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Garmin Forerunner 301 - Garmin Forerunner 301
The other half of the equation is the heart rate band, which straps across your chest, picks up your heart beat and transmits it to the Forerunner. The band comes with an adjustable elastic strap that should be able to fit just about anyone. After a little fiddling I was able to get the strap adjusted to the right length, but I have to say that this heart rate band isn’t as comfortable as the one with my Polar heart rate monitor. However, one big advantage that the Garmin band has is the user accessible battery compartment, whereas I have to send my Polar band back to the company for a battery change.
The Forerunner will charge over USB from your PC, but it also comes with a power supply with a mini-USB port at the end – the cool thing about this is that it should charge pretty much anything that charges over USB.
I used the Forerunner in a number of situations, while running, hiking, mountain biking and road cycling. I even used it while riding part of Stage 10 of this year’s Tour de France, and despite the fact that I almost died after the 22km climb to Courchevel, the Forerunner performed flawlessly. However, that climb highlighted one of the problems with using GPS to measure distance. It seems that the satellites track how far you travel across the surface of the earth, but not how far you travel up and down it. Therefore, if you do some serious climbing, or even descending, you won’t get a true measure of your distance. This is strange, since most GPS devices can give you an elevation reading, the Forerunner included, but this is an issue that I’ve seen with pretty much all GPS distance measuring. If I compare any GPS distance reading to the computer on my road bike, the former will always read slightly less than the latter. To be fair though, I didn’t notice the Forerunner being out by too much, except in extreme circumstances like the Alps.
In the mode menu you’ll find that there are dedicated settings for both running and cycling, although you can choose “other” if your interest lies elsewhere. There’s a multitude of training aids at your disposal, from creating a “virtual partner” to help push you down the road, to setting target heart rate zones to ensure that you’re exercising at exactly the right level – the Forerunner will sound an alarm whenever your heart rate drops below or rises above your set zone.