Running Gear Review – Nike Plus Vs Garmin Forerunner 205-305 GPS

As a gadget and tech junkie, it was to my good fortune that my initiation into the world of distance running roughly coincided with the appearance on the market of several new high-tech running gadgets: the Garmin Forerunner 205 and 305, and the Nike+ system. I have used both the Garmin Forerunner 205 and Nike+ for greater than 6 months each, and what follows is a review and comparison of my experiences with them.

The Nike+ System

Back in 2007, I was just beginning my life as a runner, and I was looking for tools to help me progress. The Garmin Forerunner and Nike+ systems both had instant appeal to my techie side, however I was initially hesitant to invest the several hundred dollars (at the time) needed to buy a Forerunner. I was also swept up in the excitement surrounding the introduction of the Nike+ system, and my first pair of “real” running shoes were Nike+ ready. Since I owned an Ipod Nano, and had shoes that could accommodate the little Nike+ foot pod accelerometer internally, I decided to give Nike + a try. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say at the outset that I no longer use the Nike+. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone since it does have its benefits and uses. The Nike+ certainly helped my running in those early days, and the motivation provided by the on-line Nike+ challenges was great. I liked being able to gauge my pace, track distance, and record my runs on-line. But for a perfectionist like myself, the Nike+ has some major drawbacks.

The most serious problem I had with the Nike+ was that it was only really accurate if I ran at the same steady pace on every run, and stuck to more-or-less flat ground. Any deviation from the pace you calibrate it at messes up both the pacing data as well as the distance recording for your run, and at times I found these measurements to be quite far off. Now, for many runners this is not a big deal, but if you like to mix up your training and include things like intervals, tempo runs, and long, slow runs, the Nike+ comes up way short. Furthermore, for me as a road racer, tenths of a mile and accurate pacing data matter a lot, so these shortcomings presented some major problems. That being said, I’m glad that I used it, and it did help a lot when I first started out. Even after I upgraded to the Garmin Forerunner 205, I did still continue to use Nike+ for treadmill runs (this probably goes without saying, but GPS doesn’t work on a treadmill). The Nike+ recordings on a treadmill are accurate enough, and in my case are more accurate than the readout of my treadmill’s own data console (it has never worked quite right for some reason).

I do believe that the Nike+ can be a valuable tool for a new or recreational runner. It’s cheap (less than $30.00), so it won’t dent your wallet too much if you decide you don’t like it, and the website and on-line community associated with Nike+ are both motivational and interesting. If you’re a new runner just starting out, or an experienced runner who tends to run most of your runs at the same pace, then the Nike+ would be a great addition to your running toolbox, and would surely provide some motivation for you to hit the road. However, as mentioned above, it has some major drawbacks for a serious runner who cares about missing tenths of a mile or needs really accurate pacing information.

Garmin Forerunner 205/305 GPS Wristwatch

If you want a personal running computer that will allow you to take your running to the next level and permit you to mix up your training runs with speed and long distance, you’re going to need something more than Nike+. I, unfortunately, am a perfectionist, and the inaccuracy of the pacing and distance data provided by Nike+ continually bugged me (and I was growing tired of mapping my runs on-line to figure out actual distances that I had covered). So, after about six months of consistent use, I decided to relegate the Nike+ to the treadmill only, and I asked Santa for a Garmin Forerunner 205 for Christmas. Sure enough, the fancy new GPS wristwatch was in my stocking, and it has not been absent from my wrist during a run in over a year. Simply stated, this is one of the coolest and most useful gadgets of any kind that I own, and it has allowed my running to progress in ways that probably would not have otherwise occurred.

First, let me explain the difference between the two current-generation Garmin Forerunner models (a fancy new waterproof model is on the way – the Garmin Forerunner 310 XT – but I’ll explain in a bit why I’d still go for one of the current ones for now if you’re considering a purchase). The two current models are the Forerunner 205 and the Forerunner 305. The only real differences between the two watches (besides color – the 205 is blue, and the 305 is red) are that the 305 can sync with an included heart rate monitor, an optional foot pod accelerometer (for the treadmill), and an optional speed-and-cadence sensor for your bike. Otherwise, from what I can gather, they are virtually identical. Given the minor price difference between the two Forerunners (about $10.00-$15.00 more for the 305), it would seem to make sense to go with the 305 if you’ve decided to buy a Forerunner.

