Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Import google maps course to Forerunner

Ok, this is the coolest thing I ever learned to do with my Garmin Forerunner 305. Interval training? Yawn. Virtual Partner? Whatever. Back to start? Now, we're talking. But the best thing I've discovered how to do is to import maps from a mapping program like Google Maps (or Pedometer) right onto the 305 itself. While running you can view the bread crumb map of that course and ensure you're staying with it. It will even beep at you when you go off course. Of course typically we don't need this feature, but when running in a new locale, or when trying to keep on track with a difficult 20 miler this is invaluable.

Ok First things First, make a course on Google Pedometer

Second. Drag this link to your toolbar GMAP TO GPX

Third. Click on the GMapToGPX bookmark in your toolbar.

Fourth. A GPX file should be displayed over the map. Copy and paste it into a file on your hard drive. (Save it as a plain text file, using Notepad, TextEdit, emacs, or whatever your favorite text editor is. If possible, save it with the extension “.gpx”, but “.txt” ought to work, too.)

Finally head over to GPSies , upload your gpx file and choose convert to Garmin Course TCX. Then take this new TCX file and import it via Garmin's Training Center software.

Ok, it's a lot for the first time, but it gets easier after that. And it sure beats wasting time stopping to figure out "where now" while on the long run.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 305 $149 at Costco.com

Wow, I've been running with the 305 for the last 3 years, and the prices are dropping faster than my run times. I must have paid $350 for mine originally. Regardless, this watch is the ultimate running companion. The GPS locks onto the satellites quickly and always performs reliably even when running under heavy tree cover which used to give my old generation 301 fits. I'm also happy to say that the Heart Rate Monitor is much improved and doesn't require a ton of water or electro-gel to get a decent signal.

Compared to foot pod speed distance watches like those from Polar, I much prefer the GPS. While the HRM strap of the Polars are the best in the business, the foot pods were never accurate in my experience. You need to calibrate and recalibrate them often to get a good result. Some people prefer the pods since they can track your mileage on a treadmill, but that seems overkill since the treadmill will give you the same information. At best it's useful in the winter if you ever get stuck running around an indoor track and need a better way to guesstimate your mileage.

The Nike + foot pods are a joke by comparison, but for just $40 it's an ok deal if you run with an ipod anyways.

The Killer App of the Garmin though is the mapping functions. One, you can always download your routes to the computer after a run, and see exactly where you ran overlayed on google maps (best done with Sportstracks free software). That's great and makes for a nice souvenir of marathons or special runs in a new city. But, what's really cool is that when you're running somewhere new, you can just scroll to navigation, click "Back to Start" and it will show you a breadcrumb map of your route for you to follow back to your starting point. It's saved me from getting lost (or the anxiety of worrying about it) more times than I can count.