Garmin 910XT, or “Onward to Mordor!”

Posted: November 16, 2015 in Equipment
Tags: ,

(Disclaimer: I recognize that when I say “new” in this post, I actually mean “new to me” in that this device is probably already outdated and possibly obsolete. But the fact that I am even using one at all given that I have the technological prowess of a retarded chimp, is to be commended.)

As of this past weekend, my faithful Garmin Forerunner 305 is no more.

Lest we forget.

I suspect it happened this past Tuesday night (click HERE) somewhere along the 3rd or 4th hill repeat up and down Welland Vale Rd.. It was a cold, rainy and miserable night; the kind of night where most sane people would remain indoors with a pizza and cup of hot chocolate. Not me. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to slip inside the “Pain Closet” for an hour or so and run hill repeats. But then again, no one has ever accused me of being totally sane. Anyway, while I might have been totally down with a little suffering, apparently, my aged and decrepit Forerunner felt otherwise and at some point in the workout gave up the ghost, let out a sad and pathetic ‘bleep’…and up and died.

I didn’t stress too badly though as, at the time, I just figured it was just the harsh weather playing up in that it had just lost its satellite connection and not it’s overall will to live but, come Friday morning the issue persisted. After a quick call to Garmin support services, they confirmed the worst: my Forerunner 305 was no more.

Rest in peace, my old friend.

I have suspected the end was near for a few months now as it has – like an old and failing Italian man – it had become increasingly cranky and difficult to work with. It refused on occasion to sync with my computer or the Garmin Training Center, it offered up corrupt files which wouldn’t take to the Garmin.Connect website, and it even refusing to hold a full charge. Still, like a sick and ailing pet, I refused to take it out behind the shed and put it out of its misery. Let it never be said that I am not loyal by nature.

Unfortunately, Tuesday’s weather was the last and final nail in the coffin and, finally, after six glorious years of dedicated servitude, enough was enough and it shuffled off this mortal coil once and for good.

Anticipating this tragedy, I had already invested in a replacement Garmin 910XT that Kelly had located on Kijiji a few months ago. So my back-up plan was already in pocket (or, ‘wrist’, as it were) and I decided to bring it out from the sidelines and bust it out of the box.

When I opened the box out fell about a dozen pieces and I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat and proceeded to begin jack-hammering like a quarterback on prom night. Let’s just say that bricks were definitely shat. Hey, it’s not without a lot of trepidation that I ever take on new technology (it’s true, I welcome new technology like an orphanage welcomes a five alarm fire), or any other deviation from my usual routine for that matter, so when bits and pieces started to spill out I was all like:


But what other choice did I have? Fortunately, after a quick check online I discovered that I didn’t really need all the different adapters, ANT devices and shit. All I needed really was the device itself, and the USB charging clip. I immediately calmed down. I was freaked out though to learn that the particular version that I had purchased was the one that did not come with a heart rate strap!


Thankfully, Garmin support to the rescue (thanks, Josh!) and they instructed me on how to sync my current 305 heart monitor with the new 910XT and in seconds I was back in business with all the yellowed, sweaty residue that’s currently growing in the crevices of my current heart rate monitor living on like last years’ charcoal remains on your backyard BBQ adding to the taste of next seasons burgers.

Whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?

There was nothing left to do then but fire it up, strap it on and go for a run.

I won’t lie. It felt like I was cheating. But what choice did I have? I couldn’t lose that all precious data and, besides, you know what they always say, “you have to pick yourself up and move on”.

So move on I did.

A few things hit immediately about the new device. First, it’s infinitely cooler looking. I mean, the one thing that the Forerunner did not have going for it was style. It was like this ugly, bloated red tick that had attached itself to you and stuck out from the end of your arm. Seriously, you could spot a 305 from orbit. The 910Xt is black, sleek and – dare I say it – sexy looking. Secondly, was how small and lightweight it is in comparison to the Forerunner 305. I guess this makes total sense since the 305 is about 6 years old now and technology, moving at the breakneck pace it does, well, it stands reason to believe that would definitely be the case. So, for a change, it was not like running with a breadbox strapped to your wrist.

