Review: Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless Earbuds

Ask a runner what the worst thing about running with music is and they’ll likely tell you it’s the headphone wires.

Those who know me, know that I’m not a fan of running with headphones for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest is the headphone wires that always seem to be in the way.

Jabra Sport PulseI used to treadmill run with an iPod and a pair of Apple headphones, but after snagging the headphone cord and dropping my iPod or iPhone off the treadmill for about the millionth time a few years back, I swore off the headphones for good.

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve a chance to test out a pair of Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds to see if going wireless would get me back into running with music.

Disclaimer: Jabra provided me with a pair of their earbuds for me to test out at no cost. As with other reviews where I’ve either paid for or received products at no cost, these are my own opinions and there was no pressure or input from Jabra on the content of this review.

Unboxing and setup

First impressions were good. The packaging is nice, and documentation is good. It’s actually a little weird at first to be holding a pair of headphones where the earbuds have a wire that only goes from one bud to the other instead of to a 1/4″ headphone jack.

The headphones are very light and the box included a nice carry case and a variety of different sized ear bud covers along with a variety of sizes of what Jabra calls ear wings so you can get a comfortable fit for your ears.

IMG_3964After a couple of test fittings, I settled on a good combination that felt snug in my ear, but not too snug. I was worried that the headphones would slip out on runs, but a bit of jumping around confirmed that wouldn’t be a problem.

Once the fit was figured out, the next step was getting them hooked up to my iPhone via Bluetooth.

I put the headphones on and held down the middle button on the remote (yes, there’s a standard iPhone remote and mic on the wire, so no need to pull your phone out to change tracks, or even to make a call). After a little beep, the woman’s voice guided me through the setup process. That was a nice touch, and a bit of a surprise, to be honest. Usually these things are a bit of a mystery to setup with flashing lights or no prompts at all.

It took just a few seconds for my iPhone to detect the Jabra earbuds and that was it – all done. Last step before a test run was to charge the battery. Charging is handled by a hidden micro USB port in the right earbud and a short USB charging cable is included. Battery level can be seen in the Jabra iOS app, or right in the menu bar of your phone when connected.

Sound quality

I’m not an audiophile, and I generally wear Apple EarPods headphones when I’m out and about, and a pair of Bose over-the-ear headphones at the office when I’m working.

The Jabra earbuds were no match for the Bose (as expected), but were the equal of the Apple EarPods, if not a bit better. Because they are in-ear, they do filter out a bit more of the noise around you than the EarPods do. That’s maybe a plus for music, but potentially a bit of a minus for runners from a safety perspective. That said, I didn’t find there was too much sound isolation when I ran with them and didn’t feel like they compromised my safety.

The takeaway here is that if you are used to decent headphones, you’ll find these sufficient. The sound quality is nothing to write home about, but they do the job and provide good sound on the run.

Heart rate monitor functions

You’ll note that Jabra calls these the Sport Pulse Wireless Earbubs. That’s because they’ve incorporated a heart rate monitor (HRM) into the left earbud. It measures heart rate during your workouts through an optical sensor.

Having the HRM in your ear means one less thing to worry about – no need to wear the usual HRM chest strap, or in my case a wrist-worn Mio Link HRM. That’s the theory, at least.

In practice, my testing showed the HRM was sometimes fussy and also inaccurate.

Maybe with some additional practice putting them in, or with more runs to play around with the fit, I could have made it better, but I wished it would have just worked right from the start. I felt that the fit was snug (almost too snug) and the HRM did accurately detect my heart rate some of the time. Bummer.

As a result, on test runs, I heard a voice in my ear a few times on the run telling me that the left earbud needed to be adjusted. It caused a great deal of distraction throughout the latter stages of my run.

A other consideration is that headphone-based HRMs only work if you have them in. Take your headphones off to take a break from the tunes, or to have a chat with a buddy, and your heart rate data stops. I couldn’t imagine wearing these for a full long run, but I’d definitely want heart rate data for the full run.

