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.

Glen of Rait Hill Run: a tradition I love


2010 was the last Glen of Rait games (here is a blog of that day) … they intersperse a beer festival every other year just to get the ying / yang balance going. One year traditional summer festivities like an egg and spoon as well as a 3 legged race for the kids and a 5km hill run for the adults and silly buggers.

Last time I did it in 2010 I was running fit although i was not ‘hill running fit’ and i came in 3rd and vowed that next time i would train for the event. Well 2012 dawned and my training once again for a hill run was non existent and my running had lessened as well as i have started to ride more ….

The race starts in the village goes straight up a hill to a farm (at up to 22% gradient) then across a boggy field and then down the road to the village again.

course here http://app.strava.com/runs/19049797

the course and profile

That hill up is hard with no warm up the HR shoots up and stays at max HRave 167 max 179 (92% 99% of max HR)

The start of 31 runners saw a few eagers shooting off the front … I was 5th or 6th most of the way but went past someone whose breathing was pretty ropey. I just tried to stay steady and the right side of vomit ….. By the top I was 3rd with 4th and 5th right behind me.

After all the rain this year the top field was said to be ‘treacherous’ but it was just a bit muddy and cow riddled. I put some distance on the 2 boys behind and set my eyes on no 2 as the defending champ was already 200m ahead …

HR – up with the hill but no coming down

i chased no 2 who later identified himself as Paul from hungary down the hill and was making slight gains halving the distance to 30m when he heard the slap of my trainers on the wet road and proceeded to speed up to a pace I couldn’t keep up. i think a 3m38/km (about 5m25/ml) pace might be the quickest i have run.

finished 3rd again …. next time I will train as Thomas wont run with his son (and wont be doing a 80km ride just before the run) and he is aiming for gold …..

interval running – training for the hill race and the half marathon


 

Interval running – you have got to love it. Strangely I sometimes prefer doing this on a treadmill so the intervals are exactly the same speed. 1 min intervals at above 16km/h or (3m40/km pace) and then 90 sec in between at a leisurely 11.5km/h or a 5m27? ish pace.

 

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

Turbo training in the garage


I won’t say I got sweaty but the term ‘A sweatier crack than a group of weightwatchers in a xmas disco …’ comes to mind.

I am not sure if enjoy is the correct adjective but doing the sufferfest angels video whilst on the turbo sure makes you work harder …. the pool of sweat got bigger and i am not really a sweaty type of person.

Today I discarded the top but kept 2 heart rate belts on to compare the 2 actions of Polar vs Garmin. I love Garmin only for the guess work they put into calorie expenditure – always on the flattering side. The polar is a bit more scientific giving calorie burn (727 on the garmin vs 911 on the polar) normally the Garmin is a tad over estimated but putting in turbo session seems to throw their computations out …. guesswork.

The polar also give a Fatburn FB percentage – today was high cardio zone so only 12%.

Looking forward to the sportive on Sunday ….

Sufferfest ANGELS is a great training video – see the HR chart above 10min of up and under then 3 hill climbs of 8 min each ….. feeling exhausted now but i am sure I will get better …..

Here is a breakdown of angels ….

Angels duration64:00 8.5/10 3 x 8:00 climbs with accelerations and attacks. …those who can’t climb but want to. And for climbers who want to be able to attack more powerfully. Liege-Bastogne-Liege, Paris-Nice, DauphineMix of rock and techno/dance

Today was windy – we will fly a kite …


Today was forecast to be a bit like this …

although it wasn’t quite – went out on my 7m kite and had a blast but wore my Polar RCX5 and the gps to track my effort and distance – always curious to keep tabs on the health benefits whilst being dragged back and forth.

Kept tabs on the first session which was 20km of kiting …

and Heart rate was quite sedentary as the wind wasn’t nuclear enough for good jumbos so spent more time playing in the waves ….

But discovered the 7m kite has a slight leak in the bladder which needs fixing and when i went out on the 9m the safety blew off leaving me with the 1/3rd mile self rescue and swim back to shore – about 4 years since i last self rescued … good to know I still  know how.

Then home just in time for the TdF finish and Cav’s 4th stage win in Paris …. nice

riding in the wet


According to the keepers of the cog …. http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/

Rule #5// Harden The Fuck Up

Rule #9 // If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Fair-weather riding is a luxury reserved for Sunday afternoons and wide boulevards. Those who ride in foul weather – be it cold, wet, or inordinately hot – are members of a special club of riders who, on the morning of a big ride, pull back the curtain to check the weather and, upon seeing rain falling from the skies, allow a wry smile to spread across their face. This is a rider who loves the work.

