Another day – training slows now for the 130km eTape Caledonia Sportive (not a race hahaha) on Sunday


Last little ride to try crash train into being ready for the eTape on Sunday.

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One thing I do like about Strava is the ability to analyse segments and see how fit you were compared to times in the past when you had better conditioning. You can see it on a segment here – I went up the Crow Road in 18m 30s the same time August 2 years ago but heart rate now (tired and less fit) was 145bpm compared to a very low 116bpm 18 months back ,,,,, eeeek

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Maybe i just need those extra 3 months of summer rides to get back to speed …..

Strava have updated their run analysis


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Great news, runners: your new run activity page on Strava.com is now live. We spoke to tons of you about what’s important when viewing your activities and those of others, and have incorporated your needs and experiences as runners into this new page.  Get more background around our redesigned run activity pages here.

See Your Race Results Like Never Before
Layered on top of the new run activity page is Strava’s Premium Pace Analysis, available now to Premium members for just $6 per month or $59 per year. In addition to Pace Distribution and Heart Rate Analysis, runners can now tag their run as a “Race,” giving runners interactive and granular pace data at every point during the race.

With Race Analysis, Premium members can now enjoy:

  • A pace bar graph showing your pace fluctuation, as well as your mile/km trends

  • Visualization of your meaningful race splits, such as 5K splits for a marathon

  • Pace scrubbing data to analyze every critical point during the race

  • Projected finish time data based on your performance throughout the race

  • Finish flag with the finishing time, signifying the race achievement

see your race performance in all its glory.

 

Best cycling watch


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A Watch Shop has named its top 5 cycling watches for 2012 after extensive on the road testing during the Spring of 2012. But newer polar and garmin fenix not included.

“I’ve raced in international tours and multiple US National Championships with one podium during my career having ridden with riders like Greg Lemond and Louis Garneau, so for our company the evaluation of cycling watches is a very serious matter” says Rusty Squire, President of the Heart Rate Watch Company. He adds, “Many of these cycling watches rival the very best bike computers on the market.”

Here is the list of the top 5 cycling watches for 2012:

#1 Garmin Forerunner 910XT – This cycling watch does it all with the ability to receive ANT+ power, heart rate, speed, distance, pedal cadence, accurate altitude with a barometric altimeter and a large display screen. About 95% of all the bike computers on the market today can not match its prowess as a cycling device. It even provides highly detailed maps through Garmin Connect software that provide unmatched metric detail. This watch is completely waterproof.

#2 – Polar RCX5 G5 Tour de France – This watch is the official training computer for the 2012 Tour de France. It provides speed, distance, 5 heart rate zones and even features a dual frequency chest strap that can get heart rate while swimming. The new G5 GPS sensor is smaller than a cell phone battery and gets over 20 hours of GPS data plus the WIND speed sensor offers dead on speed and distance information.

#3 – Garmin Forerunner 610 – This little touch screen marvel gets every last piece of cycling data except for watts output but its compact size allows it to easily be used as an everyday watch. Use the optional cadence sensor to get cadence plus you’ll see speed, distance, elevations, heart rate and it even features a cumulative training load that looks at training history. It has running and cycling modes allowing for easy transitions between sports but it is only IPX7 water resistant, so don’t swim with it.

#4 – Forerunner 310XT – Even though it is nearly 3 years old it is hard to take the Garmin 310XT off this list because it set all the current standards for what a cycling watch should be. It gets watts data, speed, distance, cadence, elevations and more, although it lacks the swim features and barometric altimeter of the Forerunner 910XT. Still at about $150 less than the Garmin 910XT it is a great value in a cycling watch.

#5 – Polar RS800CX G5 – This is the same watch used by the brothers Frank and Andy Schleck that finished 2nd and 3rd in the 2011 Tour de France. The Polar RS800CX is hands down the most
sophisticated heart rate monitor on the market with recovery heart rate data and an enormous
ability to analyze heart rate. When you add the G5 to it it makes a pretty slick bike computer
plus it can connect to Polar cadence sensors as well.

Other honorable mentions to this list include the garmin Fenix (thats mine says richdirector)Suunto Ambit, Polar CS300, Timex Global Trainer and Suunto t6d cycling bundle. “These were all some very excellent watches for cycling
and it was hard to choose, but one thing is certain, the versatility of a cycling watch is that you can use it for other sports” states Squire.

best apps for training


With more and more people buying smartphones and the proliferation of training apps now available for them, it’s never been so easy to accurately keep track of your training. Gone are the days when you kept track of your training in a notepad, with careful handwritten notes. ROAD.CC

The latest generation of training apps makes it far easier to record and analyse your training, as well as setting goals and targets and reviewing previous performances. We’ve chosen 10 of the most popular apps so you can kick start 2013 with a digital thump.

