A Sunday Long Run & Trusty New Companion [Garmin Review]

For a runner, there may be no greater sense of betrayal than that moment when your GPS watch decides to kick the bucket.

If you’re anything like me, and your watch dies in the middle of a run, you start to panic. How will you ever survive, not knowing your pace and distance for this run?! Maybe it’s overly dramatic, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s at a loss without their data!

So when my trusty friend of six years, the Garmin Forerunner 10 chose to call it quits, I decided it was time for an upgrade. I settled on the Forerunner 235, which can do snazzy stuff like measure your heartrate, VO2 max, and cadence, among lots of other bells and whistles.

I didn’t just want to take the watch out for any old run, so I waited for a proper occasion (IDK, I’m weird like that) – which turned out to be my last long run before the Hampton Court Half.

Ready for the maiden voyage

I rocked up to the pub on what was promising to be a gorgeous day (it wasn’t – more on that later) excited to try out my new toy. As we set out on our usual 11 mile route, I was worried that the watch might turn out to be way too massive for my tiny, child-size wrists. I ended up worrying for nothing, as the watch is so lightweight that you can almost forget you’re wearing it and the large face makes it easy to see your data on the move.

One of the irritating things about trying to run the Thames path in winter is that everyone decides that this is a wonderful time to do lots of construction work on various sections of the path. To be fair to them, it probably is, but we’re allowed to be annoyed! This meant lots of weaving from our normal route on both sides of the river.

Leaving the 10K runners to their halfway point photo, us mid-pack 11 milers continued on to Greenwich, the super speedy among us having already blazed on light years ahead of us.

Obligatory photo stop in Greenwich – if there’s no evidence, the run didn’t happen!

The wind had seriously picked up by the time we got to halfway and most of us had had enough – we look happy above (maybe minus Leo) but there was loads of grumbling during this photo op!

Going down into the tunnel was a welcome respite from the biting cold. I even got a history lesson from our resident fun-fact guy, Soumya, about how the tunnel was built to help dock workers cross over to the other side of the river when it was too foggy to operate the ferry. Who says you can’t be educated on the run?

Kai sparing time for a smile in the tunnel

Annoyingly, when the GPS signal cut out underneath the river, I realized I had forgot to set up the most basic function on my watch – auto-pause. I didn’t think I had the coordination to correct the setting while on the move, so I just mentally kicked myself instead while watching the time tick on.

The other side of the river was even windier. It felt like trying to run with an elephant sitting on your back – just going around a corner at the wrong time pushed you back a few steps!

We all started spreading out around a large detour to the busy road into Canary Wharf, everyone trying to run back to the pub as fast as possible for self-preservation. I didn’t know my way around this detour so was just trying to keep someone familiar in my sights.

Finally getting to Shadwell Basin and seeing the Shard sparkling in the sun was a welcome relief. Only about two miles to home base!

So close – time to pick up the pace!

Finally, after two miles and a dangerous game of ‘dodge the tourist taking a selfie’ on Tower Bridge, we were back, most of us collapsing onto the tables outside to complain about the wind and our exhausted legs. This important post-run ritual completed, we dragged ourselves into the pub for a well-earned pint and proceeded to eat back all our burned calories with some tasty food from nearby Maltby Market.

Overall, I was really pleased with my new Garmin. It was easy to use, you can customize your data screens, and the satellites were found in a flash! If you’ve got the Bluetooth feature set up, it will sync automatically to the Garmin Connect app on your phone as soon as you stop your run, enabling you to devour data to your heart’s content. Hopefully it will stick with me for some time, because I hate having to say goodbye!

Our lovely long Sunday loop as shown on my Strava map

 

*Disclaimer: I purchased the Garmin Forerunner 235 myself and received no compensation to write this review.

5 Comments

  1. Marilyn
    17th February 2018 / 10:16 pm

    Wonderful -you make it sound such fun x

  2. 20th February 2018 / 4:42 pm

    Thanks for the lively and enjoyable post about a cold day out. What is the best setting for a garmin for going under bridges and tunnels? I find the Tuesday and Sunday runs can be quite confusing for the GPS (I count 19 or so bridges to go under on the Tuesday 10k)

    • 20th February 2018 / 10:53 pm

      Today the Garmin decided I had not gone under Blackfriars Bridges on the way home but instead had me low flying about 1km around central London.

    • londoncityrunners_wp_blogger
      22nd February 2018 / 7:33 pm

      Hi Tom, thanks for your kind comment! If you have an indoor running setting on your watch, some people recommend that you turn this on for going through tunnels, but I have heard it’s not that accurate – so might not make much of a difference! Personally, I’ve just come to accept that my auto pause will cut out the time and distance through the tunnel, so at least the pace and distance should be relatively accurate for the rest of the run. If anyone else knows how to solve this problem, would love to know!

  3. 22nd February 2018 / 10:16 pm

    thanks for the helpful tip on autopause, I will also welcome any other advice

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