TomTom Runner GPS Watch Review

TomTom Runner GPS

The TomTom Runner GPS Watch is the first real product from TomTom in the highly competitive GPS watch category. This watch has some great features, including some fun graphic modes that are almost too good in that you want to look at the screen instead of run. It’s a solid entry that should be looked at by most runners.

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Garmin Heart Rate Monitor Broken After Battery Change

garmin-hrm

The Garmin Premium Heart Rate Monitor and the Garmin Standard Heart Rate Monitor both rely on the CR2032 battery. When replacing your battery, it can sometimes cause a power overload of your device and can make your Heart Rate Monitor inoperable, leaving you befuddled as to how it’s not working when you just replaced the battery! This is actually a very common problem that many users have come across.

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Troubleshooting Your Garmin

It can be frustrating when you’re just heading out for a long run, and you realize your trusty Garmin isn’t working. Panic that you’ll have to run without your GPS, fear that it is truly beyond repair, and sadness that you may have just lost a good friend all run through your mind at once. Luckily, troubleshooting your Garmin isn’t too time consuming, and may save you from having to buy a whole new watch.  This article is how to reset your Garmin. Here’s an article about your Garmin warranty.

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Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS Running Watch

Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS Watch

The Garmin Forerunner 220 GPS watch provides both the real-time encouragement and long-term trend analysis. Built for the runner who’s willing to go the extra mile, it’s simple to use, lightweight to reduce fatigue, and one of the most popular GPS watches on the market. As the little cousin to the Garmin Forerunner 620, the FR220 holds its own. [Read more...]

Garmin FR620 GPS Running Watch with Heart Rate Monitor

Garmin Forerunner 620 GPS Running Watch

Wow. I haven’t seen or heard as much hype about a new running watch in a long time. The Garmin Forerunner 620 is one of the latest and greatest GPS watches on the market. As the “big brother” to the Garmin FR220, it has more features, its more accurate, and has greater capabilities to improve your personal goals. I’ve only had a day to look at it, but here is my Garmin 620 review. Click here to buy one now.

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Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Watch

The Polar RCX5 heart rate monitor and watch is proof that you don’t need GPS capabilities to be cool. This baby can do some really cool stuff besides just monitor your heart rate. It has a few features to help you improve your endurance, get the most out of your workout, and can be used by runners, swimmers, or any other endurance athletes. Click here to buy the Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Design

The screen on the RCX5 is pretty big, allowing you to monitor several things at once. It doesn’t mess around with having lots of small numbers or indicators- it features a few key metrics that you’re looking for including heart rate and time elapsed.

The band is comfortable, not too bulky or thin.

For you fashion-minded people, keep in mind that this model only comes in 2 colors- red or black. Those should be generic enough to keep most people happy, but I know some of you love your pink, purple, etc. If that’s you, this isn’t the watch for you.

Designed with the standard four buttons, Polar was able to fit a lot of functionality into this gadget while still keeping it simple to operate and customize.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Usability

Polar RCX5 Running Watch

As mentioned earlier, the RCX5 works great for swimmers as well as runners. Most GPS watches don’t tend to work well for swimmers, so this is an improvement in case you were disappointed in the lack of GPS capabilities.

This watch comes with all of the standard capabilities of most watches- an alarm, backlight, low battery indicator, key lock, etc. A lot of people choose to wear it all the time, just to save money and have that constant heart rate monitor available.

To help improve your performance, the RCX5 has a few cool features that help act as a coach. We’ll talk about the specific features in a minute, but a few examples are training diaries, speed/pace trackers, and your running index.

Finally- you do NOT need to worry about charging this watch on a weekly basis. Unlike GPS watches, this model will run for 8-11 months before the battery dies. If you’ve ever had a GPS watch die mid-run, you realize how nice this little tidbit really is.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Features

One really neat feature is called Race Pace. This allows you to set a target pace into the watch, for a certain distance. So for example, maybe you want to run a 5K in 20 minutes. You can program that into your watch, and it will tell you as you’re running if you’re matching the right pace.

