TOMTOM Spark Music GPS Fitness Watch Review

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I had anticipated not to like the TOMTOM Spark Music GPS Fitness Watch, I had some preconceived snobby ideas that as a ‘GPS’ this was not a serious watch for a runner.

I was wrong.

But not completely wrong.

Before reading on, let me cut to the chase and tell you my conclusions after testing the watch for a few months – I love it! It has limitations and it’s not perfect, but, if you want to train and run with music, the Spark Music is just brilliant. The downside by far is the battery life and therefore if you plan on training or racing for 4+ hours, this watch has limitations.

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The Review

The TOMTOM Spark Music will hold 3GB of music (approx 500 songs), links to earphones via Bluetooth, works for running, swimming, cycling and indoor training, interval training settings, has GPS tracking, goal setting (steps, etc.), sleep tracking, wireless syncing to a phone app, water resistant to 50m, custom/ changeable straps and all in a very sleek looking ultra-slim design with a backlit face that glows after placing the palm of your hand over the face of the watch. In addition, you can get the watch with two different strap sizes, small and large. This is particularly good for those with a smaller wrist who hate a watch flapping around because they are unable to tighten the strap enough. tomtom_screenshot_68

Importantly, before using the watch, connect the watch to your computer and download MYLAPS (TOMTOM software) and go to https://mysports.tomtom.com/app/login/  and create an account.

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When you connect your watch, it takes you through a step-by-step process and it also keeps the GPS up to date.

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First off, the Spark Music is a good looking watch. I chose the all black version but colourful versions are available. It’s a slim watch and sleek and the strap has a unique three-point fastening system that works well. The strap is removable so that you can re-charge the watch and connect to your computer via a USB cable. This function allows you to purchase replaceable straps or maybe you’d like a selection of straps? That way you can colour co-ordinate… not something I am interested in but the option is there. Using the Spark Music just as a watch, with an alarm set every day, the battery lasts somewhere between 2-3 weeks but it does vary. Start to play music, use the GPS and so on and this changes dramatically. More on that later.

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The watch face is backlit and to turn it on, you cover the face of the watch with the palm of your hand. Remove your hand and the screen glows for a few seconds – magic!

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The watch is operated by one large square button which toggles 4-ways. Up, down, left and right.

Pressing DOWN

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You see a menu:

  • ABOUT – tells you how much battery you have left, storage, if ‘QuickGPS’ is on, what version of software
  • CLOCK – alarm, time and 12/24 hour options
  • TRACKER – set goals and sleep
  • PLAYLISTS – tells you what music is on the watch
  • SENSORS – heart and bike (for this version, they are extras)
  • PHONE – sync and pair
  • FLIGHT MODE
  • OPTIONS – units, buzz, demo, night, lock
  • PROFILE – voice, weight, height, age, gender
  • STANDARDS

Pressing UP

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This is how you connect Bluetooth earphones and play music

Pressing LEFT

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This scrolls through – Steps today, steps this week.

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You can also scroll up and down after clicking left which shows – Sleep, calories burnt, distance covered etc.

Pressing RIGHT

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Shows you the sports and you then click DOWN to select your chosen sport – RUN, CYCLE, SWIM, TREADMILL, GYM, INDOOR, FREESTYLE, STOPWATCH. Once the sport is chosen, you then wait for the GPS to connect (if applicable).

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The watch will say, ‘Please Wait’.

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Once connected it will buzz and say ‘GET GOING’.

HOW IT WORKS

Depending on which version of the watch you have, you may have earphones supplied or you will need to purchase Bluetooth earphones. Pairing at first was a little tricky but once paired, every time I wanted to listen to music, the earphones and watch connected seamlessly. Music plays automatically but you can go into the menu and fast forward, reverse or pause. Sound quality was excellent on both supplied earphones and pair of £29.95 Philips Sports Earphones. I say excellent, I mean great for running. The watch does come with some pre-loaded ‘Running Trax’ by Ministry of Sound which is upbeat and has a good tempo.

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Choose the sport you are doing as listed: RUN, CYCLE, SWIM, TREADMILL, GYM, INDOOR, FREESTYLE, STOPWATCH. Needless to say you can’t listen to music while swimming and it’s a very bad idea to listen to music while cycling.

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The GPS took around 5-minutes to connect on the first use and then after that, usually 10-30 seconds. Obviously if you move to a new location or country, connection may be slow for the first time while it acquires satellites.

