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Garmin Forerunner 405CX: Runs 3 and 4

January 23, 2010

Continuing my iterative review of the Garmin Forerunner 405CX (the first part is here), I’ve now taken the gadget on two more – very different – runs and used the software a reasonable amount.

One of the key benefits of this kind of device is that it gives you some metrics so you can analyse how you have run (for example, if you wanted to see how consistent your pace was, how hilly the course really was, etc.). For me, the first hurdle to overcome was whether the device’s desktop software would work with my Mac. Detailed information on this was a bit scarce as Garmin recommended that Mac users would need the later generation Intel machines to operate the software.

I’m pleased to say that doesn’t appear to be the case. I’m running an iMac G5 with a fairly early version of OS X and it all works fine.

In researching the Burnham Beaches Half Marathon, which I ran last year, I came across a few comment threads on various forums alluding to difficulties maintaining the satellite signal on wooded courses. The course undulates and snakes through a nature reserve; while it is a woodland, it’s not a dense forest. So, having found the device quick to pick up satellite signals around Abingdon, I thought I’d give Shotover Hill in Oxford a try.

Shotover Hill consists of a network of paths over some fairly steep gradients, mostly within a wood. It’s probably the most similar terrain to Burnham Beaches in easy proximity to Oxford. Again, I had no problem with the satellite signal, and the Garmin seemed to keep hold of it throughout. As a fairly punishing run that I couldn’t map in advance (all paths are unmarked on services like MapMyRun, which therefore makes it difficult to measure the training), there’s a certain reward in looking back at what you achieved once you’re back in the comfort of your own home.

Screenshot showing the elevation profile of a run and the course taken in Google maps.

The mapping of where you ran is useful if you can't measure the training course beforehand, and the elevation profile is gratifying after the run. However, if your course elevation changes by 250 metres, there's a good chance you already know it.

I’m getting more used to the different functions of the watch, too. So, I’ve worked out how to switch between the Virtual Partner view where you only see the difference between your actual pace and your target pace, and the view that shows you your current pace and distance run. I’ve also started to get better with the bezel, although I still make the occasional fat-finger error.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2010 2:28 pm

    Hi there – just wondering if you’ve found that you’re suddenly running any faster with the Garmin? I find that there’s quite a big difference (especially on longer runs) between a route measured on an online map compared to a route measured on GPS. It’s obvious why this would be, but just wondered if you noticed a significant difference? I feel like although I may have technically run 10 miles according to the GPS, say, a 10 mile race may actually be a fair bit longer.

    • January 24, 2010 4:38 pm

      Hi Holly,

      I can’t say I have noticed this – although I’ve only been using the Garmin for a few runs so far. I planned today’s long run using MapMyRun, and then tracked it on the Garmin. Both came out at pretty much the same distance – a smidgen over 21 miles. However, it’s all quite flat and open, so I would assume the satellite reception is pretty accurate. I think I probably need to try racing in it, though.

      I have found that setting a pace seems to make me run faster, though. I set a target pace of 7:30 miles, but actually finished 6 minutes in front of the virtual partner. In previous long runs without something telling me when I’m slowing or speeding up, I’ve tended to let the pace tail off on the second half. I did the exact same run last week, but this week I was just under 10 minutes faster.


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