Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Am Still Awaiting Garmin Recognizing My Return - My 2nd Garmin 610 Review

OK, I always seem to send things back during holiday weekends. My Garmin 610 arrived at Garmin in Olathe, KS on Thursday, 10:55am. My RMA status has not been updated since and I haven't heard anything from Garmin. Though I suspect that like everyone else, not much work was getting done on the holiday weekend.

So this is business day #6 on trying to get my new-and-improved Garmin 610 back from Garmin. My original Garmin was the 74th Garmin produced off of production (based upon the serial number).

My Garmin 305 is still performed wonderfully, though my running has been more like a roller coaster. Mostly bad runs in newly found warmth and humidity. Struggling to get the hydration down, etc. Though this mornings run was rather speedy.

Let's see if Garmin updates my RMA status today. If they don't by later this afternoon I will bug them yet again....

Also, whenever I get the new watch (hopefully by the end of the year as it seems), I'd be open for suggestions on what to review/look for in my 2nd watch. I know what I will be looking at to see if its fixed....

One item I will document better is uploading workouts using ANT+. Seems numerous people are having problems uploading workouts over on the Garmin forums. I had problems also, but really only trying to upload my Boston Marathon data. Plus I use RunningAhead.com, which is much better than Garmin Connect.

Friday, May 27, 2011

I Am Awaiting Garmin Recognizing My Return

Well as my last post stated, Garmin received my 610 package yesterday at 10:17 am CST (May 26th, 2011). As of 11:48 AM CST, May 27th, 2011, my RMA page on the Garmin website still states that they are awaiting receipt of my package. Guess the Garmin warehouse is huge, they are getting a lot of returns/repairs sent back or they went home earlier for the Memorial Day weekend....

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Garmin Forerunner 610 Has Made It Back Home

My Garmin 610 probably was itching to get home yesterday since it showed up at the UPS warehouse only miles from Garmin at 8:55am yesterday. It had to wait until today to take the short trip to Olathe, KS to final get back home with all of its sisters.

Hopefully, one of her younger sisters will be shipped out east soon and both her and I can have a better relationship. I'll also try and give a better and fuller review of the watch.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Garmin 610 Support Update #2

Sent Garmin a question over email just asking if:

1. When I could expect the new Garmin to be shipped back
2. Any updates on the start problem with the 610.

So basically, the process seems to still be processing. Would have been nice to have seen a fix for the problem. Hopefully, its not being ignored because I've seen the problem in 610's that people have just bought.


Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

I will be happy to assist you. As soon as the watch is received and
scanned into our system, the process of sending out the replacement will
take place. We receive items by the trailer load, not as individual
packages. That is why we put a turn around time forth of about 7-10
business days or sooner. There hasn't been any other findings or
software updates related to the start issued you reported between your
Forerunner 305 & 610. If you have any further questions please contact

Today's Garmin Forerunner 610: We're In Kansas!

Well, Mr. Garmin Forerunner 610 made it to Kansas today. One more day until it is reunited with its home base. Hopefully, one of its younger brothers will be sent out my way soon...

It's so close maybe they can deliver it today...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No More 610: It's On It's Way to Olathe, KS

Well I sent off the 610 to Olathe, KS and Garmin. It left Seacaucus, NJ about 5 minutes ago (9:57am). Supposed to arrive in Kansas on Thursday. Since the upcoming weekend is Memorial Day weekend, I probably won't see the new watch until next week sometimes. Luckily my Garmin 305 still functions well.

Since I have a wonky hamstring I can't really do any faster speed work right now, and since it appears my running fitness has fallen off a cliff I decided to revisit HADD. So today was 75 minutes at ILTHR (initial lactate threshold heart rate). I set the upper HR limit on the 305 to 155 and off I went.

I wasn't expecting much since yesterday's run was craptacular. However, today run felt like I got some of my mojo back. I ended up running 9.99 miles in 1:15:03 for 7:30/mile @ AHR 148. Since it is basically impossible to hear the beep tone on my 3 year old 305, you have to keep checking the screen. The 610 was nice that it vibrated when it activated an alert.

