This topic contains 22 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by Anonymous 13 years, 3 months ago.
- April 16, 2006 at 1:45 pm #5100
Or any GPS before?
I’m thinking about gettting one because I really don’t have any other way of tracking how far I’ve ran. So I’d really like some personal accounts for either this particular model or GPS systems in general. Thanx in advance 🙂
- April 16, 2006 at 4:40 pm #20383
A lot of people have and like their GPS systems and love them, some even insist they are 100% accurate. The only thing I suggest when looking into these is to do your homework on talks accuracy. Some people believe their GPS systems are so accurate that they insist that certified race courses are inaccurate when their GPS systems say the course distance is different than what it is certified as, sometimes to the tune of 10% or more. I would think anyone who knows how the certification process works would understand that this could not be the case.
Even Garmin representatives themselves say that they don’t recommend measuring courses using their GPS systems. The systems are good for what they can do but the technology is limited. One important thing to keep in mind. If you are in the downtown area of a large city or are in a heavily wooded area, your accuracy may be very limited as the GPS signal can not go through buildings or heavy overhead vegetation. In suburban type settings, the systems can be (but are not always) extremely accurate.
I would suggest trying to find someone in your area who has a GPS system. They might be able to give you an idea of accuracy in your area. They may possibly even let you borrow it for a run or two and you could see first hand how they work and whether they would be beneficial to you. If you do get one, make sure you check for firmware updates regularly. A coworker of mine had a GPS system that reported he ran 3.5 miles out and 4.5 miles back on an out and back route one day. He later found out that he ran straight up a half mile and straight back down a half mile in about 10 seconds. A firmware update fixed this bug but this obviously shook his confidence in the technology a bit.
- April 16, 2006 at 5:40 pm #20384Anonymous wrote:I’m thinking about gettting one because I really don’t have any other way of tracking how far I’ve ran. (sic) You do, though you might not realize it.
- April 16, 2006 at 8:55 pm #20385
For someone who consistently poo-poos the technology yet hasn’t tried it, Ryan is essentially correct.
I have a 301 Forerunner and appreciate it greatly. It tells me my pace during and after a run, keeps downloadable records of my running, doubles as a handlebar-mountable bike odometer and comes with a heart monitor.
I generally trust the mileage it measures but would never — and can’t imagine anyone else who has used one at all — claim that it is “100 percent accurate.”
Still, to quibble with Ryan on another point, GPS units worn by runners have successfully called into question race distances. Namely, last year’s one-mile-too-long Lakeshore Marathon in Chicago.
You might look at the newer 305. Like the 301, it comes with a heart monitor but appears to have a more wrist-friendly watch face.
- April 16, 2006 at 9:01 pm #20386
I have the timex bodylink GPS and its great. Definitely not 100% accurate, but who cares, its pretty damn close. Its great because you dont have to be stuck doing the same loops all the time. Mine definitely has trouble in the woods, but aside from that, ive had very little trouble with it.
- April 17, 2006 at 12:49 am #20387jtpaten wrote:For someone who consistently poo-poos the technology yet hasn’t tried it, Ryan is essentially correct.
Correction: I correct false claims about a technology that I have in fact tried and found to not be as reliable as I constantly see people claiming. Every time one of these topics comes up and I comment on it, I can count on getting a handful of e-mails from people telling me that they know their GPS systems are “in fact 100% (or at least 99%) accurate” (a quote from one of two e-mails I already got today) or something along that line. I tried the GPS system that someone I know has a few times. I ran the same route and it reported a different distance every time with a total variation between high and low of just over 7% of total distance, more than would be possible due to things like crossing the road at a different place or taking a wide berth around a dog. That kind of blows those 100% accuracy claims out of the water.
When Garmin representatives themselves suggest that you use other methods to accurately measure your routes, I don’t think it’s “poo-pooing” the technology to suggest that there may be better ways to measure routes.
- April 17, 2006 at 2:03 pm #20388
I own a Garmin Forerunner, but an earlier model….maybe like 201??? I ran a 15 mile run Saturday with 12 of that at MP.