The Polar Fitness Test helps measure your current VO2 capacity. It does this through a five minute test, and then doing a few calculations . As you may know, VO2 capacity is an important indicator of how well your body takes in and uses oxygen.

The calorie calculator helps you determine how many calories you’re burning with each workout. For folks who are trying to lose weight and burn more calories than they take in, this is extremely useful. The thing is, I always recommend reducing the number calculated by about 10%. It’s always better to be conservative with something like calorie intake/expenditure.

There are 2 Heart Rate maximum settings. The first is simply calculated by your age. Even though this works okay, the better setting is the maximum heart rate determined by the Polar Fitness Test. This is much more accurate, as it is based on how fit you are- not just your biological age.

As mentioned earlier- this model does NOT come with a built-in GPS capability. However, it does have the ability to “talk” to different sensors created by Polar, one of which is a GPS sensor. In a way this makes the RCX5 more of a “swiss army knife” of watches/heart rate monitors- you just have to pay a a little more for the sensors you want to use.

There are a few other cool features like automatic start/stop, auto-lap calculators (if you’re running on a track for instance), and training programs based on your goals and current fitness level.

Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor: Reviews

As always, I try to check out product reviews online before I make a purchase. While looking into the RCX5, here are a few reviews I found on Amazon.

The first is from a satisfied customer who gave the product a 5/5 stars:

“I had high expectations but this device exceeded them. First of all, the quality of material is impeccable. Second this watch picks up the heart rate signal regardless of if the electrodes are wet and maintains an accurate signal. All of the programmable training modes are great and having a data link dongle in the box is icing on the cake. Also you can swim with this thing on. Simply a great hr device.”

Here’s another with a 5/5 star review, although they’re willing to point out a small flaw with the lighting:

“Great features, in particular: multiple views and ability to synchronize with Polar website, download customized training plans for several sports and equipments. Size is pretty flat and non-bulky. Very legible except in the dark where the built-in face lighting is too weak to be useful. I paired it without any issue to the WIND speed sensor on 2 bikes. The chest band is very functional, easy to wear and clean.”

I want to throw in just one more review- a negative one, from someone who gave the RCX5 just 1 star:

“I bought this watch 3 months ago and today it died. It is not a battery issue (new battery). When you buy this watch, and the various sensors, you are making a huge money commitment. Without the watch, the sensors are useless, so if you want to go with a different brand, they are no more than junk. It appears the only way to possibly get the watch fixed in the USA is to mail it to the one service center in the country. No idea on how long that would take. There is very little customer service information on the web site and the email address for the US representative turns out not to be accurate. Think very hard before purchasing. I wish I had gone with the Garmin 910XT, cost is not that different when you add in the external GPS sensor and the swim data is really useful. Most of all, it would probably not die after 3 months.”

Personally, it sounds like this person received a lemon. It also doesn’t seem like they’ve looked into receiving customer service, because they said they weren’t sure how long it’d take to get it fixed.

Still, it is important to see that not everyone is happy with the watch. Granted- I don’t think I’ve ever seen a product with zero negative reviews, but maybe there are some out there.

Summary

If you’re looking for a watch with built-in GPS capabilities- the Polar RCX5 isn’t for you. Likewise, if you want something extremely inexpensive or has every feature available, this model isn’t for you.

But if you’re in the market for a high quality heart rate monitor, and a few gadgets to help you train for your next race, this may be a good option. Just make sure that you buy the watch online at someplace like Amazon.com, because chances are you’ll save at least 20% on your purchase.

Thanks for reading, I hope you found this review helpful! Click here to buy the Polar RCX5 Heart Rate Monitor from Amazon.

Adidas Smartwatch takes fitness seriously with GPS

Adidas Smartwatch with GPS

Considering the hype of the new Garmin 220 and 620, this watch is going under the radar. I need to get one and write a review, but it’s not available for another week. In the meantime…

The smartwatch can figure out your heart rate from the pulse in your wrist, and then factor that in with various onboard movement sensors as well as route tracking. The watch will cook up a custom exercise program with personalized training suggestions, and give prompts for that routine on the color display.

