Coros PACE 2 Review | A Real Garmin Contender…At Last

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Coros PACE 2 Review Specifications
Coros PACE 2 Review

Coros has returned to its roots with a lightweight, run-focussed GPS watch, let’s put it through its paces in this detailed Coros Pace 2 Review. This time we have a little excitement to contend with as, at last, we have a potential ‘Garmin Beater’ on our wrists.

As usual, here is the Review Summary for the Coros Pace 2 and links for those of you who want to buy one with the detailed review following afterwards.

Coros Pace 2 Review
  • Price - 95%
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  • Apparent Accuracy - 90%
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  • Build Quality & Design - 90%
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  • Features, Including App - 90%
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  • Openness & Compatability - 95%
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Summary

Coros PACE 2 Review SpecificationsThe Coros PACE 2 is a properly-featured GPS running watch that will suit beginners and pros alike.

Early Coros watches were sometimes sniggered at as ‘copycat’ Garmin. Perhaps that was true at the time but here we see Coros delivering innovative STRENGTH TRAINING heatmap, the first properly integrated and native STRYD implementation, and a supremely clever TRACK running mode. It’s also a customisable multisport watch that can support duathlon profiles as well as pool triathlon profiles – other than Garmin, few companies can do that.

The format is ‘perfect’ in the sense that it is effectively the lightest, mainstream running watch on the market and the size hits the goldilocks zone where it’s suitable as a running watch for just about anyone. Having called it perfect, you will probably have to like the Crown for it to be classed as truly perfect.

It can’t make you a latte and it can’t turn your garage lights on but it can do the ‘running stuff’ properly and that means you can choose simple intervals or complex structured workouts, and you can have all the alerts you need including power and nutrition alerts – or you could simply go for a run. When you came back from that run most of you wouldn’t continue to wear the Pace 2 on a 24×7 basis, not unless you like the sports watch aesthetic. Nevertheless, you could easily wear it for a week without charging it even if it wouldn’t quite match your work clothes.

Coming in at an rrp of less than $/Eu/£200, I think many of you might be nodding excitedly and already reaching for that Visa card. Get a free $30 accessory band and help support the work here by buying directly from Coros – add the extra strap to the cart and then add the code THE5KRUNNER at the end of checkout.

Use discount code THE5KRUNNER at coros.com to get a free $30 accessory

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Seriously UNDER-priced
  • Uber-featured, many innovative features. All the basics…and more
  • Running Track mode
  • Create & Share Training Plans
  • Physiology insights
  • Full, native STRYD Support
  • Straightforward sleep and physiology reporting
  • Looooong battery life
  • As accurate as a Garmin (oHR, GPS, Elevation)
  • Structured workouts, including for running power

Cons

  • The Crown (never hurt the Apple Watch)
  • The app is more than merely ‘functional’ but could do better
  • No routes
  • I had a pre-production quality strap which could be improved. Make sure you use the code THE5KRUNNER to get a free, spare strap if you order directly from Coros.com
  • Being overly critical, Coros could now start to add a wider range of workout metrics.
  • Being overly critical, Coros need to start thinking about simple music playback
  • Being overly critical, Coros will never have a meaningful 3rd party app platform

Note: I’ve used the Pace 2 a lot BUT mine is a pre-production watch running late beta/production firmware. It has a different strap and different barometer holes to the production version

Background

Coros has been on the sports watch scene for just over 2 years yet, in that short period, has established themselves as a serious challenger brand to the likes of Garmin, Suunto, Polar, as well as to the crossover smart/fitness brands like Amazfit and the watches that are ‘tied’ to same-branded smartphones, like Samsung. Coros watches (Vertix, Apex, Apex Pro, Pace 1) share the same basic firmware, although enabled features DO vary by model and some of the more expensive models have extra hardware abilities like SpO2 sensors. The Coros Vertix is very much the outdoors adventure model and the Coros Apex is aimed toward multisport. The Apex Pro has higher quality construction than the Apex, and the Coros Pace 1 & 2 are lightweight sports watches. All the current models now share a ‘crown’, as found on the Apple Watch.

What sets Coros apart from every competitor, apart from Garmin, is the awesome battery life and the amount of on-watch features – more than you will find on a Polar or Suunto.

