Reviews

TomTom Runner GPS Watch: Train Quickly With Just One Button

by On Apr 18, 2014
TomTom Runner GPS Watch: Train Quickly With Just One Button

When most people think of TomTom, car navigation systems are what come to mind. So when I tried the TomTom Runner GPS watch, I was intrigued to see what this smart looking watch could offer to the two-footed human vehicles of the world.

Out of the box

At just 11.5mm thick, the TomTom Runner GPS comes with a large but stylish screen and just one big button for navigation. This is not your typical bulky GPS watch. The square face design, fashionable colours (grey and pink for the ladies) and smooth lines allow the watch to sit comfortably around the wrist. Versatility gets a tick here with it easily being worn as an everyday watch.

TomTom Runner GPS Watch: Train Quickly With Just One Button

However, would the slim size and style come at the cost of less functionality and information for your tech savvy runner? Read on to find out more.

Let's Go For A Run!

Taking less than a minute to pick up GPS is a big plus. This is enhanced by the connection to TomTom MySports Connect, which when set up, downloads satellite locations for the next three days and ensures you can get going on your run straight away. From here what strikes me is the simplicity. A one button control makes menu navigation straightforward and particularly easy to operate whilst on the move. Press up-down-left-right to move through the watch's intuitive menus. With a click of one button you can view different displays – all can be pre-set with metrics (clock, duration, distance, pace, average pace, calories and heart). The screen is high-resolution and easy to view.

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One thing I found out after some trial and error: To pause your run, you have to push the left of the big button once. Then to stop the workout, you press the left of the big button twice. This makes it really easy when running to accidentally push the button twice and completely stop your workout. For example, when you come to a stop at a traffic junction and want to pause but accidentally stop the workout instead. Training options are simple to set up (goals, laps, zones). A particular interesting training option was to set up for races (3 miles, 5km, 6 miles, 10km, 21km) although there did not seem to be an option for 42.2km.

Full-Screen Graphical Training Partner

It can be pretty hard to squint and try to decipher the numbers on your watch display while you are running. Are you on track with pace, how much further to go? Here TomTom have been smart and have used full-screen graphics to help you visualize and understand what you are tracking at a glance. There are three modes:

  1. Race: Race against a personal best or most recent run. Quickly track performance with real-time graphics, to continue to improve run-after-run.
  2. Goal: Set a distance, time or calorie goal and see progress toward that goal with simple, full-screen graphics and alerts.
  3. Zone: Set a target for pace or heart-rate (with optional heart-rate monitor) and track progress in a simple full-screen graph throughout a workout.

TomTom Runner GPS Watch: Train Quickly With Just One Button

The screen will display 3 metrics after connecting to the GPS. There is a main one which takes up 80% of the screen, while the top left and right corners of the screen will display the two other metrics. By default, the Average Pace is the main metric, with the top left and right displaying Time and Distance respectively. You can customise and rotate the information which you can see on the main screen.

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Personally, I feel that the upper left and right information metrics were still pretty hard to see while running. I would have preferred if all 3 metrics were the same size.

Data Analysis

At the end of your workout, data from the TomTom can be automatically uploaded to popular running communities including MyFitness, RunKeeper, Training Peaks and the new TomTom MySports site (although this latter site is still undergoing development). Once the MySports site is up, I am pretty excited with plenty of analysis to keep the keen runner engaged. Something to look forward in the next few months! In summary, if you're looking for a well-priced (S$299), easy to use GPS watch without all the fuss and frills, then you'll be hard pressed to find a better model in the market right now. Future developments are looking promising from a data analysis point of view but for now it's a great watch to get you moving.

Runner's Boon

  • Slim and light – only 11.5mm thick
  • One button operation with a large clear screen
  • Quick to pick up GPS, less than one minute
  • Interesting training options for different race distances (10km, 21km etc)

Runner's Bane

  • It was unclear and tricky to pause the watch.
  • The two secondary metrics on screen are quite small. It would be great to have all of them the same size.
  • The watch band isn't tight, and when charging the watch can fall out of the strap.
  • Surprisingly, no training option for 42km.

Carol Cunningham is the Fitness Manager at Virgin Active in Raffles Place. An Australian Level 2 Running Coach with experience in over 50 half marathons and 25 marathons around the world, she is passionate about helping others enjoy running as much as she does.
Carol regularly trains clients for local Singaporean events and believes that having a balanced training programme that includes resistance training alongside running is one of the most effective ways to develop good movement patterns, an essential tool for runners at all levels.

Location
Singapore
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