Today's splits were: 8:14 (135), 7:45(144), 7:38(146), 7:23(149), 7:21(151), 7:18(152), 7:22(150), 7:29(151), 7:19(153), 7:09(153)

Now yesterday's run on the 305 was 8:46/mi @ AHR 134. I would say today's run was about 34 sec/mile better than yesterday's. Yesterday's run used the 610 HR strap, today's was the 305 HR strap.

Now the question is, is my 610 cursed or bad luck. Interesting to see such a big improvement when not running with the 610. I don't think it could interfere with the 305 HR rating.

Personally, I just think it's that I got two good night sleeps in a row. We will see when the 610 comes back.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last Run With My First Garmin 610

OK, the Garmin 610 is currently sitting in a box waiting to get shipped back to Garmin. We'll find out if the problem was my early batch watch or the software or something else.

No runs this weekend as I was off camping and finding out that the outdoors and myself do not mix. Let's just say it was a tiring, smelly, wet, dirty weekend that made me realize that I prefer hotels over tents.

So since my running has basically dropped of a proverbial cliff the past 2-3 weeks, I decided to head back to the tried and true HADD training methodology I've always used when things go to the crapper....

So, this mornings run was 60 minutes with a HR limit of 140. Wore both the 305 and 610v1 this morning with the 610v1 HR strap. I set the upper limit to 140 on both watches. General notes before I get into the bulk of the data....

1. My 305 doesn't vibrate like the 610 so the only way to know an alert is hit is either by hearing its beep (which it doesn't do anymore)
2. having the screen light up when an alert is hit (I ran when it was light out, so didn't have the light out)
3. Looking at the screen and seeing "Heart Rate Too High...."

So basically my 305 is useless is this manner...

For the 610, since it vibrates and I can still here it beep, I will say for HR alerts it works great. However, there was a HR blip at about 0.3-0.4 miles where the HR went off on the 610 and not on the 305 (though the blip is not the 305 graph). It did not go off until I was going up a hill 2+ miles later.

It also appears that the HR alerts bug has been fixed with v2.20 of the firmware. I also think the HR alert limits might be slightly different between the 305 and 610 (though I am not completely sure). The 305 alerts when your HR is over 140, but I think the 610 might alter you when your HR is 140. Nothing to complain about, but just a note..

Ran with Smart Recording again also. The start problem did not occur again, but it did come up with some laps during the middle of the run. 610 ccuracy when compared to the 305 was rather good today, though the mile where the GPS bug occured was off a bit.

OK today's run stats:

305: 6.84 miles @ 8:46/mi. AHR 134 MaxHR 143. Fastest pace: 6:21
610: 6.82 miles @ 8:47/mi. AHR 134 MaxHR 143. Fastest pace: 5:47.

The start glitch did not show up today. I had an increase in GPS accuracy after mile 3 and 4. My running still has gone down the tubes.

Below is the start of this run (Green is 610, Red is 305). There is a slight jog in the 610 data, but nothing too noticeable.

A slight jog in the data (Green/610) around 0.8 miles.

Too perfectly honest, there weren't really anything glaringly different between the 305/610 on this run. I think Smart Recording doesn't emphasize the GPS bug as much as the 1 sec recording. I do remember that after miles 3/4 seeing the GPS accuracy go up, but maybe smart recording smooths the effect out.

Measuring the GPX paths. The 305 came in at 6.85 miles (versus 6.84 Garmin distance). The 610 came in at 6.83 (versus 6.82 Garmin distance). So there were little to no errors in the GPX data.

Lap times for the 610 were: 9:27, 8:48, 8:53, 8:39, 8:50, 8:28, 6:54 (8:21)
Lap times for the 305 were: 9:21, 8:50, 8:53, 8:35, 8:41, 8:35, 7:04 (8:22)

Here is the pace graph for the 610...

Here is the pace graph for the 305...

Slight differences, but the GPS spikes seem to be bigger in the 610 graph than the 305. However, if every run with the 610 was like this I probably wouldn't have sent it back....

Friday, May 20, 2011

Garmin 610 Support Update

I just wanted to add a note about Garmin support.