The display is clear and it’s easy to see elapsed time, pace and so on by scrolling through the screens.

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To stop the watch in exercise mode you press LEFT and you are given a ‘Pause’ screen. Another press LEFT and you have stopped a session.

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Once home, you can upload your train session via Bluetooth to the ‘MySports’ TOMTOM App on any smartphone. I recommend that you use the USB cable provided and connect the watch to your laptop. By doing this, you not only transfer your training session but you also make sure the GPS data is up to date and your watch charges.

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You can also send the data to other accounts such as STRAVA.

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IN USE

This watch is perfect for daily training sessions when you may be out for just 20-minutes or maybe up to 4-hours. The ability to run, go to the gym, run on a treadmill and have music playing via Bluetooth earphones offers real freedom. It’s a huge selling point of this GPS unit and for my daily run sessions of 40-minutes plus it has become my preferred unit. The main reason being that I no longer need to carry an iPod or Phone to play music.

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As a watch it works. Nuff said. It tells me the time and I can set an alarm for the morning. One nice function is that the watch monitors my daily steps, movement and keeps track of my sleep and daily distance. For those of us who need an incentive to cover 10,000 steps a day, this unit is great at encouraging this.

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The recorded information from any training session is pretty standard. You get a map of your run, splits, pace, elevation and so on. Within MySports you can also send the recorded data to other websites such as STAVA.

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In comparison to my Suunto and Garmin GPS units, the Spark Music records GPS data (speed, time, distance) in line with the other units. As I always say, any GPS will have some +/- discrepancy when recording data.

The cycling function is basic but it has support for cycling sensors that can record speed/cadence. You can also connect a HR strap should you wish.

Swimming works in a pool and NOT open water. You need to configure the pool size in settings and then off you go. As is the case with all swimming watches, it works both with flip and open (non-flip) turns.  The Spark works by measuring acceleration, and unexpected changes.

Other functions exist for indoor training and there is a stopwatch.

The charging cable is solid and connects to the watch in a reassuring way.

CONCLUSION

The Spark Music is very much designed for enthusiasts and those who like to go for a run, the odd cycle and maybe regularly visit the gym or pool.

It also works as a great tool to incentivize more activity and the daily activity tracker is great for giving an idea of how active or in-active you have been.

The music player for me is the big reason for using this watch. Combining a sports watch with music just makes sense and it works really well.

This watch is not for those who run, cycle, swim or do any sport for a long time as unfortunately, the Spark Music’s biggest drawback is battery life. As a watch it will last 2-3 weeks but if you run for say 60-75mins with the GPS active and music playing, the battery can drop to say 50%.

BUT… and this is a big but, I still think the TOMTOM Spark Music has a place. During a normal week, my training sessions are usually anything from 40-minutes to 2-hours (if I am lucky) and the watch/music combination is brilliant. As a tip, just make sure you charge the watch daily. Like I said earlier, when you return from a run, cycle, swim or indoor session, take off the watch, connect to your computer, let your training upload and then remove the watch when it is charged.

The TOMTOM Spark Music wouldn’t replace or do the job of an all-singing and all-dancing Suunto or Garmin device. But then again, Suunto or Garmin don’t play music! This is why, for me, the Spark Music has a place when training.

If I was out on a big adventure, running a long race or training session or I was on a multi-day adventure then the TOMTOM just wouldn’t be up to the job. But it does daily sessions really well and listening to tunes while sweating is a huge plus. I guess it’s all in the name, TOMTOM call this a ‘Fitness Watch’ and for most people it will be an ideal addition to help provide motivation on a daily basis.

Suunto Spartan Ultra – New Sports GPS

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Suunto introduces its next generation multisport solution with a new family of GPS watches and a renewed Suunto Movescount.com

                      Press Release by Suunto

The long-awaited next generation of Suunto multisport watches is soon here. Today, Suunto introduces Suunto Spartan Ultra, a premium multisport GPS watch for athletes and adventurers. At the same time, Suunto is renewing its online sports service Suunto Movescount with a range of new features and improvements.

People have been asking about what’s next after Ambit3 for quite some time now,” notes Sami Arhomaa, Performance business unit director at Suunto. “So it’s a great pleasure to announce our next generation Suunto Spartan solution for athletic and adventure multisport.” The solution comprises of the Suunto Spartan Ultra watches, a renewed Suunto Movescount service and mobile applications for both iPhone and Android.