Just like Garmin, Coros may find FEATURES to be the key to success, although Coros also needs to improve their app.

Coros Pace 2 Review – Target Audience

If you want a SPORTS watch then the Pace 2 hits the mark. It probably won’t go too well with your work suit as it is very much a lightweight sports watch with a plasticy-type construction. It’s well-made though and its medium-sized watch face (like the Garmin Forerunner 645) will suit most wrists.

Whilst it is a ‘proper’ multisport watch, I see the prime audience as all-ability runners. Why so? A: The Coros Pace 2 has special running track modes, a battery-life that endurance runners will die for, STRYD support, structured training support and very many of the more traditional running features. Surely though, ‘proper’ runners also do strength training? Yep, and the Coros Pace 2 has special strength features like muscle heatmaps and automatic rep counting.

The recommended price tag keeps it sensible: $199.99 / €199.99 / £179.99

Coros Pace 2 is a SERIOUS alternative to that Garmin you were thinking of buying and probably cheaper too.

Hopefully, I’ve grabbed your attention by now and so here are some of the many highlights which make up this Coros Pace 2 Review.

 

Coros Pace 2 Review – Unboxing, Design Overview & Specs

The overall design ethos of the Coros Pace 2 reviewed here is ‘competent yet unremarkable’, that’s said in a positive way in that Coros has designed a sensible watch for its intended purpose. As a medium-sized watch format, it will be suitable for almost all runners; the plastic-like construction makes it super-lightweight, the strap can be changed for an individual’s aesthetic wishes and the CROWN+button interface does work well (ask Apple).

The CROWN can either scroll across a sensible choice list of sports profiles or it can scroll through the 24×7 smart info we are all used to like heart rate, notifications, the watch face, calories and steps. You can press and hold the button for access to a shortcut menu where you can do more clever things like show a compass, broadcast HR, turn on UltraMax battery mode or night mode, and check the satellite positions.

There are a few specific things with the menus that are in the wrong place like the AI Trainer and, overall, the watch menus look a little old-fashioned and use outdated icons. Nevertheless, The Coros Pace 2 CERTAINLY DOES THE JOB, which is why you will buy it, right?

Hopefully, you’re also going to be buying this watch to record your sports. Naturally, it does a GOOD job at that, as we shall soon see.

Coros Pace 2 – General Sports Usage

Sports profiles are created on the app and cover indoor and outdoor versions of the individual triathlon sports plus strength and gym/cardio workouts. That covers most of the bases. If you want mountain sports, Judo and cheerleading sports profiles then you’ve come to the wrong place. It’s a RUNNING/TRI watch 🙂

For each sport profile, you can create up to 5 screens with up to 6 data metrics per screen. That’s enough for me. There are a couple of prettier, coloured metrics but on the whole, they’re just in the number format that most people want. The range of data metrics is also good enough, for example covering 3s power and NP for the cyclists, SWOLF for the swimmers and running dynamics & running power for the runners. The more intricate stuff like the ‘last lap NP’ or ‘IF’ is not there for the cyclists and neither are some of the more complex performance ratios that Garmin would offer to runners, though having said that it is possible to display aerobic TE and anaerobic TE.

Before starting any given exercise you have the option to add alerts for speed, HR, power, cadence, nutrition and distance as well as set auto-pause. Other sports profiles give you special options so, for example, with running & cycling you can add quick, simple repeat intervals and with pool swimming, you can set a custom pool length.

Overall the Coros Pace 2 ticks a LOT of boxes, more than enough boxes for me, but not all the boxes.

In Use

Operating the Coros Pace 2 during your exercise is easy enough. There’s just the lap button to play with! OK, you can also press and hold it to view battery status and the compass, plus other minor settings like night mode and UltraMax battery mode. The earlier Coros watches that used the crown were prone to accidentally pausing but this has now been solved and it is impossible to inadvertently stop and discard a workout.

Coros Pace 2 – Special Sports Usage

Here are a few highlights of some of the sports modes.

Pool Swimming & Open Water Swimming

With the ability to set a custom pool length and display SWOLF and stroke metrics, what’s not to like?

You will find similar functionalities available for the open water swim profile and, if you visit the accuracy section, later on, you will be pleasantly surprised at the accuracy of the open water swim track.