The initial email response was probably not the right way to start off this support request. However, since then Garmin has been intent on fixing this problem. I will be sending my current watch back to them and getting a new one from Garmin. I will use my 305 while my 610 is away.

They are using this blog as a resource for information on the problem. I am not the only user who has seen these issues.

For both our sakes, I hope this is a simple software fix. It will be cheaper and easier on everyone if it just takes a firmware update.

Start/Stop + Auto Lap bug revisited

My running mojo is gone. Peaks and valleys. Peaks and valleys. Definitely in a valley today.

Well this mornings run with both the 305 and 610 was on a course that typically measures from 7.28-7.32 miles. I wore the HR strap that came with the 305 instead of the 610. Why, just for testing purposes.  Also, I ran with both watches on Smart Recording vs. 1 sec recording.

Results? The auto-lap GPS accuracy bug is still there. It wasn't that bad at the start. I now show GPS accuracy as one of the field on both watches. When auto-lap engaged for miles 3,4,5 and 6 the GPS accuracy for the 610 went haywire. From < 20ft to > 250ft in most cases, while the 305 maintained GPS accuracy 15-20ft.

So, basically when this problem occurs your lap pace (which is what I have always used and has been reliable on the 305) is usually off by 20-30 sec/mile after 0.25. On the 305, it usually took < 0.1 miles for the lap pace to settle down. The 610 would tell me after 0.1-0.15 miles of a lap that I was either running > 10 min/mile pace or < 6 min/mile pace when the GPS accuracy bug occured. Rather frustrating.

The distances and paces lined up pretty well for the first 3 miles actually. I was thinking that using Smart Recording would help the 610 accuracy problem I showed in the video in my previous post. However, at mile 3 it showed up slightly. Mile 4 is very obvious in the GPX track. It would probably be bigger if I used 1 sec recording. (Green is 305, Red is 610). No,  I didn't do a run around in that persons front yard while running. At least I don't think I did.
You can kind of see the pace problems when I load the TCX data into RunningAhead.com. Notice the pace blips after mile 4 and 5.
For comparison, here is the data for the 305. That big slow down before mile 3 is due to a hill I "run" up around 2.7 miles on the course. However, comparing the two aren't drastically different.

Here is the HR data from using the old 305 HRM strap. The following is for the 610. Notice there seems to be some errant HR data in that first mile, but the rest looks smooth. (Note: A rather depressing HR curve for the past that I ran. Running mojo is gone)
Here is the curve for the 305. A little smoother, but not that much difference. Something happened in that first mile for both watchs. I will try the new HRM for my next run.

Here is the splits for the 610, then the 305. One thing I noticed for the 610 on auto lap is that the splits always seems to occur on the 1/4 seconds for the middle laps. Don't know why. Paces line up pretty well, except for mile 5 which has that loop shown above at the start.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Watch The GPS Accuracy Plummet After Start/Stop and Auto-Lap

No, I wasn't driving during this, but had some free time while in a car and used my phone to videotape. I tried this multiple times. It always messed up after start. It was occasional after auto-lap. Accuracy goes to 250+ ft from < 20ft. No wonder I can't trust the distances.

When I have more time I'll write up my review of the Garmin 610 coming from my standpoint. Someone who runs 80-100+ miles per week when training for a marathon.

Just a few examples of the "accuracy" of the Garmin 610. In the pictues with green and red, the green is my Garmin 305 and the red is my Garmin 610. One of the other pictures is from another runner using a different Garmin 610.

I've never seen these "jaggies" in my Garmin 305 data.

The Garmin 610 measured 12.40 on my run. The Garmin 305 measured 12.52. When looking at the actual GPX data, the Garmin 610 GPX path is actually 12.69 while the 305 is 12.57. So, the 610's actual GPX path is 0.29 miles off from what the watch state, while the 305 is off by 0.05.

Clearly, those little jaggies (or big sometimes as shown below) are screwing with the GPS distance/pace measurement of the Garmin 310. Even the Boston Marathon has a jaggie.

Why are all my runs now 1% Shorter than the 305???

So when I started running at home again after a week layoff, I started using my new Garmin 610 with the HRM.

