1 Minute Review: Garmin Forerunner 910XT

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Garmin Forerunner 920XT - Same look and feel?

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

 

This is a good high-end, triathlon running watch – now superseded by the 920XT. It has great design and is a fairly robust bit of hardware from the market’s leading supplier.

Positives: It’s a serious triathlon watch, ably supported by a plethora of Garmin ANT+ sensors and the openness of Garmin’s data ecosystem to other software companies.

Negatives: Instant/Current running pace is wrong. The speed at which you run is a fundamental thing for a runner to know (you need to buy a footpod). Altitude if flaky, altitude/climb data is wanted by many cyclists. There’s none of the smartphone notifications and in-depth activity tracking functionality offered by the newer 920XT. I got through 4 or 5 910XTs whilst under warranty. Don’t buy one second-hand unless under guarantee.

Comments: Despite this, I like the watch; from the looks of it, to the using of it. And I like the fact that I can use my other favourite supplier’s software. It has pretty much all the on-screen metrics that most of us need. Compared to the 920XT, the watch wasn’t as buggy for the stuff that I used it for. I like my gadgets and fiddling with them. If you want a watch that ‘just works all the time’ then think carefully.

Alternatives: This link covers some alternatives.

Detailed Review: This link covers my detailed review of the Garmin 910XT.

1 Minute Review: Polar M400

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Polar M400

Polar M400

This is a fantastic entry-level++ GPS running watch. It has a very good design throughout from one of the leading suppliers.

Positives: It’s a great bit of running kit and when coupled with a Polar HRM/chest strap you will have pretty much all your running needs met. The assisted GPS is generally good by industry standards as is the activity ‘load’ tracker. Smartphone notifications will probably be up and running by the time you read this. At times, the price has been hovering around GBP100 (without HRM).

Negatives: It will be a world-beater if ever an optical HR device is integrated into the watch. The only problem with the activity tracking is that ‘proper’ sleep tracking can’t be ascertained from a motion sensor, which is what Polar and many other vendors have to do without optical HR as a chest strap is impractical.

Comments: I like the watch and would certainly recommend it; from the looks to the using of it. The interface is intuitive and some of the features are novel. Polar’s concept of tracking your daily ‘load’ rather than your activity and number of steps is ‘correct’ and useful for anyone who does the occasional sporty thing…or indeed LOTS of sporty things. Comfy, accurate enough and keenly priced.

Alternatives: This link covers some alternatives.

Detailed Review: This link covers my detailed review of the Polar M400.

1 Minute Review: Suunto Ambit 3

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IMG_3426This is a high quality, triathlon sports watch and activity tracker that will cover most of the features you need for training and racing.

Positives: It looks great and you have to look hard at it to find bugs. The MOVESCOUNT ‘data ecosystem’ is very good and fairly open with some novel and useful features.

Negatives: It only supports Bluetooth SMART sensors. What it gains in being a 24×7 watch it loses a tad in size/weight.

Comments: There is still plenty of work to be done matching the features of Garmin. Although when you get all those features you will find few that you use. There is likely to be a 2015/2016 upgraded version to extend the range.

Alternatives: This link covers some alternatives.

Detailed Review: This link covers my first review of the AMBIT 3 and then I look at functionality in a more detailed triathlon-specific review of the AMBIT 3 SPORT.

1 Minute Review: Skechers GoRun 4

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At about 220g these are fairly light running shoes and we all know that lighter shoes usually make you go faster in a race. You can get shoes down to around 100g but those would offer very minimal cushioning.

Positives: They look nice IMO. These are light and fast with some support and quite a bit of cushioning, more than previous models. I find them comfy and I would readily race a HM in them. There is a hole in the back which really does help you put the shoe on! The outer layer of the shoe is a relatively tightly woven mesh, itself covered with waterproofing in places.

Negatives:  I’m not convinced on the longevity. Racing shoes are never meant to last more than a few races before what little support/cushioning they have goes away. However these offer more than that. If you like them as your racing shoe they will last many races. As a ‘training’ shoe I wait to be convinced – then again, having said that, rotating with other pairs will be good as the fit is different.

Comments: Great value for money at around £50. Looking at the specs you would think these shoes would be good at keeping the outside world ‘out’ but less good at breathability. In terms of breathability, however, I would say they have been good so far. Surprisingly so. I’ve not raced in these yet. However on the occasions when I use running shoes for triathlon with straps/platforms on the bike then the not-wide sole is going to work wonders with my bike and subsequent T2-to-run. The could well make their first outing in anger at the AJBell London Triathlon…we’ll see.

