This is what I would want for my ‘perfect’ RUNNING watch. It would be for general run training and, when needed, for racing too. Let’s say for any distance. It would be for track or for XC or for urban pavements or fells. Let’s forget the multisport stuff for a while.
This is certainly NOT my definition of a perfect watch for YOU. Just for me.
I think about these, and other, trivial things when running 😉 Just as you probably do. It soon became apparent in my introspective deliberations that my ‘needs’ are not so great and yet there is no one product that can do all that I ‘need’ and most fall short by a fair way in some shape or other. I’m sure I am not unique in that respect Dear Watchmakers.
- Screen shape: I want a rectangular screen. A Forerunner 305/910Xt would be fine. That displays 4 fields, sorted.
- Screen resolution: Nothing special. A Forerunner 305/910Xt or a Polar M430 would be fine.
- Strap, lightweight plastic case?: Not bothered
- Touchscreen?: Err no. I want a running watch and not a toy please. Pretty please?
- Backlight/readability: Yes of course I want to be able to read it ALL THE TIME in ANY light conditions. Otherwise I would have a device in my back pocket.
- Waterproof: Yes >=50m
- Music?: See above. It’s not a toy
- Aesthetics: I’d even take the looks of a 920XT for a functional sport-only watch.
- Cables and connections for data: Unfortunately those proprietary charging cables or cradles are the best in reality. I prefer the cradle of the 920XT, that kind of thing please none of those junky fitbit/fenix5/polar micro-usb thingies. I also specifically like how Garmin let me access the device from a computer as a USB mass storage device. That is REALLY important to me and how I get data sent somewhere else (ST3)
- Battery: I suppose 8 hours would be enough for me. I’d always leave it on the aforesaid cradle and it would always be charged up. Maybe 12 hours might take me through a holiday away somewhere for a week of running.
- Smartphone connectivity for SMS alerts and Donald Trump’s latest tweets. Thankfully my ideal sports watch would not show any of those. I can live without connectivity for 60-90 running minutes.
- Links to STRAVA, GC, TP, ST, MOVESCOUNT, FLOW to share data over multiple platforms: No thank you. I only need one analysis platform. For me, I use SportTracks 3.1 (desktop) – although the lack of development of that product particularly around running power and CP curves is incrementally pushing me to Golden Cheetah.
- Social Links: As ‘me’, rather than the5krunner, I would use STRAVA to share RUNNING data between friends. There’s no other social platform that I’m especially interested in for sharing my sports data. For example I wouldn’t post PBs on FB. A PB is a PERSONAL best and not a PUBLIC best. It’s just me that needs to know and if my sporty friends are interested they look at the race page or parkrun’s page or STRAVA. As I want to use STRAVA then I’d be a bit stuck as I don’t think ST3 can link to STRAVA directly (although it could be done indirectly I know). I don’t need an active STRAVA link for segments/QOM/KOM stuff. Offline is fine.
- Accuracy: I’m not interested in elevational accuracy at all. However I want very accurate and responsive instant pace to within 5 secs/km. If it has oHR then it has to be accurate and responsive ie +/- 1bpm. I’d like a good GPS track for post-run analysis but I would imagine that will come automatically with the accurate instant pace. I suppose this means GALILEO.
- Sensor support: I don’t particularly mind if it supports sensors through either BLE or ANT+. But for me it must support EITHER a decent polar or Garmin or Suunto HRM and it must support STRYD (or something equally as accurate for running power). It shouldn’t need to support a footpod as a source for running pace as we’ve already established that I want an accurate GPS watch. I don’t run on treadmills, even in winter. It should get reasonably accurate cadence from an internal accelerometer. Having said that I don’t mind BLE or ANT+ I have to say that if I owned more than one watch or one sensor type then BLE is just a pain in the preverbials. ANT+ is so much easier for what the5krunner.com needs it for and I suspect the same is true for many of you even with a couple of footpods (Take note Polar and Suunto)
- Metrics: Yes I’d like every performance-based that is currently available please…just in case. I’ll never use them tho 😉 When I display them I want to be able to customise the page setup so that I can HIDE the name of the metric and just show the number. I also then want to be able to enlarge that number so that it better fills up the available screen real estate. My eyesight is starting to go…happens to us all apparently. “All of us” is a big market I think?? Could be wrong.
- Pages: Yes I’d like multiple pages but would only use 2 pages in reality.
- Fancy dials: Again, this is not a toy and I am perfectly able to read and understand a simple number.
- Structured workouts: In the past I’ve used those a lot. Currently I just seem to know when 1 minute or 20 minutes of pain is up. I guess I’d take a simple interval creator on the watch that has just one interval duration, repeated ‘n’ times.
- Alert Types: Both audible and vibrational please. Fully adjustable in intensity and volume. I’ll take the default tone and don’t want to add my own mp3 ringtone.
- Alerts: Yes I’d want those for max/min levels of: pace; running power; and HR. I’m not bothered about cadence alerts. But I would like the ability to really easily turn off any alert when it starts to bug me for whatever reason mid-race or mid-workout.
- Navigation: No, I don’t need any of that thank you very much.
- Lap Summaries: I guess these are occasionally useful for me. So long as I can choose to display whichever lap metric I want, I’d be happy with just displaying one or two metrics on the lap summary screen.
- Workout summaries: I don’t really look at these either. What’s done is done. What’s run is run. However the Garmin Fenix 935/5’s post-workout summaries are pretty awesome. It summarises everything, or so it seems to me. That summary is then effectively stored it the logbook but I rarely look at watch-based logbooks either. So I don’t need these.
- Warmup mode. I want a HRV-enabled warmup mode. It tells me when I’m warmed up and ready to perform the workout. And it really had better work super-properly or I’ll just turn off the feature and never use it again. Maybe a similar post-workout recovery mode could also be good for a warm-down? I’d use those. Not sure they exist though.
- Intelligent Interval Mode: I want to be able to define intervals by how my body responds – HRV would be the easiest method. For the sake of argument, I might set out to do one minute intervals but then what I want is for the watch to match the durations/intensities of subsequent intervals so that I get the same stimulus. For example after 20 of these nominal 1 minute intervals the actual interval time might be reduced to 30 seconds…something like that. I think XERTonline.com are the closest to this with some of their bike apps and their concept of MPA and how they dynamically factor-in fatigue.
- Laps: I really want autolaps (I usually do 1km autolaps for running) but I also want a separate series of manual laps as achieved by the SPARTANs and POLARs (not Garmin). But what I also want here is the ability to swap the two modes of lapping. What I mean by that is that I SOMETIMES like how Garmin works where pressing lap takes you to the next autolap state ie to the next interval, in a workout. So I want to be able to configure how the manual lap press works ie it works like Garmin or, other times, it works like SUUNTO/Polar.
So it sounds like I want a Ferrari that just does one job well rather than a connected, hybrid family Ford car that caters for very many needs of all car owners. I’m not holding my breath. Either for the Ferrari or for the perfect watch 😉
What’s VITAL for you and your running? And/or what have I missed?
On closer inspection you might conclude that the Garmin 920XT + HRM-TRI + STRYD would be the closest match to my RUNNING needs. And you wouldn’t be far wrong. But that would still only be about 85-90% of the way there and would cost well over £500 ;-).