Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Runners Review: Timex Marathon GPS

I've been upping my mileage from a few laps on the local high school track to spending an hour or two running the neighborhood streets hoping the cardio would help lower my cholesterol, boast my endurance, and improve my overall health.  The problem was I had no idea how far I actually was running during these fartleks which would be helpful information when determining if I was strong enough to run a particular distance for a race.  Wouldn't be good to think you were in great shape for say a 10 mile race thinking your training runs were 5 - 8 miles long when it turns out you were only averaging 3 or 4 miles instead.  Especially when you aren't in "peak" shape it often seems you have run a "long distance" that sometimes just isn't as far as you thought.

As a "recreational" runner I didn't want to invest hundreds of dollars into a GPS watch but I did want to get one that would help me get an accurate grasp on my training.  I found the TIMEX MARATHON GPS WRIST WATCH priced at $99 but on sale for $79 and with my wife's Kohl's cash I walked out the door with it for around $50.  I thought that was too great of a deal to pass up when the only other equivalent GPS watch I could find was around $89.  I have to say while there have been some disappointments with the watch it has overall worked out well for how I use it - which is mainly to check my mileage and pace after I've wrapped up a run.

The TIMEX MARATHON has had great battery life, my run workouts normally last 1/2 hour to an hour on average and I only need to recharge the watch once a week for a couple hours by plugging it into my computer.  Based upon my use, I'm sure that if you wanted to use the Marathon for a marathon it's battery would get you through the race.  Another great feature has been the GPS, I have not had any problems picking up a strong signal anywhere I've run including along tree lined streets, downtown urban areas with tall buildings and on forest trails.  The GPS has been very accurate as well.  I went back and traced one of my first runs using the TIMEX MARATHON with my car and its pedometer matched the watch's results.  I was curious if the watch would work if I was just running circles and wore it over at the high school track and it accurately tracked the number of miles I ran on the track. So it works well for my primary need of tracking my mileage during a run.

Pace is a little different issue.  The watch works well for giving you a breakdown of your overall pace and pace by settable distances such as quarter mile, half mile, or mile marks.  It also has a feature that shows your pace while running.  I have found that it takes about a half mile of constant running before it provides an accurate pace speed and this is an estimate of your movement between GPS pings so it doesn't seem to be 100% accurate while you are running compared to the final info you are given when you wrap up your workout.

Unlike some other watches, this watch doesn't provide a computer program to allow you to map your routes and workout/race data on a pc or mac.  It does allow you to save some info of past workouts on the watch but I haven't found that very useful.  It is also not very user friendly in utilizing and flipping through its features, especially while on the run.  I've been a little stunned on how difficult they have made it to operate this watch when it could have been made a lot simpler to use.

A plus has been with this watch that it has been very light weight and comfortable to wear.  I hate to admit it but I've been genetically cursed with small wrists for being a guy and this wrist fit me real nice without looking like something built for the ladies.  So this watch would be functional for women as well as men looking for a GPS watch.  In fact the design of the watch makes it gender neutral so anyone can wear it and enjoy it.

If you are looking for a watch to help you with in race pacing or intensive training this isn't for you, but if you want something that is comfortable for the casual runner that will provide you with dependable information on exactly how many miles you have run, or maybe walked, during a workout or race based on the price this is a bargain that gets the job done.  So if you lose track of where you are on a road race course this watch will let you know that you are at the 3K point of a 5K race or if you've been jogging for a half hour it will let you know how many miles you've actually put in your workout.  For my purposes that has been extremely useful and I haven't needed the extra bells and whistles on other more expensive GPS watches.  The TIMEX MARATHON isn't a perfect watch but it gets the job done.

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