Check out this comparison:



So that’s kinda cool.

Furthermore, unlike the original plastic wristband that came with the 305, which conversely, snapped and split almost immediately upon use, the 910XT band is – wait for it – comfortable! I almost didn’t even know it was there. Even better, there is also a Velcro band available for the 910XT just as I got with the 305 but I figure I might not even need to spend the extra money given how comfortable it is already.

Another feature I liked immediately was, while being the smaller of the two devices, was how BIG and easy to read the display screen is on the 910XT which, with my failing eyesight these days, means I don’t have to squint at the screen while I hold it inches from my face while I run or cycle. And, hey, anything that doesn’t make me feel like an old fart is a total bonus these days.

Nice touch Garmin!

But so far, these were just all just the instant cosmetic assessments. What it really comes down is its functionality which, truthfully, is where I begin to get a little intimidated.

The biggest issue I have with Garmin currently is that their products are no longer supported if you’re still running Windows XP – which I am. I know, I know, I’m not exactly an “Ambassador of Change”, remember? So I already knew that wirelessly syncing the 910XT to the ANT device I use for my Garmin Swim and, therefore, Garmin Express, was going to be next impossible. And my next call to the Garmin support team (thanks again, Josh!) confirmed this. I was well and truly fucked now with no way to load my workouts from my new device to my Garmin Connect catalog of awesomeness.

Luckily, I had a Plan B:


Well, Kelly’s laptop to be specific.

So with a little anxiety, frustration and – I admit it – a little arguing, swearing and shedding of tears (on my part, of course) we (she) managed to get the Garmin Express program loaded onto her computer and synced with my Garmin Connect once again so I could successfully log all my workouts once again.

Home free!

Everything else is simple since much of the 910XT operates much like the 305 did with all the same functionality and tools. Well, what I actually use of the device anyway. It calculates my covered distance, time, pace, average pace, heart rate, burned calories, time of day, total ascent and descent, etc. Anything else to me is the beginnings of dabbling in sorcery, witch craft and hocus pocus just shy of, say, devil worship.

Having said this, there are some neat additions to the 910XT that I can (and will) take of advantage of.

For example, I can use my new Garmin 910XT for open water swimming. Yeah. I can use it in the pool too and it will do everything my Garmin Swim will do but I have grown to love my Garmin Swim and, in keeping with my loyal nature, will not be removed from my swim routine. But the open water is a different story. Now I can track my open waters swims come spring and summer using the same recordable stroke metrics that the Garmin Swim does in the pool, but also with a rough distance as well. I say ‘rough’ because it’s not quite perfect.  See, the way GPS works every time my arm drops below the surface of the water GPS signal is lost.  That’s to a large degree just the nature of GPS signal strength.  So each time during my stroke recovery (the part above the water) it has to reacquire GPS signal and then plot a data point.  The challenge will be that sometimes it doesn’t quite get an accurate GPS point during that split second recovery.  That’s where the ‘open water swimming mode’ comes in.  It will use an algorithm to make a guess at where you actually swam, and will determine a distance.



Likewise, I can also use the Garmin 910Xt whenever I go skiing or paddle-boarding but, really, the chances of that ever happens are slim to none. And then there’s a cadence counter to track my footsteps during a run if I want to purchase an additional foot pod (I don’t), as well as measure all my power output while cycling providing I have a power meter and the software to use it (I don’t). I can even track indoor dry-land swim training if I was so inclined to do so (I’m not). Shit, I’m pretty sure it will also fix me up with a stack of buttermilk pancakes and a green smoothie if I ask it to.

So, yeah, while I still mourn the tragic loss of my beloved Forerunner 305, maybe this new 910XT thingee won’t be so bad after all.

Now if only Garmin would get working on something to accurately predict the next winning lottery numbers…

  1. Jeff C says:

    If I worked for Garmin I’d be like ‘this guy! we need more of this guy!”

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