The watch itself was great. The newer heart rate strap felt way better than the one that came with the 305, except that it seems to eat away at my skin where the monitor clips into the strap, but thats another problem...

First two runs were on a course that my 305 always measured as 5.21-5.22 miles. 610 measured 5.19 and 5.15. Getting a little concerned. 7 mile loop comes up as 6.95, OK not bad.

Notice the HR Alerts don't work on the watch when it comes out of sleep mode. Supposedly fixed in v2.20 firmware upgrade, I haven't tested it yet.

9.67 mile course measured as 9.58. OK, so the Garmin 610 measures about 1% less than 305 has been measuring for 3 straight years, I guess I can live with that.

Next run, after running for 30 seconds it said I had moved 0.01 miles and was running like 50:00min/mile pace. Mmmmm, maybe something is wrong at the start with this watch.

Same 9.57 mile course measured as 9.58. OK, still short. Seems to be a thing with the Garmin 610. 10.96 mile course measured as 10.86. Still,most people would tell me to shut up because, hey its within the 1% error tolerance that most people expect from their Garmin's, even though my Garmin 305 has measured the same distance for this course for 3 years.

The 9.67 mile course was measured in 9.56 one run, had me going 2 minutes/mile after my 7th mile. Never knew I was Usain Bolt. Start was off again, probably 20 seconds off for first mile.

A 7.3 mile loop is measured as 7.18. OK this is getting frustrating. Maybe its time to start looking at the GPX data this watch produces. Also, I should wear the 305 on a run at the same time.

OK, yesterday did a route that I have measure with tools online to be 12.53 miles. That my 305 consistently comes up as 12.48-12.52 miles for 3 years. Results: 12.52 miles for the 305 and 12.40 miles for the 610.

So I email Garmin Support and this is what they tell me:


Thank you for contacting Garmin International.

I was concerned about possible GPS Drift. The time stamp appears to show the 305 started at .01 seconds ahead of the 610.

After collaboration with the engineers and sending your data to them the difference of .12 is within the acceptable ranges for GPS watches which is 1%. Also you may have had consistent readings with your 305 but they may have been consistently wrong and now you have a watch with correct readings the natural assumption would be that the 610 is wrong when in fact the issue may be with the 305.

I will be detailing in future posts all the errors I found in that run with the 610. I think there were at least 10 spots, probably 15 where the GPX data clearly shows a malfunction with the 610 GPS where as the 305 was nice and smooth.

And I guess I've been consistently running wrong for 3 years with my 305 on courses that it seems to exactly match. Ugh.

The Garmin 610: A Great Watch, Bad GPS and User Support

This will be my first post detailing my questionable experience with the Garmin Forerunner 610 watch.

Background: I am avid runner. I would probably say that I am addicted to running. I was a track runner in high school. Rarely venturing above 800m. I stopped running after high school, only to pick it back up 14 years later in 2004. After years of getting injured during my running restart, I eventually ran my first marathon in 2006 in 3:06 (New York). 2007 was a washout, but in 2008 I was able to train more regularly and eventually run a string of 9 marathons in 3:20, 3:15, 3:01, 2:58, 2:55, 2:52, 2:53, 2:56, 2:48.

I run 3000+ miles a year and a valuable tool I have found was the Garmin Forerunner 305 I purchases in May 2008. It has been great, never had any problems except for the occasional hard reset needed. Earlier this year, it seemed that the battery life was lagging and the watch actually shut off on me during a rainy 25k. However, it still worked, though that new Garmin Forerunner 610 looked promising and could probably be a good replacement for the 305. Oh boy was I wrong.

So, I was in Boston at the Boston Marathon expo when I stupidly remembered that I forgot my Garmin 305 at home. Yes it was not on purpose. Since it was still Friday and the expo was still open I headed over to the Garmin booth, and they still had some Garmin 610's left @ $399.99. I have a great wife and thought of this as a treat for myself as running is really my only hobby.

Everything was great, I ran the marathon in 2:48 and the Garmin 610 seemed to work well. I had noticed that it was a little slow at the start, but nonetheless it measured 26.36 miles. However, once I got back home I would find that the Garmin 610 was not all it cracked up to be.