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Cycling With GPS Running Watches

June 13th, 2009

For serious runners, GPS running watches have become an integral and useful part of the daily workout. Something that should be considered, as well, is the usefulness of using these watches to monitor cycling sessions as well.

While not all athletes are equally serious about running and cycling, the combination of the two is still quite popular. This is especially true of those training for a duathlon, or just looking to add variety to their daily exercise routine.

Some of the watches leading in the market come with attachments and accessories to make them versatile enough for bicycle use. For instance, the foot pod feature for running to measure stride length can be adapted for cycling use to measure pedal cadence. Having a digitally recorded and mapped report of the whole ride’s cadence provides essential information for competitive cyclers looking to improve their performance.

Other information recorded by some GPS running watches that is easily adapted to a cycling regimen is heart rate monitoring. Most high end watches come with (or are compatible with) a heart rate monitor in the form of a belt.Schwinn

These belts are specifically designed to be comfortable enough to wear while running and cycling. They wirelessly transmit the pulse information to the wrist (or handlebar) display for instant feedback on how your body is responding.

This information is also recorded and included in the post-ride report that’s automatically analyzed when you plug the display into your computer at home. In fact, everything from distance, time, speed, heart rate, cadence (or stride length) is all analyzed together.

This means that GPS running watches don’t just help you see where you’ve been and how fast you’ve gone. They can show you how your heart rate and cycling cadence responded to changes in your route. Because the GPS signal (in some watches, not all) also records changes in altitude, you can see exactly how going up a hill impacts the way you ride and the way your body responds.

While these watches are more popular for runners, there is a strong segment of cycling use. Stationary bikes have long recorded this type of information, and those who enjoy riding outdoors and covering actual distance should be able to take advantage of technological development, and this type of watch certainly helps them do so.

To Buy Or Not To Buy: The Benefits Of GPS Running Watches

June 13th, 2009

Running is one of the most basic physical actions we can perform. Yet when you really get into running as a sport, exercise, hobby, or whatever if means to you, this seemingly simple action turns out to have a lot of intricacies. From the shoes you wear to the surface you run on to how you pace your run, there’s a lot to think about.

GPS running watches are something that, if you’re a serious runner, you’ve likely considered. In the past two or three years, the specificity of GPS technology has really improved quite a bit. With devices now able to track you as close as 3 meters, this has quickly become a valuable tool for runners.

GPS watches have a lot going for them. While some are fairly expensive, for the serious runner, it can be a smart investment. However, before you spend the money, you should make sure you know what you’re looking for.Garmin Forerunner 405

Finding the watch that’s right for you just takes some looking around. Some have stronger GPS receivers that are uninterrupted even in areas where signals are generally harder to receive. If you’re a trail runner, this is important for you.

Other GPS running watches include a heart rate monitor. If you’re concerned not only with distance and time, but with heart rate zones, this is certainly a feature you’ll want to look out for.

Some watches come with foot-mounted monitors that communicate with the watch, helping to record everything from how far you’ve gone to how long your strides are. This is good for advanced runners who really take interest in details like that.

Mapping capabilities are another feature to consider. Most high quality running watches will map your route for you on the computer after you complete your run. Those with more sophisticated GPS functionality can even show when your path went up or down hill, and by how much.

And finally, size and appearance. Some GPS running watches have clearer screens or more comfortable bands than others. While features are important, you want to make sure you have a watch that is easy to wear, otherwise you won’t enjoy taking advantage of those features you paid for.

Integrating GPS Running Watches Into Your Workout

June 13th, 2009

GPS running watches offer a lot of features and can really make a great impact on your workout. If, that is, you know how to use them. If you’re going to spend the money on a high quality watch, you’d better know how to check more than just the time. Here are several different ways you can use these watches to get more out of your run.

If you’re running for distance, a watch with GPS can keep track for you how far you’ve gone. No more measuring out a run or keeping track of mile markers. Using a GPS receiver directly in the watch (often in conjunction with a foot-mounted device, as well), a watch can instantly display how far you’ve gone.Garmin Forerunner 305

Many runners run for speed. Normally, you’d calculate how far you ran and how long it took to determine your average speed. But that speed fluctuates depending on incline, how long you’ve been running, etc.