And with smartphones now offering GPS maps and large colour screens, many cyclists are opting to use them in place of a dedicated cycle computer. Either mounted to the handlebars or safely stored in a jacket pocket, recording your ride on a smartphone is now common.

Garmin Fit

Garmin’s Fit app allows you to use your iPhone or Android smartphone as a training tool. It can be used for various sports, and one you’ve finished it uploads your session to Garmin Connect. It costs 69p but Connect itself is free to use. Once there you get all the important data and there’s useful functions like a calendar that totals your hours of riding each week, giving you an easy way of tracking your training progress.

Available for iPhone and Android.

Cyclemeter

This app functions as bike computer but can also store your route in Google maps, which can then be exported to social media networks like Twitter nad Facebook. A calendar makes it easy to see your recent rides at a glance and help to plan your next ride, and your favourite routes can be saved for future use.

www.abvio.com/cyclemeter/

The Athlete’s Diary

You can easily keep track of training rides with graphs of the total distance and time accumulated with this app. Information is clearly presented with the main screen a log showing some of your latest rides, so you can see at a glance how training has been going. You can also search your recorded rides too. Data is manually entered, but there’s an Autofill option for rapid entry. Only available for iPhone and costs $19.99.

www.stevenscreek.com

SportsTrackLive

This app lets you share and compare in a number of sports. As well as speed, distance, time, it works with compatible heart rate monitor straps and cadence modules. You can replay tracks on Google Maps, share with Facebook and Twitter friends, and export to the SportsTrack website. It only works with Android phones and costs £2.99.

www.sportstracklive.com

Training Peaks

A popular choice for cyclists, as it stems from Joe Friel’s TrainingBible series of books, Training Peaks is a very comprehensive training package that offers unlimited detail and control of your workout data. There’s training plans that can be bought and downloaded, taking the guesswork out of training, and there’s the novel Virtual Coach too. Works for Android, iPhone, iPod and iPad.

http://home.trainingpeaks.com

CoachMyRide

CoachMyRide, only available for the iPhone, lets you set goals and choose training sessions from a library of 105 included in the app. And for analysing sessions, Lionel Reynaurd is a professional cycling coach is available to offer feedback and share his knowledge. AS you progress in your training and you get fitter, the app easily adapts your training to suit.

www.coachmyride.com

Endomondo

Endomondo is a community based workout app that lets you challenge friends and analyse your training. A clean and clear display shows distance, speed and time when cycling, and you can customise what is show on the screen. Once you’ve done a ride you can upload to the website where you can create groups for your friends to share rides, and share through Facebook. With a Bluetooth heart rate strap you can add heart rate data to your training data. It’s free and works across all platforms.

www.endomondo.com

Kinetic

Described as the “Swiss army knife of GPS tracking and timing” Kinetic lets you organise your training sessions by activity or event. It can set goals and monitor your progress against a predicted finish time. Voice notifications chart your progress in real-time. Kinetic GPS Lite is free, while the full version is $3.99.

http://kineticgps.com/

Cychosis

Rather than automatically logging your ride data, which is fine if you want to use your smartphone on the bike, Cychosis differs by requiring you to manually enter data from each ride. So you can leave your phone safely at home or not have the battery drained in 5 minutes by the constant GPS usage, and enter ride information form your cycle computer when you’ve finished your ride. And if you love your spreadsheets, you can export ride data to your computer.

www.cychosis.com

Strava

One of the most popular apps is Strava, because of its unique feature of letting you compared times on ‘segments’ of road. Users can create segments themselves, and any person that has ridden along this segment is added to a leaderboard. So you can see who is fastest on your favourite climb for example. With a community revolving around this feature, it adds a competitive element to training on your own. A suite of power and heart rate analysis tools makes it a good option for those who want to take their training seriously. Available for iPhone and Android.

Strava loves Fenix


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My new Garmin Fenix was great but Strava wasn’t having any of my new love it thought my technical hot swapping of wrist brides didn’t suit its traditional ways – I couldn’t link to Garmin Communicator…. It poured scorn on my choice and refused to entertain any new adventures I was having.
There was a workaround – I could sneak my adventures through the backdoor – importing FIT files direct from the Fenix when linked via the USB connector.

Then I got a love letter from ms STRAVA …’Hello from Strava HQ in fabulous San Francisco, California!

Some time ago you wrote us a note regarding support for the (relatively) new Garmin Fenix device. I just wanted to send you a heads up that we do now officially support the Fenix for direct upload to Strava. Hope that helps! As always, if you have any questions, please contact Support by replying to this message and we’ll do our best to help you.

Thanks very much!