So, I have now been using the Forerunner 205 regularly for over a year, and I have absolutely nothing but good things to say about it. The pacing data is right on (I have run enough chip-timed races with the 205 to verify this), as is the distance data. In addition to time, current pace, and distance, I have three data screens (which is the max on the 205/305) set up to show such variables as average pace, elevation, percent grade, calories burned, and time of day. Of all of these, the only one that seems somewhat iffy from time to time is the elevation, though if you smooth it out in one of the training programs that sync with the Forerunner, elevation patterns look pretty good as well. So far, I have pretty much exclusively used the Forerunner in its most basic mode – to simply track my data while I run. It is possible to configure things like training/pacing partners and interval workouts on the watch, and to use it as a (very) basic real-time GPS mapping device for things like hiking, but I haven’t used it much for this. In addition to running, I have used it while walking, snowshoeing, and biking (less extensively), and it works great for all of the above.

For me, the two features that matter most from a training and racing standpoint are accurate pacing and distance measurements, and as I said above this is where the Forerunner blows away the Nike+. I actually trust the Forerunner more than most of the on-line mapping programs when it comes to calculating distance, and being able to import all of my data into the computer is great. For the latter, I have skipped the included Garmin Training Center software and instead use an amazing, free program called Sportracks. Sportracks downloads all of the data from the Forerunner and lets you look at it in almost any way that you could possibly want. Among other things, Sportracks gives you GPS route maps, tons of data graphing options (e.g., pace vs. distance, pace vs. elevation, mile splits, etc.), and keeps a detailed running log that includes run times/dates, weather conditions pulled from the internet, distances run, and calories burned. As a scientist who loves data, Garmin Forerunner + Sportracks makes me one very happy runner.

A few last comments about some potential concerns with the Forerunner bear mentioning. One of the concerns I initially had about these watches was their size. Yes, they are big, but I have never noticed it as a nuisance while running, and I actually think the size is a positive rather than a negative since it makes it easier to read your data on the go. This is one of the major reasons why I would probably not consider upgrading to the newer and smaller Forerunner 405 – if you pack too many data streams on a small screen then things could get awful hard to read at mile 20 of a marathon. The other concern someone in the market for a GPS watch might have is the forthcoming new Garmin Forerunner 310 XT, which is waterproof to 50m and offers wireless data transfer. It would take a lot of new bells and whistles for me to spend an extra $100-$200 to choose to purchase the new 310 XT over the current 205 or 305. The new watch looks sportier, and the wireless sync feature is nice, but I don’t really care if I can dive to 50m with it on. If for some reason I’m out for a run and I wind up 50m underwater, I probably won’t be resurfacing to make it back home anyway (though in all seriousness, I can see how the 310 XT might be useful to a triathlete). For me, I’ll stick with the 205/305.

Hopefully I’ve given you a feel for what the Garmin Forerunner 205/305 can do. Really, there’s probably a lot more that it is capable of than what I have discussed here, but the best way to experience it is to try it out. As a runner who has now completed 1,266.01 miles (did I mention that I love accuracy!) with the Garmin Forerunner 205 (and it’s still going strong, with no major problems), I can honestly say that next to my running shoes, this is the most essential piece of running gear that I own. I highly recommend the Forerunner – get one and you won’t be disappointed.

National Level E-Commerce Strategies For Developing Nations and Emerging Economies

I wrote an article before trying to mention three major national levels in which I think the developing nations and emerging economies should follow in order to get the benefits of E-commerce; which are Raising awareness about the benefits of E-commerce among their societies, Applying Electronic ways of doing business for their enterprises, whether small medium or large businesses, and making Governments play the leading role in the advancement and application of E-commerce such as through applying E-government technologies. In this article I would try to add other major strategies which I think should be given priority.

1. E-commerce Policy making

Driving E-commerce policy is among the major strategies that developing nations and emerging markets should focus. No E-commerce transaction can be done without a policy. Policies could be country specific with the current conditions of the nation. However, nations can take lessons from each other.

2. Use of Local language

Lack of local language Internet content is one of the obstacles E-commerce is facing in the developing nations. English is the most widely used language over the Internet. There is a high need of content by other languages ‚Äč‚Äčespecially those from the developing world. Thus it is very important for the societies of these nations to prepare Internet content with their own language. It is also another effective strategy in order to promote E-commerce in the nations.

3. Gender issues – giving equal access

In many countries, women make up the majority of the rural population, which is often marginalized in terms of telecommunications infrastructure, education and training.

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, E-COMMERCE AND DEVELOPMENT REPORT 2003

Most developing countries and emerging economies lock half of their E-commerce capacity behind doors. If all E-commerce opportunities are given with equal access for women, changes could be doubled. Thus, these nations should be sensitive on gender issues. Equal access for education and infrastructure should be granted if they want real change.

4. E-commerce Infrastructure

Telecommunications, banking, Hardware and Software are among the major infrastructures E-commerce needs to run. Unfortunately, the high cost of Internet, hardware and software are obstacles that limit E-commerce activities in the developing world. Infrastructures are primary for the establishment of E-commerce. Thus, these nations should set strategies to eliminate this problem.