“In a fast-paced world with an overwhelming flood of information, athletes need better tools to determine how to efficiently achieve their goals,” explains Arhomaa. “People who are driven by the passion to progress want to know if they are doing things right. More and more people are reaching out to communities of like-minded people for guidance and inspiration. With the Spartan solution, we are building on the insights we’ve gained through our constant dialogue with athletes and coaches around the world. The new Suunto Spartan multisport solution will offer customers new community powered tools to progress. We are convinced these tools will help them progress beyond their expectations.”

Suunto Spartan Ultra – the GPS watch for athletic and adventure multisport

Adventure proof

Suunto Spartan Ultra watches are hand-made in Finland and built to last in any conditions. Water resistant to 100 meters, the watches sport an extremely durable color touch screen with a wide viewing angle and great visibility in bright sunlight. The watch is built with a glass fiber reinforced polyamide casing, sapphire crystal glass and a grade5 titanium or stainless steel bezel. For your multisport adventures, Suunto Spartan Ultra offers guided route navigation, barometric altitude with FusedAlti™, a digital compass, as well as a competitive battery life.

Sports expertise and insights

The Suunto Spartan Ultra is a true multisport watch. With GPS, FusedSpeedTM, heart rate measurement and in-built accelerometer, it accurately tracks your training and provides versatile insights on your progress for a multitude of sports.  It  offers  dozens of preset sport modes, e.g. for triathlon, swimming, cycling, running, adventure racing, and snow sports – including modes for specific types of training, racing and activities.  If you are a runner, for example, you can choose a basic running mode that offers the essential information for running, or an interval running mode, a trail running mode, and more.  The Suunto Spartan Ultra also provides you visual overviews on your training load, rest&recovery status and your progress to help you plan your training. With the watch you can also track your feeling after each workout.

In addition, Suunto Spartan Ultra monitors your overall activity 24/7 with daily and weekly steps, calories and active time. Pair the watch with Suunto Movescount App to get smart mobile notifications. The watch will also keep you up to date on your personal bests by sport.

Community powered progress

In connection with the launch of the Spartan solution, Suunto deploys big data methods for turning the community generated sports data into valuable training insights. Suunto has been analyzing tens of millions of endurance sport sessions to provide both existing and new consumers with answers to the questions like where should you train and how are you progressing. The first tool utilizing this data are sports-specific heatmaps, available from today in Suunto Movescount. Later, the toolset using the data will grow with tools for peer group comparison and insights.

The Suunto Spartan Ultra collection includes four models: Suunto Spartan Ultra All Black Titanium, Suunto Spartan Ultra Stealth Titanium, Suunto Spartan Ultra White and Suunto Spartan Ultra Black – each available with or without Suunto Smart Sensor for heart rate monitoring. The RRP price of the Suunto Spartan Ultra Titanium will be £585 and Suunto Spartan Ultra £545. Prices with a HR sensor are £40 higher.

Further details of the product will be released in July 2016.  The watches become available in August, and the solution will continue to grow in functionality via SW, service and application updates during the remaining year.

Read more about the Suunto Spartan Ultra at www.suunto.com/spartan

The Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 – Day 3

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A ‘runnable’ day played into Marcus Scotney’s hands and pulling of a three-in-three stage win he once again consolidated his overall lead by another 20+ minutes for convincing lead overall. For the ladies, Laura Watson today took a stage victory by just over 1-minute from overall ladies race leader, Ita Manuela Mariotto.

At 68km long, it was a long and tough day, considerably coming on the back of a tough day 2. Although considered a course that would allow more running, the 2400m of ascent added to the difficulty. Unfortunately, the day didn’t start well for a couple of runners, Darren Grigas and Peter Fairhurst who made a huge navigational error and went completely off course and causing a minor concern from the safety team – a message was sent to the runners informing them that they were off course and to take evasive action. Unfortunately they missed the cut-off time at CP1 and therefore were withdrawn from the race in a competitive nature. It was a huge blow for both runners, particularly Peter who was in a top-position.

At the time of writing (21:30) just 49 runners had completed the day 3 course with 13 confirmed additional confirmed dnf and the remaining 32 fighting the cut-off times for a finish.

Departing Kinloch Hourn between 0700-0900, most runners maximised the additional time and left as close to 0700 as possible in an attempt to make Acanshellach before 2300 hours.