————

Today applied – it has been housing down and it was a bit like this picture … in fact just checked stats and 9.8mm of rain fell today ….

rain spray – still cycling

but without the friends the sun and the visibility …

think I was under that red dot

So set off for the campsies and had the fortune of turning right as a monsoonic (I lay claim to this adjective) thunderstorm opened up. Wind was up in these heavier than normal showers so a bit of a balance sometimes staying upright … hit the crow road and had intended to do the crow road and tai-ma-doon of the other day but judging by the water in the river I knew the fjord at Tak would be thigh deep and my bike didn’t need a wash that bad.

route click on this for link to ride on STRAVA

Wasn’t pushing very hard – up the crow was studying the other side of the road for my descent – don’t want to twat myself so close to the austrian holiday …

Heart Rate was steady and never really went very high even on the ascent when i could have pushed a bit harder. Barely glanced at the Polar as I could hardly see my hand on the bar by the time I got to the hill.

Descent was a spray fest so kept it smooth and easy although I think I must have hit the 65kmh max at some smooth point on that descent.

Still a great day out though – came back to the house and stripped at the back door as I was dripping everywhere – I think my rain cape had kept me dry for all of the first 7minutes of the ride …. but what it did do was keep me from getting too cold in the wind so was glad I had it on.

Only crap part of the ride was the arseholes in cars that went past inches away – I had purposely kept my rear light on blink to give a bit of warning but the drivers in Scotland were obviously mourning the lack of summer and were intent on a bit of murder …. as i say arseholes …

Did you HTFU (see rule 5) at any point this week?

Selkirk MTB marathon review and thoughts


Went down on the Saturday afternoon and saw a lot of cars with road bikes heading in the opposite direction after the sportive. Event camping was  in Selkirk. After weeks of rain the weather forecast was true and good and after a cold clear night where the temp in the car got down to 1 degree C – the blue skies and May sun woke the riders up and set the tone of the rest of the day.

After the ride got off at ten o’clock with the Championship riders leading the field out it only took a little more than three and a quarter hours till the leading championship riders came back into the event village.

Go rohloff Go


Highlights of the race were the scenery in general and the sections of trail centre singletrack at Innerleithen, part of the renowned 7Stanes network. This part of the Scottish Borders is stunning, with rolling hills as far as the eye can see, gorse in full golden flower, and a superbly remote feeling. I do however have a gripe – being mid field some of the technical single track sections were really bogged down up to 20cm of mud and quite unrideable. Hate to think what the riders 300places back would have thought.

Feel that they could have had multi sections were another option was opened after the first 250 riders passed through … a minor gripe and just that i would have loved to ride it all instead of having to walk 3 sections.

always suspect something when a camera and puddle are this close together …
there was also a section where the 70km (actually 60km if I had another moan) came back to join the 45km lot and there was a hill that i didn’t see anyone ride – up to 22% according to the Garmin … again think the organisers should have picked a gentler route this late in the ride as it is the people on the 45km course that they really should encourage to come back and a 600m walk will not help them do that … Then a lovely descent – most people like me just riding down the side of the heather … a few of the full course 85km guys came flying past as well … then the water pic above – need to buy the Hires version for vanity reasons ….
Lastly the finish and another t-shirt which i said No to. The race must appeal to people that care about the environment and then they give out cheap horrible t-shirts that no-one with any fashion sense would wear out … they should copy the marathon and run events and give out small medals instead …
finished but hot
Must say that the greatest post finish bit was the routine …
1. WASH THE BIKE
2. WASH MYSELF
3. Get a physio
4. Eat … and Eat again. 4300calories leaves a dent.
ride profile

it’s all about the taper


Selkirk MTB marathon on Sunday – Anyone else doing it and still deciding whether to enter the long or medium ride. (reminder to oneself check weather then decide)

So last nights 5 a side game was my last exercise …. taper down now so that I am super fresh for Sunday …..

Polar Training load – looking nice and low for Sunday …

Ayr Duathlon – my first race – what a great day


5km run

28km cycle

5 km run

It hadn’t started out to well – I had pulled my calf last week doing hill repeats and it didn’t seem to clear up – it was niggling and I had avoided running for a whole week … did a slow 5km yesterday just to feel it and it was painful. I had doubts as to whether it might make me pull out of the race so it was weighing on my mind.

