Do Gadgets Help or Hinder Your Running?

Mastermind Weekend 1/16

Hey there!

I'm Tina

I’m the owner of Carrots ‘N’ Cake as well as a Certified Nutrition Coach and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner (FDN-P). I use macros and functional nutrition to help women find balance within their diets while achieving their body composition goals.

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Check out my newest running gadget! So cool!

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My friends at OpenSky sent me a Timex Marathon GPS watch to test out on my runs. Even though I absolutely love my Garmin Forerunner 305, I still think it’s pretty big and bulky on my wrist. So, when OpenSky suggested the smaller Timex watch, I was psyched to give it a try.

This morning, I planned to run 3 miles right after breakfast, but it was cold and cloudy outside, so I dillydallied for awhile before getting my act together. I guess I was feeling wussy about the weather, but, eventually, I just told myself to get out there and run. I knew once I got moving, I’d be warm and happy.

Apparently, my legs felt like running today because my mile splits were much faster than usual:

  • Mile 1: 8:31
  • Mile 2: 8:27
  • Mile 3: 7:57

Total: 25:57

Not too shabby! I picked up the pace for the final mile since I was almost done and still had plenty of fuel in the tank. I don’t know where my energy came from today, but I liked it!

After my run, I returned home to this adorable pug face:

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I love Murphy. He’s the best.

My Review of the Timex Marathon GPS Watch

Ok, ready for my review of the Timex Marathon GPS watch? I love a lot of things about it, which, of course, I couldn’t help but compare to the Garmin Forerunner 305.

First and foremost, I love how light the Timex felt on my wrist, especially compared to my Garmin (1.9 ounces versus 2.72 ounces). In fact, when I started my run, it actually felt like I was missing something since I didn’t feel my big, bulky Garmin on my wrist. I seriously loved how light it felt.

During my run, the Timex watch kept track of my pace, time, and distance, which was easy for me to read as I ran along. After my run, I really liked the workout data that the watch provided, including start and end times (ex: I started my run at 10:30 AM and finished at 10:55 AM), average speed, elapsed time, distance, split times, and calories burned. The Timex is also a regular watch, too.

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So, I’m totally not a “read-the-directions” kind of person, but the Quick Start Guide that came with the Timex watch made it really easy to learn how to use it. It’s only 10 pages long and walks you through everything you need to know. I can’t say that ever read my Garmin 305 manual. I just pushed the buttons on it until I figured out how it worked, and I’m still not sure I know everything it can do.

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The only “bad” thing about the Timex watch is that you need a USB port to charge it. Of course, this isn’t a huge deal, especially not for me since I always have access to a computer, but something to consider.

Do Gadgets Help or Hinder Your Running?

While I was running this morning, I started thinking about whether certain running gadgets (and other technologies) have helped me become a better runner. For instance, my Garmin, iPod, and the treadmill at the gym have all helped me in one way or another.

Garmin: tracks my pace to help me run faster and tracks my distance to help me run farther

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iPod: the music pumps me up for speed workouts and breaks up the monotony of long runs

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Treadmill: awesome for interval workouts and necessary (for me) for running in the winter

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However, I know a lot of people think these things interfere with a runner’s awareness of their body and surroundings and perhaps even the enjoyment of running all together, especially if you become obsessed with the numbers and stats.

Do you think gadgets and other technologies help or hinder your running?

Lunch

Today’s lunch was split into two parts: savory and sweet. I started with scrambled eggs mixed with chopped up roasted Brussels sprouts and crumbled feta, which was an insanely delicious flavor combination.

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After I ate my eggs, I whipped up a Strawberry-Banana Smoothie. In the mix:

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It wasn’t the greenest smoothie, but it sure tasted delicious. I love the combination of strawberry and banana together. Yum!

Off to walk the pug and then relax. Enjoy the evening, guys!

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86 Comments

  1. I love fitness gadgets! I couldn’t possibly run without my ipod and I am obsessed with interval training on the treadmill. It really makes me pick up my feet and just endure! I have definitely gotten faster and more fit thanks to the treadmill. <3

  2. I would LOVE to get my husband a running watch, but I’m just finishing up school right now so money is tight and I want to make sure I get the best one for him. Thanks for your review!