The biggest downside for me was that there’s no way to get that heart rate data to a Garmin or other running watch. I could use the Strava iOS app instead of Jabra’s app and get the data that way, but that’s limiting for me since I’m not a heavy Strava user and my running friends are mostly on Dailymile and Garmin Connect.

The Jabra Sport Life app

To get the most out of the Sport Pulse, you really need to use the Jabra Sport Life app. It’s available on iOS and Android for free and provides similar functionality to other running apps like Runkeeper or Runmeter.

During the run, the app announces pace, heart rate, distance and other metrics at regular intervals. I found the voice a bit difficult to understand because of a heavy British accent. I’d prefer something less distinctive, but you might think otherwise.

The app itself is servicable, but if you already run with a different app (or a watch), you likely won’t be keen on making the switch. One nice touch in the app is four fitness tests that can help you determine things like your resting heart rate, endurance capability, and even to see if you are pushing it too hard and over training.

Like the run mode, all the fitness tests include vocal prompts and combine the data from the heart rate monitor along with pace and distance info (from the phone’s GPS) to come to its conclusions.

 

Compatibility with other apps

Users of the Strava, Runkeeper, Endomondo, Runtastic and MapMyFitness apps can get the heart rate data to those apps as they have the required support built in. Users of other popular running apps like Dailymile or Runmeter are out of luck in terms of heart rate data.

If you are just interested in listening to music or podcasts on your run, the headphones work with any of the music apps out there, including iTunes, Rdio, Spotify, etc. I tested it with Rdio and Castro (a podcast app on iOS) and experienced no issues with dropouts.

As mentioned, the built in mic means you can take calls without pulling the phone out of your pocket, or waterbelt pouch. And in my testing Siri worked fine for sending texts or doing quick searches where the results were read back to you (like the weather, baseball scores or the time).

The verdict

Based on my couple of weeks of testing, if you are a runner who like to run with music, the Jabra Sport Pulse Wireless earbuds are a good choice to get rid of the annoying wires. They fit pretty well (with lots of sizing options included) and stayed put during my runs. Sound quality was good and the Bluetooth connection worked well with no dropouts.

On the other hand, while the Sport Pulse offers a nifty in-ear heart rate monitor, more serious runners may be annoyed by occasional inaccuracy in heart rate readings, and some fussiness in getting them working reliably. Additionally, the lack of integration with Garmin and other fitness watches could be a dealbreaker for some. For that reason, I probably wouldn’t recommend them if you were buying them specifically for the heart rate monitor function.

On the app side, the Jabra Sport Life app is well-designed and decently executed. It it does the job if you are looking for a good GPS-enabled tracker app, but the lack of community means many runners will opt for Strava, MapMyFitness or one of the other fitness apps with Sport Pulse HRM support. Having audio feedback during your run is nice, although more voices would be appreciated. The addition of some fitness tests sets the app apart from others that just track your runs.

Personally, I’d probably opt for the less expensive, but similar Jabra Sport Coach and save the $50-$80, or the Jabra Sport Wireless+ which are $100-$150 less (but with a different, over-the-ear design). The design of the Sport Coach model is nearly identical, and while the focus of those is more on cross-training, they’ll do the job as a pair of wireless headphones.

Pros:

  • No wires to mess with
  • Good sound quality
  • Easy to setup and use
  • Built-in optical heart rate monitor
  • Integration with some popular running apps

Cons:

  • Heart rate monitor function is inaccurate and fussy
  • HRM doesn’t work with Garmin or other fitness watches
  • Pricey if you only use the wireless headphone functions
  • One more thing to remember to charge

 

You can find the Jabra Sport Pulse earbuds (and other models) at BestBuy and London Drugs, or direct from the Jabra website. Retail price is $249 (CDN), or about $200 (USD) south of the border.

Review: Runcast – Weather for Runners by Endorphin Apps

Watching the weather and running go together like popcorn and movies.