Mat
Strava Support Team’

Aaaah acceptance at last

1st outdoor exercise in a month


Back home in Glasgow – can’t blame jetlag for lethargy anymore – was cold in house so quick run and I feel much better ….

Even Strava worked hard to cheer me up …

Thursday fat burn and why mornings start better with exercise


I love starting the morning with a bit of exercise it seems to set me up for the day – whether it is a boost to my heart rate or my metabolism or whether it is a bit of fluffing for my ego, I am not sure but I always feel a bit better once the exercise is done.
I know some people don’t respond to the thought of exercise first thing – some people are morning people and some are night people, but for me it is partly that I feel better once I know my exercise quotient for the day is already done – if I am aiming to do at least an hour of exercise a day then I feel like I have passed my test for the day before I start. Also life often throws a curveball – an unexpected guest, restaurant trip, change of plans or even an afternoon energy slump that can mean that exercise gets dropped off the task list.
Exercise in the morning makes me feel like I had my me time for the day – take this morning – I did an hour on an indoor spin bike in the gym. Lower resistance and spinning at around 90rpm. Heart rate fixed in lower cardio fatburn and I read a crappy book for an hour. At no point did it feel like I was exercising.
My aim is to go again this evening and do a hectic interval running session or another bikram spin session as I am flying tomorrow.

Garmin Fenix – software update 2.9 – suddenly becoming a fitness watch


I made a little observation the other day on the Garmin Fenix about how it was tracking even in the city

I made a not then that the frustrating part was the inability to use it in the gym very well (there is a section where you need to set it to track by distance and not by time otherwise you get no summary) but now with version 2.90 of the software they have addressed some of the problems.

First, they’ve added a new mode – INDOOR – which turns off the GPS and allows you to record activities while inside. There are new data pages for this mode – I have data pages set up already for running cycling and kitesurfing and at first I was a bit peeved that i had to enter everything again. But then if I am indoors I do not need to know the grade of hill I am on or the elevation gained so the setup is a bit cleaner with less data.

The other change for indoor mode that counts is that they are now supporting the ANT+ footpod. Mine of course is on loan along with my FR60 to a friend so not much use for me here in Istanbul and my treadmill runs but i will reclaim it and use it when I go home. It will also be good outdoors and will add a step count and cadence profile to my runs.

Apparently whilst the speed distance cadence ant+ sensor is supported – it only works with cadence. So turbo training sessions are a bit of a pain – for me this is less of an issue as I have an Edge 305 but for a 1 item / multisport solution it is lacking. Saying that – the fact there have been 3 quick software updates means they are listening and changing so expect that to be added soon.

 

The Garmin 910xt – a user review


A review by John Sharp who will hopefully one day be writing more on this blog …. a review of the Garmin 910XT which was up there along with the newish Garmin Fenix a a possible Polar RCX5 replacement….

 

I used to love her. I used to stare at her, mesmerised within her Cyclopic trance. I would gently caress her cool smooth features. She would respond, teasing me with secrets, revealing ever more with each tap and stroke. I knew how to push her buttons and she knew how to respond. And she could read me: tuned into my palpating heart as I grew increasingly hot with her encouragement. It wasn’t to last. Passion this intense rarely does. She couldn’t live up to my expectations nor I hers. Her faults, invisible at first, soon became obvious and impossible to ignore. She became quick to fatigue; from her I demanded stamina which was beyond her. She needed attention and new energy almost daily. She was temperamental in anything other than perfect conditions. Sometimes unpredictable and chaotic; often stubborn and seized. Soon the cracks in our relationship (most metaphorical, some actual real cracks) became insurmountable and the first GPS watch I ever loved, my Garmin Forerunner 405, and I were to go our separate ways.

the queen is dead long live the queen

The limitations of the FR405 are well known but I had been able to tolerate the terrible battery and infuriating bezel for a couple of years before a broken strap served as the catalyst for indulging in a new toy. I’ve been wearing Garmin’s Forerunner 910XT since March this year, have used it whilst competing in a spring marathon and throughout the build-up for an autumn marathon effort. This article is less a technical review of the device and more a discussion of how I have used the device over the last six months or so.

publicity pic

Whilst Garmin have released and specifically marketed other watches (e.g., Forerunner 610) for runners, a reluctance not to endure an anticipated fractious ‘touchscreen’ and a shorter battery life led me to consider the FR910XT. Technically, the 910XT is a triathlon watch. In fact, it’s essentially an upgrade to the clunky Garmin FR310XT. This means that not only can it track every single data point imaginable whilst running, but it can also do the same thing whilst biking and swimming. It’ll track and display pace, elevation, distance, calories, pedal cadence, swim stroke, laps and much, much more. Any information you might want to know, the 910XT is probably able to provide it.

