GPS monitoring, geocaching, Garmin Forerunner 50 & Heart Rate Monitor

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GPS monitoring, geocaching, Garmin Forerunner 50 & Heart Rate Monitor

GPS monitoring – Handheld Global Positioning Systems, or GPS monitoring devices, have many uses. A relative got me excited about her portable GPS, and I went with her to buy my own, a Garmin eTrex Legend. She then showed me how to use it for geocaching. The satellite technology allows geocachers to find containers hidden by other geocache hobbyists, throughout the entire world.

The geocaching website allows this hobby to be global as well, as you can download information about hidden geocaches before you travel to another city or country. All over the world, geocachers have hidden small, sealed containers (typically Tupperware, but I’ve found freezer-size Ziploc bags too), then uploaded the satellite directions and an encoded hint on to the geocaching website. As a geocacher on the prowl, you then can print out the web page, or enter the coordinates into your handheld GPS monitoring device. Once you find a container, you can make an entry into the log (usually a small memo pad), take a little “treasure,” and leave one of your own.

For me, the best thing about using my Garmin eTrex Legend portable GPS monitoring device, is that geocaching exposes me to locales I never would have been otherwise. For example, I geocached during a vacation in Maui, and at one point, found myself hiking into the arid, desert like mid-island area. There, through some difficult terrain, up a rocky outcropping, was a partially hidden Tupperware container. Found it!

But even more interesting; the cliff walls in the area had ancient petroglyphs incised on them, dating back to a time long before the US was known as the US, let alone proclaimed the Hawaiian islands as the 50th state. Finding these Maui Paleolithic carvings was an incredible experience, and one I surely would have missed, had I not brought my portable GPS monitoring device along for this trip. Sure, I spent most of the rest of my vacation sipping tropical drinks by the pool, but that is not what I’ll most remember. I’ll remember the long, challenging hike, referencing my Garmin GPS, climbing up those dry boulders, and the dual discovery of Paleolithic petroglyphs and the geocache container.

So, if you have any plans to take a vacation in Hawaii, I strongly recommend experimenting with a GPS and geocaching. It will take you to parts of the islands you might not have gone otherwise. And if you’re in Maui and you find the one near the petroplyphs, look for my name on the sign-in sheet. If the Spongebob Squarepants and Squidward temporary tattoos are still there, you can have them – from me.

World travel doesn’t always have to mean staying in upscale resorts, with exposure to other cultures limited to the local cuisine. In fact, I believe a more worthwhile vacation is one that exposes luxury travelers to a variety of different experiences. Following your portable GPS monitoring to a geocached location is one way to expand your worldview, and enjoy the fun of discovery at the same time.

Garmin Forerunner 50 and Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin are world leaders in mobile navigation technology, and offer products ranging from in-car satellite navigation units to sports watches.

The Garmin Forerunner 50 is one of the cheapest sports watches on the market, and comes ready to be paired with several other Garmin products. These include a ‘footpod’ (to measure distances), a cycling unit (to measure wheel speed), and a heart rate monitor. The watch is fairly basic in design, but offers everything expected from a simple sports watch. It has a large, clear display, and an easy-to-use interface.

The Garmin Heart Rate Monitor

The heart rate monitor that can be bought with the Forerunner 50 fits around the chest, and wirelessly transmits the user’s heart rate to the watch. The heart rate is displayed on screen, and the data is saved (along with the time).

The Forerunner 50 also comes with a USB module and associated software, which allows a PC to ‘listen’ for new data. After an exercise session, when the watch is brought to within 10 meters of the PC, the training data is automatically wirelessly transferred and displayed on screen. This data can then be used to view peak heart rate, average heart rate, etc.

The watch is capable of storing up to 7 hours of data, giving measurements for even the most epic exercise sessions.

The software comes with various other tools, such as the ability to build different workouts based upon heart rate. Online tools are also available, which offer more features beyond the PC based software.

Training Zones with the Forerunner 50

A training zone is a range of, for example, heart rate, for which the user should aim. This zone is based upon maximum heart rate, and different zones correspond to different levels of exercise. The Forerunner 50 manual explains how to calculate these zones in detail. Once a zone is chosen, the watch beeps when the heart rate drops below or exceeds the set levels.

These training zones can be mixed to give a workout session different levels of intensity. For example, for the first 10 minutes, the training zone can be set to between 10 and 20% above resting heart rate, representing, for example, a leisurely walk. This can build to a fast walk in zone 2, then several repeats of jogging and sprinting, and finally to a warm-down period.

Value for Money of the Forerunner 50

A sports watch, heart rate monitor, and software usually costs over £100. The Garmin Forerunner 50 can be bought for as little as £30, and is an excellent introduction to the measurement of heart rates for those who enjoy regular exercise.

The one feature lacking in the Forerunner 50 is GPS – typically seen in more expensive models. However, if used in situations where GPS is not required (such as in the gym), or if used when running on known routes, this feature probably won’t be missed.

When used correctly, devices such as the Forerunner 50 can increase motivation, increase awareness of fitness levels, improve training efficiency, and decrease the risk of injury and over-training.

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