Slash Gear has all the details.

Sneak Peek: Tom Tom GPS Watch

Tom Tom Runner GPS Watch

 

It looks like a new entrant in the Best GPS Running Watch sweepstakes is coming soon…

We got our hands on the latest training tool from TomTom to hit the market. The watch is currently under testing and there will be a full low down which will feature in the December issue of the magazine, but in the meantime if you’re on the lookout for a new device, here is what both the TomTom Runner and the TomTom Multi-Sport has to offer:

Read the details at Runnersworld UK.

Choose your Perfect GPS Watch

best-watch

It seems that everyone has an idea of how to pick the best GPS running watch. See, I have one too. So, I find it helpful to provide another opinion.

Garmin has been the industry leader for over a decade, new GPS watches from established companies such as Magellan, TomTom, Timex, and Polar have entered the market. GPS watches made today come in a wide range of prices and styles, and are often designed for specific types of athletes.

Read the full article at Running Shoes Guru

Esquire Magazine Has a Guide to Buying Watches

Although I like to talk about watches on this site, our focus is solely on a timepiece that can help you with your running and exercise routine. Beyond that, I stopped wearing a watch a long time ago if I’m not wearing my running shoes. I have a really nice watch my wife gave me a long time ago. I don’t even remember where it is. But, that doesn’t mean “you” shouldn’t have a nice watch. I have a guide to select the best watch for running. But, now you have one for style…

esquire-magazine-logo

If you’re a man who cares about style, you probably own (or want to own) a few watches: an everyday watch, a weekend watch, plus maybe the damn good lookin’ watch and even a luxury watch that’s bespoke unto itself.

Read more at Esquire.

Why is my GPS Watch Off?

Photo by Flickr user: 1yen

Periodically, I receive emails asking about the accuracy of GPS running watches. Along the same lines, runners are wondering if their watch is accurate because they just completed a 5K race, but the GPS watch reads something other than 5,000 meters.

So, I was going to write a post that addresses these questions. However, I recall a couple of great articles on this topic. First, the NY Times made a half-hearted effort to explain the discrepancy of GPS watches:

GPS Watch Can be an Unreliable Running Partner

An excerpt:

It seems clear enough that a GPS watch is not very accurate, yet online runners’ forums, like one at the Web site of Runners World, are filled with comments from confused athletes who rely on the devices.

However, the article was not written as a true scientific analysis to explain why GPS watches calculate distances differently. Thankfully, someone else was able to provide a logical response:

Why the New York Times GPS Running Article Missed the Boat by DC Rainmaker

Part of the response:

The challenge here is that I’d ask first – what were the watches in question?  What brands, devices and software versions?  For example, was the one that was off by .42 miles (97.3% accurate) an older model from 5-6 years ago, or was it more recent?  Who made it?  What firmware version?

Regardless of all the analysis, the benefits of a GPS watch are many. Having an understanding of how far  you’ve run and how long it took will help you improve your running.

Running without a Watch, GPS or Heart Rate Monitor

A couple of days ago, for the first time in a long time, I went for a run with a watch, GPS or heart rate monitor. I was feeling a little down and felt that a short run would do me good. So, I decided to head out the door without any electronics. I told my wife I would head down into the canyon and be back in 30 minutes.

So, I headed out the door, checked my form and started a leisurely run over to the trail that would take me down about 300 feet into a canyon. I wasn’t quite sure how far I would run, what my course would be or if I wanted this to be an easy or hard run. Sometimes, no plan is a good plan.

It’s a somewhat steep hill going down and the day was somewhat warm. Last summer I got into the habit of either singing or snapping my fingers as I head down on narrow trails. I do this for good reason, last summer is when I got too close for comfort to a rattle snack. So, I try to make a little noise to let them know I’m coming. I got the idea from mountain bikers who have bells attached to their bikes as they careen around the trails.

