Garmin vivofit versus Fitbit

Last year after reading lots of reviews, I bought myself a Garmin vivofit. Then in the summer I was sent a fitbit, so I have mostly been wearing both of them each day. I thought it would be good to have a comparison.

First up, the Garmin.

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That little red line is a hint that I have been sat down for too long!


Long battery life (a year).

Easy to wear (watch strap). (I did read reviews of the strap coming off, but this has never happened to me and as the strap clips in, I can’t really see how this has happened).

Fairly accurate with steps and miles (I have compared the distance after a morning run, eg parkrun, and it’s very close to my actual Garmin).

Uses the Garmin software/ website (which I already use with my GPS watch).

You can earn vouchers via

You can choose the display- time/ steps/ steps to goal/ miles/ calories, and easily flip between them.

The red line appears as you are inactive, and gets longer the more you stay still. I didn’t want a buzz or a flash or anything.


The app (you upload via bluetooth) seems to keep crashing, and I have had to re-install it several times on my phone

Annoying wearing two watches when I am running (but I want the steps)

I can’t see how to change the time, so when travelling I had to put my phone on wifi, then bluetooth, then synch it, and then the time would change. This was all OK until I didn’t have free wifi, and then I could not do it- annoying when I use it as my watch.


Now the Fitbit:

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I like the fitbit interface on the website.

They sponsor parkrun! Hooray! And somehow if you have a parkrun barcode you can get a discount.

Connects via a little USB thing in the laptop, does this automatically so no need to remember to upload.

You get a weekly email with your steps- this is interesting to look at and easier than logging on to the website.

Also earns vouchers via


Annoying to wear- you can clip it to your waistband, but I found it kept popping off when I went to the toilet. I tend to wear it in my pocket, but I don’t always have a pocket so sometimes have to clip it in my bra.

Not such an accurate step count (generally says more steps than Garmin).

It sends you personal messages on the screen (“You rock Maria/ Let’s go Maria/ Climb it Maria”-Climb what fitbit??  I find them annoying but I think they are meant to be cutesy).

Battery life is rubbish! One week! You get sent an email when it is about to run out, but sometimes I don’t see this until the evening, and it’s run out in the day.

You can’t wear it while it’s charging so you miss out on steps!

No constant display (which means the battery life baffles me even more)- you have to press a button and it then shows a picture (mine is of a flower), time, steps, floors (this is a very weird feature), miles, calories. You can’t leave it on one, and have to flick through (and endure more “motivational” messages) each time.

It doesn’t have an incentive on the screen- for example it doesn’t tell me when I reach my daily goal. I don’t mind this too much, but seeing as it is meant to promote being active, a + symbol or something would be good to show that you are now working beyond the goal.

No idea how to change the time. While away I plugged it into Andy’s computer, but that didn’t change it at all.

No reminder when you are inactive for a time. Sometimes if it is still, and then you move it, a “motivational” message appears, but nothing to say how close to your goal you are, or how long you have been inactive for.


So, as you can probably tell, I much prefer the Garmin, but I really like fitbit as a company (especially as they support parkrun). What would you look for in a tracker? Do you have anything to add to any of these lists?

*I bought the Garmin one myself. I was sent with fitbit in exchange for a post about Fitness First (which I published a while ago) with no request to review it. All opinions are my own.

Virtual 10K race

So, back in the summer someone in my running club mentioned that she was the ambassador for a virtual 10K race, as it was raising money for a charity close to her heart (SANDS- Stillbirth and Neonatal death charity). So I popped over to the website (here if you are interested, it might be my new addiction), and as well as signing up for a September 10K, I signed up for a Summer 5K- look at the gorgeous medal! How could I resist that?

IMG_20150828_153939570So, I had to do the 10K in September, and I had pencilled in last weekend (would rather not do one after work, and had the wedding the next weekend, and a family do the weekend after). On the Bank Holiday Monday I had a lovely 6 mile run on a new route, so I decided I would race myself on that route. I had to add a bit to it, as I needed to make it up to the 6.2 miles for an official 10K, but that was easy as near the start I just turned right, left, left, instead of going straight on.

So anyway, Sunday morning I set my alarm for 7.30, and was out the door at 8. I even did a few minutes of dynamic warm ups. Sort of like a race warm up.

