/ Heart Rate Monitors
The Garmin watches are good with HRMs.
The nice thing about them is that you get a graph of heart rate vs time or distance when you upload the data to their website.You can then do all sorts of geekish comparisons against speed, vertical ascent etc, etc.
I have a Garmin 310XT and it's great to be able to watch heart rt and pace while running, and the software allows you to see graphs of altitude/ pace/ distance/ HR etc afterwards.
(Off-topic... there's little point using a HRM if you don't establish baseline fitness and periodically review. So it's good to make a permanent log of your training sessions. In my log I include average HR, peak HR, time and distance, plus a word or two for a subjective description e.g. 'fairly hard run'. I find this gives me all the info I need to see how my fitness is changing over time for given activities and intensities.)
Ability to view HR at splits or certain time intervals during the workout is useful for some. I have that feature on my fairly basic Suunto but I rarely use it. I know when I'm working hard.
Audible high/low alarms can be set to sound above and below given heart rates (or at percentages of 'max' HR). I think this is fine if you're the type who goes haring off all the time and gets easily knackered from pushing too hard. But you'll find the feature redundant once you get a feel for given training intensities.
My Suunto likes batteries, but the fact they're user-changeable with a commonly found battery is a big plus. Hmm and the battery is the same for the strap and the watch too. The strap is comfy. I couldn't comment on other makes, not having used them.
Decathlon do a data logger for 15 quid that connects to one of their cheapy HRMs (Polar compatible I think) and records the output. I bought one, but then took it back when I discovered the software was Windoze only so I couldn't use it.
I've used a variety over the years, from about 1993 onwards.
Personally I have found that polar are very good hrms, but weaker if you want speed and distance as well. they are heavier, more expensive and have only. Just started doing integrated systems. The rcx3 is interesting, but I use an rcx5 with foot pod and cycle monitors rather than gps.
Garmin are goodish at speed and distance, but have problems with software and the soft hrm strap is just plain awful. It suffers from more spikes and drop outs than polar. This is true of most ant+ straps.
Suunto are similar to Garmin, with fewer software problems , but a bit more idiosyncratic .
Timex make great watches , and if you want a sports watch that does hr as well, they seem like a good option. And they have moved of to ant system I'd not buy one...
Hard straps are less comfy, but generally more reliables.
Gps is generally more accurate for distance measurements than footpads, but much less responsive in terms of on the fly pace info. Footpods are quicker to get going in that just turn the watch on and start running. No faffing with obtaining satellites . I used gps, I then switched to Garmin Footpods , which was really good,and now use polar Footpods system. Others prefer the gps system . I can't see any major advantage to them myself apart from mapping, which I personally am not interested in for running...
I now use polar again after a break of about 8 years where I dalliances with timex, Suunto and Garmin. I really do prefer the polar reliability of data and though you pay more , and in some cases quite a lot more for what seems like little additional functionality, if you want that data, you want the data and polar gives that too me more often .
Oh, and most that estimate calorie count tend to be very optimistic ...
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