Garmin Foot Pod Review

In December, my Garmin fenix 2 began miscalculating my pace on the treadmill.  Thus, skewing my data on Garmin Connect, including my VO2 Max.  Read more about it in my Unboxing post.

I ordered the Garmin foot pod at the end of January and after I calibrated it outdoors, I began running with it on the treadmill.  I used the Garmin foot pod as well as the Nike+ foot pod on the runs to compare the data.

Below are the distances calculated for 25 runs – 4 were outdoors and 21 on the treadmill.  The differences were mostly negligible.  There were a few runs, including the most recent, that had a difference of nearly 0.2 miles.  Although, over the course of the 25 runs, the Garmin calculated 1.33 miles more than the Nike+.

Date Run Type Fenix2 Nike+ Delta
1/29/2015 Treadmill 2.02 1.95 0.07
2/1/2015 Treadmill 3.11 3.15 -0.04
2/2/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.92 0.09
2/3/2015 Treadmill 1.76 1.77 -0.01
2/5/2015 Treadmill 1.37 1.30 0.07
2/12/2015 Treadmill 1.30 1.27 0.03
2/16/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.96 0.05
2/19/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
2/22/2015 Treadmill 3.10 2.98 0.12
2/23/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.97 0.04
2/26/2015 Treadmill 2.01 1.94 0.07
2/28/2015 Treadmill 5.01 5.16 -0.15
3/2/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
3/3/2015 Treadmill 2.01 1.90 0.11
3/5/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.95 0.06
3/8/2015 Outdoors 6.21 6.22 -0.01
3/10/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.93 0.08
3/16/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.94 0.07
3/21/2015 Outdoors 8.01 8.08 -0.07
3/23/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.91 0.10
3/26/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.87 0.14
3/31/2015 Outdoors 3.10 3.07 0.03
4/4/2015 Outdoors 8.01 7.98 0.03
4/13/2015 Treadmill 1.01 0.87 0.14
4/22/2015 Treadmill 1.48 1.29 0.19
TOTAL 59.61 58.28 1.33

As far as ease of use, the Garmin foot pod connects much more quickly to the fenix 2 than the Nike foot pod connects to the watch.  The Garmin is also nice in that it uses a replaceable CO2032 battery which can be purchased just about anywhere for a couple of dollars.  Whereas the Nike foot pod does not have a replaceable battery, you have to purchase a new foot pod, costing around $20.

The Garmin foot pod connects directly onto the shoe with it’s included lace clip.  I typically leave it on my shoe and have not had any issues with it falling off.  The Nike+ sensor is not standalone.  You either have to wear shoes that accept the Nike+ foot pod or buy a pouch to connect it to your shoe.  The sensors are approximately the same size.

Garmin and Nike Foot Pods

Garmin and Nike Foot Pods

Overall, I am satisfied with the Garmin foot pod.  It took one outdoor run to calibrate and I haven’t had any issues since.  My Garmin Connect data, including VO2 Max and pace, are back to normal.

Running Isn’t Just About the Shoes

Mizuno Running ShoesWhen we first started running in 2012, I thought running was going to be a low-cost sport. All I needed was a pair of training shoes, right?  And who doesn’t have a pair of shoes in their closet?   We walk the dogs almost every day, adding a little running to the mix wasn’t going to hurt anything.  So, we began the couch to 5k program.  Once we got into the program, I decided I needed running shoes.  We went to a local running store and got fitted for a pair of running shoes.  That made all of the difference in the world.  I realized that my everyday walking shoes weren’t what I needed for running – I needed a larger, more cushiony shoe for running.  The first time getting fitted for a good pair of running shoes took about an hour.  The salesman measured both of my feet to get me in the right size, watched me walk barefoot to determine what kind of support I needed in the shoe, and then let me try on several shoes that would fit my foot for my individual needs.  At this point in time, I was not concerned with how responsive or fast the shoe was, it was a matter of which shoe I thought fit best and was the most comfortable.

Next up were running clothes.  Running in Texas in the summer is HOT!  I mean, some days we were completely drenched in sweat.  I needed running clothes, and I’m not just talking about an old t-shirt and shorts.  I needed something to keep me cool, not weigh me down, and once again something that was comfortable.  I bought a couple of moisture-wicking shirts and a pair of running shorts.  What a difference that makes!