1 Minute Review: Garmin 310XT

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This was the first ‘triathlon’/duathlon watch from Garmin. It’s still a current model and has stood the test of time. There are newer Garmin models. However the 310XT is usually available at a VERY good price and is superior to several other current products – that’s why I am mentioning it now.

Positives: It supports all the basic ANT+ sensors – power, HR and cadence. GPS and general accuracy are good. You can set a long run-bike-run-bike etc BRICK session…longer than later models.

Negatives: It has no real swim functionality to talk about although you can record swim time with it, even in a triathlon. It’s a tad big and orange. There are good ones and bad ones, I wouldn’t advise buying without some form of warranty. Earlier ones have firmware bugs and you must use the latest firmware.

Comments: Great value for money. This is pretty good as a duathlon watch. You will get nearly all the duathlon features you realistically need and it’s great as a standalone running or cycling watch.

Alternatives: This link covers some alternatives.

Detailed Review: This link covers my more detailed review of the Garmin 310XT.

1 Minute Review: CURRANZ Performance and Recovery Tablets, Blackcurrant-based

The CURRANZ tablets are concentrated blackcurrant juice with which actively uses anthocyanin to positively affect bloodflow via nitrate oxide synthesis. Blackcurrant positively affects lactate tolerance and substrate oxidation. You take them once daily following a ‘loading’ strategy or pre-race you could have one at least 2 hours before the race.

Positives: Taking a tablet is pretty straightforward. IMO they definitely and noticeably improve recovery, removing most aching legs the day after a hard session. University research shows noticeably increased performance and in my opinion that MAY be the case with my performances.

Negatives: Occasionally upset stomach the following day. Approx £30 for a month’s supply for continuous daily usage.

Comments: I have integrated these into my race nutrition regime with a 2-3 day loading strategy before the race on the ‘it probably doesn’t hurt’ basis. I also use them at least once weekly immediately prior to my dreaded ‘hard swim’ day. That day is CERTAINLY easier with CURRANZ and BEET-IT combo. I would suggest getting together with a few like-minded athletes to share the cost of a pack before a hard session and see what you all think 24 hours later.

Promotional Discount Code is RUNCURRANZ on the curranz website, this should give you 15% off until October 2015 then 10% afterwards. The supplier occasionally sends me free product rather than any monetary payment for the use of this code.

Alternatives: n/a.

Detailed Review: This link covers my detailed ‘review’ of CURRANZ.

1 Minute Review: MIO Link Optical Heart Rate Monitor

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MIO Link Review

MIO Link Review

This is one of the more accurate optical heart rate monitors. It supports ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART but not HRV and is wrist-worn.

Positives: You can use it with just about any modern app or watch such as a Garmin or Polar. It’s comfy and looks good and the battery life of around 7 hours is fine for most uses. For those of us who don’t like chest straps or can’t wear them, this is a GREAT alternative.

Negatives: It does not cache the data, unlike the MIO Fuse, meaning that a watch or smartphone APP MUST also be present. Although accurate in its class it is NOT as accurate as most chest straps, especially at higher heart rates above 165bpm. Certain kinds of skin and environmental or morphological factors further affect the accuracy. The MIO app is ‘limited’.

Comments: People either love or hate the MIO Link; with most loving it. As a wrist based, optical HRM it really is hard to beat even a year or more after its release.

Alternatives: This link covers some alternatives.

Detailed Review: This link covers my detailed review of the MIO Link.

920XT Firmware Updated Again – Significantly this time (Fenix 3, Epix same)

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x150HRMSWiM-o_other[1]

HRM Swim

As expected there is a significant update to the 920XT firmware to support the retrieval of cached HR data – as well as other more minor things too, as shown below.

The cached swim data retrieval fills a big hole that previously existed in the functionality behind Garmin’s triathlon offering.

The HRM product is expected to be available this quarter.

The caching retrieval is most unlikely to work with other similar caching HRM products such as 4iiii Viiiiva and Wahoo TICKR-X

A whole number change in software should relate to a significant upgrade in functionality ie from 4.X to 5.X

 

 

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Changes made from version 4.20 to 5.20:

 

  • Added HRM-Tri and HRM-Swim support.
  • Added Connect IQ 1.1.3 SDK support.
  • Added tone-only and vibration-only options to the alarm.
  • Added a shortcut for changing the pool size to the shortcuts menu in a pool swim activity.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur when uploading an activity to a paired smartphone over Bluetooth

 

Suunto Movescount for Android – beta 1.0.9

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Suunto SMART Sensor HRM HR Memory Belt

Suunto SMART Sensor HRM HR Memory Belt

Suunto have announced welcomed functionality to the SMART SENSOR via Android, catching up with what is already there on iOS.

