<-- Here is what I did last night. It's a run, plotted out with my amazing new Garmin Forerunner 305, which arrived yesterday. I wear it on my wrist, with an optional chest strap heart rate monitor. It tracks my position, speed, calories and heart rate and does an amazing job of organizing, analyzing and presenting the information it gleans. Last night's run was a set of speedwork intervals. I did a 2 km warm-up, where you can see my pace (minutes per kilometer) meandering along at about 7 and my heart rate (red) gradually increasing due to the hilly grade. For the remainder of the run what I did was alternate 0.8 km of speedy running (about 5 minutes per km) with 0.2 km of 'recovery' (the blue spikes, where I slowed down a lot). You can see the corresponding peaks and valleys in my heart rate. I just love this sort of thing. I'm such a geek.
But seriously, since I don't have access to a measured outdoor track, this is really helpful. I'm following a running program with prescribed paces and distances and other than going to the community gym and running indoors on the treadmill (yuck!) this is the only way to get those details in the ballpark.
It uses GPS satellites to track position on the ground and calculates route, pace, speed, etc. from that. If I plug it into the internet it'll plot my route out for me using Google Earth. We have owned an early-generation GPS receiver for 7 years, which we've used for geocaching, but it doesn't do a very good job of receiving the satellite signals on trails and between mountain ridges. Which is really mostly where I run. This new-generation GPS receiver is incredible. It helps to be in the open when it first gets its satellite bearings, but after that it does just fine on tree-shaded trails on the sides of mountains. Sweet!