Here is testament that they are not always accurate:
I ran my first mile of the 12 at 6:00 even and stayed right about there for the next few. I had a nice long downhill about 4 miles and that posted a 5:40 mile on the GPS. I figured that could be right as a result of the hill. My next several miles were consistently around 5:50 so the GPS did a great job. At 10 miles the GPS lost it. It posted a 4:55 split for my 11th mile (this is running in a huge valley in the La Crosse, WI area). Trust me there is no way I could have run a 4:55 if I had to at that point. Then it got back on for the last mile and split a 5:55.
So yes, I know the limits of the GPS. If you run in big valleys or dense forest or near big buildings the GPS will be in and out and will not be accurate. I know this and trust it most of the time, but know it is not 100% accurate. Some runs of even 20 miles it is very very close. Even within a few feet after 20 miles, but others like my Saturday run it will be off several hundred feet in only a mile.
It’s a great tool and one I would have had a hard time without on my MP run Saturday. I’d recommend it especially when you are away from your home running turf.
- April 18, 2006 at 2:48 pm #20389
Ryan, I’ll have to trust you when you say you hear unrealistic claims of GPS running systems being 100 percent accurate. But I can’t say the same. I certainly had no such expectations before I bought mine. The fact that the Garmin people themselves don’t lie about it should but that false assertion to rest.
I hate to harp on this, but you’ve said several times “there arebetter ways to measure distance.” A car odometer isn’t useful if you can’t drive where you run, i.e. on trails, across parks, ect.
If your alternative is to repeat some vague statement about measuring “by effort,” I’ll have to throw up my hands. I can’t know what that means. Your effort is not the same as mine. My effort alone changes from day to day, depending on how I’m feeling. Maybe you need to explain it better, but I can’t imagine you’d suggest a race organizer setting mile markers based on his individual “effort” — or hunch — as to where they should go. To me your alternative doesn’t sound like any means of measuring distance that more than one person could rely on.
Besides, by fixating on the relative inaccuracy of GPS technology, you fail to acknowledge much of what the Forerunners have to offer that appeal to me and other users: downloadable records of runs, including maps and elevation charts, self-adjusting heart rate zones, programmable tempo runs, a “buddy system” whereby you pre-set a pace to beat, an ability to segregate your running from your biking ans xc ski training, ect.
Yes, all of these tools are subject to the same fallability of the Forerunners’ measurement capabilities and the position of intergalactic satellites, trees, bluffs and skyscrapers. Still, it’s a tool in my 2+ years of experience ably approximates the quality of a lot of different workouts without requiring me to run in circles on a track while someone else holds a stopwatch and a clipboard.
No, the technology isn’t perfect. But I had a 201 before I got a 301 and the newer model was a significant improvement. I can’t speak for the 205 or 305, but based on the manufacturer’s willingness to provide free firmware updates for the older models, I’m willing to bet the new Forerunners are the best they can be.
You say you’ve tried a GPS unit, but was it one of these?
- April 18, 2006 at 3:24 pm #20390jtpaten wrote:Ryan, I’ll have to trust you when you say you hear unrealistic claims of GPS running systems being 100 percent accurate. But I can’t say the same. I certainly had no such expectations before I bought mine.
I could share some of the e-mails but, unless circumstances demand, I tend to prefer to protect the privacy of e-mailers. However, the quote I offered above was copy/pasted directly from an e-mail I received.jtpaten wrote:The fact that the Garmin people themselves don’t lie about it should but that false assertion to rest.
One would think so. One would think the fact that the Garmin people themselves say you shouldn’t use their devices to measure routes and expect accuracy would put that question to rest also. However, it sounds like that’s just what the original poster was asking about.jtpaten wrote:I hate to harp on this, but you’ve said several times “there arebetter ways to measure distance.” A car odometer isn’t useful if you can’t drive where you run, i.e. on trails, across parks, ect.
A car odometer is one of the worst ways to measure a route. Most runners have bikes or access to a bike. Most bikes have odometers. Get the odometer calibrated at least reasonably accurately and you have one of the most accurate measuring devices you can get. One that can go almost anywhere a runner can go if it’s not a street bike.jtpaten wrote:Besides, by fixating on the relative inaccuracy of GPS technology, you fail to acknowledge much of what the Forerunners have to offer that appeal to me and other users: downloadable records of runs, including maps and elevation charts, self-adjusting heart rate zones, programmable tempo runs, a “buddy system” whereby you pre-set a pace to beat, an ability to segregate your running from your biking ans xc ski training, ect.
