MY NEW RUNNING TOY – road-tested on wheels

The Garmin Forerunner 110.

The Garmin Forerunner 110.

My son thoughtfully gave me a heart rate monitor for my last birthday.

I was touched that he was concerned about his old dad’s ticker, but wait, there’s more… In the package with the heart monitor was a Garmin Forerunner 110, a GPS device designed for runners. It was a generous present, which I’ve been putting to good use, hoping to keep my heart going for several more birthdays at least.

The Forerunner 110 is really intended to adorn the wrists of athletes who care about their personal bests, their lap times and indeed, their heart rates. I’ve been trying it out on my cycling expeditions, on most of which I’ve left the heart monitor at home.

Heart rate 0.00. 'Either this man's dead or my watch has stopped' - Groucho Marx.

Heart rate 0.00. ‘Either this man’s dead or my watch has stopped’ – Groucho Marx.

The Garmin 500 I’ve been using on the bike up till now has some advantages over the Forerunner as a cycling computer, mainly in that it easily gives your current and average speeds in km per hour. You can also make yourself feel good on a stiff climb by finding out the gradient.

The Forerunner, unless I’m not using it correctly (always a possibility) measures speed in minutes per kilometre, which is initially a little confusing to cyclists, used to old-fashioned km per h.

I found charging the thing a bit tricky at first. The watch attaches to the charger via a clamp which sticks four prongs into contacts at the back of the watch. A few times I’ve thought I’d left it charging, only to find that I hadn’t attached the prongs correctly. I’ve got the hang of it now, but it is fiddly.

Charging from the computer. A bit fiddly, I'm afraid.

Charging from the computer. A bit fiddly, I’m afraid.

The battery life is also rather limited for cycling purposes. It promises a week of life as a watch only, and about eight hours when in full GPS mode. I can’t imagine many runners who want to jog more than eight hours at a stretch, but if I forget to turn it off at lunch time it could well run out on a full day’s cycle touring. The same problem could arise on a hiking trip of course. And how disappointing it would be to enter your ninth hour on the road or track, only to have your computer fail to register it!

My Garmin 500 came with a wristband too, so I’ve taken it with me on hiking trips. Unfortunately, being bulky, it tended to catch on the straps of my backpack when I put it on or took it off, as a result of which the clips at the back eventually broke and had to be replaced with Velcro.

There are no such problems with the Forerunner. It sits flat on my wrist with no protruding buttons. I can slip the backpack on over it with no trouble at all.

I’ve sometimes even taken to wearing it as a normal wristwatch.

A watch for those who want to look active.

An everyday watch for those who want to project an image of being a healthy, active, outdoorsy type.

I’ve worn it while playing tennis too. It tells me how many kilometres I run during each set. That turns out to be a slightly disappointing one kilometre per 40 minutes of doubles. And with the Forerunner taking part of my concentration the number of unforced errors tends to creep up alarmingly.

Roger and his Rolex.

Roger and his Rolex.

I wonder why tennis players even wear wristwatches. Surely Roger could ask the central umpire for the time if he’s worried about getting back to the hotel in time to watch the final series of Breaking Bad .

Rafael Nadal wore a ‘lucky’ Richard Mille watch during Wimbledon. It was valued at $690,000. That Rafa sure is one lucky guy!

So if anyone is interested in sponsoring the Tulloch wrist, leave your offer in the comments box below.

YOUR NAME HERE, potential sponsors!

YOUR NAME HERE, potential sponsors!

Meanwhile thanks, son Bram, for the Garmin Forerunner 110. My heart beats a little faster and stronger whenever I strap it on and throw my leg over the bike.

The Garmin Forerunner 110 with heart rate monitor is currently advertised at AUD248.08 from

The untested (by me) Garmin 220 with HRM is advertised by Highly Tuned Athletes at AUD389.


Filed under Cycling

5 responses to “MY NEW RUNNING TOY – road-tested on wheels

  1. I’d love to sponsor the Tulloch wrist, Richard, but I already spent all I have to save The English Bookshop in Amsterdam. It is in dire need of a miracle to keep its heart beating strong.

  2. Ah, the Garmins…….! I received the brand new Edge Touring for Christmas, but quickly found out it hadn’t been sufficiently road-tested. It mal-functioned on several occasions……now I’m in receipt of a replacement,…….well…….watch this space…;0)

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