Should I run now, or wait a bit for better conditions? What’s it going to be like at 4pm today? When will the rain start (or when will it end).

runcastMost weather apps will tell you this kind of thing, but Runcast from Endorphin Apps (for iOS) will tell you this with a focus on running.

Opening the app, you’ll immediately see this is an app made for runners, by runners. Instead of a focus on conditions, the app tells you in bold letters to either RUN NOW or RUN LATER. That determination is made by combining a series of factors including temperature, winds, precipitation and more.

In addition to the recommendation, the app provides the current temperature, sky conditions, humidity, chance of precipitation and wind speed — all the data you need to know what to expect out on your run.

Along with the current conditions, you’ll get hourly forecasts for the rest of the day and into tomorrow. Pick a time later in the day when conditions look good and you can set a reminder to get out and go for a run. Since weather data is provided by Forecast.io, you can count on it being accurate and reliable.

If the conditions are good now, you’ll get the RUN NOW suggestion including a good look at what those conditions are. But maybe it’s raining now, and it’ll clear up in a couple of hours. In that case, the app will let you know that it’s better to wait and RUN LATER.

Runcast Screenshots

Latest update

In the latest update (v1.3), the team at Endorphin Apps added the ability to choose metric alongside imperial measurements for weather conditions. And you can now also specify the temperature, wind and even time ranges that you consider to be good for running.

If you want to provide some encouragement to your running buddies, Twitter followers or Facebook friends, the app lets you message, tweet or post a current conditions image with the relevant weather data.

Also new is a Notification Center widget so you can see the current run advice quickly and easily which has quickly become one of my favourite features.

Get it from the App Store

Runcast is available in the iOS App Store for $0.99 (US) or $1.29 (CDN). App Store Link.

Review: Tiux Performance Compression Socks

What if something as simple as changing your socks could help you train harder and recover faster?

A plethora of quality, scientific studies done over the last few years suggest that compression socks do work to improve performance during your run by increasing blood flow to the muscles of the calves. Studies have also proven that wearing compression gear aids in recovery thanks to the same blood flow and circulation improvements.

$70 for socks? Uh, no. Enter Tiux!

I’ve used compression socks here and there over the years. Mostly I wear them after long runs to aid in recovery, and also when I travel by plane. They’ve never been a regular part of my training routine, partly because I’ve never really taken the time to see if they made a difference for me, but mostly because the idea of regularly spending $70 on a pair of socks seemed a bit crazy to me.

tiux-logoTiux is a new startup (currently in a pre-order phase via their website at tiux.co) that is looking to shake things up in in the sports apparel business, starting with compression socks. Tiux makes and sells premium compression socks, with all the latest technology, but at a much lower price point than traditional compression gear brands – just $35USD, including shipping.

By selling directly to athletes via their online shop, Tiux can skip the fancy packaging and retail markups that normally go to the retailer, allowing them to sell at a much lower price while still making a high performance product. Tiux also forgoes the big name (and big money) sponsorships that inflate prices and don’t bring any benefit to customers.

Sure they’re less expensive, but are they good socks?

Disclaimer: Tiux contacted me recently and offered up a pair of socks for me to test out. As with other reviews where I’ve either paid for or received products at no cost, these are my own opinions and there was no pressure or input from Tiux on the content of this review.

I opted for a pair of Tiux’s standard black, yellow and grey socks in the large size which the sizing chart suggests are good for men sizes 9-12. I wear a size 13 running shoe and they fit my feet and calves nicely. Tiux also has pink/yellow/purple and yellow/blue/black models if you want something with a bit more flash or a splash of colour.

Tiux socksThere’s no skimping on compression technology here, despite the price. The socks feature graduated compression of between 20 and 25mmHg of pressure from the ankle up to the top of the calf. Scientific studies suggest that graduated compression in that pressure range is essential if you want the full benefits of compression socks.