Last nights sleep was also pretty awful woke up 3 times with the kids and nightmares then the youngest stomped in a 6am in far from the best mood … so I did what any sensible person would do and I went downstairs for a leisurely porridge and honey breakfast.

Picked up Steven my brother in law at 7:40am then headed down to Ayr for the Duathlon … we arrived pretty early and registered looking out at the clear blue sky and the fact the air temp was only 6 degrees C. there was a fair share of TRI bike – saw at least 3 Cervelo P3’s and other TRI  bikes. Also glad to see another plain ti Racer like mine … (a van nicholas but any ti bride is good)

Duathlon prep - freebie shirt and deep heat applied

I decided to do the whole race wearing running tights (the compression i figured would help my calf) and a long sleeve cycling top. A pretty relaxed briefing then we were off …. a short run around the school where the run was based and then off to the coast road – a dirt track with its fair share of potholes. It is an out and back run so by the half way point the leaders were already 500m ahead.

Run 1

By transition I had my first attempt at doing transitions on my Polar RCX5 (which allows you to change sport in the same workout which is great and it also allows you to export separate gps .gpx files for each part) By the time I had my bike shoes on and was gulping down a gel Steven was also in transition. I left about 20 seconds in front of him and then looked down to see that i hadn’t restarted the watch – so add 30 sec and 300 metres to the time on this leg.

bike route and elevation

The ride was great – although I think the boys and girls on their all carbon TRI  bikes must have queried their decision as the road was pretty tatty and the route was quite hilly. You could definitely hear them as the carbon rattled over every bump and hole … I could see sense in an aero machine on a flat well surfaced road but South Ayrshire obviously hasn’t spent money on resurfacing in years and they must have flt every bump. There were a couple of uphills where I stood to climb as the lack of padding despite the lovely ti frame was very much felt.

There were great views and lovely sweep descents and the car drivers were passing very carefully which was great. At one stage I was getting a bit tired but sucked down another gel and then some water (they sure are gloopy) but then suddenly I was back at transition.

2nd transition was quick although my legs felt like they belonged to someone else.

2nd run

Second run was identical and after exiting I got to see the first person storming down the hill to the finish – so a 18min lead over what I would do. There is a little hill just in the first km and I was struggling … but after that first km I felt steady although my calf was pulling so just kept up with my pace. After the turn around i was heading back and saw Steven again about a km behind me. Had a mid road high 5 that nearly took me off my feet and then was aiming for the guy in front but could make no gain on him.

run comparison
Polar software breakdown

finished feeling good – just really happy that calf felt no worse … chatted briefly to chap in from then just waited for Steven … Watched a guy come in that was at least 60 and looked in better shape than I have ever been in my life and then another man just behind Steven that must have been at least 70 …. really inspiring.

So my first Duathlon finished and i loved it … big shout out to the Marshals who did a great job and the organisers …. I will be be back hopefully with a good calf and a better transition strategy.

Hill Running repeats but now a slightly sore calf


That was a bit horrible

Went to Alexander park to do some hill repeats tonight

amble to the park then started the repeats – 1st one was to scout the hill – then realised best option was the less steep longer ascent with a short drop down and then repeat repeat. The HR belt can’t have been sweaty enough as it showed a 109%HR effort …. but rest were fine showing me hit 92%of my MaxHR. It hurt a lot which I guess it is supposed to do ….

the hill repeated and my speed
polar HR (strange spike on 2nd hill)

then i started to feel my calf pulling so to prevent muscle damage i stopped and didn’t finish my 10 repeats ….. still a bit tender but should be fine.

Turbo Interval on the bike


yesterday was supposed to be a run day in light of the upcoming duathlon but I couldn’t face it (as opposed to today when I am forced to face the sleet and cold later)

So the plan was this:

10min warm up then

4 MIN at +85% MHR

4 MIN recovery at 65% MHR

Repeat 4 times

Then cool down for 10 min

But was watching the iPad – a doccie about the Yom Kippur war with John Snow daddy and son and kind of lost track of timings ….

Here is the Garmin read out showing speed

speed on the trainer

The intervals are not so easy to see on this graph – esp the 2nd interval where I went for nearly 7.5 minutes ….