The weather was pretty good- sunny at times, overcast at others, but cool, not too windy, no rain. Just good running weather. I had looked on Strava briefly before I left, to see the time I needed to beat, but because they take out the not-moving time, I wasn’t quite sure of my total time. In the end I aimed for better average pace, as last time it was 10.19 per mile.

I was enjoying listening to marathon talk (slowly catching up still), and amazingly I didn’t have to stop once for traffic when crossing roads.

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I passed a few OH ladies and called “morning” to them, but other than that I saw hardly anyone. When I got home it turned out I had run 6.3 miles (but then normally in a race I would loop about the route a bit when passing people)- 1:01:06 (Strava says 04, which must be the stop before I pressed stop).

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As soon as I stopped my glasses started misting up- not sure why but it always happens in the winter (and here I was outside, not even going inside in the warm).

I sent the picture of my Garmin off (via email) and then they sent the medal out. I was in the results table online the next day- it’s all very speedy.

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My medal arrived about a week later. And yes, I wore it for a bit, because, well, why not? It came with a note saying they had raised £600 for charity which I think is fantastic too.

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A bonus- a medal photo without the sweaty hair of after a race!

After a shower and a little muesli (I am learning that I must eat soon after I finish a run to combat headaches), it was time to head out as we were going out for lunch/brunch with Andy’s parents. We had a lovely wander around the town before settling on Bill’s, and as it was the weekend they were still serving brunch- pancakes for me, hooray!

Then we went to the new independent cinema, to see The Man from UNCLE, which, despite never seeing the TV show, I really enjoyed. It was sort of like a Bond film, but with less cliches. I’ve only been there once before, to see a Studio Ghibli film, and that time we sat upstairs which is just nice comfy normal seats. This time we sat downstairs- we had 4 big comfy wheelie chairs, and a little table- the chairs could spin around so in the adverts we could chat (whisper), and in the film we could spin around and face the right way. It was so much nicer than our local multiplex.

After a walk back to the car, we went back for tea and cake. I had baked a batterburg the day before, adding some ground pistachios to one part of the mixture to make it green.

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Would you be tempted by a virtual race? I don’t think I could run as fast as I do in a race, and you don’t get the medal right after, but honestly some of the medals are so pretty. They have a Christmas series of 5k’s and one of the medals is a reindeer! So, yes, I might have signed up…

Parkrun wins and a field of cows

This week has been busy (the start of term always is). On Tuesday I had a lovely run with the OH ladies (we did 5.85 miles, and so in the car park ended up doing loops to round it up to 6 to make our run leader happy), but on Wednesday I was tired, got home late, so just had tea and TV instead (and a little walk). On Thursday I had a late meeting, and got home after Pump usually starts, so on Friday I went for a run after work. I didn’t plan a route- initially I thought I would do an out and back, but once I got onto the fields I decided to try the loop (I have not done that since the time with the creepy man).

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It was only when I got to the cow field gate that I realised I was wearing a red top! (Although that apparently is a myth). I could not see any cows, so I decided to run through as fast as I could, and was very relieved when I got to the other side!

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It turned out they were in another field, and I did think about running through it to avoid a big boggy patch, but look how big the horns are! And it was right by the path! Instead I amused myself by taking some cow selfies (they are on the other side of a fence).

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That’s how I feel when I see them! I do not want to run in the same field!

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In the end the route I took ran along the side of the field (on the other side of the fence) and in the corner there were some calves- they took a big interest in me and slowly walked towards me as I took some pictures.

It was a really fun run in the end- I did around 4.5 miles, and although the overall time took longer (because of the stopping and taking silly photos) I managed some speedy miles according to Strava. And do you know what? I love seeing animals on my runs, and I love stopping to take photos, and it was just fab to have a run where the time, distance etc didn’t matter. I was glad no-one came past as I was taking my silly pictures though! Also, I saw so many blackberry bushes and was so annoyed that I had forgotten to take a sandwich bag with me. Next time maybe.

So, I was debating on my haircut last week. But in the end, the lure of parkrun was too great. So I headed off on Saturday morning.

