Getting familiar with the Garmin
Here are some photos of what you'll be looking at:
|Front face: lap/reset button and start/stop button|
|Right side: enter button, and up/down arrow buttons|
|left side: power button and mode button|
Here is a quick rundown of what each button is for:
power button--turns the Garmin on and off
mode button--changes screens by taking you BACK a screen
arrow buttons--used to scroll up and down in the menus
enter button--to make a selection
lap button--this is used in a few different ways. Typically, you will press this when you want to mark a certain location. For example, you can press it every time you run around your block, to later look at the time it took you to complete each "lap".
start/stop button--You'll press this at the beginning of your workout to start it; then you will press it anytime you want to stop the clock (either to finish a workout, or if you stop to chat with a neighbor, and you just don't want that to "count" on your run).
When you first turn on the Garmin by pressing the power button, you will see this screen:
Sometimes the satellites will be located immediately, and sometimes it takes a few minutes. It helps if you are outdoors and standing still. Once the satellites are located, you'll see this screen (or something similar):
|Main screen: each box is a data field|
From here, you can immediately decide to go for a run (or walk), and all you have to do is press the "start/stop" button one time. The timer will start, and as you move, you'll see the distance is starting to increase too. You can just run or walk until you're ready to stop, and press the start/stop button again to stop the timer. Viola! Your workout is done, and the information is stored.
Also shown on the very bottom of the main screen are the following:
|This shows full battery, 7:33 AM, 'run' mode (vs. bike), no heart rate monitor strap found|
Once you've turned on the Garmin and gotten to the main screen, press the mode button one time. You'll see this:
In a nutshell, here is the rundown on those categories:
History--You can view your past workouts to see your distance, time, pace, calories burned, etc.
Training--This is where you can set up interval workouts, race against a virtual trainer, and create advanced workouts.
Navigation--I don't use this, but you can see the coordinates of your location. There is also an option to 'go back to start' where it gives you a map on how to return to where you started your workout from (a nice option if you're lost). I won't talk about this in the tutorial, because I don't use it.
Settings--This is where you set up your user profile, the main screen, etc.
When using the Garmin for the first time, you'll want to change the settings on some things. So scroll down to settings using the arrow button, and then press Enter. You'll see this screen:
|The "settings" screen|
General--You can change the data fields that you view while running, select a language, choose whether to hear an alert sound, change your user profile (sex, age, weight), and change the display.
Running--With this button, you select the sport of running (running and walking are viewed as the same on the Garmin, so if you're a walker, you would still select 'running'); this is used when you bike as well as run, so you can switch back and fourth between biking and running mode. The running section also allows you to add weight (say you're carrying a baby on your back). You can change your speed units (minutes per mile, or miles per hour, or kilometers, etc). You can also change your pace "zones", which I'll write about later.
Biking--Same as running, only you would use this section to switch to biking mode from running mode.
Other--If you do another sport (skiing?) I've never used this, so I won't be writing about it.
When you select the General button and press Enter, you'll see this screen:
|General settings screen|
Data Fields--This is where you can change the data fields that you see while running.
System--You can turn the GPS part off to use the watch indoors as a timer/heart rate monitor; change the language; and select whether to have tones on or off.
User Profile--Here is where you select your sex, birth date, and weight (for calorie burning accuracy)
Display--Here is where you can select the backlight options, contrast, and "auto scroll" (which I'll explain later)
When you select Data Fields, you will see this screen:
The running and biking ones are exclusive for each sport. Biking is shown in miles per hour rather than minutes per mile, and there are some other differences. The Main 1 and Main 2 are shown for either sport.
To set the data fields that you'd like, use the arrows to select Main 1, Main 2, Running, or Biking and press Enter. You'll see this:
Changing the User Profile
Press the Mode button until you get to the "general settings" screen again:
|User Profile screen|
As far as the system screen, I won't get into this much. You can read the instruction booklet if you need to change something. I never use it.
The only option on the Display screen I've ever used was the "auto scroll" feature. Turning that on will allow the Garmin to automatically scroll through your data field screens (Main 1, Main 2, Running) while you're running. I don't use this feature, as I prefer to press the arrows to change screens when I want to.
To change sports on the Garmin (from running to biking and vice versa), go to the 'settings' screen that looks like this:
|The "settings" screen|
To change from biking to running, go to the settings screen (by pushing mode until you see it) and select "running". Then choose "use this sport".