Here is the polar Heart rate Graph from Polar Personal Trainer which shows the intervals clearer. Normally I program the RCX5 so that it beeps to remind me and beeps when HR is too high (rare) or too low ….. Think I should stick to that is it is less forgetful than me doing it manually.

Polar RCX5 HR graph clearly showing intervals

not working today so off to the cinema at lunchtime – how decadent ….

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

Trouble shooting – weird Heart Rate spikes, dropouts and how to eliminate them


For those who train with heart rate monitors, you have probably encountered a session where your HR graph just doesn’t make sense. With my garmin it used to start fine then my HR would skyrocket up to the 180’s 190’s and I would be dead if I was there 200’s. With my Suunto – sometimes I would get no reading before it kicked into life …

Suunto no record then suddenly pop into life ...

After you finish your activity and get back to your computer, you’ll probably see something like this – a major HR spike a dropout or even a level no read situation, followed by more normal HR activity: Below is my reading from the Alloa Half Marathon on the weekend with flouro yellow highlights of bits that don’t make sense ….

Frustrated, you wonder if the battery needs changing but then the next time it is fine so you forget about it …but here is a reason why this might be happening.

I presume everyone can put their strap on correctly – that is the right way up and against the skin just under the ribcage …

So assuming that you’ve got it fitted right then let’s look at what typically causes the spike or dropout in HR

1) Are you wet yet?

During the winter months and in the case of Alloa on Sunday the air is often fairly cold, and fairly dry.  This means that you’re less likely to have moist perspiration on your skin (from heat) and even less likely to be generating any sweat right from the start of the workout.  This in turns lowers your belt’s conductivity ability to read your heart rate beats …..   Simply introducing any moisture at all will usually remedy the situation – at least until you begin sweating enough to let sweat do its job.

2) Synthetic quick dry shirts:

At Alloa I was wearing a synthetic shirt as opposed to my ‘normal’ nicer smelling Merino. An unfortunate side effect of synthetics is that they can dry out the body and the skin’s sweat making the belt so dry that it can’t ‘read’ the skin. Another issue is that synthetic material can build up static which can cause electrical interference with the HR belt.

3) Your mum is a gorilla:

I have heard some people of the hirsute variety have more errors ….. you need to be very hairy for this to affect the HR belt but if you are this way inclined … a) shave or groom b) stay swinging in the trees instead of running c) if female remain indoors and plait that hairy back …..

How to lick the problem:

It is pretty easy to fix

1) Sweat it: This first one is a bit obvious – but will explain why the problem often goes away after just a few minutes of activity.  Once you start sweating it improves conductivity.  This in turn makes the HR strap work …. but you still have the earlier misread ….

2) Lick it: This is the simplest option and what I do all the time. I just give the sensors a good gobbing – but hold onto your bogeys for the run.

HR gel

3) Heart Rate Gel: If you suck at licking, then you can instead use electrode gel to improve conductivity.  This is what’s typically used in medical environs for scans and using TENS machines …. it just ensures a good contact moisture seal between belt and skin. They are cheap as chips – about £5 for a big tube that will last years … If it is a dry very cold day and I remember then I use gel on the belt before heading out.

4) Shift the strap:

If you spot a dodgy reading then adjust the strap – a quick shift up and down normally gets the belt to rub against some sweat and the belt normal corrects pretty quickly. Some people shift the strap so it is half on back and front or even all on the back … i have not tried but it seems to work as an option.

5) Replace the batteries:

Finally, it could be as simple as old depleted batteries – most belts use CR2032 batteries so i always make sure I have a handful around ….

Alloa Half Marathon – race report


Woke up at 7am and looked out the window to the most glorious weather … Bright sunshine and hardly any wind. Temp slightly fresh at 4 degrees but bound to warm up.
Had my staple breakfast of raw porridge and banana and picked up Findlay at 8am for the drive to Alloa. We arrived early and had too much time on our hands for parking, registration and in findlays case, plenty of time to regret the curry he had the night before.
Temp was still hovering around 5 degrees but I learnt my lesson running the Jedburgh half marathon when my legs were sweating for most of the run, so shorts were donned but realised I only had a vest which might be a bit chilly. Borrowed findlays spare t shirt. Which was two sizes too big but had my vest on top to keep it snug.

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Course map – showing long straight where the wind was in our face.

