Friday, June 25, 2010

Seeking Sport Watch Advice

My current sports watch has sprung a leak and no longer stays dry inside when I swim or sweat. Time for a new one! This time around, I want a watch that has a chronograph with lap/split ability at the very least. What I’d really love is a GPS watch that can also show speed/pace and distance along with time and splits. It’d be cool if it did elevation, too, but that’s not as important to me. And I have to be able to wear it in the water.

Any advice on a women’s GPS watch that is worth the price? They seem to be pretty expensive, but I’m willing to consider a more expensive watch if it does everything I want it to. It’d be great if the watch was a reasonably small size, even if I have to clip a separate GPS unit on my clothing.

I’m also curious about how accurate foot pods are. Do they simply measure foot cadence and then multiply by a set stride length? Or do they measure actual distance? I’m not sure how a foot fall counter would take differing paces into account.  (Nor would it do any good while riding a bike or swimming.)

If the GPS just doesn’t seem worth it, I’m planning to go with something like the Timex women’s Ironman Sleek 50-lap watch, which is going cheap on amazon right now.

Thanks for any advice you can offer!


  1. I'm pretty happy with the Garmin Forerunner 305. Sure, the 405 is out there too, but the 305 serves all the purposes you mention, plus has components for the bike, so you could use it as a bike computer too.

    The pros... it does lots of freakin' cool stuff. It's easy to use (easier than my Ironman Timex) and I like the computer software it comes with for uploading. Speaking of uploading, you can upload your data to Garmin Connect and Training Peaks, if you so choose.

    The cons... it doesn't do well swimming. It can be worn, but the GPS going in and out of the water makes the readings in accurate. However, I have some club friends who put it in a ziploc and wear it under a swim cam and it works perfectly! It's a little on the big side... but still wearable. I don't care for the quick release mount for the bike, that's how I lost mine, shattering when it hit the ground at Lonestar. :( Instead, I just wear it now.

    I have yet to find the perfect compliment of devices that work for all three sports, without spending an arm and a leg. The Forerunner 305 works well for me and I always seem to go back to it, no matter what else I try.

  2. Your assessments are right on so far. I have the basic timex IM watch and it has the split / lap feature. But I'm not into the swim and run as much as you are.

    I sense from following your first tri journey that you would appreciate a more sophisticated device. I have a friend who loves his Garmin Forerunner 305. Check it out. It seems to function just as well on the bike. The more people I talk to, the more heartrate monitoring seems to be an important feature.

    I am in the market now, but leaning toward bike focused devices.

  3. Nothing I can think of that doesnt cost an arm and a leg. Garmin 310 and Timex just came out with a waterproof GPS watch that counts laps to 100.

    Foot pads work, though you have to calibrate them alot, not necessary if you have gps though

  4. We've debated the merits of a GPS watch for my wife. She logs the distance, time, pace, etc. for all of the runs we do and something like that would make that effort much easier. What we've found, however, is that only the Garmin Forerunner 405 seems like a reasonable fit for her small wrists, and even that would seem like a brick to her. The 305 version is quite a bit bigger, but actually seems a little easier to use. I'm not sure how waterproof either would be in terms of swimming.

    The watches that use a foot pod are much smaller, but we're also concerned about accuracy, and it appears the battery in most of the pod units isn't replaceable so you're looking at replacing it completely when it fails (although they don't seem that expensive).

    Due to our inability to make a decision, we're still using our Iphone app (Runkeeper) to log our runs and our old watches to time the walk-breaks we take on long runs.

    In reality, doesn't seem to be a perfect GPS solution out there. That Ironman watch you're considering is also somthing we've talked about getting because it allows you to do dual run three minutes, walk one...which we're having to use two watches for right now.

    Good luck!