Sunday, 7 August 2016

Garmin 10 vs Garmin 220

When I first started running, I tracked my runs using my phone and the Endomondo app. It was when I ran one of my first 10Ks that I realised, due to my terrible iPhone battery, I was going to need an alternative for my upcoming first half marathon.

Phil bought me my Garmin 10 for Christmas 2013, and from day one I adored it. It's the perfect first GPS watch. It's not overly complicated so it's easy to use for a beginner runner. It has your distance, your time and can be co-ordinated to show your pace or calories burned on the second screen and can be easily linked with Garmin Connect (which can then be linked with Endomondo, or whatever you running app of choice is) through connecting the cable to your computer. As a beginner-to-intermediate runner, it had everything I needed and I adored it.

But as my distance started to increase throughout marathon training, I started to have issues with the battery life. I was starting to find I was getting a "low battery" warning some of my longer runs, even if I'd just unplugged it from charging before the run, and after doing some research learned that the battery life for the Garmin 10 was about 4-5 hours, with many users reporting it was closer to 4 hours. I realised, with only a few weeks to go until my marathon, that with a goal time of 4.5 hours, there was a chance my little Garmin might die at some point during the race.

I started researching options, and at first considered the Garmin 15, which had a lot of the same features as the 10, but with a longer battery life, however, I decided if I was going to pay for a Garmin upgrade I should probably really upgrade. Along with the battery life, there had been a few little frustrations I'd found with my Garmin 10 - I couldn't set intervals so was forced to used my Endomondo app for interval runs, it was a pain to upload my workouts by plugging it into my laptop, and sometimes it felt like it took forever to find my location.

Nevertheless, I was really reluctant to spend £100+ on something I didn't really need, just because of the battery risk. I considered borrowing Phil's GPS watch for the race, but after trying it on one run really didn't love it. I dithered for weeks, but eventually settled on the Garmin 220, and then dithered for a few more weeks as the price suddenly jumped up on Amazon. I ended up purchasing it elsewhere (I can't find the email and can't remember where it was from!) for about £120.

But as soon as the watch arrived, and as soon as I tried it out, I was in love. It is a huge step up from the Garmin 10. 
First off, it's really smart to look at. A few weeks ago I was wearing it after parkrun and Phil just said "your watch it really fit". I would definitely wear it as a regular watch!

When I first took it out for a spin, I admit it took some getting used to. Unlike the 10, you can actually start tracking if you haven't found GPS signal, but I learned the hard way that this isn't a good idea, and one day definitely ran about 1.3 miles with my watch saying it was only a mile. I have to admit I haven't found it that much faster than my 10 when it comes to finding signal, but I live in a city centre with a lot of tall buildings, so it's always a bit slow.

The Garmin 220 has three data screens on the home screen, compared to my 10s two, so it took me some time to figure out what the best layout of these screens were. I also learned from my first run that the "auto-pause" function, which I always used on my old watch for crossing the road or stopping to tie my shoe, is really buggy and sensitive and stops ALL THE TIME, so I've had to get used to manually stopping my watch whenever I stop, which isn't all bad.

It's definitely a watch for data geeks, which is perfect for me. I love being able to see my current lap pace right on the screen when I glance down (you can also have average pace and current pace) but I admit this can be a blessing and a curse if you're on an easy run and are trying to take your pace easy! I found this absolutely invaluable during my marathon though when I knew I had to keep a specific pace to hit my goal. It also saves me from all the running maths I used to do in my head while running. It also has a second data screen, so you can have up to 6 different data sets at one time. I do find the pace is sometimes a bit all over the place for the first two or three minutes after it resets from a new lap, but you get used to that quite easily. 

One thing I will add here is this can get in your head a bit. I find it quite tricky not to keep constantly checking my pace, even on easy runs, and if you're anything like me, this can make it quite hard when you're trying to keep a gentle pace. No matter how easy you're trying to take it, it can be hard not to speed up when you see your pace dropping! Just something to bear in mind if you're a bit obsessed with numbers like I am!

Another feature I love is that it vibrates as well as bleeping when you hit a your lap (in my case, every mile), which is perfect if you have headphones in and might otherwise miss the lap pace.

It also collects loads of data you can't see on the watch once you connect it to your Garmin Connect app, WHICH CAN BE DONE VIA BLUETOOTH!! This is an absolute game changer for me, and probably my favourite feature. It takes less than 30 seconds to update my Garmin Connect app, which connects straight away to my Endomondo account. I love looking at things like cadence and elevation within the app.

And of course, there's the battery life, the whole reason I bought it. Unlike the 10, it actually has an "off" button, which means the battery lasts miles longer as you can turn it off when not in use, and because the battery life is shown as a percentage it's much easier to see when it needs a charge. 

Unlike the Garmin 10, the 220 has an intervals function, which I LOVE right now as I've just started training for my next half marathon. Previously, I had to put my Garmin aside and use my Endomondo app in order to run intervals. With the Garmin 220, you can create the intervals within the watch (not, as I previously thought, just on the Garmin Connect website). You set whether or not you want a warm up and cool down (you don't set the time of these, instead you just run as press the "lap" button when you're ready to start your interval) and then set your intervals by distance or time, rest periods by distance or time, and how many reps. It counts down how long you have left to run, rather than counts up - which I really like - and bleeps in the last few seconds before your interval or rest ends, and then vibrates when it's time to start your next interval or rest. I've tried this a few times and it's great. It's also really easy to see your splits in the watch afterwards. The only downside is you can only set one interval at a time, so when I move from 5 x 400m to 6 x 400m I'll have to update the one I have set, but even as I type this I realise that will take a maximum of 20 seconds to do.
Overall, as you can tell, I'm really glad I upgraded. I would definitely recommend the Garmin 10 to a beginner who doesn't need to level of data that the 220 can give you, but if you're an intermediate runner who wants a bit more from your GPS watch, I can't recommend the Garmin 220 more.

Just to add, this post is in no way sponsored! I just wanted to give an honest review of the 220 and I know I always benefit from reading a thousand reviews before a big purchase!

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