Garmin 305, after a couple of months

Jan 10 2010

So it’s been almost two months since I got my Garmin 305 GPS watch. Now that I’ve had the chance to use it more extensively, I figured I’d say a few more words about it. When I first got it, I had this to say: “This is such a great device. Better than I even expected.”

After 2 months actually using it though, I can say that this thing continues to impress me with what it can do.

When I first got it, I was pretty much just strapping it on, set my target heart rate, hit start when I started running and stop when I was done. I had customized one of the displays to show the data that I wanted. And that was about it. Even at that, it was very cool. After a couple of weeks though, I started doing a bit more with it. You can program workouts into it – pretty much any type of simple or complex workout.

Simple workouts are just that. You say you want to go a certain distance within a certain time, or you say you want to go a certain distance OR time at a certain pace. e.g. you want to go 3 miles in 30 minutes, or 3 miles at a 10:00 pace, or 30 minutes at a 10:00 pace. It’s really all the same thing, but you can specify it in one of those three ways.

Then there are interval workouts. These let you specify a specific distance or a specific time to run, along with a specific time or distance to rest, and how many times you want to repeat the cycle. e.g. 5x 1 mile with 2 minute rest between, or 4x 5 minutes with 1 minute rest between. You can also specify a warmup and cooldown phase for these.

Then there are the advanced workouts, which are what I have used exclusively. With these, you can do pretty much anything you can imagine. Although you can program your workouts on the watch itself, it’s a bit of a pain. Far easier to do it with the Garmin Training Center App that comes with the watch (and updated on line) and then sync the workouts to the watch via the USB cable.

For instance, here’s the tempo run I did this past Wednesday, as seen in Garmin Training Center:

The first step is a one mile warmup run at around 65% max heart rate. Here’s what the details of that look like:

You can optionally name each step. For step one, I did not. After that, you specify a “go until” parameter, which can be time, distance, calories, heart rate, or until you press the lap button.

Then of course, you would enter the numeric value, as appropriate for the choice you made – miles, time, heart rate, or calories.

Then you set a goal for that phase of the workout. This can be cadence (if you have a foot pod or bicycle cadence monitor), heart rate zone, speed zone, or no goal.

Again, you would enter the numeric value or range as appropriate. When entering zones for heart rate or speed, you can choose among preset zones (editable in your profile), or custom zones. I like to go with custom heart rate zones because that will display the actual numbers of my heart rate in the workout display. i.e. 144 bpm. If you go with preset zones, it will display the zone number as a fraction: 2.1, 2.9, 3.4, etc. which is not so intuitive to me.

Here’s the first step of the interval phase:

You see this one I gave a name and is based on time, rather than distance. And here’s the rest phase of the interval. Note it is marked as a rest step, and has no goal:

Here’s a more complex workout from a program I was doing:

Note that there are two intervals, and I used zones here rather than custom heart rates.

One cool thing about these workouts is that when doing them, the watch goes into a special workout display mode which shows you only two fields: the “go until” field and the goal field. For example, if I say go one mile in such and such a heart rate zone, it will display the distance left to complete one mile, and my current heart rate. No pace, no time, no anything else. If I say to go for so many minutes and such and such a speed zone, it would display the time left and my current pace. This forces you to concentrate completely on your target and goal and ignore anything else that might distract you from staying in the zone. Of course, you can always switch displays to one of three other highly customizable screens, so you aren’t locked into that mode if you don’t like it. I find it very helpful though.

As you approach the end of a workout step – the last 5 seconds of a time-based step or last so many feet of a distance based step – the watch gives a distinctive repeating beep to let you know you are about to move to another step. It will then display what you are supposed to do next. However, this text is not super-readable when you are running and doesn’t stay up there very long (you might be able to change the time it stays up), so it’s really best to know your workout and be very familiar with what’s coming up next on each phase.

Finally, the Training Center gives you a calendar to schedule these neat workouts you’ve created. Here’s my current schedule for January:

Now, once you’ve got all that set up, you plug in your Garmin click on the workouts tab and say “send to device”. This sends not only the workouts, but the entire schedule to the device. So I’ll wake up tomorrow morning, strap on my 305, go outside and choose “Today’s workout” and it knows automatically that I’m up for a 3 mile run at 70% heart rate. How cool is that? The less I have to think at 6:00 a.m., in the dark, in 19ºF, with strong winds, the better. 🙂

Well, this post turned out longer than I expected. So I’ll end here and maybe show some other cool features in another post.

One last thought. Of course you don’t need all this gadgetry to run. Personally, I’m a gadget geek, so programming workouts, and customizing displays, and data gathering, all just helps to motivate me to get out and run. I’ve actually seen it as a goal to “run naked” once a week, meaning just go out and run with no watch, gps, heart rate monitor, mp3 player, etc. Seems like a good goal once in while, but not sure I can bring myself to do that!

One response so far

  • Jay Cohen says:

    This was a great post and I enjoyed reading your blog. I’m moving to Advanced Workout via my Garmin and running Coach.
    Do you mind if I drop you a note to ask for programming help??


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