Once you're done with your runs, you will probably want to view your history (see how well you did). Press Mode until you see this screen:
When "History" is highlighted, press the Enter button. Then you will see the following screen:
As I said above, I have my Garmin set to auto lap at every mile mark. Every time I run a mile, I hear a beep, and later I can go back and look at my mile splits like I showed above. To set this feature, press Mode until you get to this screen:
Scroll down to Auto Lap and press Enter. Here, you can select how often you want the Garmin to mark a "lap". You can select "Off" "By Position" or "By Distance".
Off--Just means that you won't have any laps to view; your workout will be shown as a WHOLE.
By Position--You can set the auto lap to mark each time you run past a certain point. This might be good if you're running laps in your neighborhood, and you want it to lap each time you pass your house.
By Distance--My favorite. You can select a distance that you want the Garmin to mark as a lap.
When choosing a distance, you can choose it to be any distance you want, but I choose 1 mile. You can also switch to kilometers--this might be fun if you're training for a 5k, and you hear a beep every time you pass a kilometer.
I leave the auto lap on at all times.
Another feature of the Garmin that I love is the "Workouts". Press Mode until you see this screen:
Scroll to Workouts and press Enter. You'll see this:
Interval--The interval workout is my favorite workout feature. This is especially useful for those of you doing the Couch to 5k. You can set it to do simple intervals, like every 1/4 mile, or you can set more complicated/specific like in the C25k program (run 30 seconds, walk 1 min, run 60 seconds, etc). To set up the Interval workout, do the steps above except select Interval instead of Quick. You will see this:
You just scroll through, selecting the distance you'll run hard, the time (or distance) you'll recovery, and the number of repetitions you want to do. (A repetition counts both the hard running and the recovery running--so choose the number of times you want to repeat the two of them together). You can also choose to add a warm-up and cool-down if you'd like, that won't count toward your intervals. Then scroll to Done? and press enter. When you're ready to run, just press the start/stop button and go.
The Advanced workout option is where you can create you own type of workout, with whatever goals you want. I created the Couch to 5k workouts here, where it's kind of scattered the first couple of weeks. You can choose to run a certain distance or time, or even in a certain heart rate zone. There are lots of options here, so I won't get too detailed. Just play around with it.
Something else you can do with the Garmin is set "Alerts" to notify you when you're not reaching a certain goal. For example, if you want to keep your heart rate in a certain zone, you can set it to beep when you are working too hard or not hard enough. You can also do this with your pace--it will beep if you're going too slow or too fast.
To set the Alerts feature, go to "Training", then "Training Options" (as I showed above), and select "Alerts". Here, you can set a Time/Distance alert, Pace alert, or Heart Rate Alert (for 305 models). Once you select that, you just fill in the fields with the information you choose, and it will alert you.
I will warn you, though, the alerts can be pretty annoying while you're running. I don't use the alerts because I don't like hearing the warning beeps. But it's always an option.
The Garmin comes with a USB cable that you hook up to the computer, and it will read all the information from your Garmin. You can upload the info to Garmin Connect (or Running Ahead, which is the program I like), where it will store everything, and you can use screen shots like I do on my blog. Explaining Garmin Connect would take an entire tutorial itself, so I won't get into it here.
The Garmin 305 comes with a chest strap that you wear when you want to use the heart rate feature. This is the most accurate way to get a heart rate (rather than the ones that just use your pulse on your wrist). It also makes the calorie count very accurate. I've found that the 205 version seems to give MUCH higher calories burned than the more accurate 305. The chest strap is very comfortable, and I actually forget I'm wearing it.
Okay, I think I'll leave the tutorial at that. There are other features, but these I've shared are the ones that I use the most. You can keep it really simple, like I showed in the beginning, or you can do some fun stuff with the Garmin.
I absolutely LOVE my Garmin, and I insist on wearing it every time I run. It's great for training for races, but also to see improvements in your running (or walking or biking) times and distances. It's a little pricey, but I've had mine for about 5 years, and it's still going strong.
The 205 and 305 are exactly the same, except the 305 has the heart rate strap (which is optional, you don't HAVE to wear it for the Garmin to work). They're pretty close in price, so I would recommend getting the 305--I like keeping track of my heart rate.
This whole thing may make the Garmin seem overwhelming, but once you do it a few times, you won't know how you ever ran without it!
(By the way, I am in NO WAY affiliated with Garmin, and I received nothing for writing this. I just love my Garmin and I want others to see how to use all the cool features!)