2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide: Running Watches

Check out the running watch section from the 2013 Triathlete Buyer's Guide.

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The 2013 Triathlete Buyer’s Guide magazine is out on newsstands now (and check out the digital version), and we’re giving you a sneak peek right here. Check out the running watch section from the guide below and check back to Triathlete.com for more Buyer’s Guide content.

Soleus Ultra Sole

$75, Soleusrunning.com
The draw: Time tracker, with chronograph and alarms

Available in an array of colorful options, the Ultra Sole is a robust running watch with basic functions. In addition to three standard alarms, there is also the H20 Alarm—a countdown timer that reminds you to drink up or refuel. The upside of this watch is its multiple alarm capabilities and data storage capabilities (it can save split data for up to 35 laps and 10 runs); the main drawback is the less-than-intuitive ease of use. You’ll be referring to the online manual to utilize the full range of functions.

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Mio Alpha

$200, Mioglobal.com
The draw: HR without the strap

If you like to train using heart rate zones to dose your workout effort and gauge fitness, this is the watch you’ll want on your wrist. No need to bother with a chest strap: An optical sensor on the back of the watch face detects heart rate and displays it continuously in large, easy-to- read numbers. Our tester liked the watch’s sleek profile, and found the heart rate reading to be generally accurate, barring a couple of random jumps when the watch jostled around slightly. The fairly basic capabilities (heart rate, time) can be extended using apps like Strava and MapMyRun.

RELATED: Mio To Launch Strapless Heart Rate Monitor

Pear Sports

$200, Pearsports.com
The draw: A coach in your ear

This “training intelligence system” is delivered either via the Pear Pro iPod-enhanced device, or through your iPhone and the Pear app (for $100). Users purchase workouts and/or full training plans from the Pear site/app, and get real-time, responsive audio coaching from the likes of Matt Dixon, coach to triathlon stars Linsey Corbin and Chris Lieto. During a workout, your “coach” can relay a variety of data and suggestions to fine-tune your workout based on your heart rate, distance and workout time. The motivational push of having a real person’s voice in your ear during a tough workout is a major plus.

RELATED – Training App: Pear Sports Reviewed

Nike+ Sportwatch GPS

$169, Nike.com
The draw: Simple GPS tracking

GPS watches don’t have to be complex. The Nike+ Sportwatch GPS has simple, easy-to-read speed and distance functions only. If you want to know your instantaneous speed without having to struggle through layers of menus, this is a great option. Those looking for a full-blown multisport training tool should look elsewhere. Integration with the Nikeplus.com social training platform helps you track and announce your progress to the world.

RELATED: Nike+ Introduces SportWatch GPS

Polar RCX5

$350, Polarusa.com
The draw: Multi-sensor capability from GPS to cadence

Like the Garmin Forerunner 910XT, this versatile training tool can capture swim, bike and run data. Unlike the Garmin, however, GPS capability is an extra—you’ll need to purchase the wireless sensor separately. Other add-ons include a stride sensor and cycling sensors for speed and cadence. One unique feature is the ability to read and display heart rate in the pool. The watch has a comfortable, barely-there feel on the wrist suitable for everyday wear, and the battery life is a lengthy eight to 11 months. The continual display of heart rate zone kept our tester on track during workouts, and navigating through the different modes was simple. Though you’ll need the accessories to maximize this device’s full capabilities, the tradeoff is an impressive arsenal of training data that you can upload to Polar’s training site.

RELATED – Tri Gear: Polar RCX5

Garmin Forerunner 910XT

$450, Garmin.com
The draw: Track and learn from every workout

If the price is within your budget, this is the ultimate training tool for triathletes who like to capture and analyze every detail of their swim, bike and run training. This GPS-enabled device records an array of SBR metrics, from stroke count and lap speed in the pool to elevation gain and calories burned and much more, with detail and consistent accuracy (our tester found the distance for swim data to be slightly off but other data was generally accurate). The process of (wirelessly) uploading data from the device to Garminconnect.com is simple, and the site is easy to navigate—which makes understanding and utilizing all that data more probable.

RELATED – Gear Bag: Garmin 910XT

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