Global Positioning System on the run

Garmin Forerunner 410

So I bought this fancy GPS watch from Amazon during an after-Thanksgiving sale (see Dec 1 post). I've been trying it out on some of my favorite running routes, particularly a 3.39 mile run that I like to do at least once a week. (Only since getting this watch do I know that it is 3.39 miles exactly! Though sometimes 3.38 for some reason.) I wanted to report back on how the watch works... which is very well so far!

I've been uploading my runs to the Garmin site, and it lets me do all kinds of analytics (that I don't need, but it's fun to find out). I can even see my run "play back," showing the changes in elevation and pace and even heartbeat throughout the run.

Here's a comparison of the last 3 times I ran my favorite 3.39 miler. The results on the left are from today (12/23/12), in the middle are 12/11/12, and on the right are 12/7/12.

Clearly I have a lot of room for improvement. If you'll notice, my time got faster by about a minute with each run. That's pretty significant, and I read it as my being lazy before now because I didn't really know exactly how much I could push it. Now I'm faster because I'm running against the watch rather than just running whatever way feels right. Is that an improvement? I don't know if faster is better or more healthy. But it sure is faster. So the Garmin is working in that sense. I'm learning what a 7:XX mile feels like as opposed to an 8:XX mile, and learning that it's not SO hard to make the 7s happen. I'm also consciously trying to improve my gait (mid-sole footstrike, footstrike under the hip bone, arms not crossing the midline, leaning slightly forward, etc etc.) It's all a work in progress.

That's my Forerunner report for now. The watch has a lot of features I still haven't figured out. I do like the "Virtual Partner" feature, allowing me to try to beat an imaginary running partner (or telling me how far I'm behind her).

Do you have experience with these GPS things? Have you heard about this footstrike stuff runners are talking about these days? Do you know the mileage of your favorite route or hike? (Before I was using mapmyrun, which was OK too.)

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