Disclaimer; This isn’t really a review. I’ve never owned a GPS watch before so this is my experience with one and it happens to be this watch. I’m no expert. Sorry.
Now I’m well set up back at home and trying to focus more on distance rather than time ran, I decided to invest in a GPS running watch. It was not a light decision, they are not exactly cheap, but considering my investment in running and races coming up a new motivating tool to help couldn’t go a miss.
I looked up Garmins, pricey. I looked up cheap ones, unreliable. I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go. I got an email through from the Great Scottish Run store and thought that was as good a place as any to trust.
I picked myself up one of these bad boys. A TomTom Runner 2 (not the music playing version. It was a good deal and all but after the panic about my left hand the idea of being totally free on my right hand was terrifying) built to track distance, speed, calories, gps, maps, and all that stuff while also something about my sleep and steps. Awesome!
Set up was super easy. Plug it into its wire, into the usb slot and that is pretty much it. TomTom asks you to register an ‘account’, which every time you plug the watch into your PC updates your data allowing you to see your past runs, GPS maps via googlemaps and general awesome stats. It’s well worth doing.
I wore it a few days to get used to it. There aren’t fiddly clasps or anything, just simple click in buttons into holes. I have the small because despite my round middle I do have oddly small wrists. It’s a good fit. The face of the watch sits nicely on top of my arm and the strap doesn’t feel too tight or loose.
I tested it out in Elie on the beach. Running along the shore line I put it on the % tracker screen, which is awesome for getting an idea of how much you have done without actually bogging down on distance, which for me was great. It was so odd actually running to distance instead of some clock. Things like speed started to matter, it was all too much.
My first clocked run was only about 2K. It was too much pressure too fast and I wasn’t quite comfortable with it yet. While on holiday I didn’t really push myself but upon coming home I really went at it.
The watch is simple to use when setting goals, either time, calories or distance. In this instance I’m practicing 5Ks which I know I can do but having it on my wrist gives you the immidate satisfaction of knowing you did it rather than the old method of looking at maps trying to map a route that equates to around the distance you need.
The gps tracker does all the work which gives running a sense of freedom, not being limited to a certain preplanned route (the idea of which had been demotivating me). This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be running with a free spirit anyway and be able to go where you want but personally I liked having a target, a goal and the freedom to pound random pavements to reach that in any order I liked.
I found myself looping round, taking a housing estate I knew popped out where I was going anyway just because it added another .4km. I looped one block 3 times to make up .6km near the end.
The most satisfying feature was the last 1km. You see it and after the boring 2/3 km middle section it gets interesting. I once again publically cheered myself on, gave a little fist pump and told myself ‘finial stretch! I can do it!’. 4.6… 4.7… 4.8… It was addictive. Seeing the numbers rise as I ran, seeing progress before me that it didn’t matter if it was raining (it was.) I had come this far damnit and I was going to finish!
5.1km in the end showed on my watch. I plugged it into my computer and saw the route I took, the splits I did it in (including the conceded walk downhill, but that’s a story for another time).
Overall I’m pretty addicted to my new companion. It’s proving useful and with less than a month before my first official 5k in about 6 years it’s great to be able to train my time over a set distance rather than just extending my time generally.
I almost can’t wait for tomorrow’s run! Almost…. it’s still freezin’