Extreme Sports Activities in Pattaya

For those who think Pattaya is a nightlife centre and only comes alive at night, check out the extreme sports available to add excitement to your days.

If water sports are your interest, there’s wind surfing, and kite surfing. You can windsurf all year round, but the ideal time of the year is January to end of March, when there are moderate west to south west winds around 8 to 12 knots. For kitesurfing ( or kiteboarding) enthusiasts, the best time is March to June when there’s moderate south westerly winds and low tides making wide beaches, which are ideal conditions for novices.

Windsurfing and kiteboarding lessons are held at the Blue Lagoon Watersports Club, on Jomtien south beach. The area is reserved for wind powered sports only, so there’s no annoying jetskis to contend with! The waters in the Pattaya area are safe. During the wind season there are no jellyfish or sea urchins and there has never been a shark attack recorded in Thailand!

Windsurfing lessons are given by Amara Watersports, owned by Ex World Champion Windsurfer Amara Wichithong. If kiteboarding is your sport, there are several courses, from a 4 hour introduction to a which will prepare you for your first ride on the water, to a 3 day course that will make you a independent kite boarder.

For scuba diving enthusiasts, Pattaya offers a host of diving activities and good diving conditions all year round. Diving trips to Pattaya’s Islands are available every day. Pattaya is Thailand’s wreck diving capital, you can choose from several wreck diving courses. If you’re an experienced diver, then consider a specialised course like underwater photography or a technical diving course like a rebreather course (no bubbles so you don’t frighten the fish!) or a cave diving course.

Adventures in the air abound in Pattaya, learn to fly an ultralight, or a paraglider, or if jumping out of plane appeals to you, there are several skydiving courses available. A great way to start is with a tandem skydive. There’s all the thrill and sensation of free fall, as you enjoy a panoramic view of the world below you. As you travel through the air, an expert skydiver is in control, managing the parachute and bringing you safely to earth.

Paragliding allows you to float on thermals and soar like a bird across the countryside, in a silent and effortless fashion. Courses from beginner to advanced pilot are available. Paramotoring courses are also available.

For the adrenaline junkies, Pattaya has two bungee jump locations. Take a ride to the top of a 50 metre tower and leap towards the earth in the knowledge a bungy cord will stop you before you reach the lake below!

If you’re a speed freak, you’ll love the bike track days at Bira International Raceway. Your bike is a powerful but controllable, race bred Suzuki GSXR-750. On site specialists help you set up the bike to suit your style of racing, and ensure you have a fun filled day!

Product Marketing in the Virtual World

With enormous progress of the World Wide Web, the concept of markets has changed drastically. Markets are no longer restricted to a certain territory or piece of land. In fact the WWW has introduced the concept of virtual markets to us. The concept of internet marketing services deal with marketing of the products put on sale online. Internet marketing services brings together both the aesthetic and technical aspects of online marketing like designing, development, advertising and sales.

The several techniques of improving internet marketing services are:

  1. Increase traffic to your website by search engine optimization (SEO). This is achieved by appropriate use of keywords and metatags. With better search engine optimization done by experts, the visibility of the site will increase and marketing of products will get a boost.
  2. Use of techniques like pay per click (PPC) programs can direct more traffic to the website. It acts on the principle of creating ads and linking them to keywords. You only pay if you click on the links.
  3. Use of banner ads, running vertically on top or bottom of the web page, or sky scraper ads, running on the left or right side of the web page, are colorful and graphical ways of IM. However, these are old ways and losing popularity slowly.
  4. E-commerce newsletters, emailed to clients, are also great ways of improving internet marketing. They allow development of relationship with clients.
  5. Buying ad space for an online magazine similar to buying space for a print magazine. The amount paid for buying the space depends on how much traffic the magazine generates.
  6. Using online directories is also a useful alternative. A site can be featured in one of the online directories tat ranges from city guides to online yellow pages.
  7. Conducting online auctions are similar to auctions in the real world. The seller quotes the minimum price and interested buyers start quoting their price.

The several advantages of online marketing are:

  • Marketing not limited to geographical boundaries
  • Cost effective for sellers and buyers
  • Availability, presence and visibility spread over 24 hrs
  • Display of full information and all details of products
  • Increasing returns on investment
  • New markets available to sellers, overseas markets

One thing that is a major drawback to internet marketing is that there is no scope for face-to-face interaction that is available in other real world marketing strategies.

There are certain aspects one needs to be cautioned while buying IM products, ie

  1. Buying from a fake site: Do your background research well
  2. Buy from a trustworthy site: Sometimes the products do not resemble or live upto the promises of the products seen on screen.
  3. Check for guarantee: Make sure you buy a product that offers guarantee.
  4. Beware of internet marketing gurus, who often trap you by their convincing statements to believe in false promises.