Tiux socks are also anatomically designed which means they are labeled for the left and right foot on the toe so you can make sure you have them on the correct feet. Speaking of the foot, the socks also feature compression through the arch and some additional padding in the heel and midfoot area that I appreciated when walking around the house on our hardwood floors.

Compression for recovery

I first wore them after a hard tempo run and found they did a nice job aiding in recovery. Slipping them on was fairly easy compared to other compression socks and the fit was good. The top band is snug and keeps the sock from falling down really well without being too tight.

The feeling of tightness around your feet and calves feels great after a run, and there’s a bit of tingling and warmth throughout your lower legs that suggests something is happening.

On Wednesday I ran hill repeats and didn’t feel the level of fatigue and soreness that I expected considering the pace of the run on Tuesday. I’ll be adding the Tiux socks to my usual recovery routine after hard runs in the future.

Compression for improved performance

On Thursday I decided to wear the socks during a run. I’m really, really particular about running socks, so this was a big deal for me. I’ve run my entire career in WrightSock Double Layer socks so to slip on something different for anything more than a couple of kilometres caused me a little concern about the potential for blisters or other issues.

Despite my fears about wearing difference socks, I didn’t have any trouble with hot spots or blisters and the extra cushion felt nice under foot. My other big concern was that they would fall down. That also turned out to be a non-issue.

I ran a nice, moderate pace 8km on the treadmill with the Tiux socks on to see how things felt. I could definitely tell something was different in my feet and calves. It’s a weird feeling to try to describe – almost like there was a bit of a disconnect between my legs and the rest of my body. I felt a bit like I was floating, or stepping more lightly. Overall it felt like maybe it took a bit less effort to run the same pace.

The day after and a long drive south

The next day really told the story. Normally on Friday I’ll feel a fair bit of tightness and fatigue through my legs and shins after three straight days of running without a day off. This Friday, which included a 13 hour drive to South Carolina for a family vacation, I found that there was much less of that usual fatigue and my legs felt really good.

tiux-message
A little secret message sewn into the inside of the top band of the socks.

Is it the socks? I can’t say for sure, but I do know that the increased blood flow that compression technology creates is designed to flush out metabolic wastes from the muscles while speeding healing to muscle fibres. I can’t argue with how my legs felt after wearing them both for recovery and on the run.

Studies on compression socks seem to agree. There’s lots of research on compression technology and the benefits to athletes and specifically runners is pretty well proven. The fact that most high performance distance runners including compression socks in their race kits suggests they see benefits as well.

The verdict

Do compression socks improve performance or aid in recovery? My experience is that the Tiux socks provided what I believe to be clear benefits in my training both during and after runs.

Are Tiux as good as other, higher priced compression socks? Again, based on my experience, yes. Tiux provides high quality compression socks that work really well. At $35USD a pair, you can get two pairs of Tiux for what you’d pay for a single pair of comparable socks from other well-known brands.

They are comfortable, provide good compression and they feel very well made. If you want quality socks and you don’t want to pay for sponsorships, fancy packaging and the usual retail markups, then Tiux is worth a look.

I’m super happy to see some innovation both in technology but also in the way running gear is marketed and sold. Reducing the cost of gear allows more runners to add this kind of advanced technology to their training.

You can read more about Tuix socks at their website. Currently Tiux is taking pre-orders with expected delivery of their first batch of socks around the end of April.

Update (May 7, 2015): Tiux is now taking orders for socks in three colours, with immediate delivery.

Review: Mio Link Heart Rate Wristband

If you hate the chest strap that came with your running watch, but love the idea of tracking your heart rate during your runs, then take a look at the Mio Link optical heart rate monitor.

Mio Link HRMWhen I first heard about the Mio heart rate monitors (HRM), I was very sceptical. Early wrist worn, optical HRM’s were prone to dropouts during workouts and didn’t provide the same accuracy as the chest-strap monitors.