GPS watches can use the GPS information to keep track of how your speed varies across your run. Some can even calculate changes in elevation, and therefore give you reports on when you were running uphill, and how that impacted your speed.

Cardiovascular fitness is a huge reason that many of us who run do so. If this is part of your motivation, make sure to look for a watch that also monitors your heart rate. This can be useful in two different ways:

Firstly,  heart rate monitoring is useful for beginning runners whose goal is to run a certain length of time each day, and to keep their heart rate in a certain zone. With instant feedback on how your heart is doing, you can make sure you’re working hard enough to improve heart strength, but not so hard to be putting yourself in danger.

With GPS running watches that monitor heart rate and also keep track of changes in elevation, you can see how your body responds to changes in your course. You can see how your heart rate changes on a certain incline, and then see how regular running changes that response as you build strength over time.

Are GPS Running Watches Better Than Regular Heart Rate Monitors?

May 17th, 2009

If you’re a runner, whether experienced or novice, you probably have been given many running tips about using technology to improve your running. There are a lot of options out there.

From simply timing yourself with an old-fashioned stopwatch to getting a top of the line watch with GPS, heart rate, and tracking, to everything in between, finding what’s right for you is just a matter of sitting down and deciding what you want.

If you only do runs on paths that are straight, flat, and marked with mile markers, then you probably don’t need as much technology as someone who runs a more dynamic course. You can simply look at the mile markers and keep track with a stop watch.

But that’s about all you can do. Adding a heart rate monitor to your workout adds a lot of information. You can tell how you’re doing by what zone you are in. (And you can make sure you’re working hard enough by keeping yourself in a specific zone.)Garmin Forerunner 205

Then we get into GPS running watches. The jump from a simple heart monitor to a watch like this is a considerable one in terms of the capabilities you’re gaining. This type of watch is essentially a wrist-mounted (or bike mounted, if you buy the attachment) computer that keeps track of a number of things.

Firstly, the GPS monitoring keeps track of where you are. When you get home, you can plug it into your computer a see a precise map of your route. But the watch also tracks a number of other factors, too.

Tracking where you are and when you go there, these watches can then calculate your speed. Many also gauge not only latitude and longitude, but altitude: it can tell when you’re going up a hill, and how steep that hill is.

This is especially useful in conjunction with a heart rate belt, an accessory that many GPS running watches include. By analyzing your heart rate alongside your course, you can see exactly how your body responded to that big hill, and therefore, you can see how that response changes over time.

What Accessories Come With GPS Running Watches?

April 1st, 2009

While there are several brands that generally dominate the running watch market, there is no single such watch that is right for everyone. Even between the major manufacturers who specialize in GPS running watches (Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and Timex, to name a few), there are many different models to choose from.

Accessories might make the difference in the watch you ultimately choose. Besides looking at the various features presented by different watches, you’ll want to keep an eye out for what sorts of accessories they come with.

In terms of charging and syncing with your computer, GPS running watches have different ways of syncing with your computer, as well as charging. From USB connection charging docs to wireless transmitters, see what’s compatible with your computer before purchasing the watch itself.

Shoe pods are a really popular accessory for running watches that utilize GPS technology. With a second device that attaches to your shoe (and connects wirelessly to the watch), you can measure not just distance and pace, but stride length as well. Useful for advanced runners.Polar RS300x

For runners looking for heart rate monitoring, many of these watches come with a wireless belt style monitor, which instantly transmits information straight to the watch’s display screen for easy reading.

Are you a runner, but also a biker? Many wrist-mounted GPS displays feature adapters or add on pods (like foot pods, but for your bike) to help measure your cycling cadence. And to track your speed and distance while biking without having to look at your wrist, you can find a handle bar attachment to mount the watch securely for easy viewing. This is great for those training for a duathlon.

What about triathlons? While not an accessory per se, you’ll find that many of the top GPS running watches are also water proof up to a certain depth, making it easy to monitor your entire training process.

Just like with girls running shoes, which come in a million different types and styles, there is no single watch that is right for everyone: and that ability to choose is a good thing. With different features and accessories available, the best way to select the GPS watch that’s right for you is to look at what you want and what the watch has to offer.