On our runs, Nick was using a Nike+ SportWatch to time the intervals.  After using it for a few months on our runs, I decided I needed one for myself.  I was traveling a good bit for work, so it would be nice to be able to track the runs I did alone.  Also, I am a stats geek and wanted to see the details of my runs – How fast was I going?  How long was I running?  How far did I run?  How many miles have a put on my shoes, and when could I justifying buying a new pair?  The beginning of December 2012, I bought my Nike+ Sportswatch.  Now Nick and I could compete on who runs the most that month and our runs weren’t just logged under one account.  In the spring on 2014, we began cycling so we purchased a multisport watch, the Garmin Fenix 2.

You would think this everything one needs to run, but this is far from it.  In the beginning of 2013, I was asked to go to Alaska for a couple of weeks.  In case you didn’t catch that, I was going to Alaska (the North Slope, to be exact) in the winter!!!  Upon reading what one should bring on such a cold adventure, one of the recurring tips was to ditch cottonbecause it holds moisture.  Hmmm, cotton holds moisture.  I realized this didn’t just apply to the cold weather, it was great advice for the warm (unbearibly hot and humid) weather as well.  Cotton socks cause can blisters; cotton underpants hold in moisture.

Other running necessities include polarized sunglasses with rubber in the arms so they stay in place, even when my face is drenched in sweat.  Headbands and hats to keep the sun, sweat, and rain out of my eyes. Compression clothing to help stay warm in the winter (because Wisconsin is COLD in the winter!).  Additional shoes, I have one pair that has more cushion for longer training runs; another pair that is a faster, more responsive shoe for races;  also, an older pair of running shoes that I use when it’s raining, on trail runs, or on color runs that way I don’t mess up my good running shoes.  Finally we have hydration and nutrition, like a water bottle to take on those hot summer runs; gels, chews, and waffles to give you energy on the long runs; and gum to keep your mouth from drying out in the dry air.

I’m sure as I run more, I will find other things I need or can’t run without.  Running is a fun, yet challenging sport.  Like Nick always tells me, “If it was easy, then everyone would do it.”

But now I know, running isn’t just about the shoes.

Nike+ GPS Watch

Nike+ GPS WatchOver the past 2+ years, I have been using the Nike+ GPS Watch to track my runs.  We trained for our first 5K, then our first 10K and most recently our first Half Marathon using it.  During this time I have had differing opinions of the watch depending on how it is behaving and how I am running.

First, I would like to say that in the beginning I got angry at the watch, I felt like it was telling me that I ran too slow.  Then I realized that I was running slower than I thought I was and stopped being angry at the watch.  Over the first couple of months, I began to like the watch more and learned to utilize it for the information that it was providing.  It told me how much I slowed down on hills, where I was naturally taking breaks, and how my pace changed from the beginning of a run to the end.  All of this helped me to schedule breaks that my body needed so that I didn’t take them just anytime.  I was able to change the way that I ran up and down hills, making sure to maintain a pace up them and slow myself down when going downhill.  My overall pace changed as well, specifically on training runs, I started to maintain a pace throughout rather than the ups and downs from when I started.

Then we had some cold months and I had to run inside.  I connected the foot pod and got on a treadmill.  My treadmill pace was a 10 minute mile.  The problem was that the watch hadn’t calibrated the foot pod because I hadn’t used both the pod and GPS outside.  So it assumed a much longer stride and my pace showed a 7 minute mile.  Running on the treadmill a few times, I completely hosed myself from getting a PR on any 5K runs.  I am not a 7 minute runner and those runs show as my records.  This upset me, but I got over it, I know what runs are good and bad without seeing them on the Nike website.

Later, I added the heart rate monitor.  I like data from my runs and was able to utilize this as I trained more.  The expandability after purchase was great and I was happy to have the option to do this after the initial purchase because I wasn’t really sure when I first started that I would need all of the accessories.

Though my relationship with the watch was painful at times, I have grown to really like it.  I don’t look at it as much during the run as I used to, but I do look at the data after the run.  I have steadied my pace and now know what a 10 minute mile feels like and I know what resting at 12 minutes feels like.  I do use the interval training on the watch to tell me when I am allowed to take a break, sometimes I take it and sometimes I don’t, but it is nice that I know it is there if I want it.

Overall:

Pros – easy to use, expandable, integrated website functionality, price

Cons – time to connect to GPS (at times up to 3 minutes, and sometimes would not connect at all), calibration was not explicit in the foot pod instructions

Follow Up: Last year it became painfully obvious that this watch was not going to help track swimming or cycling.  As we picked up those sports, I tried to use this, but it just skewed my running data.  In May 2014, I decided to upgrade to a Garmin Fenix 2.  Changing formats to Garmin was difficult because it meant leaving a lot of data behind.  At the end of the day I am happy with my change because Garmin seems to be continually developing and Nike has essentially stopped.