    As far as gadgets for me go, I’m hooked on my iPod–and pretty sure it’s entertaining for the other people at the gym to watch me dance like a weirdo in between sets!! 😉

  3. Woooo!! Gadgets help me a LOT! Maybe I’m not an in-tune to nature runner, but I really could hardly get myself out the door without a garmin and an iPod!!

  4. Gadgets used to hurt my runs more–I’d be preoccupied with making sure it was hard enough, staring at the calorie count, etc. For a while, I didn’t even wear my heart rate monitor when I worked out. Now that I use exercise to feel stronger again, I have started using my Garmin on my runs and my bikes or keeping tabs on my heart rate. I find that now that I’m TRAINING instead of just working out, they’re invaluable! I tend to go too fast or too hard, so having something to keep my intensity in check keeps my workouts on track. 🙂

  5. I think they do a little bit of both for me. My Garmin does help when I want to track my pace and distance, but sometimes I get to reliant on it. I actually went on a run the other day and I just bought a stop watch so that I knew what time it was. And it was great! Sometimes you just need to unplug. Although, I always have to have my music. That cannot be compromised. 🙂

  6. I think it depends on your goals. Right now I’m in “AHH TWO WEEKS TO A RACE TO MEET A TIME GOAL” mode, so I’m all about the tracking, stats and numbers. If it’s more of a fun run to clear the head or relax, then I don’t think I’d be that stressed about numbers/reliant on gadgets.

  7. I loved my Garmin when I was training for marathons, but it was also nice to run free without it. My iPod is a must for all runs for me, it motivates me for sure! For speed runs I love using the treadmill, it can get boring but switching the speed often and using it to get faster is awesome – also because usually speed runs are shorter it is not too horrible.

  8. I’m looking in to getting a GPS watch- can’t say if it will help or hurt! Probably a bit of both- increased awareness of my pace, but terrible addiction and self competition.

    As for the treadmill, it’s almost always a “hurt.” I get so bored! Also heavily rumored to be bad for your form and legs/feet because your foot strikes the surface at the exact same angle repeatedly. But always the better option than not running at all (especially on cold/snowy days!)

  9. Funny topic bc last night is the first time ever I tried running without music – shockingly I enjoyed it! One of the main reasons I think is because I didn’t have to fiddle with any wires. I didn’t find that I was any more aware of my body or surroundings though – although maybe I should work on that too 🙂

    Love the review on the watch TY!

  10. I just posted about heart rate monitors helping or hurting your workouts yesterday! I think there are times where they help and times where they hurt. My iPod on the other hand is always a help. I have asthma and if I hear myself breathing very heavily it triggers it and freaks me out (totally mental!).

  11. Hi Tina. Thanks for the review I have been looking into purchasing a watch similar to this but was always a little turned off by the price. Being a newbie running I didn’t want to go and splurge on a 200 dollar watch if it wasn’t something I was going to stick with.

    Just curious how did the Timex compare price wise do you know?

  12. My garmin totally motivates me to run faster and longer, but my boyfriend is the complete opposite. He runs without anything (including music!) and thinks that gadgets get in the way of the experience. I guess it’s personal preference?

  13. I think gadgets help my running! I wish I had a watch, but I use my iPhone as my pace keeper as well as my iPod…. I love using the Nike GPS app, and when I notice that my pace is on the slower side it helps push me to speed up!

  14. My only gadget is my Garmin, and I think it REALLY helps my running. I used to hate having to map out routes before my runs, and it was frustrating running outside never knowing how fast I was going. It’s help me improve my speed a ton because I can challenge myself to get below a certain pace, to reach a certain distance, etc.

  15. So glad you reviewed this today! I’ve been looking at Forerunners lately but just couldn’t pull the trigger with the price being so high. This Timex looks awesome and so affordable! And as you mentioned above in response to another comment, I’ll be on the lookout for the OpenSky deal on it soon. Score!

  16. I don’t use music because I like to be able to hear what’s going on around me. I don’t use treadmills because I’m not a member of a gym!

