We continue iRunFar’s look at wrist-top GPS devices with the Timex Ironman Run Trainer ($225 / $275 with HRM). In the current range of running GPSs, the Run Trainer falls into the middle tier of functionality as well as price. It’s got all the standard functions you’d expect in the GPS itself as well as the supporting software and online platform. The Run Trainer is a strong option for those run more reasonable distances on the trails, but will fall short on battery life on runs over 8 hours. On the flip side, the Run Trainer is exceptionally quick to pick up a GPS signal. For more on this GPS unit from Timex, watch the following video or read the full transcript of the review below.
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Timex Ironman Run Trainer Review Transcript
When it comes to GPS we have hundreds of options available to us. We have everything from the top end devices costing close to $600 that have every bell and whistle you could possibly imagine all the way down to something more simple closer to the $100 range that maybe just does speed and distance. In the middle ground, we have devices like this, which is the Timex Ironman Run Trainer. This device is in that middle ground in terms of cost and features. It has an 8-hour battery life. It has a 50m-water resistance to it. It uses USB to plug in, to charge, and to transfer data. It has multiple screens that we can edit and is ANT compatible with a foot pod if you don’t have GPS signal, and it comes with an optional heart rate monitor, which is also ANT+. So with all those basic stats out of the way, let’s get up close and personal with the Run Trainer from Timex.
Heart Rate Monitor
So here we have the Run Trainer with the accompanying heart rate monitor belt. This is a very nice soft fabric, as you can see it’s very stretchy. It feels good; it’s not overly hard or anything like that. The only real hard part is the transmitter portion which is going to sit right here at chest level. Everything else is very pliable so it fits around different body types really easily.
The Wrist-Top Unit
Next up, let’s move to the watch. The watch is, as you would expect, in that theme of Ironman. You’ve got that orange and grey and black, which is the classic look for an Ironman watch. In comparison, I want to show you some size differences here. On the right (as you look at video) we have the Ironman Sleek and on the left we have the Run Trainer. As we can see from the face, these are quite different in size. When you turn them sideways, you can see that the thickness is quite a bit different. Of course, on the Sleek side, that is what the name is for; you have a very thin watch here. That’s its goal is to be thin and light, whereas on this one, it has the GPS and all the features that are built in.
Operating the Timex Run Trainer
Let’s give a look at how we are going to operate with this watch. We can see the large display, which is very easy to see in all types of conditions. On the back here, we have the sensor menu. I’ll hold that down. What that is going to do is give you the ability to turn the sensors on and off. You can do that inside or outside of an exercise. We’re going to go ahead and select that. What this is going to do is you can say I want just heart rate monitor on with no GPS or just GPS or I’d like both. With the foot pod you’re going to have that available to you also so the list can grow. This is not compatible with the bike or the power sensor. So what you should have seen there was very quick acquisition of the GPS. Because of that, I mean, I’m inside, I’m inside my office and that connected within a matter of seconds. That was one of the things I found really to be a bright spot for this device was how quickly it was able to pick up GPS. Now that we have GPS turned on, it’s really a matter of getting into our modes.
This button style is really similar to a lot of the Ironman’s out there as you would expect. At the bottom (bottom/left) we have our Mode/Done button. We have our Radio/Back button (middle/left) for when you’re inside an exercise. The Indiglo button that lights up greenish whole face illumination button is here (upper/left). Up top you have your Stop button as well as “Hold down to Reset” (upper/right). You have your Set button (middle right) to set your clock or to hold down to get into your menus. Then at the bottom we have our Start/Split (bottom/right). A lot of Ironman’s have that Start/Split on one large button right here (bottom of face in middle), but this one has it right here (bottom/right).
So let’s move into a Mode of Chronograph. So as you can see this is a basic screen here. Because GPS is turned on, it automatically bounces from that overall time to turning on speed and distance of our pace. If that wasn’t turned on, it would just stay standard chronograph and just count down as you would normally expect. When we’re in here, we can move throughout the screen. So we have timers and interval timers. We have a recovery mode that’s going to tell us after a certain amount of time and distance while wearing a heart rate monitor how much time we need to take off. Then we can also go through and review our workouts. Of course, this workout is going to include things like map data and heart rate data. The basics are going to be on the watch; the in depth stuff is going to be on the computer which we’ll go look at here in a minute. This is our standard chronograph. It’s just like you’d expect from any watch that’s going to keep a running time for us. So we have that available to us.