The sun was out, the skies were blue and white fluffy clouds occasionally offered some cover from the heat of the day but it was a tough day and only Scotney (7:49:09) and Mariotto (11:56:24) made the day look easy. For the remaining runners it was a day of struggle and survival. Thomas Adams (8:11:29) remained consistent running 2nd (once again) but Pavel Paloncy (10:00:58) seemed to struggle today and looked to be fighting the terrain, he finished the stage 5th over 1hr and 10min behind Scotney. Ian White (9:31:22) ran another good stage and today finished 3rd.

Ita Manuela Mariotto and Louise Staples ran a consistent day 3 and consolidated their respective overall top-3 places with11:56:24 and 12:18:38.

Stage 4 is a arguably a recovery day at 22-miles finishing in the town of Kinlochewe.

Overall standings after day-3 

  1. Marcus Scotney 16:58:06
  2. Thomas Adams 17:36:28
  3. Pavel Paloncy 20:24:51
  1. Ita Manuela Mariotto 25:29:00
  2. Laura Watson 25:54:06
  3. Louise Staples 26:30:40

Follow Cape Wrath Ultra LIVE http://www.capewrathultra.com

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Cape Wrath Ultra™ 2016 Preview

CapeWrathUltralogoThe Cape Wrath Ultra™ brought to you by Ourea Events, the team who revived the Dragon’s Back Race are in the countdown days to a once in a lifetime multi-day journey that will test mind and body over 8-days weaving a 400km journey through the Highlands of Scotland.

Starting at Fort William on May 22nd, the race will take runners on an incredible journey in a magnificent and remote part of the world that will culminate in the most northwesterly point of the British Isles, Cape Wrath on May 29th.

Cape Wrath Ultra website HERE

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Stunning scenery, remote wilderness, beautiful lochs, glens, towering mountains and the crashing ocean, the Cape Wrath Ultra™ is arguably one of the most stunning multi-day journeys in the world.

A supported expedition, equipment for the competitor’s will be transported day-by-day, tented accommodation and meals will be provided.

In a nutshell, 400km (250-miles) over and through the Scottish Highlands will be the ultimate test for the runners as they navigate via map and compass (GPS are allowed with GPX routes provided by Ourea Events) over 8-days over multiple distances with a variety of terrain and elevation gain. Shane Ohly, race director for the race says:

“The route is not marked in any way and participants must use the event map and/or GPS device to follow the prescribed route. As organisers, we (and friends, family, members of the public and landowners) will be tracking participants in real time using the satellite trackers. We expect participants to stay within 200m of our advised route at all times. In practical terms, for the majority of the time this is very easy as our route generally follows the only path or track on the ground: it is the only logical way. At other times, where there is no visible path on the ground, you will have flexibility to range within 200m of the route so that you should feel little pressure to follow our route precisely at all times and can enjoy the incredible wilderness experience to the full.”

   

Image © Ben Winston

Image © Ben Winston

Day 1: 23 miles 500m ascent

Day 1 starts with a short ferry trip across Loch Linnhe sea loch onto the shore opposite Fort William. The running opens with a straight-forward warm up on a lovely road, headed South! But this is the key to accessing the remote western sea-board of Scotland, and on this day-end, the famous sights of Glenfinnan.

Day 2: 35 miles 1,800m ascent

From the very start of Day 2 the route ascends into remote territory, and clips the end of Scotland’s two longest dead-ends roads, both at remote sea loch heads. Even when you reach the overnight, you will be far, far away from civilization.

Day 3: 42 miles 2,400m ascent

This day is likely to be the hardest – though it is not the longest. It departs from the edge of Knoydart, passes through the large mountain and glen groups of Kintail, and reaches the wide strath’s (flat glens with big rivers) characteristic of Wester Ross. The Falls of Glomach are the most voluminous waterfalls in the Highlands.

Day 4: 22 miles 1,400m ascent

On this Day 4 you will experience the mountains at their loftiest – all around you, with high rocky passes, and rough underfoot in the latter third. It is one of the only days where you will not be close to the sea.

Day 5: 27 miles 1,400m ascent

Despite the previous days of remote territory, climbing up out of Kinlochewe on Day 5 will not prepare you for the qualities of what lies ahead. Fisherfield’s mountains will steadily reveal themselves to you! And then you will work through great isolated mountain glens, eventually overnighting just short of the port of Ullapool.

Day 6: 45 miles 1,400m ascent

This day escalates into some very remote and rough high ground, but is preceded by significant distances on double-tracks in the glens, and through prime Salmon-fishing country. Day 6 is the longest day, but for all those that have made it this far, this day will unlikely defeat you. (Inchnadamph is the highest overnight camp, at 80m, and one of the few that are noticeably not near sea level).