Track Running

This is cool

Coros also has a special ‘track run’ sports profile and at the start of your workout you specify what lane you are in and the Coros Pace 2 uses GPS to understand when you have completed your lap (which is only 400m in the inside lane…Pace 2 knows the distances of each lane) and it will also keep your altitude unchanged. Even better, whilst running on the running track, Coros pretty-up your GPS track so that when you review your workout, you should normally find that your laps are ‘snapped’ onto the track rather than wandering between all 8 lanes or into the stands.

Coros PACE 2 Review

Triathlon

The Coros Pace 2 works surprisingly well in triathlon considering it has a crown+button interface; a press of the crown takes you into and out of transition mode.

For the triathlon sports profile, you can customise all of the individual 3 sports – for example, to properly handle a pool-based triathlon or duathlon – Suunto and Polar still can’t do both of those.

It’s not possible to add a manual lap in one of the individual triathlon sports, that’s an omission but no big deal. That is made up for at the end when the watch displays stats for both the whole triathlon and for each individual leg and, whilst you may only complete a few triathlons a year, that’s actually a nice feature for many of the multisport training workouts (bricks) you may well undertake.

For a ‘pro’ triathlon watch, I’d still have to recommend the Garmin Forerunner 945 but for less than half the price, the Coros Pace 2 is VERY tempting.

Strength Workouts, Complex Structured Workouts & Training Plans

If you are following the exercises in a strength workout then the Coros Pace 2 can count the number of reps. That information is later used by the Coros app to show a Body Heatmap which, over time, shows your focus on strength workouts over key muscle groups. More info on this feature here in May 2020 when it was first released.

Coros Strength Training & Workout Builder

That link also covers the addition of COMPLEX structured workouts. However, it’s sometimes easier instead to define simple reps on-the-fly and you can do that too. Like this image shows

 

Coros PACE 2 Review Specifications
Simple Intervals are shown here

Finally, your workouts can form part of a calendarised plan which you, or a coach, can share with others and that can be as simple as granting access via a QR code.

Running Power

Like Polar, the Coros Pace 2 now produces running power just from the watch without an accessory. If you have last year’s Coros pod there is still support for the power metrics produced from that.

Excitingly, the Pace 2 ALSO NOW SUPPORTS running power from STRYD. Indeed Coros claim that they are the first company to offer “COMPLETE AND NATIVE” STRYD support. How cool is that? A: Very. This support is entirely native to Coros in all the latest versions of its watches. There is FULL support which means that a wide range of power-related functionality works as if power were another metric like SPEED. This includes sensor calibration, many metrics and alerts within complex structured workouts.

All the details are here including the links to 3rd party platforms.

MASSIVE Running Power Update from Coros – DEEP STRYD Integration – firmware update

UltraMax Battery Mode

Here’s some more info linked to in an old post if this feature is important to you.

Physiological Metrics

Like some Garmin watches, Coros has aerobic training effect (AeTE), anaerobic training effect (AnTE), VO2max and recovery time information.

AeTE, AnTE and STAMINA are available as metrics during the workout and, along with recovery time, are also shown in the workout summary on the watch and on the app. The app also shows your lactate threshold, VO2max fitness level, threshold pace. Whilst these metrics are NOT produced by Firstbeat algorithms, they do now seem broadly in line with the comparable metrics from Firstbeat.

Coros PACE 2 Review Specifications

For example, y

  

COROS APEX Review

 

COROS APEX Review

The Coros App

The app is the weak point of the Coros offering, even so, it’s still quite good and here are some highlights

  • GOOD: Create & Share training plans and complex structured workouts, including plans based on power
  • Nightly sleep and sleep stages chart
  •  

Coros Pace 2 Review – Accuracy

In the round, the Coros Pace 2’s accuracy was directly comparable with that of my Garmin Forerunner 945. In a simple phrase “fairly good”.

Note: Supporter Only Content

Coros PACE 2 Accuracy

 

Coros Pace 2 – ABC and Smart Features

  •  
  • Night mode – keeps the light on at a sensible level whilst working out at night. Turns off when you finish (good to use in the day time too)

Use discount code THE5KRUNNER at coros.com to get a free $30 accessory

Summary

The Coros PACE 2 reviewed here is the real deal for runners and it will find its way as a winner into one or more category of my Best Running Watch recommendations for 2020 and beyond.

