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I use the Garmin 305 with HRM, and love it (I'm a data geek, so the more, the better). What I find nicest about having something else keep track of my distance, is that (especially at this time of year, with spotty road clearing of snow), I can modify my route anytime (turn around, take a side street, etc) and not have to worry about how long the run is/was. It was something I used to obsess about and spent way too much time on sites like MapMyRun or GMaps Pedometer trying to sort out.
My only "gripe" with my 305 is the time it can take to home in on satellite coverage.
You have to be careful to be NOT moving during this homing, and I have found that it can take a few minutes before a singal is finalized and I can start my run.
I know it doesn't SOUND like a long time, but when I step outside and it's under 20 deg F, having to stand still for more than 30 seconds can feel like torture.
I"ve gotten into the habit of leaving the watch turned on close to or just outside the door as I change up, so that it's ready when I am.
Oh, and the excess bit of wrist strap (after the clasp) has a tendency to slip out of the plastic retaining ring, which is a MINOR annoyance as it can hit my hip/side. I haven't switched over to the longer wrist-strap piece (which I do still have) to see if this helps or not.
.....and of course during my 5 mile run this morning in the tundra at -2 degrees below zero (F) I found myself thinking...wow, it's below zero and I'm runnin' strong, wonder what my heart rate is with it being this cold out?.... guess I'll never know...... I will allow everyone the opportunity to say "I told you so, the 305 is better" next week
I love, love, love my 410. It is useful & easy to use. I love seeing maps of all my runs in Google Earth, and all the elevation changes, pace, avg heart rate, etc.
I don't have the foot pod. Yet. I want one.
I have the premium soft strap HR monitor, and it is completely comfortable. I do not notice it AT ALL. In fact, I often forget to take it off when I come in from a run until I am undressing for the shower. It is really a very stretchy, comfy, wide elastic strap around your chest under your breasts/pecs.
I love having all the data points. It is very motivating and fun. I'm a data person, though, so that might not be for everyone.
Having heart rate data has also helped me determine good workout paces on machines such as the treadmill and the nordic track ski machine, since I can experiment with workouts to find the right combination of settings/speeds to give me the optimum aerobic challenge.
It is also a confidence builder to see my HR show fitness improvements even when my pace is the same as it was. I might run the same route the same speed as I did a couple months ago. . . but my average heart rate would be 5-10 bpm lower now that it was a couple months ago. So, having that HR data makes it very evident that I am indeed getting fitter. I love to see that!
First run 8/31/10
c25k grad 10/23/10
b210k grad 12/2/10
Decker's Creek HM 2:11:12 (10:00.9 pace) 6/4/11
Ashburn Farm 10k 57:30 (9:16 pace) 11/24/11