Day 7: 38 miles 1,600m ascent

One of the longer days, Day 7 gives a great contrast of moor, mountain, and deep inaccessible sea lochs. Eas a Chual Aluinn is the highest waterfall in the UK. At the end of this day is a rare section of road for this journey – but you will remember it as a road that is taking you somewhere amazing, due to the achingly beautiful seaward views.

Day 8: 16 miles 700m ascent

This is the day that takes you along the glorious beach of Sandwood Bay, to The Atlantic Sea proper and on to Cape Wrath and the Lighthouse, the most north-westerly point in the UK: A day to savor. It’s a deliberately shorter day. After finishing here, there will be a gradual minibus and ferry evacuation back to civilization in the village of Durness, 15 miles away, and a fitting sea loch coastal symmetry with the start, 8 days earlier. Once based in Durness, we hope that you have time to visit the beautiful beach just below the campsite, and nearby Smoo cave. In the evening, it’s time to celebrate, and in the morning, time to climb onto coaches and wave goodbye to the far north of Scotland.

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©shaneohly

Like the Dragon’s Back Race, the Cape Wrath Ultra™ is designed to provide a challenge for experienced runners. The Dragon’s Back Race has gained a reputation for its severity and drop out rate, although the Cape Wrath Ultra™ is a first edition, participants can expect an event of equal difficulty, especially when one considers the additional days and additional length of 100km.

Cape Wrath Ultra™ has gained worldwide interest with runners travelling to the UK from as far as Australia, Netherlands, South Africa, America, Sweden, Italy, Germany and more. An entry list is available to view HERE

Runners will travel to Scotland this coming Friday and arrive at Fort William in readiness to register on Saturday morning.

Racing starts on Sunday May 22nd and it will be possible to follow via live tracking HERE.

Daily images and reports will be posted on this website and all relevant social media channels as and when communications allow – we are in a remote part of the world!

Social Media Logos

Instagram @iancorlessphotography HERE

Twitter @talkultra HERE

Facebook.com/iancorlessphotography HERE

Many thanks to Ourea Events for the support

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Rab Mountain Marathon™ 2016 – Open for Entries

 

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The 2016 Rab Mountain Marathon™ will be the 10th edition of an event that has gained an enviable reputation as the ‘friendly mountain marathon’, with its famously relaxed atmosphere, flexible start times and incredible run of good weather weekends!

Today the organisers have announced that the 2016 event will see the introduction of 4 new Linear Courses, following the traditional Elite, A, B and C course structure. Most interestingly, a ‘GPS’ Linear Course is being launched, that unlike the other courses, will allow the use of GPS navigational devices, and is intended to be a pathway for novice participants to enter their first mountain marathon.

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Continuing with the theme of innovation, the organisers are also introducing GPS Tracking for all the teams, on all the courses. The GPS Trackers will not assist with navigation but will enable the event to be followed live via the website.

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For entries before the end of March, the organisers have frozen the 2015 entry fee, which means that with the addition of the new courses and GPS Tracking, the Rab Mountain Marathon™ is easily the best value event of its kind.

Praise for the 2015 event, the second organised by Ourea Events, was once again superb. Tim Nichol who was participating in his first Rab Mountain Marathon™ said,

“Many thanks for organising such a great weekend in Snowdonia. It was my first Rab MM, but it definitely won’t be my last. The organisation overall couldn’t be faulted, the marshals were really friendly, the course well designed, the atmosphere was relaxed and friendly and the weather was the icing on the cake”.

Race Director Shane Ohly said,

“It is fantastic to get such consistently great feedback from our participants, but I am far from complacent, and have been considering careful how the event will evolve. As such, I am delighted to announce the introduction of Elite, A, B and C Linear Courses and an innovative new GPS Linear Course for the 2016 event. At the same time we are introducing GPS Tracking of all teams”.

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The introduction of the new GPS Linear Course is a first for mountain marathons and sure to raise a few eyebrows in the traditional map and compass camp, but Ohly explained his thinking,

“I am looking to the future, and attempting to attract new participants into Mountain Marathon events. I want the events’ courses to be both modern and relevant for all participants and audiences, and I consider the integration of technology as a part of everyday life.”

