergicity
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I use a forerunner 301 when I run. The major difference that I know of between that and the 201 is the heart rate monitor.

I really enjoy going out with my unit, it is one thing to feel you did your usual loop faster than usual but another thing to have the actual data. I run a lot more now that I have this unit which is great!

A few things that I have noticed about the unit. It takes about 2-4minutes to acquire a lock which can seem a long time- but you can get around this by turning it on before you leave your house if you have a window nearby or just keeping it on some level surface while you warm up.

The reception can be somewhat poor in built up places (NYC) - but for the most part you will still get useable data from it.

The heart rate monitor can be a it of a pain in that it has some massive spikes from time to time- (spikes to 250bpm or more) but this seems to be related to poor contact and you can get around this by using ultrasonic gel or just plain water and making sure you clean the electrodes regularly.

The really cool thing about the units is that the training center software that it comes with, which is handy for planning your training and keeping a log. Better still check out www.motionbased.com which is a website that integrates seamlessly with the data from the unit. The basic plan is free, from here you can send your data to Google earth and even maintain a log.

From my point of view I would definitely buy this unit all over again, more so given the fact that it is so much cheaper than it used to be. I also think that the HRM is worth the additional cost at least for me. Hope this helps.

Oh I should say that I do not have a pedometer so cannot really say anything good or bad about it.

Edited by last1in
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Honestly, I think the Forerunner 205 and 305 are really cool, and I'd love to have one, but already having a GPS and a heartrate monitor, I can't really justify spending $250-$350 for this. That's an extra bit of money that could be put towards a pair of running shoes or two.


I definately wouldn't be using this for geocaching, or probably even hiking and trailrunning, so the GPS doesn't need to be perfect, but I do live in a somewhat rural area, so the reception has to be decent.


What is the primary different between the Forerunner 201 and Foretrex 201. From what I understand Forerunner is newer, but Foretrex has WAAS?


Currently, my setup involves using the stopwatch feature on my watch to time, and then using G-Maps Pedometer to map about my course afterward, and then do math in my head to figure out pace and enter all that stuff in to my training log.


I'd sort of like to streamline that process as much as possible. And I'd still like to read a few more opinions before making a decision.

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I use the Forerunner 201 and enjoy analyzing the data it receives to improve my performance. The virtual partner is a great tool to push yourself harder the next run. Its computer connectivity is nice for loading history and looking at graphs using the Training Center software and for use at websites like MotionBased. Like others have mentioned, it does loose its signal quite easily in heavy foilage, so it you can spare the extra $$$, you might want to look at the 205/305 for improved reception.


One thing is for sure and that's you can't go wrong with a Garmin. Great product and customer support! They still update the firmware for this unit.

Edited by ryguyMN
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I have a Garmin 305 with heart monitor that I use for Nordic walking and it is a real sweetheart. It has the new SIRFstarIII processor and seems to pick up almost anywhere. The supplied software, Garmin Training Center, works flawlessly, opens automatically when the USB connection is plugged in, charges it's internal lithium ion battery by both a supplied AC adapter as well as the USB connection itself.

If you don't need the heart monitor function, you can save a few bucks by getting the 205 instead. That's their only difference.

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I've been using a Forerunner 201 for quite some time now and find it works pretty good for the purpose you're looking to use it for. I also bought one for my Daughter and her husband at the same time being as how they were on sale, and they have been quite pleased with them for the trail running that those two youngsters are into. Reception wise, they're pretty similar to the B/W etrex units, maybe slightly more sensitive so you can expect glitches in reception in the trees etc. The elevation profiles tend to get messed up because of the reception issues, and they aren't necessarily the greatest at giving you your pace on the fly either because it bounces around a couple minutes per mile while you're running. The average pace and distance functions seem to be fairly accurate though, and they do a pretty decent job of recording your track. Overall it makes it quite a bit easier to log your outdoor exercise. If you do a little post processing to clean up the elevation profile and stuff (Topofusion works pretty good for this I've found) you can get a pretty accurate recording of your run, trail hike or mountain biking adventure.


As for the newer units, I just got a couple 305's for the wife and myself this weekend, and I'm still trying to figure out if I like it any better or not. Cool factor and feature wise they're remarkable units. Reception/accuracy wise though I'm not sure yet if it's any better. Seems to have some of the quirks I always hated in my Sirf chip powered CF/Pda units.


Good luck with your training

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newbie question here...but is it possible to use the Garmin 305 for Geocaching? I plan on maybe geocaching 3 or 4 times a month.


I've used my 201 to find a couple caches and found it worked reasonably well. It doesn't have a compass page though and the pointer and map page it has are pretty crude which makes it a little harder to use than the stand alone units. That said, it's still quite useable provided you have good sat reception. I haven't tried caching with the 305 yet, but would think it will work even better as it has a navigation pointer very similar to the etrex units. About the only downside I see from what little I've played with the unit is that it only holds 100 waypoints. I haven't managed to do any caching in several months due to time constraints, but plan to head out next weekend. I'll give it a shot with the 305 and post how it worked.

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