Sorry, I didn’t directly address the positives of the technology. Instead, I directly addressed the question asked. As a reminder:
I’m thinking about gettting one because I really don’t have any other way of tracking how far I’ve ran.
The original poster expressed an interest in buying a GPS system to use for the measuring of the distance of runs. Given that interest, it only seems fair to offer a warning about the inaccuracy factor, doesn’t it? If the expressed interest was in recording runs or the “buddy system”, my response would have been different, probably a non-response.jtpaten wrote:You say you’ve tried a GPS unit, but was it one of these?
It was a 30?. I happened to be running on a trail from work where there is some tree cover but I didn’t think it was all that heavy in most places.
- April 18, 2006 at 4:08 pm #20391
Ryan, you said above and have said previously “there may be better ways to measure routes.”
Since some of my best running routes are on pedestrian-only trails (in town and on the Ice Age Trail), I can’t ride them on my mountain bike let alone measure them with a standard bike odometer. How would you suggest I measure those routes?
And would you please clarify your earlier statements about measuring distance by effort and how accurate or inaccurate that method may be? This would be the perfect time to do so, it seems to me.
- April 18, 2006 at 5:20 pm #20392jtpaten wrote:And would you please clarify your earlier statements about measuring distance by effort and how accurate or inaccurate that method may be? This would be the perfect time to do so, it seems to me.
Simple. How many of us, especially after years of running experience, do not know approximately how fast we are running? For example, I just got back from a 6 miler. I never ran 6 miles before from this starting point, so I started running paying attention to how I was running. Based on how I felt today and how hard I felt like I was running, I figured I was running out at a little under 7:00 pace, probably low 6:50s. So, at 21 minutes, I turned around. It goes in my log as 6 miles and I’d be willing to bet it was between 6.0 and 6.2 miles. After 2-3 more runs over this same route, I’ll be able to tell you whether it was closer to 6.0 or 6.2 miles but, if we’re looking for 5-10% accuracy, I’m already well within that tolerance by calling it 6.1 miles.
- April 18, 2006 at 5:52 pm #20393
I admire your confidence and abilities, Ryan, I really do. But I have much less of both even though I, too, have been running for years.
I can’t guesstimate my pace as accurately as you because lately I’ve been running, to my surprise, faster than in years past when I was less serious about running. But even now I can run the same amount of time along the same route and rarely cover the same distance. Maybe it’s because I really suck compared to you. Or it could be that no two runs by the same runner are ever the same.
(There’s an argument here against thinking one can run a particular race, even when the distance and route is unchanged, “better” from year to year when the individual and the competition can not possible be in the same shape nor can the external conditions be exactly recreated.)
Consistency is much sought but rare for the average runner. One’s pace can increase or drop off for more reasons than they can stay the same. Injury, weather, job stress, previous days’ training can all have their affects, positive and negative. And I haven’t even asked how you can expect to have run a certain distance if you haven’t maintained a certain pace because you’ve slacked off, thrown in a surge or several. How could the average runner possibly know that they’ve run between 6 and 6.2 miles under the most typical of circumstances?
This is my way of saying I can’t buy your argument for measuring distance by effort. That’s a much less reliable method than turning on my Garmin.
- April 18, 2006 at 6:38 pm #20394
You seem to be assuming that one can not account for gains (or losses) in fitness, having a good or bad day, weather, or any of the other multitude of factors when judging pace. This is a fallacy.
I estimated today’s pace as in the low 6:50s on the way out (I would have estimated mid to high 6:40s on the way back and my time would suggest that was about right). Saturday, I ran on a much different route in much different conditions, feeling much better, and with a laundry list of other factors that were much different. I also accelerated quite a bit from the beginning of the run to the end of the run. I estimated my overall average pace to be around 6:20/mile. I ran a well known 5.1 miles in just under 32:30 for nearly dead on 6:20 pace. The runs Saturday and today were as different as night and day but I was able to recognize the factors that affected my pace and still know what pace I was running within a very narrow tolerance, even though the paces of these 2 runs were about 30 seconds per mile apart.