How it works

Mio promises that their Continuous Technology will accurately read your heart rate at speeds up to 15mph. The key is noise-reduction technology that filters out the disturbances caused by motion. Reviews suggested that the Mio lived up to the marketing hype, so I picked one up.

All of Mio’s HRMs use optical technology consisting of two green LEDs and an optical sensor. It’s literally a camera mounted on your wrist that images your skin and watches for the blood pulsing through your tissues to measure your heart rate.

The Mio Link consists of a small sensor that tucks into a silicone wrist strap. It’s smaller than a watch, and fits nicely on the wrist thanks to the stretch in the band and a nicely designed clasp system.

Fully integrated with the fitness watch you already have

With ANT+ and Bluetooth Smart (4.0) technology, the Mio Link is able to connect to your smartphone (Mio offers apps for iOS and Android) or to your existing GPS watch. There’s a complete list of compatible devices on the Mio website, but for Garmin owners, if you have a Forerunner watch that supports a chest-strap HRM, you are good to go.

I use a Garmin Forerunner 620, and the Mio Link connects up instantly and replaces the chest strap HRM. Heart rate data is shown in real-time on the watch, and shows up in the data files. It’s no different than wearing the Garmin chest strap, except that you don’t have to wear the chest strap.

My experience

Personally, I wear my Mio Link above my Garmin Forerunner 620, a little further up my forearm (see image below). I could wear it on the opposite arm, but during walks, Mio says that it’s possible that the ANT+ signal could be lost as the technology doesn’t penetrate the body all that well.

hrm-data
Accurate heart rate data, with no drop outs.

That’s not a Mio issue, but a limitation of ANT+ in general. Wearing the Link on the same arm as my Garmin means I don’t have to worry about any dropouts. It’s so comfortable and light that I don’t notice it at all.

I’ve run about a dozen times with the Mio Link and it’s been rock-solid and perfect on every run. No dropouts and the heart rate data looks accurate from start to finish, no matter what pace I ran at. The screenshot from my Garmin log backs up that claim (see image right).

The only issue I ran into was when Ginny joined me for her run one night and we didn’t get the pairing right between our two Garmins and two Mio Links. My Link ended up connecting with both my Garmin 620 and her Garmin 210.

A Twitter exchange with Mio cleared up how the pairing process works and we haven’t had any issues since, even while running on side-by-side treadmills. We just link up our Garmin and the Mio at separate times to make sure the watch detects the proper HRM.

Additional details

The Link is a really simple device. It features just a single button to turn it off and on and a five-colour LED light on the wrist strap that tells you at a glance which heart rate zone you are in. Those zones are customizable via the Mio app on your smartphone. It’s water resistant to 30m and sweat is obviously not a problem.

Mio Link HRMThere’s no onboard memory or storage on the Link – it tracks heart rate and sends it to the app via Bluetooth Smart, your fitness watch via ANT+, or both if that’s what you want to do.

For marathoners and ultra-marathoners, the 7-10 hours of battery life for continuous heart rate monitoring means your watch will likely give up before the Mio does. Charging is via USB using a custom charger that the Link magnetically snaps onto.

You can choose one of two different strap sizes. I opted for the regular sized band, but I think I could have gotten away with the small one as well. If I wear it on my wrist where I would normally wear a watch, I’m near the last notches on the band. Mio provides a sizing band you can print out if you aren’t sure which one to get.

The verdict

If you hate your chest strap HRM, the Mio Link provides a drop-in replacement that will likely work with your existing fitness watch. You’ll get accurate heart rate data, without dropouts, even during your hardest runs.

At under $100CDN, it’s an affordable way to add the value of heart rate monitoring to your training.

Learn more about the Mio Link and the full range of Mio heart rate monitors at their website.

Disclosure: as with most of the things I review, I purchased the Mio Link for myself at MEC ($95+tax, shipping is free). In fact, I liked it so much that I bought a second Link for my wife to use during her runs. Freedom from chest straps!