This time I remembered to take plasters to tape over my nipples – one of the problems of being born with nipples which seem to come out under the side of my chest … Maybe I was born to breast feed small animals anchored under my armpit hair.
I have only done one run, 7 miles in the sweaty heat of Baghdad where the seam of the vest chafed away at me and I finished that run in agony. LESSON LEARNED.

Back to the run. Organisation at this event was flawless. Good start zone, electronic chips for the shoes, plenty of changing facilities and loos both on the leisure centre and portaloos near the start.

Start was massive – so many people that it took me about a minute to cross the start line. The first 2 km were spent weaving through slower traffic and over eager athletes that had pushed to front of start line. From 3km there was plenty of space to pass for those overtaking and for those being overtaken. The police did a great job of marshalling and the cars were either kept back or their speed was curtailed by the often passing police motor cycle.

20120319-105426.jpg
My legs post injury are still not up to speed so I kept my pace quite regular around the 4:30/km. I knew I wasn’t going to get my 1h31 PB in this this race but by the end was very chuffed to get a 1h36m as I was only hoping for sub 1h45

Alloa is a great race and I think I will do it again next year.

20120319-105510.jpg

Only one slight problem with the race was my polar HR belt had a slight wobble. I don’t use gel on the belt but think that maybe the wicking nature of the shirt meant I dried up on my chest. Suddenly my HR said it was 97 – if only – I only noticed this after 3 km of bad reading – I was only glancing down at monitor every time the watch auto lapped the km to make sure I was doing alright and not flagging too quickly. I can only think the belt was dry as soon as I shifted it it read accurately again.
Still love the RCX5 though …..

Duathlon Training


Last night I was supposed to do an hour on the bike at a very low rate ….. but I felt so lethargic and pissed off (for no reason) that I abandoned it after only 20 odd minutes. This morning I am not too annoyed I think training schedules are sometimes treated like they are gospel … but I guess I am agnostic in this regard or humanist in that i listened to my body which was saying ‘NO’

In light of the Ayr Duathlon I entered (15th April chaps if anyone want to enter) I decided to try a practice run and cycle and also see how the Polar RCX5 handles the transition between sports. Its a bit messed as I did my bike ride at home on the trainer.

run route

The Ayr Duathlon is actually a 5km run – 28km cycle – 5 km run …. but I just wanted to try a 2 sport hit so went down to Glasgow Green and ran along the river until I hit one of my markers then ran back. It is slightly longer than the 2 runs put together at 10.33km (although i am sure MAP myRun and google say it is 10.7km

Into the house – rain coat off and shoes changed then hopped on the bike. Wasn’t going for the full 28km just wanted to get a feel. 16km was enough I think. My wife and daughter came back in ‘my god you stink’ as they saw me red-faced and sweating all over the kitchen. (NOTE to self – I will stay cooler in the wind outside and not stink the house out)

I like the way the RCX5 lets you transition between sport …. there is an option to allow you to change between sports by raising the wrist unit close to the HRM belt (which you can change to show or do loads in the setup) … at the moment I have the bike one set up to show me Time of Day when I raise the wrist unit close to the belt and the Run one to switch on the backlight ……

After 16km i had enough … legs now are still sore a bit … was amazed how long it took me to feel up to speed on the bike. The muscle memory after the run was quite weird – not sure how it would feel to start the run again … hopefully do a trial race before the event (which will be my first)

Heart Rate Graph - no distance info on bike side as indoors on trainer.

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.

Choosing display on your HRM


I have been asked before what views I select on my HRM to help me with training. Well it depends on the sport …..
The polar RCX5 actually displays 4 lines of data and very customisable …..

So without further adieu

Bike Display
Display 1 ( for turbo trainer)
Time
Distance
Speed
Hr

Display 2 (my HR display)
HR pointer
HR in zone
HR
HR ave

Display 3
HR breakdown (one view – shows time spent in each zone)

Display 4
Distance
Speed
Speed Average
Speed max

Display 5
Time of day
Calories
Distance
Time

Display 6 not used
Run

Display 1 (general overview)
Time
Distance
Pace
Hr

Display 2
HR pointer
HR in zone
HR
HR ave

Display 3
HR zone breakdown (one view)

Display 4
Distance
Pace (not that accurate with gps but still a guide)
Pace Average (more useful)
Previous lap (m:ss/km)

Display 5
Time of Day
Calories
Distance
Time

Display 6 not used