Like Garmin, Coros needs to give their app some love … and a few interface changes. And, also like Garmin, Coros needs to tweak the watch interface for subtle UX improvements.

There are always niche features that either Garmin or Coros could STILL add. However, Coros is in the rather unique position of having some quite significant feature sets that Garmin completely lacks.

 

Coros Pace 2 Price, Availability, Free Bands and 10% Discounts

The prices are EXTREMELY competitive at $199.99 ($179.99 at Power Meter City when stock arrives) / €199.99 / £179.99 (£162 at New Running Gear when stock arrives) – stock will not arrive at retailers until the end of September 2020. With the discount at PMC and NRG, this product is seriously under-priced by at least $100.

Deals:

 

 

Use discount code THE5KRUNNER at coros.com to get a free $30 accessory

81 thoughts on “Coros PACE 2 Review | A Real Garmin Contender…At Last

  1. Is it upgrade enough from Polar Vantage M? I’m mostly interested in running with power from Stryd. I love Polar app, but Stryd integration is not perfect and new Coros looks like filling this gap but I’m afraid of change to different app.

      1. i’d kinda agree with that.
        certainly the coros app won’t have all you need for running power analysis….it just does simple reporting. which is fine.
        stryd powercenter is very powerful, the links from coros to there are imminent…so all will be cool very soon.
        indeed stryd simply can cache by itself and send the info back to the powercenter without coros (the true answer is more complex than that). so you can use coros as an in-workout tool only if you like #LotsOfOptions

    1. that is a killer question.
      the overall Coros Pace 2 STRYD integration is clearly superior in scope to Polar (or Suunto or native Garmin or…)
      HOWEVER Vantage M has the power zone lock which is a specific feature I love and no-one else has that. I’d find it hard to recommend you to switch
      pros and cons are personal tho

  2. they are doing things pretty well
    Was hoping for an update of the apex
    Well we will have to wait AGAINN for the 655 :/ :/ !!

      1. Amazingly there’s a firmware update for the 645 making its way painfully slowly from my phone at this very moment! Doesn’t change much it looks like:

        Change Log 

        • Added support for descriptive WiFi errors when syncing music. (Music version only)
        • Fixed an issue where the Heart Rate field was getting clipped on the watch face.
        • Fixed an issue where bike lights were staying on during non-cycling activities.
          1. Yeah maybe so. Only thing that will really push me away from the 645 (supplemented with a chest strap & styrd) is that it’s 2.5 years old now so the battery doesn’t last as long. It’s find for almost everything but am eying up an ultra next year which I fear it beyond it’s stamina. If only I was faster this wouldn’t be a problem!

          2. at least you’re still running. i’m nursing an injury. i’m v thankful for doing tri and being able to cycle when i cant run.

            garmin battery: yes this is starting to become a worry. my *replacement* 945 is now running down very quickly. is it a ciq app or spo2 enabled ??? IDK

          3. That’s pretty ugly, hope you get to the bottom of what’s sucking battery on the 945. To be fair to my aging 645 it lasted almost 11 hours on a long hike over a bank holiday weekend recently.

  3. Living in Florida I have avoided nylon straps due to prolonged dampness post run. Like the idea I could get the band tighter and do away with my HR chest strap. Your thoughts. Thanks. Nick

    1. i’d use the code THE5KRUNNER and get one of each 😉
      seriosuly tho, i liked the strap and when i get an apple watch next month i’m going for the same kind of sporty strap. having said that i’m generally ok with the rubbery ones too, perhaps after a couple of hours they get a bit uncomfortable but i rarely run that long.
      moving to oHR, there is a good chance that all vendor’s ohr wont be up to the same job as a hr strap. hr straps rule IMO. i use a decent chest strap plus stryd for ALL my runs for accurate hr and pace (and power)

  4. *Being overly critical, Coros will never have a meaningful 3rd party app platform
    *Being overly critical, Coros could now start to add a wider range of workout metrics.

    That is not overly critical, that’s why I went and slinked back to Garmin. I told Coros this much after I sold my Apex Pro (and had questions about warranty and user identity issues).