It would be easy to get bogged down in the wealth of data on offer. What is vital is to establish which information is most pertinent to your needs. When I started running regularly three years ago I focussed almost exclusively on pace, running every outing at or above a predefined speed which I believed I should be capable of. Nowadays I don’t care so much about pace for the vast majority of my running. Rather, most days comprise ‘easy’ running during which I will not exceed 75% of my maximum heart rate. One of the advantages of the larger case required to house a bigger battery is the opportunity to incorporate a massive display. This is excellent for allowing the presentation of multiple data fields simultaneously and users are able to choose how many ‘pages’ of data they would like to scroll through, how many data fields they prefer in any one display ‘page’, and what specific data that should be. My own preference is to have one single screen on which I can see my effort (%age of maximum HR), my average pace, distance, and time elapsed. Users can choose from a huge selection of options (e.g., some might prefer current pace rather than average). When racing I adopt a radically different approach and rely on only one data field, the time. Selecting just one data field permits a much larger size of font. No distractions with other information; just the bottom line. And even then I typically only switch to this screen in the final minutes of the race to see how close I am to any targets I’m aiming for. For the rest of the race, the forerunner is resolutely set to the ‘Virtual Partner’.

The ‘Virtual Partner’ (VP) was undoubtedly my favourite feature of the FR405. The VP allows you to monitor your current pace against a set speed or predefined pace. I use, nay depend on, this feature for tempo workouts and races. I will plug in the pace I want to achieve with the hope this somehow also ‘programs’ my legs. This mode displays a (poorly) illustrated running character who is either ahead, level with, or behind the target pace. It offers a quick and ready means of establishing whether you are ‘on’ or ‘off’ target in either direction and gives you a swift kick up the backside (comedy extending boot not included). It also indicates just how far ahead or behind you might be by both distance and, more usefully, time. Whilst for workouts I often find myself trying to ‘keep up’ with the VP, in races, at least when starting with fresh, tapered legs, this feature allows you to temper your enthusiasm and regulate your pace appropriately.

The VP has been embellished on the 910XT. The ‘Virtual Racer’ (VR) feature allows the user to race against existing courses and workouts. In essence it provides a ‘shadow’ of you, or someone else who has previously completed the same route, and allows you to monitor your progress against yourself or them. Whilst the VP maintains a constant speed regardless of the terrain and gradient, the VR allows for more realistic comparison. For example, when faced with a substantial climb, the VR adjusts to a much slower speed for the hill. A nice interactive feature allows users to download workouts from the Garmin Connect site onto their device. This would allow individuals to ‘race’ against friends who completed the same event in previous years. For example, if I had a friend who completed the Virgin London Marathon this year who I was desperate to beat, I would definitely consider inputting their effort to ensure I stayed ahead of them. It is exactly reasons like this that I have no friends. This feature can also be used when cycling and I understand the Team Garmin-Cervelo files from the Tour de France are available for you to ‘compete’ with David Millar et al. albeit without the EPO, closed roads, and full complement of domestics.

Numerous other features and settings are available. I can only imagine there are some people whose training life has been revolutionised by the ‘Intervals’ feature which enables users to setup a simple interval workout which the watch will then guide them through, barking (or vibrating and beeping at least) orders on cue. Setting up intervals allows the sessions to be designed and tailored for the individuals needs and permits the user to specifying how long the warm-up is, the number and distance/time of work intervals, the rest interval, and then the cool down. I suspect this mode would be useful for complex sessions and negates the athlete to carry and refer to pieces of paper or recall which number of 20 repetitions they happen to be on at any given time. Amazingly, there is the capacity for sessions to become infinitely more complex and any idiosyncratic routine can become designed in the ‘Workout’ mode, a feature with an endless array of ‘if/then’ type scenarios. In truth, I’ve never gone near it.
Whilst most of the features seem well designed to meet the needs of a competitive athletes, even the lame modes aimed at the novice can be adapted with a little imagination. For example, the Run/Walk function (essentially just an alert to prompt users to start running after a short pre-planned spell of walking) can instead be used as a fillip to get endurance athletes (e.g., ultra-runners) to eat regularly. I would guess the prohibitive pricing of the 910XT would discourage any entry-point purchasing. However, the battery and features will definitely appeal to seasoned ultra runners. Garmin should change this feature to an ‘Eat-a-gel’ alert.
The ultra-running boom has led to new performance demands for GPS devices. Training on predominantly flat surfaces altitude is rarely especially relevant for road racing. It’s data I neither seek nor need. However, my eventual hope is to turn to the trail and with those the hills. For years cyclists have managed to get barometric altimeters within their handlebar mounted computers. Runners have had to tolerate GPS-based altimeters. The FR910XT introduces an integrated a barometric altimeter. An old friend, Nicol Boyd, is a recent convert to running and, churning out miles on the mountainous trails of Hong Kong, accumulates thousands of feet of elevation. In a sport where elevation covered is arguably more important than distance is this a useful new addition? Unfortunately, Nicol is not convinced, “The barometric altimeter is highly temperamental and always spikes 100-200m at the start of every run. Even well into the run, when things should have settled down, the altimeter readings are pretty erratic and very often out by a noticeable margin. This sucks if you are one of the many people who like to run up hills.” Whilst firmware updates might help resolve such issues, it seems improvements are required.
It is not only the unreliable altimeter which takes the shine off the 910XT. The heart rate monitor frequently struggles to record accurate data. Most commonly this occurs at the outset of a run and can take a mile or so of spiking before settling down to accurate levels. This appears to be a long-standing problem for Garmin. Their previous HR monitor was inadequate and it appears their attempts to improve this, introducing a new design of strap and monitor, have failed. Some Garmin advocate transferring the Garmin transmitter into a Polar Wearlink+ strap.
Quibbles aside, there is much to be admired in this Garmin unit. The battery life is exceptional. Whereas my FR405 would regularly ‘die’ on me during runs, the FR910XT’s battery has never yet been fully depleted. Garmin estimates a 20-hour battery life and this seems accurate. The general build seems good. Being a triathletes watch requires the case to be waterproof and robust. Whilst the watch is most definitely ugly, it is functional. Besides, I’ve never understood people who want to be able to wear their GPS watch “as a watch”. Like all Garmin Forerunners, the watch syncs wirelessly to and ANT+ USB from which the information is upload to the online Garmin Connect software. This is becoming an ever expanding and accessible interface and includes optional synchronisation with iPhone apps and social media integration with easy sharing of routes and workouts. The interface is relatively attractive and easy to negotiate and generally very reliable.

