As a beginner in the world of amateur competition, more specifically triathlons, I am definitely going to need a training device to measure progress.
As a huge fan of gadgets I did a bit of an internet trawl for something triathlon specific, something that would allow me to be more focused in my training, and also help me out in races.
After reading some reviews and recommendations I came across the Tom Tom Multi Sports Watch. The watch uses GPS to track speed, distance, and elevation. The bundle I purchased came with a cadence sensor and a heart rate monitor (HRM).
To add another dimension into the mix the equipment also has a swim function and indoor (treadmill) running based feature which ensures every facet of training, aside from core, flexibility and weights, can be recorded and analysed.
Here’s a blow-by-blow honest account of each aspect of the Tom Tom Multi Sports watch complete the Cadence Sensor and HRM.
Outdoor Running – this is clearly the core concept (with the alternative watch being the TomTom Runner) adorned with a brilliant range of functions including: pace, heart rate (HRM) with distance travelled, calories burned and time elapsed; all in a neat little bundle. This provides everything you will need to measure your training progress and pacing during a race.
Treadmill Function – this feature is an excellent addition enabling measurement of every aspect of your aerobic training. With the HRM again you get a pace and a calories function to mock up a road running approach inclusive of pace etc. Following a number of tests this feature works really well, at the end of the run the watch asked me to calibrate the distance I had covered, and then it saved my workout – simple.
Cycling Function – again this feature provides a huge range of facilities to measure your on bike performance and vary your training. Features include: altitude climbed, cadence, real time speed, average speed, distance, calories burned. This element of the watch is outstanding and will support all manner of training methods and race strategies.
The bundle comes with a cycle mount so you can easily detach you watch from the strap and clip to your bike.
Swimming Function – while reading up on the performance of the watch the Swimming function came out as the weak link. In the main the criticism was targeted at a lack of accuracy in terms of lengths covered and no existing outdoor/open water facility. Following a lot of swim sessions I am really impressed. Maybe the software has been vastly updated or perhaps between me, the watch and the water the lengths came out about right. I will let you decide if ever you get one, but its consistent and a brilliant in water tool. On the open water swimming feature TomTom are currently working on this which would complete the package!
The Watch Itself – the watch looks good and is well designed and easy to navigate using the buttons provided. You get the feel that this will be the first of many (the Nike plus collaboration with Tom Tom aside) as the market will undoubtedly react and come through with differing versions and styles. One initial limitation from the perspective of myself and many others is the units reliance on docking with a computer. I am pleased to confirm that a firmware update has remedied this issue supporting wireless syncing with smartphones and wireless software updates!
The watch has a battery life of 10 hours so this will definitely be an issue for longer events and could be a drawback for athletes in this category on race day or during longer training sessions.
Training Features – there are a boat load of additional features with the Multi Sports Watch training such as a race yourself function, course plotting, goal setting (time, calories, distance etc) which has been a huge help from a structure perspective – especially in the pool. There are lots more training features I am yet to try e.g. laps.
I would recommend the following sites for additional info on these:
Tom Tom Official Site
You Tube Video
In addition the watch has built in memory so you don’t have to sync each time but in all honesty, in your anything like me info is gathered as soon as possible so I can see how I have performed. Charging however requires the use of a computer, solely on a USB basis.
You also have access to MySports(TomTom) and Map My Fitness, they both provide useful platforms which also make for great smartphone apps too. The platforms allow you to review workouts, enable you map routes, and pretty much do everything you would expect. The latter also has an upgrade facility (MVP) to number crunch, and go further with more analysis tools, not sure whether I will use this (pay per month) but time will tell.
Another general criticism of earlier reviews was patch in time, for the watch to find your location before you can start; with outdoor training. I bought the watch in January and this aspect has improved immensely, mainly through the regular downloadable updates. Now its seconds, rather than minutes before the watch tells me to ‘GO’.
I think this is an outstanding piece of kit, it offers such a wide range if features for a Triathlete to use, both while training, planning and racing.
The look, functionality and sheer build quality (washed the HRM by mistake and it was completely unaffected) of the watch and accessories is top class – would very highly recommend.