    That native Stryd support has me turning my head though and I miss the extremely accurate Vo2max on Coros.But next to no connections with external apps (Strava sure, but everyone else is too!) And I’d like to see Coros include more control over options in the watch for activities (like Garmin) keep me going back to Garmin.

    As for Workout metrics, Yeah, this is a no-brainer. I get Coros is treated as the “Ultramarathon watch,” but hey, there’s a whole bunch of us that don’t do that and would like an alternative to the big guy for it.

      1. I know last I heard MFP was up for sale, but all Coros has to do is pair with it and they’ll have my business for a very long time.

      1. I just read coachmag UK’s review (not sure if it’s OK to link or not) and it says “One feature that isn’t on the Pace 2 is breadcrumb navigation”.
        I’m confused about how to read your comment: is there or isn’t there breadcrumb navigation (so I could at least get indications of when to turn when I’m out in (to me) unchartered territory).

        1. hey there.
          no need to be confused, just don’t read their website 😉
          There are no breadcrumbs on the Pace 2 but there are on other Coros models.

          i definitely prefer competing reviews NOT to be linked. Although I link to DCR’s myself quite a few times if i am writing something short and it then adds value to you guys to read his longer one (on the occasions where his are longer…they’re not always longer). but even then, if another reviewer makes a sensible and useful comment and then adds their review link in the comment bio then that’s cool.

          1. So they were right and your answer was confusing for me:
            Q: “When you say no maps, do you include breadcrumb trails and no ability to download gpx?”
            A: “I exclude those”

            So no maps, breadcrumbs excluded???

          2. There are no maps on any coros either as an overlay map or an intelligent routable map
            There are no breadcrumbs on the Pace 2
            There are breadcrumbs routes on other Coros models.

  5. Looks like a great device especially for the price. Would be very tempted by it if I didn’t feel trapped in the Garmin ecosystem. Would definitely miss a few things eg. Garmin Pay & the odd CIQ app especially dwMAP which is great for hiking. Guess I’m still going to have to wait for the mythical 655 to see what it does when/if it arrives.

  6. Many thanks for the discount code. I’ve now ordered mine.
    The specification vs price made it too good to resist.
    Heck, I could even sell my old Garmin 920 for £50-100 and this watch would become a bargain!

      1. There’s that, but at least to me it looked as the Pro version came out so quickly after the original that the base was a stop gap and might not be the case going forward. Then you have the Veritix right above that which is everything the Apex Pro has, but more ruggedized?

        Maybe they drop the Pro moniker altogether and call it the Apex 2? Either way, I honestly enjoyed the non drama of that watch when I owned it. Everything just worked like it said it would, unlike the Fenix 6 pro I currently have, which is just guzzling battery like it’s going out of style. And that’s AFTER a full factory reset and on the latest update.

    1. I know that coros are working on integrations with STRYD and perhaps also TP/STRAVA/FS and others. (I think the STRYD integration adds some new stuff today/now)
      i man, they release stuff regualrly…probably 3 more watches this year 😉 actually i don’t know. to me their range seems complete, it would be iterations like pro 2 that i would expect next (i have zero intel)

      1. They just said in there instagram that they don’t really plan on a apex pro 2 ….. So guess that applie to the original one :/ :/ 🥵🥵

    1. no. that’s what zones sort of do. plus you will likely find that running power zones are flatter than those for cycling so i dont think a percentage adds much?
      plus look at what Xert do with power, your ‘usable anaerobic power’ continually varies…cp is too static (unless you use W’)
      the metric you need is “avg power as % np”, that’s a useful way to target consistency and avoiding burning matches

  7. How does the display quality compare to Fenix 6 in terms of legibility during activities?

    I’m sorely tempted by the Stryd integration despite the absence of route nav, but screen readability WILL be a deal breaker for me unfortunately.

