GPS Watches: Friend or Foe?

I recently invested in a GPS watch because I was starting to become frustrated with the inaccuracy of the GPS on my iPhone apps. No matter how many apps I tried, they all had a tendency to show me running into the sea, smashing through beach huts or, on one occasion, running at super human pace.

So far, I have to admit that I am pretty happy with my new Garmin 110. The GPS seems accurate enough and the feedback it provides is helpful both during and after each workout. However, there is another side to this whole GPS watch thing which I hadn’t really thought about before, and this video certainly provides some food for thought:

So, what do you think? How useful are GPS watches to runners? How do you feel when they go wrong? And (I have to admit that I find this next question more than just a wee bit a bit scary) if you run with one, how would you feel about doing your next run without it?

Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments.


7 thoughts on “GPS Watches: Friend or Foe?”

  1. Soooooo tempting to take a dig at i-Phones, being an Android guy. =) I’m one though that always has to make sure my phone is fully charged before I go for a run for that reason. I’ve found it to be surprisingly accurate at least in the overall picture, and anymore that’s what I use it for the most is basic tracking. I used to have every single notification on so that every other minute or so it would tell me how far I’ve run, how fast I’ve run, and what my heart rate is. I got to a point where I started measuring out my route in advance and would just keep the dumb thing in my pocket without notifications and something amazing happened. I found myself enjoying my runs more. I could decompress more, or enjoy the sounds around me or the environment more. I like what he says about being better in tune with how you feel, I am becoming a believer that that’s a better gauge for us than all the data.

  2. I’m pro GPS. Full disclosure: I’m also a data/numbers guy. When I first started running around the block, no technology, I would start out too fast and burn out too soon. I’d get frustrated and discouraged. Then I ran with my phone/app, but it was tucked away and wouldn’t give me feedback along the way–I’d only see how I did after the fact. Then I got a Garmin watch, and I haven’t run without it since. I find it a whole lot more accurate than my phone GPS was. Every once in a while, when I’m not training for something specific, I’ll go on a “no watch run.” OK, I have my watch because I want to record the data, but I don’t look at it during the run, honest! It’s really quite refreshing.

    1. The Garmin is definitely useful for training and I prefer it to to the apps I used to use. I also find the stats useful for training – ironically, it has helped me to understand what pace feels, but as you say, try not to look at it (too much) during the run. Perhaps I should try a “no watch run” sometime too… 🙂

  3. I received a Garmin Forerunner 310XT for Christmas and so far I LOVE it. Despite its gargantuan size, I absolutely love all the data that it provides after a run (love the charts and graphs). During my runs it really helps with interval timing and distances. I did not like the auto scroll feature – distracting. I’m still learning how to use all the bells and whistles, but so far I give Garmin 2 thumps-up!!

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