You don’t have to run the same pace every day to be able to consistently estimate your pace with accuracy. You just have to know how your pace is being affected by all the factors that come into play. If you have learned to listen to your body, which yields numerous benefits for runners in training and in racing, knowing that type of thing becomes second nature.
- April 19, 2006 at 2:41 am #20395
The Forerunner 301 is a good unit that is reasonably accurate.
If you want it, I would get it. It will help most people track ther efforts.
- April 19, 2006 at 6:27 pm #20396
This thread reminds me of a long run last winter where I did 25k with a Garmin equipped guy. At the end he insisted on doing a loop around the parking lot because “We’re still 200m short!”
I spend too much time already serving various pieces of technology. I don’t need another gadget strapped on while trying to enjoy the outdoors.
If I want to estimate my distance gmaps pedometer is close enough.
- May 1, 2006 at 2:20 am #20397
So don't buy one…and shut up
- May 1, 2006 at 1:27 pm #20398
Those who can't handle honest critiques and resort to anonymous attacks tend to be those who can't adequately defend themselves in an honest debate of ideas and principles, either because they don't have the facts to back up their opinions or because they are not skilled enough in debating.
The fact that you feel the need to attack rather than debate valid points and allow someone to warn a person who is looking to spend quite a bit of money on a device with an intended use that representatives of the manufacturer themselves say it shouldn't be used for says a lot. Unfortunately, what it does say isn't good.
You rank right there with the 4 people who have e-mailed me since this thread started insisting that their GPS systems are 100% accurate all the time and that they rely on them to measure all of their routes.
- May 3, 2006 at 3:32 am #20399
Who know about some other gps units, like the hiking styles(bulkier)ones. Im looking for one to trail run with it wouldbe in a hydration pack.elevation & distance with mapping technology. example I do a 10miler in dense wood 2700ft elevation gain up and 3400ft drop where I hitch to my car. What would a top end gps unit record. Best/worst case.
- May 3, 2006 at 12:40 pm #20400
You're going to be keeping it in a hydration pack? Remember that GPS, in order to work, essentially has to have “a view” of the sky. If this is tucked away in a pocket of a hydration pack, it may or may not work.
My mother has one of these hiking GPS units. She has stuck it in her pocket just to see what happens. What happens is that she gets no signal. She does get a signal if she puts it on the dashboard of her car, though. Her unit is a very good one and is typically quite accurate (from what she has found) unless she's under very dense vegetation. Unfortunately, I can't tell you what model it is. All I can say is that it's a Garmin.
- May 3, 2006 at 3:16 pm #20401
Wow, what a string! I can understand the two views that have surfaced and it seems to boil down to “to each their own.” I too have Garmin, 201, and I am very satisified with it. Yeah I'm sure it has some inaccuracy to it but then again so does life. I use it during races and if there's a discrepancy, oh well, I don't go runnin' up to the race director and say “hey you're wrong.”
It's a great training tool for those of us who are unable or chose not to listen to our bodies so closely that we can estimate our pace. Perhaps in time I'll gain the ability to better estimate pace and length of a run but I doubt it and that's okay.
One method is not better than the other, it's an individual choice.
But getting back to the original question, Garmin sare a very good tool to use by runners for measuring distances, not 100% accurate, but what is? 😉
- May 3, 2006 at 6:02 pm #20402
I like your attitude, to each his/her own.
- May 3, 2006 at 6:07 pm #20403
Most definitely, to each his/her own. My only point I try to make when this topic comes up is that there's a lot of misinformation out there. When a lot of people claim incredible accuracy but Garmin representatives themselves recommend not using their units to measure routes due to potential inaccuracies, I think it's only fair to point that out when someone asks about buying one for that purpose. If they then decide to get one even given the inaccuracy, understanding that nearly all methods have some inaccuracy, that's their choice. At least they were making an informed choice.
- May 27, 2006 at 11:02 pm #20404
🙂 I've had a 201 for a couple of years and love it………….I log all my runs, and often on the same routes it measures the same. Never expect it to be 100% accurate who cares, just great to know that you ran 12.67 miles, and can log your history, speeds, pace etc.
I LOVE MY GARMIN 201.
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.