Why I didn’t choose a GPS watch

 

For a few years now I’ve been tempted to get myself a GPS watch to log my runs.

Every time I go online to check out the new devices and their features I always end up thinking that the setup I’ve been using these last years is the best for myself.

When I go out running I like to log my runs, it’s very motivating and I also like to look at the progress I make (not always a progress actually…). So I like to have a device that can measure my pace and give me a GPS recording of my runs.

I also like to listen to music or to podcasts (mostly Talkultra ) so I’ll probably have a player with me.
To improve my training I’ve been paying attention also to my heart rate and to my cadence (this became important when I moved toward more barefoot running)

Last but not least I run almost exclusively on trail, thus I find carrying a mobile phone even on my short runs to be a reasonable security measure, allowing me even to take some photos here and there.

 

These are my requirements:

  • Phone
  • Music
  • GPS
  • Pace
  • Cadence
  • HRM

 

It’s quite obvious how today smart phones can cover most of these requirements.
It allows me to listen to music or podcasts.

I’ve had iPhones for the last years and there are many running/GPS apps to choose from, but one app comes on top of all others: iSmoothrun

 

Ismoothrun MAIN2ismoothrun_logIsmoothrun AltitudeIsmoothrun MapIsmoothrun Shoes

 

My research for the best running app was quickly narrowed down because of my need of an app that would also record my cadence. I also liked the idea of uploading the running data to the runkeeper website, and iSmoothrun does this.

To make it short, iSmoothrun ticked loads of boxes:

  • GPS recording
  • Recording autopause
  • Pace
  • Cadence
  • Use of accelerometer in case GPS loses connection
  • Custom activities
  • Audio cues
  • Export runs to various online sites (including twitter, runkeeper, strava, garmin, nike, etc.)
  • Log of training gear (like miles covered with certain shoes)
  • Loads of sensors to connect with
  • And a very good customer support!

 

I just had to sort out the HRM issue…
I had an iPhone 3G at the time and found out that there was a Bluetooth HRM to which I could connect using an app that works on jailbroken iPhones.

I jailbroke my phone and download and registered RoqySport (now €5), an app that acts as an ANT+ dongle and allows to connect to the Zephyr HXM heart rate monitor.

 

Roqysport MainRoqysport ZephyrRoqysport ConfigurationRoqysport Device

Once the Zephyr HXM is connected to RoqySport, then iSmoothrun will see the HRM as if it were connected via an ANT+ sensor

 

IMG_1424

 

There’s one main reason why I opted for the app rather than the dongle: the app means that I don’t have any extra hardware attached to my phone, and on my short runs I can comfortably place the phone in the back pocket of any of my shorts or legging (I don’t do well with armbands). Having a back pocket minimises any kind of swinging around of the phone and you can forget it’s there.

Unfortunately I’ve had the HRM strap giving me some nasty chafing on my chest, to the point of an actual cut through the skin.

The web came to my aid with this excellent solution: duct tape!

I placed the duct tape on the strap on the area that was chafing like this:

 

IMG_1426IMG_1427IMG_1428

 

The duct tape trick completely solved any kind of chafing and I can use the HRM chest strap for hours without problems.

One last issue for me came when I ran my first ultra… how was my iPhone going to record my run for hours?

Bought a 3000 mAh cover/battery (75g) on eBay for less than £10 that will keep my iPhone going for all the time needed.

 

iphonebattery

 

At present I have not found the need to get a GPS watch because I always carry my phone on my runs anyway.

Allowing my iPhone to cover all the logging and give me good music (and feedback as I run) is by far the best solution for me.

One thought on “Why I didn’t choose a GPS watch

  1. Very accurate review at Fellrnr.com of most recent GPS watches , including an iPhone 4s… Believe it or not the iPhone came out 4th for GPS trueness and precision beating the Garmin 310XT, Suunto Ambit2R, Polar RC3, Garmin Fenix2, TomTom Cardio Runner!!
    Only the Garmin 205 and the Garmin 910XT seemed to have done better…
    Check it out at:
    http://fellrnr.com/wiki/GPS_Accuracy

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