We also have some different displays. By default, we have our default display, which is our chronograph. We have our Run display, which is going to turn on with GPS that’s going to have speed and distance with our run time at the top. If we have a heart rate monitor turned on, it’s going to add that, too. So it’s a little bit dynamic in the way that works. Next we have Custom 1 and Custom 2. We can change these to be whatever we want them to be: speed (mph), pace, total distance traveled, ascent, descent. (I will note this is done through GPS not through barometric pressure, so not quite as accurate as you would get through an altimeter.) You can have all those different things available. You can set those up via the watch or online through the upload tool that I’ll show you here in a minute.
Timex Device Agent
What we have here is the Timex device agent. This is what’s going to interface between our device and the USB and taking that data to TrainingPeaks.com. So this agent is specific for our Timex device here and because of that we’ve got some settings and things that we are going to be able to manipulate directly through the computer interface versus using the small black and white screen of the watch along with the buttons.
So once we hit “settings” here, we can go into any setting on the watch and change it. That includes everything from Time, Alarms, Timers, Interval Training, and our Displays, which is probably the thing that you would look at customizing the most. So here on our Chronograph one, we can go through and pick a three or four line display – split time, pace, distance. We can go four lines and add more information to this. But really simply, we have a nice, easy way of being able to interact with the watch. That’s consistent with any of the settings that we can find on the device.
Some of the other things I really liked about this were enabling a drink timer, enabling an eat timer. If we’re going out and you want certain splits, maybe you’re doing a timed race with 1.4 mile loops and you want an auto-split at 1.4 miles vs. the standard half mile or mile or kilometer. Then, you can also tell it after you get below a certain speed to go ahead and turn itself off or to stop. So basically what this means is that all the things you can do on a watch, you’re able to do on a much easier interface directly from your computer.
So back to the agent. Here are some logs or some exercises we have done. We can do some really simple editing. We can change the user name if we have multiple individuals that are using this watch or device and uploading to Training Peaks, we can go back and forth between those individuals. We can also change what sport we did, so if we want to change it to something else, we can be sure to do that before we upload. So once we upload, we’re just going to simply click the ones we want and click Save. That’s going to save those out to our Training Peaks dashboard.
Once it’s uploaded, we simply go to our Training Peaks login, go and look our existing log. Here’s an example of where it took my planned event for the day, I had a 1-hour easy run planned, and it took the data from the watch and saw, “Oh, he did a 1:01:15 run on this date; these two probably go together.” So it automatically filled in this data for me. So really a nice way of not having to go through and click a bunch of buttons and try to associate that information. It just does it.
On the maps and graphs side of things, this is where it is that we’re going to see where I went, my route, my splits, and all those kinds of things. We’re going to be able to do that directly from inside of here. So this is the basic information you’re going to get. And if you had laps, of course, this is going to be continually worked out through here on the right hand side. Then at the very bottom, right-hand corner, we’re going to get our overall look at what that workout looked like. Now, if we want to do anything beyond this, we can export, view in Google maps, so we do have some ability to push this outside of Training Peaks. But if we want to change our graphs or look at some different settings, Training Peaks has a premium package that has lots and lots of data analyzing and all these sort of things to go beyond just the basic features. But if you’re just looking for your time, your distance, your map, you want to look at your elevation profile, and be able to export that data, you’re going to be able to do that all through the Training Peaks interface.
Timex Ironman Run Trainer Overview
So that Run Trainer from Timex is not going to be that device that is going to get you from start to finish of a 100 mile or a 100k or even a 50 mile in most cases. It is going to be able to get you through those 4, 5, 6, 7, and even up to 8-hour training days or distances or events. It’s also waterproof up to 50 meters. So if you’re an athlete that does more than just running and happens to swim, or you’re out in the rain, you don’t have to be afraid to get this thing wet. With a backend system like Training Peaks, you can with a paid account analyze to the nth degree in terms of what’s going on out there. And you also have a watch that, while large, is not huge and could be worn as a casual watch, because it doesn’t have a antenna that necessarily sticks out and it’s not overly aggressive in terms of its looks.
So while you don’t get all the features and functions of the watches with barometric pressure that run for 21 and 18 hours, you’re also not paying quite that premium. For someone like myself that doesn’t wear GPS in races, something like this is a really great training companion.
Call for Comments
Any questions or comments, please leave them. Thanks for watching. We’ll catch you next time.
[Disclosure: Timex provided a sample of the Run Trainer for this review.]