Indoor Running at Monarch Park Stadium in Toronto

If you hate running outside, but also loathe the treadmill, an indoor track might offer a third option (depending on where you live).

I’m fortunate to have two different indoor track options within about a 10 minute drive of my house. One is at Variety Village where I treadmill run. It’s a rubberized 200m track in what they call the Fieldhouse. Unfortunately, the 200m size makes for a lot of corner vs. straightaway, so it’s not ideal for speed work and longer runs get pretty boring pretty fast. That said, for the odd 5km when all the treadmills are in use, it’s a decent setup.

The other is probably the best indoor track option available to Torontonians living in the east end—Monarch Park Stadium. Between November and April, the entire field and the track that encircles it gets a giant air-supported dome overhead with a comfortable climate for running.

Outside was frightful, inside was delightful

01-logo-monarch-011I had a 13km on the schedule today and the weather outside was terrible. It’s been snowing off and on since Monday here in Toronto and we have about 35-40cm piled up now. The sidewalk plows aren’t keeping pace and that means some tough footing anywhere outside.

As a result, the indoor track at Monarch was a great option today. I paid my $10 for a day pass and hit the blue Beynon track surface for a run. The track at Monarch has an unusual configuration because of the dome and the fields that are the main reason for the facility. Rather than having the usual rounded corners on each end, Monarch Park is more of a rectangle with rounded corners.

The turns are a bit tight, but because the corners are short, it means there’s a lot of straight running instead of turns. That’s a bit easier on the legs since it’s also a one-way track (counter-clockwise). One lap measures 370m if you stick to lane 3 and follow the red painted lines that round off the right-angled corners a bit.

35 laps, but time passed quickly

My 13km run today was 35 laps which is a bit boring, but with a couple of Ultimate Frisbee games and kids’ soccer practices to watch and a few other runners to follow, it wasn’t too bad. I also kept peeking out the windows every now and then to remind myself of the alternative.

IMG_3138
The track at Monarch Park Stadium in the winter.

I don’t mind the treadmill, even for runs as long as 15km. But having a fairly long indoor track around as an alternative is nice. If you live in Toronto, check out Monarch Park Stadium next time the weather is terrible, or even if you just want to do some indoor running on something other than a treadmill.

Monarch Park Stadium Facts

  • 370m in lane three, following the red lines through the corners.
  • Covered between November and April for climate-controlled sports.
  • Clubhouse with bathrooms, change rooms and lockers.
  • Full sized soccer/football field which is split into three smaller fields, and separated from the running track by full-height mesh screens.

Facility Fees

The facility, including the track is open from 6:30am until midnight on weekdays, and 7:30am to “last rental” on weekends. Saturday closing sometimes varies, so check the their website for a link to the latest calendar or call if you plan to run late (after 8:00 P.M.).

An adult day pass for a single visit is $10, or you can get a 10-day pass good for 10 visits for $90. If you plan on making the track part of your weekly training routine over the winter and spring, the seasonal pass makes a lot of sense at just $42.50/month.

The Stadium is within walking distance of Coxwell Subway Station on Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) or via the 22 Coxwell bus that runs up Coxwell from Queen St. There’s a decent amount of free parking in the lot at the stadium if you are driving, and also a fair bit of street parking in the immediate neighbourhood. View on Google Maps.

It’s always best to check the website before you head over to make sure there isn’t a special event happening that restricts the use of the track.

Be warned that the track is also closed every Monday and Wednesday between 4:00 P.M. and 6:00 P.M. for what they call Exclusive Hours which actually means the track is rented exclusively by some group and the public can’t run. It’s confusing the way that is noted on the website, and on the calendar of closures and events. It’s probably best to call before you head out just to be sure.

Indoor running options in your area

If you aren’t in the east end of Toronto and have a suggestion for a similar facility in your area, let me and other readers know in the comments! I know Ottawa has The Dome @ Louis-Riel and Edmonton has a 200m track at the University of Alberta’s Universiade Pavilion (aka the Butterdome). Residents of Vancouver can use a 200m track at the Richmond Oval.