    BUT i love my garmin. The other day, my workout was to run 3 miles with 1 mile at my goal 5k pace. I couldn’t have done that without my Garmin. So I’m glad I have it. I’m working on speeding up my 5k and I need that to help!

  17. I definitely think that gadgets have helped my running. I’ve told my friends that it’s not at all necessary for them to have the fancy gadgets to become a better runner, but tell them it did help me.

  18. Did you think the Timex was as accurate tracking distance as the Garmin? My Garmin’s been having issues for awhile and I don’t want to spend so much money for a new one when my old one shouldn’t have gotten messed up so quickly. I’d be interested in this watch if it’s accurate.

      1. @Tina: Yeah, GPS watches aren’t 100% accurate so your “fast” intervals might not have been so fast (blergh). I would be curious if you wore both watches at once and noticed a difference in miles/pace. There is a route I take for my long runs that is heavily wooded with lots of hills/mountains and has mile markers and usually my GPS is off by about .1 to .01 miles for every mile. New York Times had a great piece on this last December: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/20/health/nutrition/gps-watches-may-not-track-runs-accurately.html

  19. I think gadgets help me, but only to a point. Every once in a while, I just like going out for a run with nothing, not even my iPod. It’s nice to just go at my own comfortable pace and listen to my steps and thoughts!

  20. I love gadgets! My iPod is a huge on. For some reason good music will make me push myself so much more. I will admit that I have left the gym because I forgot my iPod.. Silly? Definitely..
    I do love my garmin, I like to watch my pace and distance, however I don’t need it to have a good run 🙂

  21. Oh my gosh…you read my mind today! I did interval runs on the treadmill today and they really really sucked. But the whole time I was looking down at my time and my distance and it definitely hindered me! I decided that I would save TM runs for short distances of 400s. The rest need to be on a track for me. But I live in SoCal, so I kind of luck out with that. Other than that, I love my ipod and I use my phone to track my gps. I’m poor to buy a watch. oh well, the phone works fine!!

  22. Your Murph is the cutest little guy. Don’t know how you ever leave him. So cute.

    I’m all about the gadgets. I’m not a very self-motivated runner. Once I get out the door (usually the hardest part) then I start trying to beat my previous time/ pace on my Nike+. I like to look at my progress on the website.

  23. When I’m having a good run, my garmin totally motivates me. When I’m having a bad run, it kills me. It makes for greater mood swings. If I was having a bad run without seeing my pace, I’d still feel icky, but seeing the pace will make me feel icky X a million. Does that make sense? It removes all sense of doubt.

  24. I like it because I can run different paths but still know how long I am going. Also to make sure I am improving and I can compete with myself

  25. Thanks for the review…I will have to check it out. Want one but never spent the money on one. The only real gadget I use is a GPS for hiking.

  26. Technology has been a HUGE help in getting back to running after I got a stress fracture in my knee. I was very new to running when I got the injury so now I’m super paranoid that I’m doing something wrong. The treadmill helps me with a softer surface to run on and my Run Keeper app helps me track my miles for the week/month so I don’t over-do it. I probably would have never tried running again without these tools!

  27. That photo of Murphy is SO cute! I think that electronics help my workout A LOT, but sometimes I feel like I rely on them a little too much. For example if I forget my ipod at home, theres only a slight chance that I’ll run as good as would have if I had it with me. Music really pumps me up and helps me stay with my run. I’ve actually never used a garmin or the timex watch but I’d be interested in trying them out. I think it would be motivating to see my pace/distance, but it also might mentally interfere too….hmm?!

  28. My HR monitor helps keep in the zone. whether it means cardio or fat burning. No hindrance, here.

    Smoothie looks great! Every try red leaf lettuce in a smoothie. I did it by accident and it tasted awesome! Highly recommend it!