So, with the six month honeymoon period over, are my new love and I for keeps? Lets wait and see whether she guides me to a new marathon PB in four weeks time.

Polar release integrated gps watch the RC3 GPS


For recreational runners and cyclists who want integrated GPS with smart guidance. This looks like a better made version of the Garmin 610 …. As some readers might know I have the Polar RCX5 with a separate G5 gps pod. I love the extra features of the RCX5 but think that for most athletes and the less tetchy and geeky this RC3 with integrated GPS makes more sense.

One thing polar need to look at in the future – well two things to really help Polar appeal to all the mass market is firstly to go ANT+ using the most common and useful protocol for sensors and the other is to enable polar personal trainer to export .tcx files so that users can upload into social exercise sites like Strava, Endomondo and MapMyRun to name a few. Or failing this to allow those websites to access the protocol for the polar communicator / uploaded.

 

  • Training Benefit gives you instant feedback after your session
  • Tracks your route, speed and distance using built-in GPS
  • Running Index scores your performance
  • Slim and lightweight design with rechargeable battery
  • Allows you to share your training with your friends

;

Body measurement features

  • Compatible with Mac (Intel-based) via USB cable
  • Compatible with PC via USB cable
  • Compatible with polarpersonaltrainer.com via USB cable
  • Back to start
  • Distance – training, lap, and total
  • Route mapping – opt. with polarpersonaltrainer.com web service
  • Running Index
  • Speed/Pace – current, average and maximum
  • Backlight
  • Date and weekday indicator
  • Display text in English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish
  • Dual time zone
  • KeyLock
  • Low battery indicator
  • Rechargeable battery
  • StopWatch
  • Time of day (12/24h) with alarm and snooze
  • Water resistant – IPX7

Duathlon Training starts in earnest today


my plan over the next 3 and a bit weeks and the training load as mapped out on my Polar software below

red - don't train
yellow - no hi intensity
green - go do something

Polar RCX5 review


The Polar HRM arrived nearly a month ago now and I have had a good chance to use it in various sports.

Firstly unboxing showed a nice little box and neat packaging. When you first switch on RCX it asks you to input basic things like sex, age, height, weight as well as the amount you exercise per week. I fall into a higher (amateur) category of roughly 5-7 hrs / week.

The RCX typically comes in 3 configurations … a gps setup which includes the excellent G5 gps. This is a very nice waterproof unit which holds charge for 20 hrs which is far from what i have had the pleasure of exceeding. The unit comes with an armband although I must confess that one month later i have yet to use it. The unit is very wee and fits into the small key pocket at the front of my running shorts as well as the back pocket of my running tights. I even used it the other day on a ride and had it jammed into a small front pocket of my jacket pocket. Being hunched over I expected the reception and subsequent track to be slightly skittish but coming back i compared the track to the one recorded by my Garmin Edge 305 which is on my stem with an uninterupted view of the sky. The comparison revealed that the Garmin recorded the ride as 51.42km and the edge at 51.62km … that is a 200m discrepancy over a huge distance. thinks it something like 0.4% (better get my calculator out) I am sure a shoulder mount or bar mount would make it perfect (that is me judging the Edge to be perfect …)

Other configurations are the Run pack which comes with the S3+ stride sensor. I have not used this but have seen side by side comparisons to the Garmin unit and from what I gather they are pretty compareable. The Polar unti is much bigger and does everything the Garmin does … the only feature useful to me would be the stride count … but then i am a slight Chi runner and my footfall stride is roughly 83-85/min.