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“That said, my position on the use of GPS navigational devices on our other courses is clear. They are not allowed at all. Although these ‘traditional courses’ do not allow a GPS navigational device to be used, we can enable a great solution that embraces latest technology: Many competitors might want a GPX track of their weekend to upload to their training diaries and to share on social media, and this can be acquired from the GPS Tracker data post-event. It’s another great reason for introducing GPS Trackers to the event, which all soloists and teams will carry.” 

According to the organisers, the introduction of the GPS Trackers will have a significant but subtle effect on the event. First and foremost, it adds a layer of safety by allowing the event team to monitor the location of the participants, but it also allows the participants to summon help using an SOS button in the event of an emergency. The live feed from the Trackers will enable friends and family of the participants to engage with the event in new and exciting ways. During the event – for monitoring and public engagement – the GPS Trackers provide a public record of all routes taken, and can enable the organisers to detect if a participant has been into an Out of Bounds area or through an ‘uncrossable’ boundary – likely to result in disqualification. Lastly, with a GPX download and ‘Replay’ feature it is possible to review the weekend’s activity. This excellent functionality has been developed with the great assistance of Open Tracking.

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Shane Ohly continued,

“The GPS Trackers provide an obvious safety benefit, but they also allow the event to reach out to wider audience of the outdoor community and the friends and family of the participants. I think this is very important for keeping the event relevant, modern, and for attracting new participants into this exhilarating outdoor sport.” 

In more detail, the updates to the 2016 event include:

New Elite, A, B and C Linear Courses

  • Elite Course – Estimated winning time: 11 hours over two days
  • A Course – Estimated winning time: 10 hours over two days
  • B Course – Estimated winning time: 9 hours over two days
  • C Course – Estimated winning time: 9 hours over two days

The Elite, A, B and C Course are linear courses where participants must visit a certain number of checkpoints in the correct order – as defined by the organisers. The linear courses still have route choice between controls and are suited for those that wish to try something less complex than the Score Courses, when it comes to topographic decision making! Approximate length and height gains over two days would be:

  • Elite Course – 70km with 3,500m ascent
  • A Course – 60km with 2,800m ascent
  • B Course – 50km with 2,500m ascent
  • C Course – 40km with 2,000m ascent

New GPS Linear Course

This innovative new course is ideal for novice participants and offers a linear route that is a similar standard to a regular mountain marathon C Course. The aim of the GPS Linear Course is to offer a pathway for new participants to get into mountain marathons. This is the only course where GPS devices that aid navigation are allowed.

This GPS navigational device could be a traditional GPS pouch-and-handheld, a wristwatch GPS or a smartphone! Some participants will certainly choose to use a device that can be uploaded with topographic mapping, but please note that presently this would likely be Ordnance Survey or Open Mapping, and not a digital version of Harvey’s mapping. All participants receive a Harvey’s waterproof paper map – including the GPS Linear Course participants.

GPS Trackers

All teams (pairs and solo’s) will be issued with a GPS Tracker that must be attached to their rucksack for the duration of the event. The GPS Tracker allows the organisers, friends and family to follow the teams’ progress live and in real-time. A GPX download of every teams route and ‘Replay’ function of the race will be available shortly after the finish. Any team crossing an uncrossable boundary or passing through an Out of Bounds Area may be disqualified, even days after the event has finished, based on their GPS track.

Looking forward to September!

The organisers believe that these updates for 2016 will improve the event yet further, and broaden the appeal without compromising the core elements that make up the ‘Nature of the Challenge’. The combination of the new Linear Courses and GPS Tracking with the price freeze for early entries, makes the Rab Mountain Marathon™ easily the best value event of its kind and we very much hope that you will be able to join us this September.

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Key Event Information
Date: Weekend 24th 25th September 2016
Venue: Within 90 minutes drive of Manchester / Final venue disclosed 1 month prior to the event.
Courses: Elite, A, B, C, GPS, Long Score and Short Score
Entry Fee: From £54.00

CYCLING for RUNNERS – Article 7 March On!

HEADER_Suunto_ScottMarch is upon us and with it a new series of training sessions. In February we gave you a series of targets. Four sessions that ideally would be undertaken indoors on a turbo-trainer.

In summary, the sessions were as follows HERE

Catch up on previous articles HERE

In addition to the above four sessions you hopefully maintained your weekly runs and used cycling (very easy) as an alternative to a ‘recovery run.’

In March we are Marching On with our training and we want to step up once again and provide additional stimulus to progress your fitness and strength. You may be wondering, how do I fit all these sessions in?

