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Garmin Forerunner 305

Garmin Forerunner 305 Review

Manufacturer's Page

I'm a swimmer. I've always been a swimmer. As a swimmer, I've never needed electronics or worried about distances. It was always me and the black stripe, the wall, and the clock. Over and over.

Don't get me wrong, I really like swimming. But to finish my first triathlon, I was going to have to run. They told me that this was the only way I was going to be allowed to finish the race.

I had three months. Three months for this swimmer's legs to go from zero gravity to what I thought was the monotonous pounding that runners subject themselves to each day.



I suceeded. I finished the race and met my goal of not walking. As I was finishing the race, I realized how much I loved the whole experience and started to think about how I learned to run and how that had to change for my next race.

I was quite preoccupied with the enormity of the distance I would have to run. Five kilometers! Each day I mapped my run using various web-based tools so that I knew how it felt to run first 1k, then 2k, and so on. I calculated my times but I often got my times wrong, and tracing that little pen on some horrible web interface to calculate distance was occupying too much time.

I started to look for a better way.

As a scuba diver, Suunto instruments always appealed to me because of how rock solid they perform but my GPS experience was with Garmin's eTrex series of handheld devices.

My requirements:

  1. Decent software. I was going to properly log these daily accomplishments.
  2. Heart rate monitor. I was convinced that monitoring heart rate was the right thing to do.
  3. GPS. This device was going to remember where I went so I wouldn't have to.
  4. Alerts. This device was going to poke me to go faster when I wanted that.


Based on these criteria, I selected the Garmin Forerunner 305.

I've been using my 305 since June 2009. It's now February 2010 and I have at least one backup sitting in a box in my basement because this is a device that I like to have around when I run.

Here are the things that I like about the Garmin Forerunner 305:

  1. The data screens are highly configurable. You have three screens per activity and each screen can have up to four fields. When you choose two fields, each fills half of the screen. Because of this I was able to have one screen with speed, heart rate, and distance (my favorite fields). Other screens are easily accessable with a single keypress so it was there that I put grade (I'm so tired! Just how steep is this hill anyway?), average speed (HURRY HARD!), heartrate, and distance covered.
  2. It's compatible with a variety of add-ons. To date, I've bought the Bicycle Cadence Sensor and the quick release kit. I'm in love with the quick release kit because once I don't want an additional bike computer, and the switch from bike to wrist really makes my bricks easier. I don't really like using a wrist computer while in aero position on the bike because the few moments it takes for my eyes to lock onto the proper number can be quite long at high speed, especially when I need to twist my wrist on the bars. It's easier when the gadget is in a steady position.
  3. It talks to Garmin Training Center. Although I don't really like Training Center, it can export XML! This is excellent. My run data is free!

Here are the things that I don't prefer about the Garmin Forerunner 305:

  1. The cradle. I'd really rather jack right into it.
  2. Garmin Training Center could use some work. It crashes a lot.
  3. The GPS is sometimes slow to aquire. I like to wait until it's aquired enough satellites to run which sometimes  means a bit of a wait in front of the house or my office.
  4. It's quite large and chunky. As a scuba diver, I learned that tiny wrist-computers suck because they are hard to read. This partially applies here but I think the more rounded edges of the 310 are better.

Overall, this device provides excellent value. I wouldn't go without mine.

 

Chad

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