Thursday, September 20, 2007

Garmin Footpod; preliminary report

The arrival of the Garmin Footpod last week meant that I was going to be able to use my Forerunner while running on a treadmill, I wanted to have access to my heart rate data, especially since the demise of my Polar S410, and rather than buy another HRM the footpod provided the missing data I needed. It is early day and so far I have only four runs using it; I still try to keep the majority of my running outside, but on those occasions when you cannot get outside the treadmill can be a good friend, not you best friend, but a good one. The four runs have consisted of two in the three mile range, one 10 miler and one 12.5 miler. Fitting it to a shoe requires you to unlace and relace you shoe through the loops on the bottom of the unit, to be honest this is a bit of a pain and I have adopted using a velco pouch that loops under the laces and secures over the top, it works fine and is much quicker when changing shoes etc.

The accuracy of the Footpod has been surprisingly good when comparing it to the mileage on the treadmill, it is spot on for the shorter distances and has had a minimal variance of - 0.12 over 12 miles, as a comparison my Nike+ was -0.50 which is pretty typical in my experience of Nike+ on a treadmill over distance. As with any accelerometer the key to it is to keep a steady pace, given that I still have a red flag from my PT on speed and hill work plodding along on a treadmill is just perfect. As with all exercise sessions using a the Forerunner you get a comprehensive breakdown on data in a graphical format, with the only exception being the exclusion of altitude.

The Footpod is completely compatible with the features and settings within the Forerunner watch itself; mile splits, average pace and average speed are all calculated and the alert function works seamlessly with the little chimes ringing out every mile. Garmin also offer a handlebar mount which may be more convenient if mounted on the bars at the front of a treadmill, that way you can glance down without having to bring the watch into your line of sight, that maybe something for the future.

Although early days I am very impressed, the Forerunner's popularity has been based largely on the GPS function which allows you to accurately calculate pace and distance; two important factors to the runner, now the needs of the indoor runner have been addressed which adds to the all round capability of theForerunner as a training tool.


  1. Stuart, I'm coming from the other camp - as a proud owner of the Polar S625X and RS800sd I'm very familiar with the foot pods. I find that both Polar foot pods are very close to the real distance on the road regardles of the hills or speed variation (I do not do intervals on the road, but sometimes I do fartlek and the distance/pace is spot on). It seems that Garmin footpod is based on the same technology and offers the same accuracy. I'm actually seriously thinking about letting the Nike+ sensor at home more often. I use it only to record the distance for the challenges, but lately I did not even have time to keep up with that. One thing I was really surprised with is the acuracy of the new sensor that came with the RS800sd - it is very acurate on both road and treadmill without need for recalibration. Very impressed considering the different nature of foot stroke during the running on the two very different surfaces.

  2. Jan, thanks for the thoughtful comment.

    I will only be using the Footpod on the treadmill once or twice a week; a benefit of living in Southern California but I am already thinking that I should calibrate it to get as accurate reading as possible, they say out of the box it's good for something like 97% of runners.

    Like you I am moving further away from the Nike+ per se, and once I start winter training for my Spring races I can see Nike+ fading further into the background, but as you say using it for the challenges is still fun.

  3. There seems to be a lot of angst about the Nike+ system these days. It is a great system for beginners and people who are just "jogging through life in search of fun", but it isn't really a serious training tool. You guys have progressed to the point where you can benefit from the more expensive systems. Congratulations to both of you for having "outgrown" Nike+.

    SLB, I'm looking forward to your treadmill report.

  4. I came across your blog when I was looking for blog posts about the Garmin Footpod and I'm really enjoying reading your entries.


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