The descent is about 300 feet and takes me to a creek. When I got to the bottom, the small bridge was washed to an angle from rain last week. So, I spent about 10 minutes or so trying to straighten it out. I gave up and threw a couple of rocks in the water to make sure the step to the bridge was easy. Once I got across, I decided to head on over to Paradise Falls, about a mile away.

Running with no watch to Paradise Falls

I started feeling really good on the way to the falls. Since this was later afternoon on a weekday, I had only passed one hiker. So, I felt a great sense of calm listening to my footsteps and my breathing.

I checked out the falls and say a young couple sitting on a rock. So, I decided not to disturb them. I turned and started to backtrack on the trail from where I came. At that point, I started thinking how good I felt, so I turned around and kept moving alongside the creek. From the falls, you can continue to a developed campsite. That was fun as there were two more stream crossings, I got my left foot wet.

When I got the campsite, I was planning to head back up canyon along a fire road. However, I saw a sign for the lizard rock trail. This is the backside of a trail that is fairly long. From the starting point, I had only taken it to the actual Lizard Rock. But, never beyond. So, I figured why not and kept going. I knew I was in for a tough run because from the bottom of the canyon to the top of lizard rock was about a 500 foot climb in less than a mile.

Just as I started up the steep switchbacks, a few guys on mountain bikes came screaming downhill. I jumped to the edge of the narrow trail and hugged the mountain. They yelled out that there were five more riders. I kept an eye ahead as I started back on the trail. Sure enough, in less than 60 seconds, the all five riders passed me.

As I got the steep part, I tried a new running technique of crossing over my feet at a slight angle as opposed to running straight up. The hill was tough, but I felt unbelievably happy to be running up, a slew of positive thoughts kept passing through my head. I stopped a couple of time, but this was because I wanted to take in the view.

The last 40 feet are very steep to get up to Lizard Rock, so I mostly walked it. But, from the top, I felt great.

Running with no watch to Lizard Rock

This picture is the trail to Lizard Rock from the front. I stood on top for about two minutes to soak up the view and felt great. I took the front trail back home. It was all downhill.

From this point, I felt like I was running on air. My legs were refreshed at the top and I took it easy coming down. As a matter of fact, this run was my easiest run in years, despite the hill climb. I just felt great.

Lizard Rock is just to the left/top of the center of this map:

View Larger Map

No Running Watch, GPS or Heart Rate Monitor

I have a general idea of how long this run took. I stopped at a drinking fountain near a nature center. I stopped at the falls and a couple of times up the mountain and the top of the mountain. Not once did I wonder how long I had been running or how far.

 

The next time you need to clear your head, don’t just go for an easy run, go to explore. You never know where your mind will take you.

The Greatest Running Shoe Never Sold

I found this interesting article over at, of all places, Businessweek. It’s title, The Greatest Running Shoe Never Sold. Here’s an excerpt.

Athletic brands spend millions every year trying to build a better sneaker that will propel them to the front of the $6.3 billion running shoe business, one of the biggest and most visible areas of sporting goods, with 11 percent growth in 2011, according to industry analyst SportsOneSource. Nearly all sneakers have a sole that looks like lasagna, composed of layers of rubber, foam, and plastic. The fluffy foam is made from ethylene-vinyl acetate, or EVA, which has its critics: EVA adds weight to shoes, and lab tests show it requires more energy per stride. Running shoe companies have long sought an EVA substitute that absorbs shock but also returns more energy. “Consumers like the cushioned feeling associated with a conventional running shoe,” says Darren Stefanyshyn, a University of Calgary researcher and former chairperson of the Footwear Biomechanics Group. “If you could provide that without using foam, you’d have a winner.”

Although I’m enjoying my half-minimalist Chi running style, just like running watches, I enjoy trying new shoes. Just ask my kids as they always have a name for them. For example, I’m wearing my bumble bee shoes right now (Merrell trail glove). Some of the technology discussed is almost as jargon filled as reading a GPS running watch review. But, an interesting read for today.