Today's running watches most often combine heart rate monitors with GPS watch technology
or make use of accelerometers in foot pods to measure speed and distance. These are key developments for the running watch because it is the
correlation between pace and heart rate that is most critical for any runner to fully understand.
What we are looking for is the ideal pace given the distance boiled down into minutes per mile. Ideally this pace will keep you beneath your
anaerobic threshold in a functionally operational zone where it is sustainable. Start too fast and you risk oxygen debt and lactic acid build up.
The GPS watch is beginning to become a favored tool by many runners, although some of the more advanced accelerometer-based, or foot pod,
watches like the Polar RS800sd and the Suunto t6d are among the finest running watches we have tested. Thus there are two categories
of running watch - GPS watches and the accelerometer type watches.
GPS WATCHES EVALUATED
Garmin has the lead at this point in GPS watch technology at this point with the new Garmin Forerunner 410 and the
Garmin 310XT, although Timex recently introduced the new Timex Ironman Global Trainer which is a close surrogate to the
Garmin 310XT. All three of these watches feature real-time pacing data, heart rate, speed and distance in 1/100th of a mile. Custom
interval training and vibratory, as well as audible, alerts are the standard with the Garmin 310XT and the Timex Ironman Global Trainer.
The Garmin Forerunner 410 only features audible alerts but has all the other features.
With the advent of improvements in the GPS SIRF 3 and SIRF 4 chip set technology reception is rarely and issue anymore. What most runners seem
to like about GPS watches is that you have one single accessory in the watch itself with no added components and you get all of your data.
The downside to GPS is perhaps battery life, which runs about 13 to 14 hours in the Forerunner 310XT and Timex Global Trainer, while the
Garmin Forerunner 110 lasts about 8 hours. For most daily training and even marathons this type of battery life is more than adequate. For
long course triathletes and ultra-marathon runners you will definitely want to stick with the 310XT and Global Trainer.
There is a learning curve to these more advanced GPS watches but it pays off with an incredible array of data that can truly help you advance your
For those wanting speed, distance and heart rate in a much easier to use package then consider the Garmin Forerunner 210 and the
Garmin Forerunner 110. These watches are extremely simple to operate, create great maps and good basic data with simplicity being the key watch word.
The Forerunner 110 and the Forerunner 210 do not contain the Virtual Partner real-time pacing feature so really serious, competitive
runners may want to stick with the more advanced models.
ACCELEROMETER WATCHES ASSESSED
The absolute best in the class of accelerometer based running watches are the Suunto t6d and the Polar RS800sd. These devices
deliver accurate speed, distance, heart rate and pacing information. Both come with light weight foot pods (between 30 and 50 grams, that
typically are placed in the shoelaces of your running shoes.
The Polar RS800sd features the S3 stride sensor foot pod which goes further than just measuring speed and distance and looks at turnover and
other stride components to give advice on stride improvement. With its barometric altimeter, the RS800sd measures vertical rise and run along
with speed, distance, calories, multiple heart rate zones, and an enormous array of features. You can further track and measure the effectiveness
of your training by wirelessly downloading your workouts to Polar professional training software, which comes on a CD-ROM with the watch.
The Suunto t6d has all of the features you'd expect from a great running watch and one unique metric called post exercice oxygen consumption
If you are looking to purchase a great running watch that will help you get the job done just call the experts here at the Heart Rate
Watch Company at 866-586-7129.