Here is a template for a typical training week in March:

  1. Monday – Indoor cycling session of 20-40 minutes (based on fitness and experience.) Keep gearing very light and ‘spin’ your legs thinking about a 90+ cadence and maintaining souplesse.
  2. Tuesday – Running at 75% of max HR. Distance or time based on experience and targets.
  3. Wednesday – Indoor cycling session as per article 7 training plan. This will progress in effort for week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
  4. Thursday – As Tuesday.
  5. Friday – Rest day.
  6. Saturday – Long outdoor bike session using ‘MAFF’ formula for 90 to 180-minutes. This will progress as outlined in this article 7 plan for week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.
  7. Sunday – Long run based on experience and target race distance.

MARCH TRAINING SESSIONS

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March sessions fall into three distinct categories:

Recovery, Intensity and Endurance.

For simplicity, we have scheduled the sessions to take place on a Monday (recovery), Wednesday (intensity) and Saturday (endurance). Of course it is possible to move these sessions around to suit your available time but please aim to keep to the structure we have provided here.

The week explained:

  • Monday follows a busy weekend of training and therefore is ideally a rest day or recovery day. As we have stated on many occasions, does a recovery run really exist? We use cycling for recovery as it is a non-weight bearing exercise and therefore you are able to spin your legs, elevate your heart rate a little and all without the impact of running. Monday’s session will ideally be on the road or an indoor trainer. You will use light gears, ‘spin’ your legs and look for a cadence of 90+. Time will vary based on your fitness and target goals. However, we recommend anything between 20 to 40-minutes.
  • Wednesday provides intensity and is an alternative to a faster running session. Over 4-weeks the sessions will build on February’s session and progress your fitness and strength.
  • Saturday is a long run equivalent and is ideally placed to provide two back-to-back sessions in March. You will cycle long on Saturday (outdoors) and then run long on Sunday. This provides a great endurance stimulus and reduces the impact that would come from two back-to-back run sessions. We are introducing the ‘MAFF’ formula for this session.

Hints ‘n’ Tips

  • Use a heart rate monitor. It’s great to get the feedback and monitor your training.
  • Have water handy – you will need it.
  • If training indoors use a fan or train near an open window.
  • Keep your pedalling technique smooth, don’t fight the bike.

WEEK 1

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery 

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

1-hour set and intervals

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up * please see blow for a refresher on 5,4,3,2,1

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 4-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 1-minute. At the end of 1-minute drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 4min/ 1min for seven more times (total 8 repetitions)

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 60-minute session

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This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence. Make sure you use a quality HRM/ GPS for this session.

For example, the below session is 1-hour working on a MAFF of 130-140 bpm with warm up and cool down.

1-hour set

MAFF is based on the ‘Maffetone’ Formula. You can read two articles, HERE and HERE about Maffetone.

Maffetone formula is calculated as follows:

Subtract your age from 180.

Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile: 

A: If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.

B: If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.

C: If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same. 

D: If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (B), you get the following: 

180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm).

If it is difficult to decide which of two groups best fits you, choose the group or outcome that results in the lower heart rate. In athletes who are taking medication that may affect their heart rate, those who wear a pacemaker, or those who have special circumstances not discussed here, further individualization with the help of a healthcare practitioner or other specialist familiar with your circumstance and knowledgeable in endurance sports may be necessary.

Two situations may be exceptions to the above calculations:

The 180 Formula may need to be further individualized for people over the age of sixty-five. For some of these athletes, up to 10 beats may have to be added for those in category (d) in the 180 Formula, and depending on individual levels of fitness and health. This does not mean 10 should automatically be added, but that an honest self-assessment is important.

For athletes sixteen years of age and under, the formula is not applicable; rather, a heart rate of 165 may be best. 

Once a maximum aerobic heart rate is found, a training range from this heart rate to 10 beats below could be used as a training range. For example, if an athlete’s maximum aerobic heart rate were determined to be 155, that person’s aerobic training zone would be 145 to 155 bpm. However, the more training at 155, the quicker an optimal aerobic base will be developed.

