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Monday, 16 January 2017

Garmin forerunner 735xt - I've replaced my Firbit Surge!

More Gadgets!!I just can't help myself! Just a disclaimer RIGHT NOW, I love all my gadgets but I don't particularly know that much about them. And I'm by no means a fitness freak either!



Soon after doing my half marathon last July, I signed myself up for the Bath Half.. not sure what I was thinking really as the latter part of the year wasn't exactly filled with lots of training!! To begin with my excuse was that I needed a break... then it was too close to our holiday so no point and I'll get back to it after. Then I had a load of crap go on at work and my mind was elsewhere, then had a pregnancy and miscarriage. Then it was too close to Christmas... yeah you can see the pattern here! Always an excuse!

Anyway, part way through all of this (I think it was after holiday before pregnancy), I brought myself a new running watch. It's NOT a Fitbit one!! It was stupidly expensive, does more then I'll ever understand and I thought it might motivate me a bit!

It's a Garmin Forerunner 735XT
It looks so much smarter than my old Surge for a start! To be fair it should for the price difference. It's some bit of kit! To start I just went on a walk and worse the surge too just to test it out.


This not only shows how different they look but also the difference between the heart rate sensors at that given time! 3bpm in it, that's pretty cool (I was marching round at this point to have a heart rate that high!)! I really liked my Fitbit but just wanted a more watch like looking watch and something that was a bit more hardy. It' looks okay in that picture but the rubber was starting to wear on my fitbit and there is no way of replacing it. At least with the Garmin you can change the straps! The Forerunner 735xt is a Tri-Watch which is fab as I can now use it for swimming too. This means I have sold my Garmin swim and can use this as an all in one, so much better than having to swap which device I am wearing all the time. The wrist based heart rate monitor doesn't work in the pool though, but I also have the band, which I'll take about later!

The only major downside for me really is that although it does count steps, and it is as accurate as the fitbit surge, I don't think it's as accurate as my Fitbit one (which I wear on my waistline) and I can't wear the watch at work. Which means I am still always wearing my Fitbit One which I use for my overall step count then get the rest of the data from the Garmin. It's okay doing it this way but there is no way (unless anyone out there knows it) to sync steps from Fitbit onto the Garmin dashboard. I have tried everything!

Anyway, lets go back to running for now... between them, I think the GPS is pretty accurate also, below is the same run, tracked on each device.


I have shown the data here via the Endomondo app as it't the easiest way to directly compare from two different places. As you can see, there is only .01mi in it in terms of distance, That could be that I cut a corner or something! The main difference between really is the heart rate data. To be fair these two runs were months and months apart (were the only two I could find on the same route) and I was vastly fitter in May then I am now. However I think this is interesting because I also now have the Garmin HRM-Tri band for more detailed heart rate and running data! I know, all the gear and absolutely NO IDEA!! This has given me different data again. Therefore I think the wrist based heart rate data is good at giving you an idea (they are within ballpark of each other) but for specifics, they probably aren't that accurate really.


This is the HRM-Tri. I took a while deciding whether I needed it and then which one to buy as I also wanted to use it swimming. They also make the HRM-Swum and sell them as a bundle. As this ones meant for triathletes, you can swim with it too but they recommend if your doing more pool swimming, to get the Swim band. I think the band is more 'sticky' (or whatever) so that it stays on better when doing turns in the pool. For my this isn't an issue as I wear an all in one swimsuit which keeps it in place, I can imagine for men though then that might be an issue. Realistically I don't swim enough to warrant having two bands! I don't even run enough to warrant this one!


This is the difference between the heart rate data using the band and the wrist. To be honest I think the wrist data had an off day that day as usually its not that low; but then that just proves the point.


This is my swimming heart rate data. I have only used it once and have never had heart rate data swimming before so it's difficult to compare at the moment. I think it't interesting how varied my heart rate is!

I don't think I ever blogged about the accuracy of my Garmin Swim watch however on this first use, like the swim watch, I don't think the 735xt is any more accurate at counting lengths. It thought I swam 21 lengths when I actually did 34. That's pretty awful. To be fair I swam one other time with this watch and is was much more accurate than that (but still not perfect) so I wonder if my swimming style was a bit hap hazard and it didn't really know what I was doing.

Aside from the heart rate and swimming, the band also gives you in-depth information about lots of different running 'things' I'm not sure I understand!


So I guess stride length is pretty self explanatory! How long my stride is when running. Looks like I vary quite a bit at the moment!


Run cadence - the amount of steps I take per minute. Apparently if you have a low cadence, you have a long stride. If you have a shorter stride length and a higher cadence, the quicker you run? I think?


Vertical ratio is the ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length. It is displayed as a percentage and generally the lower the percentage, the better your running form.



I think the ground contact time balance is pretty self explanatory too, how much contact each foot has with the ground. It looks like I am pretty even which I assume is a good thing!

Now I have all this information I should probably learn how to use it! I have only used the band twice, once for swimming, once for running. At the moment I am incredibly unfit so it will be interesting over time to see how the data changes and maybe I can start using it to improve too.. watch this space!

Now onto the Garmin Connect services! I have read that quite a lot of people don't get on with Garmin connect. I can't say that I have an issue with it. Well only that the social side of it is pointless as no-one else I know has a Garmin. This is a bit of a shame really as I have loads of mates with Fitbit's and the social aspect is quite nice; challenging each other to increase step counts etc.

This is what it looks like from the Android App


The sleep monitor in the Garmin isn't as good as the Fitbit. You have to set average sleep times for it to consider you as sleeping. This is fine much of the time and then is as good at detecting sleep, however when I am on night shifts it has no idea I have slept during the day. My Fitbit always just auto knew so I didn't have to change anything but the Garmin doesn't. And often when I've been lazy in the evening it sets me sleeping when I am actually just in front of the telly. As you can see in the picture it says I slept for 10hrs last night. I didn't, it just didn't know when I slept so its put in the max hours I have set the likely sleep time for.. if that makes sense? I can go in and manually add the time I went to bed and woke up and then it will look at the activity overnight and work out the sleep, but it' just not as intuitive.

It shows you your active calories for the day and syncs with My Fitness Pal to show you what you have consumed and have left. Up until today I had My Fitness Pal set saying I was moderately active with negative calorie adjustments set using my step count from Fitbit. I think this was too confusing for it because Garmin took my calorie count and added calories from extra exercise straight to it but wasn't taking calories away if I was still on a low step count. I know that doesn't really explain it very well but basically it was thinking I always had loads more calories then I really did. As of today I have set it to 'sedentary' and taken off calorie adjustment therefore anything extra I do will add up like Garmin wants it too and therefore should be more accurate. I think I was confusing it (and myself) by trying to draw information into My Fitness Pal from two different sources.


This is just a glimpse of some of the data pages for an activity on the Garmin Connect app. I think its perfectly fine!

What else can I say about it? I think I have covered pretty much everything I wanted to. Overall I really rate the Garmin for it's ability to capture exercise data. However I am not quite jacking in my Fitbit love just yet! For the time being, using both (by both I mean the Garmin watch and then my Fitbit One - not the Surge) is doing me just fine. I think the fitness tech world is absolutely saturated with all sorts of devices, apps and companies all competing and as of yet there is not one of them that does everything perfectly.... This could lead on to me also reviewing the kit that the husband is using (Sony Android wear watch with a Wahoo heart rate band) but I'll leave that for another day!

Sorry to bore you all!!

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