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A GPS enabled running watch can be a really useful training tool or a fun bit of extra information. Personally I like knowing how far I’ve run and how long it’s taken. I also find my average pace a useful training tool as it often motivates me to try a bit harder. I know that when I’m exploring a new wild area I’ll never hit the kind of pace that I average on some of my favourite regular runs and if I’m feeling like a gentle run I often don’t even look at it. On the other hand if I’m training for a race or trying to beat a personal best for a trail then I keep a close eye on my watch and enjoy the mental maths I end up doing while working out if I’m on for a PB.
So, looking for a simple GPS watch, I want to know:
I also want a good looking watch that I can wear all the time so it can’t be too big and the battery life needs to be reasonable.
I opted for a Garmin Forerunner 110 about 4 years ago and I’ve used it most days since then.
The watch is comfortable and good looking, and the battery lasts well. I normally charge it 2 or 3 times a week when I run for one to two hours most days. The charger is a clip-on style that can be a bit fiddly but I’ve never really had any issues. I have found that over the years the battery life has diminished a bit as you would expect but it’s still easily good enough for normal running. A new one’s battery lasts about 3 weeks of normal use or about 8 hours of GPS use.
It normally takes about a minute or so to lock onto the satellites; if I turn it on and then do up my laces and have a quick drink it’s normally ready when I am. I’ve heard tales of them taking a long time to lock on but I’ve never found this as long as I’m somewhere with a clear view of the sky.
While running the display is easy to read and it displays my total run time, distance and average pace for the current mile or kilometre; you can change the watch to display miles or kilometres, or shorter units. At the end of each mile it briefly changes the display to show the average details for the previous mile before returning automatically to normal. I initially thought that I would prefer to know my overall average pace but in practice the mile average is probably better, especially off road. It also means that a particularly fast descent or a slow technical section or climb only effects the current mile, whereas if it was overall average I’d have the extreme terrain effects when ever I looked at the watch and it would be harder to run at a set pace.
In summary I really like the watch: the features it has are useful every time I run and it comes in a comfortable and good looking unit with a pretty reasonable price tag.
Garmin Warranty and Aftercare:
After about four years of fairly regular use I broke the strap. This felt like quite a reasonable thing to happen considering its age and the amount of use so fair enough. The problem is that the strap is built into the unit so you can’t just get another strap and replace it yourself. I searched the web and found loads of doom mongers telling me that Garmin are rubbish and that I should bin it and get something else. I couldn’t believe that I’d have to throw the watch away due to the strap, it sounded stupid and wasteful so I had a look on Garmin’s website.
I filled in the forms on the Repair Centre page and sent of the email; I was honest about the age and use and expected to pay for a new strap. They emailed back within the three working days that they quote and as it was out of warranty they offered a newly refurbished watch for £44 including return postage. I sent off my watch (don’t send the charger or anything other than the watch) and they returned me what looks like a brand new watch within a couple of days. So after about four years I now have a new watch again with a new strap and battery as well as any tech updates that have happened since I got my original. I’m really happy with this outcome and the way I was treated by Garmin.