running gadget review: garmin forerunner 10

i mentioned a while back that i use the Garmin Forerunner 10 as my GPS gadget of choice for runs. i’ve been using it long enough now that i have opinions, and i thought i’d share them here.

a quick tour of the watch, so to speak. it’s a simple design with an easy-to-read face. there are four buttons around the watch face (lightbulb, loopy arrow, down arrow, runner).



below, you’ll see what the “lightbulb and loopy arrow” buttons look like. the top one (lightbulb) serves as power button (hold for 3 seconds to turn off, hold for a couple to turn on) and as a backlight, which is nice, but i’ve yet to go for a night run, so i haven’t tried it in action. the loopy arrow is simply a “go back” button for when you’re looking at the run options or run history sections.





over on the other side, we get the runner and the down-arrow buttons. the runner button (top) serves a few purposes. first, and importantly, it’s how you start a run. you press it, the watch talks to the satellite, and finds you and your watch. the screen will show you “getting location” and a bar fills up. when it’s ready to go, it beeps, and you hit the runner button again to start. you also use this button to pause a run (and to un-pause), or to stop the run completely. you hit it once, it gives you options – do you want to pause? great, don’t do anything. do you want to save the run? fabulous – hit the down-arrow button to select “save”, then hit the runner button again to select that. you can even discard a run if something went awry. that down arrow button both lets you navigate options AND takes you to the options themselves. from the regular screen, hit that button, and see “run options” , “history”, and “settings”. i’m not going to go through all of those bits, because i’ll discuss the ones i use later.


i completely prefer using this over my iphone to track my runs. the armband i used for my iphone was fine, but it got SO hot and sweaty and flat-out gross, and rubbed my arm, and was a distraction, and it was annoying to have to pause it every time i ran (mostly because i didn’t enjoy having to crane my neck to see if i was hitting the pause button, or having to unlock my phone…). having a smaller device in an easy-to-view location is infinitely better!

garmin is also easy to charge – you get a USB charger that you plug into your computer to charge, and it holds a charge for a while – and charges up fast.

for the most part, i love this device. there are three big complaints, though (one is not garmin’s fault). first, there is an “auto-pause” option – if you stop at a street to wait for traffic, the watch will pause your run automatically. except, in my experience, it takes about 5 seconds for it to actually pause – problematic when those seconds get added to your run time and you weren’t freaking running. i just turned that option off today and used the runner button to pause and resume runs on my own. the second problem is that it takes a LONG time for the watch to “talk” to the satellite – around 5 minutes. i am not sure why this is, or if it has to do with where i live, but it drives me bonkers to get ready to run, then have to stand and wait for my watch to figure out what’s going on. the last problem is more on runkeeper – but when i import the runs from garmin to runkeeper (I use fit2app, a simple online app, to do this, because i’ve yet to have the runkeeper importer recognize any of my activities on the watch), runkeeper consistently shaves about 10 seconds and a small amount of distance off of the run. i end up fiddling with the map on runkeeper’s website in order to get it all accurate. today it shaved time off and added miles and i literally do not know why it does that.

all of that being said, i love this watch. it’s a great way to track my runs, it’s easy to use, and it’s much more comfortable than using my phone.


(also, garmin didn’t give me this watch or ask me to do this post and they likely have no idea who i am.)