I've always been a Garmin gal. And for no other reason other than it's the brand I've always used, since I bought my first 205 back in 2006. I'm not the most technie of people - my 5-year-old could beat me on technical skills hands down - so I guess it's a comfort thing too.
The major benefit of the TomTom Runner Cardio for me, is the built in heart rate monitor. And that's the sole reason why I was lured away from the comfort blanket of my Garmin. I don't do every run with a HRM, but since following Phil Maffetone's HR training plan last year, I like to do easy runs based on heart rate rather than pace. Keeps me honest. Plus, it's always a good gage of current fitness and recovery.
How the TomTom monitor works "Your heartbeat is measured by using light to measure changes in your blood flow. This is done on the top of your wrist by shining light through the skin onto the capillary veins just below the skin and detecting the changing light reflections"
The Crawley 12 hour track race (April 2013) was the first race I'd run by heart rate. It was something I was testing - for when the race really matters - and I found it to be a more efficient and effective way to "pace" a looped course, when GPS goes a bit hay wire. The result was my best paced race - ever!
The major problem I have with the Garmin heart rate monitor is that it doesn't go tight enough to fit securely round me frame. You can snigger, but we all know the strap is placed on the chest under the breasts, don't we? I can only wear it with a T-Shirt bra over it to keep it in place, other wise is slips down to my stomach. It drives me nuts. And, more importantly, effects the accuracy of heart rate stats. I'm often spotted on my easy commuter runs with my hands up my tshirt, trying to reposition the heart rate strap, so for me a GPS watch with an inbuilt heart rate monitor is a little bit of ingenuity.
But could it match up to my beloved Garmin...? Well, here are my favourite things about the TomTom Runner Cardio
1) I'm not harping on about it. Scrap that, I will harp on about it. The built in heart rate monitor is a major, major plus.
2) It pick up satellites much quicker. I tested it wearing the Garmin and the TomTom and the TomTom won every time. For someone who starts a lot of runs in the city centre, this is a great bonus. Usually I could be half a mile down before I get anything. Just think of those missing miles I could have clocked on Strava!
3) Comfortable, better fit and It can be used for everyday watch. Granted it's not the ultimate in girl's accessories, but still it looks OK. I would never ever consider wearing my Garmin for any longer than necessary.
I'm still getting my head around the main functions and settings on the TomTom, but so far there doesn't seem to be anything better or worse than the Garmin. Just different. Simply, habit forming really. The Garmin has become second nature to me and I press buttons without being consciously aware of it on runs. Even if I forget my watch, I often catch myself pressing phantoms buttons on a phantom watch on my wrist.
Will keep you posted.