I have a Polar watch which comes together with a footpod and a heart rate monitor (HRM). I used it for some months for training. But after a while I stopped using it. I have come to realise that footpods are inaccurate. In fact, very inaccurate; even when worn by the same runner. For a distance of say 25km to 30km, the margin of errors may be up to a few kilometres. So in the end, I bought a cheap CASIO digital watch.
Then recently I came to know that my friend, Judy Liew, had a Garmin sports watch—the 910XT. Judy is also an avid runner, you see. But for a long time, I noticed that she had a weakness in controlling her starting pace whenever she runs marathons. She had the tendency to run too fast at the beginning, only to burn out too soon and then suffer the consequences at the tail end of the race. This is of course a common problem in many runners. I happen to know a number of runners who can run the half marathon in under 2 hours quite easily, yet when they run the full marathon, they can't do any better than 5 hours!
Well, the 910XT helped Judy during the recent Borneo International Marathon (BIM). She wore it to gauge her pace throughout the race. With it she was able to constantly check her pace. She ended up achieving a new personal best in the BIM and got second in her category.
I didn't really think very much of the Garmin 910XT, until a few weeks ago when I was running together with Judy on a Sunday morning. She wore the 910XT and was able to keep track of our pace. She was also able to tell me the distance covered. Having been through that same route many times before, I realised that the distance recorded by the 910XT was quite accurate. After all, it's relying on the GPS technology.
However, it is kinda bulky, especially when worn by women. Even on a man's hand, it is kinda bulky, but at least it's not too bad, since men's hands are generally bigger than women's. According to Judy, she's not a big fan of all these gadgets for running; she's only using it for the time being. She said in the long run, once she's learned how to control her racing pace, she won't wear anything when running marathons!
"Goodness gracious, Judy!", I exclaimed, "at least have the decency to wear a pair of panties and bras!"
Anyway, to make the long story short—even if that seems to be an impossible thing when it comes to me—I ended up buying a Garmin 910XT myself. It arrived yesterday afternoon by courier service. It came with a chest strap for a heart rate monitor, as well as a bunch of daunting user's manual in many languages. Then other accessories, e.g. the charger, pendrive and some other stuff which I haven't figured out what they are. I think I'll just put them all away in the original box, and one of these days when I have the time, maybe I'll investigate what they're all about.
This morning, I charged the battery and then tried to play around with it a bit. Learned a thing or two, but for the most part, I haven't a clue what more it can do. This evening, I tried it out at the Likas jogging track for a short run. Generally, I'm quite happy with it—it recorded the distance very accurately; and consistently. There was a mention of a "virtual partner", which I'm going to explore in the coming days—or weeks—but it seems very interesting.
According to the information on the box, the 910XT is designed for triathlons. Which means apart from running, it could also be used for swimming and cycling. Maybe by a stroke of miracle I would eventually learn how to use it for the other disciplines, but I doubt that it will be very soon. You see, I had originally planned to complete a triathlon this year, but I have developed a bit of problem with my ears which has rendered swimming out of the question for now. Then again, I've never been any good in swimming as reported here. So it seems like I will save 910XT's feature for swimming for later. But of course I can still explore its use for cycling since that has nothing to do with water getting into my ears.
Incidentally, I will be running the Standard Chartered KL Marathon next Sunday. So I'm gonna run with a new bulky toy on my hand for a change. Of course I won't be able to run as fast as Judy, so I guess I will miss the opportunity to see her running without wearing anything.
Another week to go, bring it on!