I’ve made two equipment upgrades that have been worthwhile enough to mention. Next to my garage door sits a shoe rack with about 6 different pair of running shoes. I have shoes best left for muddy runs, rocky trails, a pair waiting for a marathon, one for the summer when I can smell the oak leaves roasting in the warm sun, another when a soft ride is important and the rest are my grab ’em and go pairs. I’m trying to simplify my shoe collection and get down to one or two that I can take with me and wear no matter what. Something light, that can be worn with or without socks and can be used on the trails or pavement. And I think I might be down to a single solution. The New Balance 1010RD is my new favorite running shoe.
I’m surprised because I wasn’t a big follower of the minimalist running movement. This shoe is not a “barefoot” style shoe but it does have only a 4 MM drop. Yet there is some bounce in the shoe and it is light, incredibly comfortable without (and with) socks and feels great on both the trail and pavement. I’m not sure how they would feel for 26.2 miles on the road but so far they feel great after a some runs of 7 to 8 miles.
I picked a pair up for $40 from the New Balance Outlet store and already have stashed a couple extra pairs away.
My other upgrade is a new watch. I’ve been trying out the new Garmin 620 watch and this will be my new watch. I had been eyeing the new Garmin 220 and 620 when they were announced last October but thought I’d be frustrated with only half the battery life of my 310XT (rated at about 20 hours per charge). Both the 220 and 620 claim about 10 hours of battery life when recording. But I’ve been more and more frustrated with 310XT ANT syncing and having to carry 2 watches: a daily watch to tell the time and then a “running/GPS” watch. However when I really thought about it, I realized I don’t need more than 10 hours of recording. 90% of my runs are about an hour and so I stopped worrying about having enough battery life for the exception. If the need arises where I might require up to 20 hours of recording, then I can pull out the 310XT or I’m sure Garmin will soon release an 910 upgrade.
After using the new 620 for about a week, I’m sold on this watch. For one, I’m down to a single watch. No more wearing a watch during the day and then switching to a different running GPS watch. The 620 is both a watch and GPS tracker. It doesn’t stand out or draw attention like some of the other tracking watches. And when it is not in recording mode, the battery lasts days. So within a few minutes after a run, it goes into a low power mode and only displays the date/time. Then the next time I head out for a run, I resume from the lower power mode and start recording. I was able to go 5 days between charges using it as a watch and during those 5 days I recorded about an hour run each day.
For me, the main reason for going with the 620 over the 220 was the built-in wifi on the 620. Being able to walk in the door and have the watch upload via my wifi without requiring an ANT+ connection has simplified the process. Also firmware updates are automatically downloaded. This is a natural evolution of the Garmin watches and I’m not sure why it took so long to integrate wifi. It’s too bad the 220 doesn’t offer the wifi or that would be a terrific deal. The extra $200 for wifi can be hard to justify.
The 620 has other upgrades too and if you are a data junky they might be more important to you. Along with the new heart rate monitor, the watch measures V02 Max, cadence, vertical oscillation and ground contact time. After a week of normal running, my cadence is about 167 steps per minute, about 10.5 centimeters vertical oscillation and around 225 milliseconds ground contact time. Both the vertical oscillation and ground contact time are only measured when wearing the new heart rate monitor. And at the end of each run when wearing the heart rate monitor, the watch will perform a V02 max calculation. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but it has calculated mine at 57. The watch also includes a race predictor to predict your finishing times from distances from a 5K to a marathon. No 100 miler predictor yet for you ultra runners.
I’m pretty sure I couldn’t run a 2:53 marathon right now, but the encouraging prediction is impressive and provides some hope. My Garmin Connect page updated with more data points when it detected the new watch. I was curious if Strava would incorporate any of the new watch features. I uploaded an activity to Strava and it looked the same to me as if I had used the 310XT.
Overall, I’d give the 620 two thumbs up and would recommend it. If you are out running 12 hours on Saturday and Sunday, you might need to wait for the 910XT upgrade. For me, I’m more than happy I made the switch. The extra data isn’t that important to me but having wifi is a game changer.