One of the OH ladies was tail running, so I chatted her for a bit but after last week (where I did a lot of stop-starting at the beginning) I decided to start in the middle, but the RD wanted everyone to move up a bit, so I ended up being really close to the front. It was a bit of a sprint start for me, and the muscles around my hips/ glutes were burning after a minute or so. It took a good mile for me to get my breathing back, but then the sun came out and it was just so pretty so that helped take my mind off it. Often the middle mile is my slowest, even though it is mainly downhill, so I decided to follow one of the run leaders advice and use my arms- I normally only use them on hills (well, I forget to drive them properly) but as I was tired after the sprint start I decided to see if they would help me power through.

The final mile felt tough, but I told myself that I was close to the finish. I think I was really grimmacing as I ran up the final hill (well, attempted to run- it really feels like going backwards!)- one guy who had finished shouted some encouragement which helped.

As I got my finish token I was surprised to see number 110- I think normally I am around 140-170, but I did wonder if it was a smaller turnout.

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A bit muddy! May have to get the trail shoes out soon!

I felt pretty rubbish when I stopped, so I quickly got my chip scanned, bought a drink from the coffee van, and headed back to my car. The chai latte perked me up, and I noticed that an OH lady had parked behind me (we have the same car) so I waited for her to walk along and had a quick chat.

I was very pleased when I got my text though- my time was 27.55, which I think is my second fastest time. My pb for that course is 27.44 which I got on my birthday. Also, when I did the San Fran one, I did it in 27.45, and that was a totally flat course, so to be close to those times was pretty pleasing.  There were 232 runners, so not really a smaller turnout. I don’t really do parkruns for the time, but a new pb (or getting close to one) is always good. Plus according to Strava (Strava is my friend right now as it takes out all the stopping time for me) I did my fastest ever mile effort, at 8.35! And a segment PB on “steep slog”, which according to the map is around the lake. Gosh lots of stats- basically, I was happy!

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I had some buckwheat pancakes + cherries for a celebration!

Then it was time to get ready for the wedding- of course it would have been nice to have two people dry my hair for me, but it was fine for me to do it myself.

The wedding was lovely- it was a uni friend, and so we picked up another friend and her husband on the way, got to the venue early so popped into town for a drink (and I ended up getting some boots from White Stuff- I saw them online but they were out of stock in my size- 20% off too!), then headed to the wedding. It was in such a lovely setting, and the weather was just perfect- sunlight streaming in through the windows, lovely photos outside.

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There was a meal after in a gorgeous country pub a few miles away, so we spent the evening enjoying dinner and catching up, before driving back home.

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Loved the cute little wedding favours.

This morning I took it easy, had breakfast, and then went out on a run at about 12, although it was rather warm and I realised after 2 miles that I had only had a cup of tea to drink- not the most sensible. I made up my route as I went along, doing a combinations of routes that we have run with the club (including that hill)- at one point I ran through a little path and got stung by stinging nettles.

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I was loving the sunshine! (Well here I was loving the shade as it was getting pretty warm and I was wishing I had worn a vest and not a t-shirt).

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7.77 miles! All the lucky 7’s! I was pleased with that too!

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Sadly I had already had breakfast, so could not have pancakes- I made do with a quick lunch of ryvita, tomato pesto, avocado, coconut water and half a flapjack (saved the other half for later) as I had to rush out to the shops before they closed.

Do you stop on runs or do you prefer to keep going? Do you plan out routes in advance? Did you have a good weekend?

My version of Grasshopper Bars

When we went to the Hummingbird Bakery, one of my friends said she normally got a graasshopper bar, but they didn’t have them this time. When she described them, they sounded amazing- a chocolate base, a minty filling and chocolate on top. I fancied making some, but after a lot of searching I mainly found recipes for grasshopper pies. So I made my own.


I have a good brownie recipe, but it goes very squidgy, so I used one instead of two eggs to make the batter a bit less liquid.

(Melt together 100g butter, 175g caster sugar, 25g dark chocolate, 1tsp golden syrup, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Leave to cool. Beat in one egg, and sift in 100g plain flour and 25g cocoa powder. Pour into a brownie pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm).


To make the filling, I warmed 200ml cream (I used alpro cream because I had some, but normal would work too I am sure) until tiny bubbles appeared. I put 200g white chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and poured the warm cream over it. I stirred it until the chocolate melted, and then added a tsp peppermint, and a little green colouring. I put this in the fridge to cool while the brownie base cooled.

It does look a bit lumpy at first, but I promise if you stir gently it will all melt and go all thick and gloopy. Not a good recipe word, but that is how it is.