  29. Since December I have loved training with my Garmin watch bc it has made my interval & tempo training for my marathon SO much easier! That being said, I trained w/o a watch for YEARS and LOVED it. Running w/o a watch really helped me focus on listening to what my body was telling me while I ran. (For me running has always been a physical and not a mental thing, I rarely ever reach mental blocks in running. I am one of those weirdos who really just loves the physical act of running). I was also an ipod runner for YEARS until I was training for the Hood to Coast relay where headphones weren’t allow bc of safety issues. I stopped running w/ electronics for about 6 months & got to enjoy the quietness of a 5 mile run. Now with marathon training back in swing I have become an ipod runner again. I have been listening to books on my ipod and it has been a LIFESAVER. Running for 3+ hours gets BORING and the books help so much. 🙂

  30. I think just like any new gadgets that work well.. you start to rely on them. I love love love my Garmin watch but I have noticed that I now feel almost naked without it! I try to only use it when I do speed work and on my long runs… otherwise on easy runs i focus on the watch rather than just how I feel. That being said, GPS watches are so ridiculously awesome to have during training in my opinion. It is so fun to accurately track our progress over time!

    Regarding treadmills… I love them. I love them because I am super prone to injury (stress fractures = very painful!) and I do a large amount of speed work on them so that my legs feel fresh for long runs on the road. I have been experimenting with this and over the last couple of years I have noticed that my treadmill speed work has really transferred to the road.

    On one hand, I think we are really lucky nowadays to have so much to aid us. Decades and decades ago, those of us with flat feet, or other issues that can now be corrected with the awesome footwear we have today or by seeing a physical therapist to actually run marathons! However, one could argue that a better solution for those people would be to develop their leg and oot muscles FIRST by walking barefoot more often and doing strengthening exercises versus just jumping into distance running. I am VERY very intrigued with minimalist shoes and someday hope to be strong enough to wear them… so I may start going back and forth between minimalist sneaks and my stability sneaks for shorter runs just to build up strength.

    So in a nutshell… I hate the idea of being ‘dependent’ but I love the fact that not only can I run longer and faster with better sneaker technology combined with being able to do speed work on the TM but we can also be way more accurate with our training.

  31. Hmmm…..other than the occasional treadmill run and my ipod, I’m not too gadget-y. I sort of wish I had a garmin or something so I could better track my speed….so I think that would help me. Like anything else, it’s what you make of it.

  32. I’ve recently become a gadget gal. I got a Garmin 405 in December and have loved it. How did I live without one before? I also use the treadmill for speed and tempo runs. I just can’t push myself outside as I do on a treadmill. I like the no-brainer part of dialing in the speed and going. On the other hand, I don’t need my ipod to run. I used to hate hearing my feet hit the ground and the sound of my breathing but now it helps me focus on form.

  33. I have to run with my iPod or iPhone because I almost ALWAYS need music. As far as GPS gadgets I’m torn on how I feel about them. I’ve had some amazing runs with my Nike+ app and knowing how far or how fast I’m running gives me strength and keeps me moving forward but sometimes it makes me feel like “oh my gosh, I’ve only run ONE mile, it feels like three?!” I haven’t used it lately for that reason…

  34. I love my Garmin! But for *after* a run. I rarely look at it while I’m jogging so I guess I don’t have that whole interference thing which is good 🙂 I use my ipod occasionally and that’s all the gadgets I think!
    ~Ang

  35. This girl loves gadgets. I am not a runner, so I just have a Polar FT7 that I use for my workouts to keep my heart rate in a certain zone and to hit my daily calorie burns. I couldn’t work out without my iPod…it keeps me focused.

  36. So what’s your overall rating (1-10)? Do you recommend it? I just recently started running and I want to leave the treadmill and venture outdoors! The price tag of this Timex is much more attractive than that of the Garmin.

  37. I love fitness gadgets and would own them all, if I could…(as I bounce over to the timex website to check out that watch, lol) I like to see what I’ve done, broken down…. I’m always a bit leery though, on how accurate they really are. I have an iPod Nano, with the Nike Fitness app, that I love! I use it when I run or walk – it tracks distance, time, average pace & calories…..

  38. I’ll bring my iPod with me to catch up on my favorite NPR & nutrition podcasts or boost my energy with fun music – but I find running without noise/distractions is also wonderful. It really depends on the day and what I have going on in my life!

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