The other configuration i have seen is the bike pack which has a cadence and Speed Censor … the cadence sensor would be the most useful to me … if you have the GPS sensor then i think you dont need the speed sensor.
One point I would say is that it is a shame that it is not the one unit like many of the competitors now do. Times and Garmin do their combined ones. I still use my Garmin unit along with the edge indoors when on the turbo trainer and having this placed on the back wheel makes it very practical.

I think that all the above configurations come with a heart rate belt although it is also possible to buy the RCX5 unit as a standalone piece which is probably only something that athletes that already own a polar belt (although not all older belts can be seen by the RCX5) On the heart Belt itself – amazingly comfortable and using Garmin and Suunto for the past few years I must confess that Polar know what they are doing when they make the belts … so comfy and you never get a strange spike or weird reading that you sometimes get with the Garmin HR belts.
Polar also do sports bras for women which have the HR receiver built into them which should make them more comfy than a standard setup for some.

what works with what POLAR

Back to the RCX unit. There are two colours to choose from a black and a red … I chose red because everyone knows that red is faster.

The square design has been criticised by some but I think it is great … it is slightly larger than a normal watch but once exercising the display is clear and very easy to use.
You can customise the display to show what you want to see .. I have gone into this before HERE

Using the Unit
Strapping the RCX on I immediately noticed how comfortable the watch was – in fact the whole construction oozes class not something i have noticed in the build of any previous Polar, Garmin or Suunto with the possible exception of my Suunto Core

Going outside for a run you can leave the gps on a wall whilst you pre-stretch – and then it latches onto the signal very quickly – the chipset inside the unit is a SIRF6 which allows for quicker lock on. the given wisdom is that cold fixing (in an area you have not been in before) will take around a minute, and hot fixes (starting in an area where you finished your last run / ride) will take 10-20 sec. From experience this seem to hold true. Of course this is a gps so switching it on when inside your house will not be good … but a sky above you should be good enough for the fix.
A tip I learnt for cold or rainy weather is to switch on the gps and leave it in your window whilst you put shoes on and it is generally ready to go when you are.

The unit when setting it up can be set to auto-lap – this is something I use when running having the watch perform every 1km … i find this more useful as a pace guide and a very good nudge to the brain when i need to speed up.
the watch can be set to either follow a programme (which can be configured on polar personal trainer and downloaded) say if you were doing intervals with a 5min warm up, 10 min tempo and 3 fartleks then arm down. The watch also has a great audible warning which can be set to pace or HR. This can either be set to Loud, quieter or off. I find this more useful when doing a fat-burn ride or run when my natural instinct is to speed up and defeat the very purpose of the training.

Post exercise the RCX5 stores your last exercise in the data section fro you to review. By itself the RCX5 gives a good breakdown and review of data. You can look at individual training sessions or see a summary of the week which is useful if you need a motivator to get out the door for a run or cycle. One of the good features is that there is a very good heart rate zone breakdown as well as a neat thing were you can see what percentage of calories was in fat burn.

HR zone breakdown

Speaking of features there is something missing and that is a proper barometric altimeter. Most of the course I do aren’t that hilly and I put bike tracks into bikewithgps or other tracking websites which recomputes gps info and produces a ride profile. For those running in hilly location this lack of altimeter might be a problem but for me it is not a deal breaker.

I think the beauty of the Polar RCX5 is in the heart rate monitoring … a lot of people like myself would look at the lack of ANT+ support and the very annoying lack of integration with other platforms like map my run, bikely,endomondo and others and decide not to go with polar BUT (and it’s a big butt) polar does and has always done great heart rate monitors. The analysis that you can do post exercise is way better than polar and a bit better than the hrm software that my old suunto t6 used with movescount.

Once you have done the exercise you can upload the data using polar weblink which is a free download from their site. One word of advice make sure you click the RCX5 for PPT option as I inadvertently clicked the other option when downloading the update then tore my hair out trying to figure out what i had done)
With the Polar Personal Trainer software you can create programs as well as seeing very easily how your training load is…. This prevents you overtraining (however rare this is in my case)

Finally I would say that polar, although not integrating as well as Garmin does with ANT+, weblink does allow you to access the RCX5 and download the .hrm files and .gpx files (gps track) – it’s a shame it doesn’t use the .tcx format but i think that is a garmin proprietary format.