    1. it’s good enough for me. i perhaps should wear glasses but don’t.
      on the main ‘watch screen’ some of the text on the watch face is small. but was ok in the workout…and i would choose a different watchface in reality, never found any others that looked good in photos

  8. This looks right up my alley as a sparewatch for my 935. I don’t need a first party app since I use TrainingPeaks premium. As long as Coros synchs “properly” with TP I’m fine. Quick question T5K: With properly I mean that TP draws a very strange jittery pace graph from Stryd when it gets the file from a Polar. Say you run a steady 4min/k pace then the unsmoothed graph in TP will jitter between 1min and 7min, resulting in that 4min avg. Smoothing will result in a cleaner graph, however the wrong min/max paces stay in TP, ruining “peaks”, and whatnot. I guess it has something to do with how often a Polar reads the Stryd’s signal. It’s a known issue for TP but they say it’s on Polar’s side. No issues with a Garmin. Do you happen to have looked at runs in TP?

    1. i thought you’d like this 😉
      let me get coros to answer that question and i’ll circle back on some stats tomorrow if i have time. i very rarely use TP excpet to pipe workouts to wahoo. IIR i might get somethign similar in FLOW with cadence.

      1. I very much do! Light, small, no-frills watch that I can wear just for my runs, and leave in the drawer for the rest of the day.
        Cool thanks. If you happen to have a file from the Pace2+Stryd I can fire it up in TP myself and take a look if that’s less of a hassle for you.

          1. That’s great to hear, David. Thank you.
            Ordered a unit yesterday, looking very much forward to putting it to use!

  9. If I didn’t get wrong, Stryd uses ant+ with coros watch. Any option to connect simultaneously it to coros (ant+) and Suunto (Bluetooth)?
    I know it’s more about Stryd question…

    Thanks!

  10. I am pretty tempted by the watch, especially at the price. If you order from Coros directly, will they ship from the US or do they also have warehouses in Europe?

    Also, has anyone used the watch in the pool? I am asking as this is where I had lots of problems with my Polar Vantage in terms of accuracy.

  11. I live in the U.S. and I ordered the watch (with the free strap) a few days ago. The strap has already been shipped (from California) and should arrive today. I can’t wait for the watch!

  12. Could I pair my Garmin HRM-RUN strap to the Pace 2? – would it make any sense and would it even be able to pick up anything else than the HR?

  13. Great review! The Pace 2 seems like a great replacement for a Polar M430, even if the Polar app is more polished. Looking at Polar’s current offerings, I doubt that Polar or the other big players will release something comparable this year for around the same price as the Pace 2. But you probably have a better idea of whether that’s really the case.

    Regarding “The earlier Coros watches that used the crown were prone to accidentally pausing but this has now been solved and it is impossible to inadvertently stop and discard a workout.”

    1) can you describe what has changed to solve the accidental pause issue?
    2) any idea if there’ll be a v2 of the earlier Coros watches that will include this crown solution?

    Thanks!

  14. Great review! Can you explain temperature measurement? Does it have a weather widget or is it based on wrist temp measurement? Hope that question makes sense. Nick

  15. 5KRunner. Thanks for the effort you put into your web site. Also thanks for the free extra watch band and for my just ordered Pace 2. Keep up the good work. Nick

    1. it should be global, please let me know if it doesn’t work. you can buy from power meter city in usa for shipping in 2 weeks and will then get 10% off as an alternative. I assume shipping to canada is easy enough

      1. works on coros.com but does not work on coros.ca, the international shipping and possible import duties/taxes probably make it not worth the discount to order from USA.

  16. Can the Pace 2 allow activity upload via Wifi like the 935/945? Upload is so much faster and convenient vs BLE (need to open Garmin Connect – on BLE- on Location-and wait and wait and wait esp if it is a very long-run)

  17. Great in-depth review! Currently have a Garmin 245 and am interested in training by power. I could sell my 245 and get the Pace 2. Or I could keep the 245 and buy a Stryd. Does either one of these options have a big advantage over the other?

    1. With the Stryd CIQ widget, you’ll get all the Stryd power metrics right on the 245 (I do this on my 735XT). If you’re otherwise happy with your 245, I don’t see a compelling reason to switch to a Pace 2.

      For me, the 735 is getting old, and looking to get the 745, but now I’ll pick the Pace 2 instead.

      As always, YMMV.

      1. +1
        add in: it would also depend on your view of the CONNECT platform. if you look at your data elsewhere (strava, runalyze, etc) then p2 is worth a shot.
        if you like and believe the physiology stuff that FB/Garmin tell you then you will miss that.

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