A Letter to Garmin, Regarding Your Watch and its Effect on My Self-Esteem
To the makers of the Garmin Forerunner 210, ladies’ version, pink and gray, with the nifty heart rate monitor,
First of all, thank you for creating such a cool product. The day I walked into REI with my 20% off coupon, selected my brand new Garmin watch, was told that my coupon didn’t apply to GPS products, and chose to buy it anyway, I realized I was truly a runner. Up until then, I’d convinced myself that a rough estimate of my distance and pace, obtained by my stopwatch and Google Maps, was more than adequate because I “didn’t really care,” and the goal of every run was “just to finish.”
Ha. Then I bought your product, and realized I HAD to know my accurate pace per mile DURING my run, and that I couldn’t possibly do a speed workout or a long, slow distance run without it. I started counting my distance in 1/100th of a mile increments, often running an extra sidewalk paver or two just to round off my total distance to the nearest tenth.
Acting on the premise that if some information is good, more must be better, I wore the heart rate monitor on one run soon after buying my Garmin, but I realized shortly into it that the sensor must have been malfunctioning. After all, there is no way I could be hitting 160 bpm on a relatively easy run, right? So I put it in my closet when I got home and forgot about it for eight months or so.
Fast forward to my half-marathon, my foot injury, and my subsequent two months in an orthopedic boot, and another month or two of rehabilitation, to the days I began slowly, tentatively running my first careful steps.
At this point, I decided to pull the HR monitor back out again…I really didn’t want to overdo it as I started running again, and probably whatever glitch made the monitor read falsely high that first time had resolved itself while it was in my closet. (It’s the same “time-out” principle I use on my preschooler, applied to misbehaving electronics.)
Now, here’s my issue: I may not be able to call myself an “athlete” based on my triathlon or running accomplishments, but I do occasionally like to describe myself as “athletic.” I can swim a mile without stopping, or breaking 125 bpm. I attack some pretty steep hills on my bike without getting off to walk. So really, what’s up with this 178 bpm reading your watch is giving me when I’m running up a hill at 12 min/mile pace? Seriously, are you trying to make me cry? I know it was almost four months I wasn’t running, and I’m sure I lost a little aerobic fitness, but 178??? Isn’t that just 5 or 10 bpm short of cardiac arrest? I’m pretty sure if the number display were color coded, 178 would be in the RED ZONE, probably blinking on and off, maybe with an alarm sounding, too.
I’m not sure what message you’re trying to send me with this obvious overestimate of my effort level (yeah, I was huffing and puffing a little, but I could still speak in two-word phrases…made up of four-letter words), but it’s really hurting my feelings. So do me a favor, okay? When the HR monitor drops its signal, which it does fairly often, could you make sure it does it while I’m running up a hill? Pretty please? Because I just don’t want to know…Running and I are just getting back together after a short breakup, and I don’t want an ugly number getting in our way.
Thanks for your consideration.
A Concerned Garmin Owner