The Running Watch Problem


When I first decided to run a marathon in 2013, I just used a timex watch that simply had a timer and I’d map a run online at home and then follow it and be done. That all changed when I received a Garmin Forerunner 10 for my birthday. All of a sudden, I didn’t have to map my run before I left and the watch told me all sorts of extremely helpful information, like pace and distance!

I loved my Forerunner 10, it did everything I needed it to do! The only problem with it was that sometimes it took a long time to pick up the satellites, not just an inconvenient long time but a frustrating long time. Sometime I would be 4km into a 6km run before it ever found the satellites!

Fast-forward a couple years and the Forerunner 10 was still going strong but I wanted to start running by heart rate instead of by pace. The Forerunner 10 model I had didn’t support a heart rate monitor (HRM). Around the time, I decided that I would try an ultramarathon too so I decided it was time to upgrade the watch.

After hours of research, I settled on the Garmin Forerunner 310XT (pictured middle above), it is a HUGE watch but it has a long battery life (up to 20 hours). When I started the research, I didn’t realize that getting a watch that did both GPS and HRM would be so expensive so the 310XT seemed like a good compromise. It was a little older but it did was I wanted it to do and was around the $200 mark. After a lot of searching online for the best price, I decided to pay a little more and get it from a local sporting good store (MEC) because they stand behind their products if anything goes wrong.

This turned out to be the best part of that decision (you’ll see why soon)! At first, I was extremely happy with the 310XT and then things started to go wrong. It wouldn’t transmit any data (through the ANT stick) to the Garmin website and there’s no other way to transmit data that I found. It would get stuck on it’s start screen all the time. It thought every run that I had done for the last 4 months happened “yesterday”. It stopped picking up the HRM for a while. I would get back from a run and save it, go back to look later and it would have disappeared. So, really not working.

The final straw was when the HRM stopped working because I run solely by HR on most my runs. I decided to see about returning the watch and upgrading to a more reliable watch. Thankfully, with MEC’s rocksolid guarantee they will let you return any merchandise that you’re not completely satisfied with. I took the watch back but now I was back to the drawing board on which new watch to buy.

After way too much time looking at reviews (DC Rainmaker is a super helpful site), I decided on the Forerunner 220. It’s basically an upgrade of my Forerunner 10 with a HRM and the ability to pick up satellites quickly. Exactly what I wanted from the beginning, it just took a long time to get there!

Six months from when the original new watch search started, I am very happy with the 220 so far! My only concern was the relatively short battery life compared to a lot of the triathlon type watches but I think if I’m running more than 8-10 hours, I’ll bring back out my handy timex that is still going strong and use that after the first few hours!

Has anyone else had similar watch problems? Or even better, watches that you love?


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