Posted in Run
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Run GPS computers explained

With a GPS computer you can track your distance, pace, location and your heart rate as you run. This wealth of information provides you with the insight to make your run workout more efficient. This guide will take you through the range of features so that you'll be better able to make a choice on which running computer or watch will suit you best.

Advantages of using a GPS computer for running

Using a running GPS provides you with a whole host of advantages that can really boost your workout, below are some of the key plus points to consider before making a purchase.

Convenience: With a simple push of a button you can track and record your run workout, and easily see this data as you run.

Enjoyment: A run GPS adds variety to your daily run by measuring your performance and tracking your route data.

Optimal training: By providing you with data to hit your target heart rate zones, distance or pace your workouts become more efficient.

Race measurement: A run GPS helps you to pace and focus on your race run during competitive events. In larger races you may not cross the starting line until a couple of minutes have elapsed on the main race clock, so a running computer is invaluable in helping you to maintain your desired race pace.

Garmin Forerunner 910XT GPS Sports Watch with HRM

Training features

A run GPS is a fantastic way to train better and smarter. Below are some of the key performance features you should look for when deciding to purchase a device that is best for your needs.

Motivating feedback: Audible, visual or vibrating alerts notify you when you complete a mile or achieve a personal best.

Interactivity: You can track, download and share post-run data on sites like Garmin Connect, Map My Run or Runkeeper.

Foot pod compatibility: Some systems will track and measure your cadence, which adds another layer to your performance analysis, especially when looking at hill sections.

Navigation: GPS functionality provides you with location and elevation data - is your normal route really 10km? When training, it's important to know exactly how far and how fast you've run, especially if you are building up to a race or specific distance.

Virtual trainers: A virtual partner compares your running pace to a specific target. Not everyone has a running partner - you may very well prefer to run alone - but a virtual running partner can provide you with a useful pacemaker and allow you to hit your targets.

Custom workouts: Most run GPS computers allow you to create custom goal orientated workouts. This allows for more precise training.

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Design features

It is extremely important that you are able to use your device with ease and for its intended purpose. Below are some key design features to consider before making a purchase:

Battery life: Many devices come with a rechargeable lithium ion battery.

Weight: Run GPS computers are lightweight and compact. Most models weigh under 50 grams.

Display: Your device should have an easy to read display that you can easily view when running.

Operating temperature range:  A typical temperature range for your device is -10° C to 50° C.

Waterproof: Most devices usually have a depth rating of up to 30 meters.

Heart rate zones

There are four main heart rate zones (more information heartrate zones on the Cycling Inform Website). They are categorised as:

  1. Recovery / Fat Burning zone - 60-70% of your maximum heart rate. The body uses fat as its energy source and this is ideal for weight loss.
  2. Aerobic zone - 70-80% of your maximum heart rate. Exercising in this zone improves the way your body transports the blood cells around the body, thus improving muscle strength.
  3. Anaerobic zone - 80-90% of your maximum heart rate. This is the training zone where you improve the way your body deals with lactic acid - the burning sensation you feel is the lactic acid eating into you glycogen that your muscles are using as the primary fuel.
  4. Vo2 Max zone - 90-100% of your maximum heart rate. This zone is for very hard interval training sessions. It is normally achieved through fast sprint type efforts, that leave you short of breath and pushed to the limit.