Off the Beaten Path with the 405

Aside from writing, running is one of the greatest joys of my life.  It can take you anywhere.  A marathon in Florida.  Another in Illinois.   God knows how many miles in Colorado.  A nice 4 mile, oops, 10 mile, run up a mountain in California including a brush with a Bobcat and Mountain Lion.  Tens of thousands of miles in Iowa.  My feet have pounded the pavement in more States than I can count.  I’ve run in Paris under the Eiffel Tower.  Trail runs and No-Bridge runs are my favorites. If there isn’t a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, running can take you there (and sometimes, even then, but that’s another story or two).

Running is freedom.

Of course, being away from home, sometimes its hard to know just how far you’ve gone (and if you’re in Colorado, how much elevation change your work out included).

Enter the Garmin Forerunner 405.

The Forerunner 405 is a GPS-enabled watch coupled with an optional Heart Rate Monitor (HRM).  I’m not unfamiliar with this technology.  About five years ago, I bought a Foreunner 301. It worked well, mapped out the routes, and for a short period, the HRM was nice up until Tucker ate it.  The downside to the 301 was its size.  To me it feels like strapping a deck of cards to your wrist.  It works great for bike rides.  Runs, not so much.

I’ve been itching to get my hands on a 405 since it came out last year.  I got mine through Road Runner Sports for around $250, opting not to buy the Heart Rate Monitor.  By chance, when I got the package, there was an HRM in it.  I called and Road Runner Sports sold it to me at a steep discount rather than deal with the hassle of shipping it back.

The first thing I noticed – the size.  It’s a large watch.  I don’t have big wrists and at first, I thought it might be too much, but after wearing it for an afternoon, it felt comfortable.  I’ve taken it out on a few runs and I don’t even notice it.

The 405 also picks up satellite signals in less than half the time the 301 did, so I no longer have to set the watch outside five minutes before I go for a run.  By the time I reach the end of the driveway, I’ve got enough signals for an accurate run.

The unit itself has only two buttons – Start/Stop and Laptop/Reset.  Everything else is controlled via a touch-bezel (think iPod).  Tapping the bezel with your finger allows you to select menus or scroll.  You can see a demo of that from Garmin here.

Once in the menus, there’s a whole host of options.  Customize screens, Virtual Training Partner (handy for tempo runs), programmable workouts (set your warm up pace, intervals, fartlek, etc).  Pressing with two fingers turns on the Indiglo light.  When not in use, the 405 drops into Power Saving mode and acts like a normal watch with Time & Date displayed.

The Foreunner 405 transmits all its data via a wireless connection.  It’s a simple USB stick that you plug into your computer and it synchronizes with your watch when it comes into range.  Considering the size of our house, this happens the instant I walk in the door from a run.  For lack of a better word – Cool.

I haven’t settled on the best program to use for recording my workouts.  Right now I’m using SportTracks but I could also use Garmin Connect.  Both have their pros and cons.  I’ll get that figured out in time.  Right now though, I’m looking forward to the next run.

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