Technology and training

For those of you that know me well, you know how much I love new technology and gadgets. As far as technology goes, if I don’t own it, I want it, and if I don’t want it yet, then I know about it and why its not a good thing to buy just yet.

This love of technology translates on to my training. I love having gadgets that tell me how much I’ve ran/swam/biked and tell me how many calories I’ve burnt. I wouldn’t call it an obsession, but for all the effort I put into collecting some data, I wouldn’t be surprised for someone to call me obsessed. However, as much as I love new technology and am the first one to jump on technology when I need/want it it has to server a purpose. And today’s blog is going to focus on how technology fills that purpose for me.

My first venture into using technology for exercise and not for pure entertainment was a Garmin 310XT. For those of you that know what that is, you know exactly what it means to carry around a mini computer on your wrist. Super thick and super heavy, it certainly didn’t have any other use case other than running and cycling. Where todays smartwatches and fitbits are slim and stylish, this was an orange and grey monster. Add on to it the thickness of the “quick release system” (a system for triathlons, where you can twist to take the watch off the strap and lock it in place on a bike mount without having to remove the whole strap) and you had a super beast of a machine. You’d think the heft of the device would be made up by accurate and quick to connect GPS and internet functionality etc. Yet, you’d be wrong. I remember once standing around for 15 minutes outside my house waiting for the damn watch to connect! Still, I loved the thing. I loved it would tell me how fast I was going and could be configured to beep and alert you when you reached a certain distance and configured laps and even would detect when you would stop and start so that you didn’t have to manually stop it and forget to restart it at traffic lights. For all its faults and cumbersome form factor, this beast of a watch was everything you could need on a GPS training watch!

I replaced that watch Christmas of 2014, my brand new Garmin Forerunner 920XT still follows me around to this day. It’s been with me from Chile to Chicago, from Australia to Beijing. It’s a perfect running watch and will even provide you with phone notifications, though it lacks the ability to reply to them on iPhone. This watch is an improvement on the 310XT on everyday, better functionality so you don’t need a $90 dongle to sync your activities online (just use bluetooth on your phone), MUCH quicker GPS and even looks small enough to go by unnoticed as a normal sport watch (although the quick release still makes it look double the size).

Where this watch fails, my 5 month old Apple Watch Series 2 shines. Whereas the 920XT is sporty with a massive screen and bunch of buttons, the AW2 is stylish and compact. The 920XT can’t answer calls or emails, the AW2 can read them in full, answer calls, and will track your heart rate at the touch of a button without the need for an uncomfortable strap. The AW2 is amazing for everyday use, and does an outstanding job at keeping me motivated to be more active through its “close the rings” mechanics. However, where this watch fails, the 920XT absolutely shines. Though the heart rate monitoring is great on the wrist, the “raise to wake display” really don’t work well when out on a run or a cycle, when a quick glance is all the time you have. The lack of a cadence sensor for the bike and automatic start pause on the regular workout app is also a big let down and forces me to keep the 920XT on the exercise shift.

In an ideal world, I would use the AW2 as my everyday watch, with the 920XT as my exercise watch and that would be it. Each piece of equipment does its own thing well and I am ok with having two things to do two distinct jobs. However, due to the way Apple handles its health data, whenever I load an activity from my 920XT to the activities section of my phone, it comes up with no calories burnt. The result is the AW2 reminding you that you’ve only moved 200 calories that day, regardless of a 20km cycle and a 5km run! This unfortunately forces me to wear with watches on at the same time in order to track my data the way I want to and remain motivated to follow the AW2 recommendations, as there is nothing more demotivating as having a watch tell you to “MOVE” when you’ve literally just stopped exercising.

This is just my thoughts on watches by the way! I had planned to make this a blog about technology in general and how I use it to help my scheduling and fitness tracking and blog writing etc, but I’ve had to change the title now to keep it short(ish). Maybe next week I can talk about my shiny brand new MacBook Pro and why I refuse to update my iPhone 6 to a current model, despite all the trouble it gives me. Hopefully this gives you an insight into what kind of watch/fitness tracker/wearable to buy (or not buy) or simply an idea of why there are so many!

Happy training!

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