Essentially you no longer need an AMBIT to go swimming. You can now initiate a swimming session with the MOVESCOUNT Android app and go off out of range for a swim.

When you return to within transmission distance of the Android device the data is uploaded to the device and to MOVESCOUNT online.

As said earlier, this has already been implemented on iOS.

However I found problems with this functionality on both iOS (iPAD) and Android (Samsung S3). It’s only beta software of course and a welcome step in the right direction.

With the recent Garmin announcement of a HRM-SWIM all the leading vendors – Polar, Suunto and Garmin – have a proper and full triathlon offering in terms of heart rate monitoring and training.

—————— Press Release Follows ——————————–

Movescount for Android Beta 1.0.9 pending publication on Google Play!

New week, new feature. Suunto Smart Sensor is now supported in Movescount for Android Beta.

Whatever your sport, Suunto Smart Sensor – the smallest Bluetooth Smart compatible heart rate sensor on the market – measures your heart rate with great comfort and accuracy. While swimming, the sensor stores your heart rate data and transfers it wirelessly to your Movescount for Android app.

Suunto Smart Sensor support requires the latest firmware update to your Smart Sensor – this is offered by Suunto Movescount for Android as necessary.

Please note that Suunto Smart Sensor works using the Bluetooth interface that is used by Ambit3 and if you have paired both a Smart Sensor and an Ambit3 with your Android device they can interfere with each other.

Release notes for the 1.0.9 version:

_Suunto Smart Sensor support
_Fixes crash when Average speed measurement was used
_Improved battery life
_Improved Bluetooth connection handling

Duathlon Training: An example of a week’s training

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Source: tri247.com

Source: tri247.com

This is an example of a week of duathlon training for a high-performing, middle-aged, Age Group duathlete with a good chance of a National Duathlon medal. Some detail has been edited out for the sake of brevity – for example the details of specific weight exercises and warmup/cool down, which is always assumed.

The week has been tailored to build on work in previous weeks. It’s a late-stage build week in winter and is biased towards improving the athlete’s weak points, with this athlete we often work on 10-day cycles incorporating more recovery/adaptation if needed.

Monday (S&C, Run):

AM: 45-60 min Strength & Conditioning (higher reps 8x, lower weights 70%max than last week – FYI: Glutes, calves, quads, core focussed)

PM Optional: 45-60min Z1 run based on HR, dependent on HRV. Varied terrain.

Tuesday (Bike):

AM: 15′ drills including – high cadence and one-legged pedalling.

  • 10′ (2RI)@ 270w, 95 rpm, aero
  • 10′ (2RI)@ 320w
  • 5′ (3RI) @ >340w, c100rpm
  • 10′ (2RI)@ 300w, 95 rpm, aero
  • 5′ (3RI) @ >340w, c100rpm
  • 10′ (2RI)@ 320w
  • 10′ (2RI)@ 270w, 90 rpm, aero
  • PM: Optional 30′ recovery run.

Wednesday (Run)

  • Optional bike 10′-30′ Z1/Easy @>100rpm then straight into
  • 6-10x strides then
  • 2×20′ @ 3:45/km, 5′ RI  then
  • 10′ as best you can cap at max Z4 HR

Thursday (Bike)

  • 60′ easy Z1 based on power, aero, >4’RI then
  • 3’@350w 2′ RI then
  • 3’@<300w <80rpm (include standing)
  • Further Optional 30’ light stretching/rolling

Friday 

Complete Rest

Saturday (Run)

  • Plyometric Drills 15-30′, and 4-6x strides.
  • 20’ Z1 (based on HR)
  • 5×5’ @>3:25/km, 2-4’ RI
  • Optional (PM) 30′ easy recovery run, Z1.

Sunday (Bike, Run)

  • Bike: 4x [10′ Z2 (based on HR) + 5′ Z3] @>90rpm then
  • Run: 30′ easy Z1-Z2 (based on HR)

Monday

Complete Rest

NB: Follow somebody else’s plan at your peril ! Your training must be based on what YOU can achieve NOT what somebody else can achieve.

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