Please do share yours!

Improving Treadmill Accuracy on the Garmin Forerunner 620

Does adding a foot pod to the Garmin Forerunner 620 improve treadmill accuracy? Yes.

I’ve had the 620 for about 8 months now and I love it. The size is great, the touchscreen works really well, the GPS is accurate and the watch locks on to the satellites quickly. The HRM-Run strap that comes with the 620 includes some additional metrics like ground contact time and vertical oscillation for nerding out on data.

Treadmill accuracy? Not great

But the performance on the treadmill has never been what I would consider great. As long as I ran about my usual 5:00/km pace, it was passable. But running anything different than that (slower or faster) didn’t seem to make much difference—the watch insisted I was just running my usual pace all the time.

The Forerunner 620 features an accelerometer in the watch itself that is supposed to handle indoor running. But mounting that sensor on the arm instead of the foot means it just isn’t very accurate.

Adding a Garmin foot pod

Today I added Ginny’s standard Garmin foot pod to the mix to see whether that would help. I did some basic testing on the treadmill, altering the pace either up or down for a minute or two, and also running everything from 6.8mph right up to 8.0mph to see if I could fool it.

The good news? It tracked all the speed changes beautifully, and even after the 6km run, it was still bang on accurate compared to the treadmill distance display.

Note the stair step showing that the foot pod tracked the changes in pace (blue line) perfectly over the run, right up to 8.0mph near the end.

I’m really happy that I’ll be able to make better use of the watch for indoor runs now, and not have to worry about whether the distance and pace are accurate.

Using data to improve performance

I’ve already order a foot pod of my own to add to my collection of running gadgets. At $75, it isn’t cheap, but having some accurate data about my treadmill runs is always nice over manually logging the distance and time. It’s important for me to run a bit slower pace these days and running with the inaccurate 620 without the foot pod usually ended up with me running 7.5mph (too fast) to get into the accurate zone for the watch.

I’m also going to start wearing the HRM-Run heart rate monitor strap as well to get the full benefit of staying in the proper zones during the various workouts.

It’s easy to take all the data these various gadgets output and not really do anything with it. But things like a heart rate, cadence and even just accurate pace measurement can all be used to ensure that you are running the right runs as part of your training program.

This time around I’ll be paying more attention to the pace I run, whether I’m running in the right heart rate zone, and keeping track of my cadence to continue that focus on proper form. I’m hopeful that better quality training will lead to a better performance on race day, and will also help me reduce the strain on my body that comes with doing the wrong kind of running.

Saucony PowerGrid Guide 7 First Impressions

I picked up my new Saucony PowerGrid Guide 7’s from the Running Room on the way home from work last night and took them for an inaugural run this morning at Variety Village.

The verdict? They are good.

Saucony PowerGrid Guide 7
First run in the new Saucony PowerGrid Guide 7s.

I’m pretty fussy about my running shoes and when I put on a pair of my regular ones, I like them to feel like home to my feet.

The Guide 7’s didn’t feel all that weird, but they also didn’t fit like my New Balance 860 V4’s do after 400km. That makes sense, since they’ve had a lot of time to get worked in and stretched out in the right places.

But the Guide 7s did feel pretty comfortable almost immediately after I started running. I noticed a bit more noise from these as I think the lower drop meant I was landing flatter than in my current shoe. I also noted a bit less roll which is what I was after in making the switch. I’m hoping the increased stability (guidance, really) takes some of the stress off my shins and reduces the likelihood of shin splints.

I’ll give them a few more treadmill runs before I venture outside with them. Tomorrow’s forecast calls for maybe some drizzle so I’ll wear the New Balance 860 V4’s again so I don’t mess these new ones up right away.

But based on today’s run, I think I’m a Saucony runner again.