What watch or device for training?

Dear friends,

one of the New Year`s resolutions is to “do more sports.” :slight_smile:

Due to several issues in my life (job changes, more responsibility, another master’s,…), I had to cut back on the sports. It seems this year is going to be more stable, so no excuses.

Back in the day, I used a Polar S625X to track my training (running, cycling), which I sold because I wasn’t using it. That one is outdated today but it met my needs.

So: what watch should I get?

My goal for this year: 300km on the bike.

So, I’ll start with some running to get in shape (too much snow for the bike right now), swim once in a while and go to the gym to balance training, and when the weather gets better, jump on the bike.

So I need the thing/watch to:

  • track my progress (distance, speed, meters climbed)
  • Store heart rate data. The big question: the Polars, Garmins, and other devices use a chest belt to get the heart rate. How reliable are the sensors on the Apple Watch compared to that?
  • a cadence sensor would be excellent, but I can live without it

Then of course: What software is out there?

  • syncing to the Mac would be great
  • see requirements above

I found this insightful last year whilst searching for something similar, but most of my fitness activity is lifting so I ended up not buying a device.

iMore Heartrate monitor article

In the past I have used Polar chest-strap style monitor devices and found them the best for accuracy, but haven’t used one since Apple Watch came out. I’m curious to try one out though since my local gym doesn’t yet have the Apple Watch-enabled cardio equipment.

My wife’s Garmin takes heart rate from her wrist (but can still be paired with a chest strap if you wish). She loves it and wears it all the time. It can give rudimentary notifications from her phone, too.

Might I recommend checking out DC Rainmaker? That’s where I go for these kinds of reviews. It’s been a while since I have been in the market, but he does good work.

I personally use an Apple Watch, but there are pros and cons. Also think of what “system” you want to track in. A lot of things tie into Garmin pretty well. Apple Watch, sadly, stays pretty siloed. There are programs like rubiTrack that can keep your data locally and tie into Garmin and Strava.

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I second @HobbyCollector’s suggestion of both the DCR website and rubitrack.
Cycling wise you could get along with the phone and the strava app I guess (and a chest strap for HR - or the Apple Watch if you have one).

I was on the cusp of getting an Apple Watch for a similar indication but feedback here and elsewhere suggested some limitations (such as no native HR zone alerts which are key to my training).

Ended up getting a Polar M430 which replaced an earlier TomTom running watch. Great device and the wrist HR monitor seems accurate compared with a chest strap.

For lifting I use a chest strap as the wrist will not cut it for short powerful exercises.

@drfierce Zones has been a lifesaver on the Apple Watch, because, like you said, Apple didn’t include that natively.

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I have tried a few devices and apps. I settled on the Garmin Forerunner 745. The GPS is outstanding and the builtin sleep, step, coaching has made me give up apps that did the same. Love the simplification. Syncs with my iPhone and can see my data on the iPad and Mac.

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