Wahoo Rival gets Track Running Mode: Hands-on Test & Thoughts

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Wahoo Rival gets Track Running Mode

The Wahoo Rival already had a Track Running sports profile and today that profile is updated with the latest must-have feature which adds intelligence to how the watch interprets and defines the running track.

Track Mode – Background & History

Track modes have been around for ages. Garmin had one years ago for indoor tracks, I don’t think I ever used it but it probably just turned off the GPS.

Things moved on when Coros introduced a proper outdoor track mode with the super-cheap Pace 2. Its introduction was one of those lightbulb moments when the feature was so obvious it was surprising that no one had previously thought of it nor implemented it 😉

Coros PACE 2 Review

How Track Modes Work (General)

Essentially the general GPS proximity of the outdoor track can be saved and then, over time, the exact GPS location of the nearby start and ends of the straights can be determined to orientate the track in 2D space. The bends are standard semi-circles and the additional lanes beyond Lane 1 should have pre-determined lengths too. Some simple maths and you have a full, standard running track.

Garmin either works quickly or already had this feature half-baked in their in-house labs because they soon followed in September 2020 suit and introduced their flavour of track mode with the Forerunner 745.

Now the complication comes in when you are USING track mode. GPS is inherently not accurate to the nearest 5m let alone metre. So it becomes tricky even for a watch that knows the exact track layout to automatically snap you onto the track, in the right lane and LAP you at exactly the right moment. You could build in feedback from accelerometers for when you subtly change direction as you run but, hey, I hope you can appreciate that this is not a simple task in real-time and the reality is that a button press is the best way to end a lap (or multiple of laps). So watches might take a while to ‘snap’ you not to the track and as you can see for the image, above, Coros requires you to say what lane you are running in.

The post-workout task of massaging your recorded track to the perfect shape is relatively easy. But would you really care about the GPS track of a track workout? I guess not. The important thing is your actual performance in the intervals.

Wahoo took this a step further to allow you to press lap to signify the end of an interval and they sensibly assume that your interval will be a multiple of 100m and should coincide with the start or end of either straight. I think that’s fair enough. That way you get ‘correct’ stats during the run as well as afterwards in your log.

Let’s stop there for a while. Whatever you might think of the intricacies I am sure you would agree that some form of Running Track Mode is a ‘proper’ feature that any ‘pro’ running watch simply must have. A year ago I wouldn’t have agreed with that as the feature didn’t exist but now, at least to me, it is a must-have feature. I’ll infrequently use but it simply has to be on a running watch targeted at athletes otherwise credibility takes a hit.

Polar needs to implement one ASAP and, well, Wahoo already has.

Wahoo Track Mode

The feature will automatically install with today’s new firmware and when you next open the ELEMNT app you will be told that all is fine and ready to go. Like this…

 

The existing TRACK RUNNING profile is automatically updated so if you haven’t used that profile before then take a few minutes to personalise it with your favourite metrics.

Today’s Hands-On With Wahoo Track Mode

I performed a test session for 30 minutes. After an 8-hour ride yesterday I’m a wee bit tired.

I pressed the LAP button at the end of the first two laps and after that whenever I pressed LAP at the start or end of EITHER straight, every single point was correctly recognised and my ‘intervals’ logged correctly to the exact multiple of 100m. #Sorted?

 

Problems?

At present, the feature only works on a 400m track in lane 1. Grrr.

 

 

Return to the full Wahoo Elemnt Rival Review

 

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2 thoughts on “Wahoo Rival gets Track Running Mode: Hands-on Test & Thoughts

  1. That lane 1 only is a bit of a silly restriction as at my local track (sadly currently closed due to CV-19 restrictions) lanes 1 & 2 have bars across them unless the track is booked by a group or for races in which case the groundskeeper unlocks them. Not sure if this is a common thing or not?

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