Monday, July 29, 2013

Gear Update -- Nike Plus Watch, TomTom Runner

As always, I have probably bought every running gadget out there trying to find the perfect mix of headphones, clothes, shoes, GPS and software and still searching.

GPS Watch

As noted, my old Garmin 410 died last fall.  The battery simply would not hold a charge.  Garmin would install a new battery for $99, but I was ready to move on to new technology.  So, at a friend's advice, I bought the Nike Plus running watch. I only ran with it a couple times before...I promptly misplaced it.  Ooops.  But that's ok, I really didn't like it that much anyway.  I did like the clever built in USB charging port. (It is built into the watch so no more cords, and ANT sticks.)  But the data read out was very simplistic...went only to Nike Plus, and was a hassle to get into SportTracks (which I found a work around.) And the day and a date kept resetting to January 1, 2010 every time the battery went to zero.  Not overly impressed, but OK.

After I misplaced Nike, I bought the new TomTom Runner Watch.  TomTom made the Nike watch and the interface is similar.  But the hardware -- the watch itself is great. It is small.  It connects to GPS signals in a flash.  The buttons work. As a running watch goes, during the run, it is pretty close to perfect.  But then the run ends, and the software comes into play.  I will be charitable and simply say that the software is a work in progress. But right now it is only partially functional; that's right, it only works about 2/3 of the time.  It is designed to upload data directly to Tom Tom running site.  That running site is so rudimentary and basic that it is essentially useless, and makes Garmin Connect look like a work of art.  And the data has errors (time and date).  No lap data, no splits, BASIC graphs. You can't delete or edit workouts. And, whatever data it has, it still won't upload all the workouts.  Ok, so forget that, I will just use SportTracks again (get the data in file format and import into Sporttracks, just  like with old Garmy).  Except the files won't sync to my computer.  I can see them on the watch, but they won't synch to the web or my computer.  And it won't write the files for all  my workouts.  And right now, when I plug it into my Windows machine (also been using a Mac) it is trying to update the watch firmware and gets caught in an error loop and won't do anything at all, so the watch it won't offload any data anywhere; it is nonfunctional.  So that obviously is a nonstarter.  The watch is going to be returned; it simply doesn't work.  I have owned it for about three weeks (maybe 10-12 workouts) and the software has never worked correctly after a workout -- not once. But mark my words, when TomTom gets the software right, it will be a GREAT competitor in the space.

One thing the Nike and Tom Tom watches made me do is buy a new heart rate monitor strap.  I bought the Polar Bluetooth H7, and it is awesome.  Incredible.  The data is smooth, consistent, much less spikey, and no wild fluctuations or crazy numbers.  A revelation.

So reluctantly, hat in hand, I bought another 410 from Garmin.  A refurb unit, with a new heart rate monitor for $159.  I feel like I at least know how it works, its pluses and minuses.  It isn't sexy or cutting edge or new or whatever...but it works. Should arrive in a couple days.

And then I found my Nike watch again.  So, soon, I will have a Nike and a new old Garmin.


At last report I was raving about the Jaybirds Blue Buds X Bluetooth headphones as the end of the game. Eh, not quite.  They are really, really uncomfortable over a long period of time.  And because they are a "bud" they stay in via a plug in the ear canal.  I found that when I ran, the bud came out and fell out, messing up the sound and it felt like they were going to slide out.  Plus the form of the plastic on the bud itself (presumably where Bluetooth receiver is located) hurt my ears.  Just a really uncomfortable experience over 30 minutes.

So I started using Mrs. Wolve's Beats over the ear LeBron James headphones.  Liked them...they were $149 and a good experience.  But they aren't mine.  So in buying those I stumbled on Monster Athletic ones, and they work great.  I bought the Livestrong version on sale for $59 (normally $149), and really strong headphones -- sound great, stay in the ear, don't even know they are there.  My current go to.  I also bought the Sennheiser over the ear type (not so good sound) before the Monsters,  and the Bose SportIE2's  (haven't used them much yet -- been digging my Monster's.)

In actual workout news, I ran a super solid 8 miles on Saturday morning.  At exactly my goal pace (well, not exactly -- I had wanted to go at 9:00, and ended up 9:01 -- eight seconds off, and not sure how that happened; I was spot on, but maybe ended up getting eight seconds cooldown added at the end or something).  I actually negatively split the workout, and not sure how I did that -- I didn't feel any different.  I felt fantastic, and felt like I could have run further and faster.  But I held it in.

Of course it would be nice to have my data, but it is stuck on my TomTom, unable to free itself except to the TomTom website, which won't show splits or graphs or anything.  That would really be aggravating if I was super intense Mr. Training Type right now, which I am not.

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