After spreading the cooled mint filling over the base, I melted 100g dark chocolate and drizzled this over the top, although that turned out to be an awful lot, and I think 50g would have been fine.


Mmm I just love the chocolate and peppermint combination- I already want to make them again!

Have you ever had grasshopper pie?  Weekend plans?

I shall be parkrunning in the morning- hooray!

Parkrun- dream vs reality

I always have pretty vivid dreams, but they are normally about something I am worried about, and parkrun is something I look forward to (especially when I missed the previous weekend). Now, I had volunteered this weekend for the new runner briefing again, because that would mean I could still run it, so perhaps I was still a little worried about doing that. Also, someone in my running club had mentioned a new parkrun in Hoddesdon (not much further than Panshanger) so I must have been thinking about that too.

So, the dream:

I am travelling to a brand new parkrun, to do the runners briefing. I get there are 8.30, and begin to try and find the start among a sea of fluorescent-clad runners. I realise I still have my handbag with me, and a rucksack, so try and find Andy’s mum (who was going to watch) so she could hold my bag. I felt bad because there was a long walk from the start to the finish so she would have to carry them a long way. My shoes were not tight enough to I have to keep pulling out more and more of the lace to make them do up. I walk up and down a steep steep a few times, trying to find someone in charge, but I can’t spot the high viz jackets because everyone is wearing bright tops. Then I realise the date- 12th September, and remember that I am meant to be at Panshanger. I have a bit of a panic wondering how I am meant to let them know that I am in the wrong place. Then, we line up. Andy is there, and we are both wearing our Southampton 10K tops. When the guy says “go” we both sprint off  down the hill, with only about 4 others, but are told we false started so have to jog back to the start.

The reality:

I get up, have some water, potter about, empty the dishwasher, pack my tennis visor, check my emails. Drive to parkrun. I see the run director, but he can’t find the laminated prompt sheet, so he writes down the main points for me. One of the OH ladies is tail running, and one is chip scanning, so I chat to them for a bit.

Time comes for the briefing- I stand in my high viz jacket and wave, and have a big group- around half were tourists and half were new to parkrun. No questions, but a guy on a bike turned up late so I go through it with him. The rain is holding off so I leave my visor in the car.

I go to the back and chat with the tail runner, then we listen to the start talk (two people were doing their 50th run). We go. As I am right at the back, it is very stop start, as it narrows through a gate and then along a woodland track. I was not aiming for any time, although I have given myself an unofficial target to keep them under 30 minutes each week. After a mile I catch up with another OH lady, so I say “hi, enjoy” before I pass her.

Past the fields, the track widens out, so I overtake a few more runners. I shall make the most of the downhill, I decide. As we run down through the sheep field (although no sheep to be seen) I try out the grass instead of the track- I think it was a bit faster.

At the 2 mile point my watch beeps, but I don’t look because I want to run on feel- this feels hard but enjoyable- I still have the energy to thank the marshals and smile.

On the final hill I am digging in and someone overtakes me seriously sprinting! I try to say “good work” but I think I just panted something incomprehensible! As I finish one of the marshals (who is RD sometimes) said “well done Maria” to me, which was lovely – I can manage a smile, but then the current RD passes me and asks me how I got on- I could not answer very well! That hill is tough! I saw a few of the OH ladies so we chatted a bit, before heading back to our cars. I bought a chai latte from the coffee van, and while in the queue I saw a guy who was a tail runner with me back in the summer- he had just run it with his wife- it was her first parkrun- hooray! After that, it started to rain, so I put my hoodie on and headed home. Perfect. I think the reality was better than the dream! My 48th parkrun too!

2015-09-12 10.18.01I was showing off my OH hoodie.

Now, I have a dilemma. Next Saturday I am going to a wedding. It’s a small wedding (not sure if this makes a difference), and is more relaxed than normal. I need a hair cut, so I tried to book one, but the only time they had was 9am on Saturday. Those of you who share my love of parkrun will feel my pain. It’s worse because the next weekend we are meeting family near Birmingham, and the weekend after we go to Bournemouth for the 10K, so I won’t go to one for ages.  So, do I keep the appointment and have my hair done for me, or re-book for later, go to parkrun, and do my hair myself? I think you might be able to tell which way I am leaning. But my hair really needs to be cut!

Do you have vivid dreams? Shall I parkrun on Saturday?