I may have highlighted some weaknesses in this review but I am happy with the unit and wouldn’t change it.

Suunto ambit – new gps hrm from Suunto


There is a new watch on the block ….

Suunto, the brand leader in functional outdoor instruments, announces the launch of the AMBIT*, the first true GPS watch for Explorers.

The Suunto AMBIT is what every backcountry skier, hiker, trail runner and mountain climber has been eagerly waiting for — a watch that combines a GPS navigation system, altimeter, 3D compass with advanced heart rate monitoring into a robust instrument for mountain and everyday use.

 

 is an awesome product that should be on the wrist of anyone who heads into the outdoors,” comments Greg Hill, the recordbreaking extreme ski mountaineer, who in 2010, ascended two million vertical feet. “The AMBIT is a potentially life-saving survival tool thanks to its full GPS capability and altimeter. It’s also invaluable for anyone who, like me, wants to record their tracks and log their vertical ascents and descents. And it looks great too.”

Specific Outdoor Functionality
With AMBIT’s full-featured GPS the user can choose waypoints to navigate with and see their location in multiple coordinate systems. The AMBIT boasts a host of other features including temperature, track logging, unique 3D Compass and barometric sensor. All these keep you informed of your location, altitude and weather conditions on your adventures.

Advanced Training Functionality
The AMBIT also offers functions for the serious mountain athlete. The patent pending accelometer fused GPS gives highly responsive speed and pace with Suunto FusedSpeedTM. Heart rate monitoring with Peak Training Effect will keep you within your optimimum training zone and Recovery Time will tell you when you’re fully recovered for your next adventure. And after a hard session in the hills, the GPS will guide you home where you can upload your data for analysis on Movescount.com.

Mountain and Everyday Exploration
The AMBIT is housed in a robust BuiltToLast casing and has an enhanced battery lifetime of up to 50hrs in GPS mode. True to Suunto’s heritage in dive instruments, it is water resistant to 100m. Upgrades are available through Movescount.com.

Comments Jonathan Wyatt, six-time world mountain running champion:

”As a trail runner and mountain athlete, what I need in a watch is a heart rate monitor, speed & distance, and altimeter. The AMBIT has all these features in one unit which is really exciting. One of the main problems for endurance athletes is battery life of conventional GPS sports watches so the promise of 50hrs is a big step forward.”

“Fused speed technology also gives a more accurate pace which is vital for anyone serious about their running. Being able to pair it and use it with all the existing PODs and comfort belts is another big plus point for me. This means one watch can be used for all my activities like mountain biking, road cycling, trail and mountain running, cross country skiing and ski mountaineering.”

“Knowing that the AMBIT is built for the mountains and will survive whatever I or the elements throw at it also sets it apart. Being able to personalise the displays of the watch, download updates and analyse the data on Movescount.com all help to make the AMBIT an awesome product for mountain athletes.”

”The AMBIT is everything the outdoor athlete could want in a watch,” comments Jari Ikäheimonen, brand manager at Suunto. ”It’s a unit you can trust. With its GPS and superior functions, the Ambit takes outdoor instruments to a new level. It’s a serious watch packed within a sleek but robust casing. It is the GPS for Explorers.”

New HRM and new training schedule … but still the old legs


Still recovering slightly from the injury but I have started spinning again.

New routine is this.

bike in situ on the tacq trainer

1. Assembled the turbo trainer in the house ….

kitchen unit with iPad and movies on the unit ….

jugs of water close to hand

wooden floors so easier to clean up the sweat.

 

2. New HRM has arrived – a Polar RCX5 with gps

On polarpersonaltrainer website you can start following a program so I started an endurance ride one with sportives in the summer on my planned to do list ….

So here is a glimpse of it all – tomorrow night after a long day’s filming I come home and then start a 2 hr low HR ride … will let you know how this progresses in a few weeks …

my training plan (bike)

One thing I like about the site is that once your sessions are uploaded it works out a training load to avoid you overtraining. It is similar to Suunto’s Movescount Training Effect (I wrote a post about that here when i was using the T6 HRM). I started a training ride last night that said i had to do 30 minutes in Zone 2 HR which for me is only 127bpm max …. the summary is interesting showing the percentage of fat burn in the calorie expenditure … Basically long and slow burns fat …. will have to monitor this as would be great to drop 3-5kg for summer.

HR graph - not allowed any greens tonight mumma

 

 

Bryton Cardio 30 – A Full Review


I will start this review saying I really really wanted the Bryton Cardio 30 to be a great product. On paper it seemed perfect – a small size, waterproof, gps enabled but I have been sadly let down.

