The Garmin 405 Running Watch
Seeing has how I seem to have a reputation as “that guy” who always shows up least prepared for races, long runs, or any endurance trek of just about any kind, it seems unusual that I would plunk down $300 for a Garmin Forerunner 405.
But I did.
And if you’re reading this, you probably want to know if it’s worth it, right?
GPS-enabled Sports Watches
As a little background, I first became interested in GPS-enabled sport watches since a majority of my running is on the mountain trails. On the trails there aren’t exactly convenient little mile markers along the way like there are in the running parks; nor can you “drive the course” to get an idea of how far you are going.
The GPS-enabled watches offer the promise of distance monitoring, pace, laps, and more.
I bought the Garmin 205 a couple of years ago. After playing it for about 15 minutes, i found it slow, cumbersome, confusing, and it looked like I was wearing a laptop on my wrist. Thing was huge.
I sold it to another ultrarunner 3 days later.
The New Garmin 405 | A First Look
But this new Garmin is different. The size and shape of the Garmin 405 is about the same as your average Nike sportswatch. I bought the black one, and the design is sleek and dare I say, “stylish”.
You can easily wear it as both your training device, and your everyday watch.
In “training mode” the battery life is rather weak at eight hours, but in “low power” mode, usually just plain ol’ watch mode, the watch will last for two weeks between charges.
The band is strong and sturdy and feels good, but it’s a bit short. I have small joints, but those with large wrists, may find that they need a longer band. There are lots of accessories for the Garmin 405, but surprisingly, no wristbands of varied lengths available at this time.
“Ok, So it looks cool, but how does it work?”
The 405 locates GPS satellites very quickly. Usually, it will lock on to a satellite within 30 seconds of beginning training setup; however, I have also experienced as long as two minutes for it to make a reliable satellite connection – still, a strong improvement over the previous Forerunner models.
Accuracy? Well, this I just don’t know.
With regards to distance, the 405 has been spot-on. I have now clocked over ten runs and one mountain biking trip of known length, and Garmin was accurate each and every time down to the tenth of a mile.
But elevation? I dunno. I think the Garmin could be overstating total elevation during a training period.
A Run on the Appalachian Trail
Saturday, May 30, 2008, a group of us headed up to the Amicalola Falls Lodge to taken on the beautiful, but beastly, 16-mile Appalachian Trail approach to Springer Mountain. While this is a difficult course with a lot of elevation loss and gain, it’s hard for me to believe it’s a total of 12,000+ up and 12,000+ down.
However, since it is an out-n-back course, the elevations seem consistent both ways, so maybe it is accurate.
I’d be interested in other runners’ opinions who may have run this route in their own training. Is it really that much climbing and descending?
Garmin Connect | Use the Web to Keep Track of Training
Managing your training information is simple with Garmin Connect. The approach trail run information shown above is a screen shot from my Garmin Connect Dashboard. The dashboard provides indepth information about each of your runs storing you pace, distance, time, elevantion gain/loss; and if applicable, your laps, heart rate, cadence, calories and much more.
But it’s the Google Maps integration that really makes this online application shine. Below are some of the maps of our Appalachian approach trail run. Notice there are traditional map views, satellite views, and the very cool, terrain view.
…and of course, you can zoom in various section to get detailed views and information. Check out the close-up view of the springer Mountain summit below:
Springer Mountain summits sits close to 4000′ …Cool huh?
It’s all wireless, baby …well, almost
The 405 tranfers all it’s data to the internet wirelessly using a small USB “key” that is constantly scanning, waiting for your Garmin to get within 20 feet, and BAM! it starts downloading new information. You could be uploading your training information while, well… typing on a blog for example, or answering an email, and you never have to take off the watch or initiate any software manually.
There is also a desktop software called Garmin Training Center that is supposedly even more feature-rich and designed to improve your overall training and route times, but I haven’t dug the deep yet.
I due time, friends, in due time…
So what else?
Since everyone loves bullet points, I’ll list a few more interesting features of the Garmin 405. If this list doesn’t send you out to the store with 300 clams in hand, I don’t know what else to tell ya.
- Virtual Training Partner – Allowing to store routes, compete against a virtual runner, and even share your routes and data with other runners.
- Two-way communication with the PC or Mac – Download training data to the PC, upload goals, challenges and other runner’s data to the watch
- Optional heart rate monitoring and foot pod capability
- Available colors are Black and Green (but get black!)
Already have the Garmin 405 too? Tell me what you think
If you’re already rockin’ the Forerunner 405 during your training runs and races, please share your opinions and experiences. I am sure there are people out there much more serious than me, and have probably squeezed out tons of additional functionality and possibility.
Let us know in the comments below. Cheers!