Out of the box it seemed nice presented in a neat case with instructions and lead enclosed.

Physical:

It is smaller and lighter than I thought it would be – the tiny face displaying 3 lines of data. The strap is comfortable which is a major point for me. The waterproof rating is very good and the construction seems robust.

In Action:

This is were I start to well up – it is hopeless as a training HRM. It may pair easily enough with ANT+ coded items and it may acquire a satellite reading in an OK time but it sucks when you want to read any info from it in a run. The display is useless – it always shows distance in the top line of the display and it will show Heart Rate / Time / Calories / Distance(rpt) but what any running watch needs to show is at least HR and Disatnce AND Time …. preferably at the same time.

The second bad point is that although it can be set to autolap at every 1km say it does nothing else … there is no lap time shown / there is no summary to read and no way to gauge how fast your last split was unless you deduct the last km from current and try work out the split …. and when you are pressing on in a training run this is the last thing you can do.

So this leaves it as a GPS tracker with which you can analyse your run when you finish …. but the disaster here is that the GPS is wildly inaccurate. I used it on the MTB marathon in Wales and it was way different from the Garmin Edge 305 I had on the bike (this is a steal these days at £170 ish)

Blue=Bryton Green=Garmin

This was bad enough but did a run on my regular river route and the Bryton came up very short again … you can see the type of track it records … this is an open park with near zero tree cover and NO tall building nearby ….

My Suunto T6 with GPS and the Garmin Edge (as well as sites like WALKJOGRUN) gave the same reading only ever differentiating by about 50m over a 12km run – but the Bryton is bad – it is out by 800m on this run which is an 83.9% accuracy according to a comparison on Sportypal…. so distance wise it was 800m out on this run and 2km out over a 52km ride. Very Very VERY poor

So thankfully Wiggle operates a good return policy and I will be buying something else that is ANT+ compliant (prob a Garmin of some sort)

BOTTOM LINE – Avoid the Bryton Cardio like the plague ….. it is faulty with bad software, bad GPS and terrible interface.

I have since bought myself a polar RCX5 which is just fantastic …. review HERE

Want a Heart Rate Monitor?


Selling two on the lovely fleabay

 

 

The Suunto T6C with GPS pos and HRM belt and Bike Pod

 

 

 

 

 

An older but still highly specced Polar 625x HRM with S1 footpod and Cadence Sensor ….

Reticent but know they will just sit in the drawer – need to go ANT+ with all my various bike / running / kiting gear ….

 

Bryton Cardio 30 review (the first few days)


The watch HRM is still new to me but initial thoughts are this. (Update used at Ruthin in MTB race with mixed result see bottom of this page HERE part  …..Was using the Bryton Cardio 30 on the bike as well as the Garmin Edge 305 (which is great and now around £175) and there was quite a large difference in readings. There was a small section in woodland but not enough for this difference…..)

Now done a Full Review where I advise against spending money on this watch.

Good Points

  • The watch is small – much smaller than you think – quite a bit smaller than the Garmin 405 which I guess is a direct competitor, and more importantly comfortable on the wrist which the Garmin wasn’t.
  • Bryton Bridge seems reliable and the ability to export .gpx files is great for those using other online diaries like endomondo (although giving the protocol to Endomondo would be useful too in case people wanted to import direct)
  • Waterproof rated to 30m so I wont hesitate to use this kite surfing.
  • Ability to pair with any ANT+ protocol device like HRM straps and power meters / cadence sensor etc

Middle Points

  • So far I would say i am still not convinced – initial operation is a bit fiddly – the user interface is more complicated than most GPS units I have used.
  • Initial satellite lock is longer than the Garmin 405 and the Suunto GPS pod.
  • The displays on the watch are also not as clear or as user friendly useful as some I have seen.
  • The USB connector lead is short – for me connecting to the back on an iMac I would say an inch or two too short but others may find it fine. Unusual connection – don’t lose the lead as it isn’t a regular USB. This uniqueness may have something to do with the waterproof features.

Not so good Points

  • The display always has distance at the top of screen then main display is set as either km/h, rpm (stride), min/km, HR or calories. I would have liked to see an average pace as GPS reading are so flaky that it isn’t a reliable indicator.
  • Display is small and doesn’t have the versatility you would need as runner or biker in monitoring your stats/status.
  • A moan would be the lack of auto-lap summary – I have set unit to put in lap marker every 1km but it needs to flash you the last km time to be really useful as a running HRM. The Suunto T6C would flash up a lap time for a few seconds e.g. 4:11 along with ave HR for that lap so then you would know whether to kick in a bit or stay at pace.

Summary:

Still positive but yet to take it for a proper run – will do that one morning this week before work or Saturday morning and hopefully I can report back with an extended update.