WEEK 2

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 3-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 2-minutes. At the end of 2-minutes drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 3min/ 2min for five more times (total 6 repetitions)

Cool down with a reverse 5,4,3,2,1

Saturday : 90-minute session

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

WEEK 3

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

Move up 1 additional gear, for me this would be 52×16 and maintain a 90 cadence for 3-minutes and then step up 1-gear (for me this is 52×15) and work hard for 2-minutes. At the end of 2-minutes drop back down one gear, for me 52×16 and repeat 3min/ 2min for seven more times (total 8 repetitions)

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 2-hour session

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

WEEK 4

Monday : 20 to 40-minutes recovery

Wednesday : 1-hour session turbo trainer

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 warm up *

40-minutes at 75% of maximum heart rate with a 90-cadence

Cool down with 5 x 1-minutes dropping down a gear for each minute.

Saturday : 2-hour 30-minute session 

This session will ideally be outdoors. You will use the MAFF formula to build base level fitness at any easy pace with a low heart rate and cadence ideally on or around 90 cadence.

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NOTES:

March is designed to enhance your fitness in multiple ways and maximize your fitness. Combining three key sessions on a bike: recovery, intensity and endurance you will have a great fitness base for April when we take training to the next level.

It’s important that running and cycling work hand-in-hand with each other during March. So don’t try to push the envelope with running too hard or too long. If in doubt, use the MAFF formula for your running.

MAFF will require discipline and you will almost certainly feel that training is too easy. It’s a common feeling for many that are new the formula but stick with it and see how you progress.

It’s imperative that you use a heart rate monitor (we recommend Suunto) for the sessions in March. You need to work hard for the intensity sessions but you also need to ensure that the recovery and MAFF sessions are easy. Most people don’t do hard sessions hard enough and make easy sessions too hard. What you end up with is the middle ground and a lack of progression.

As April and May arrive, you need to build on the above and balance them. You may find that a faster cycling session will start to be replaced with a faster run session. If so, that’s fine. Incorporate cycling as recovery. However, we encourage that you still use long bike rides in conjunction with long and eventually longer runs.

At the end of May we will be back with a plan for June. Things will all change in as running takes a greater importance. You will incorporate one faster run session (Tuesday), one hill session (Thursday) and maintain a long bike. Until then, good luck!

Make easy – easy!

And make hard – hard!

Enjoy Marching On…

Glossary:

*5,4,3,2,1

If you are not used to cycle gearing, the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 will help you. Depending on your experience, strength, fitness and experience. You may do this session on your ‘small’ cog at the front of the bike or the ‘large’ cog. I do my sessions on the ‘52’ cog.

Start as follows:

52×25 for 5 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×23 for 4 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×21 for 3 minutes aiming for 90+ cadence

52×19 for 2 minutes aiming for 90 cadence

52×17 for 1 minute aiming for 90 cadence

By the time you reach the final minute you will be completely warm, your hear rate will have slowly elevated and the gearing will be ‘challenging’ but sustainable. Your heart rate will be in the 70-75% zone of max hear rate.

Join us on STRAVA

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Thanks to SCOTT SPORTS and SUUNTO for the support and backing

Check out SCOTT HERE

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Check out SUUNTO HERE

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Suunto Ambit2 S

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29th April 2013

Suunto launches Ambit 2 S – a multisport GPS watch for athletes

Suunto App Zone and Movescount.com are also upgraded

The new Ambit2 S is a light and sleek GPS watch for multisport athletes that packs all the features needed for cycling, running, swimming and multisport training. The GPS provides accurate pace, route navigation and tracking, while the heart rate monitor lets you train within your ideal zone.

  • Cycling: The new Suunto Ambit2 S will support power meters (ANT+) and offers various power measurement values and numerous options for in-depth analysis.
  • Swimming: The Ambit2 S also offers comprehensive swimming functionality, including pace and distance, automatic intervals, stroke rate and swimming time related to different pool lengths. The Ambit2 S will also learn to recognize your swimming style, which makes performance analysis easier.
  • Running: Runners benefit from highly accurate pace and distance thanks to FusedSpeed™, the Ambit’s accelerometer integrated GPS, as well as interval timer and autolaps for training.
  • Multisport Training: Users can switch between sports, making the Suunto Ambit2 S ideal for recording your multisport training or race.

Available from May 2013.  Ambit2 S £275/Ambit2 S with HR £325.

App Zone and Movescount.com are also upgraded

Suunto is also upgrading the Suunto App Zone, the community forum where users can find and create free Apps for the Ambit GPS watches. Since it launched in November 2012, the App Zone  has proved popular with users, who have created over 5,000 Apps so far. The upgrade gives Ambit owners the chance to create and share more advanced Apps. Suunto’s online sports community Movescount.com which hosts the App Zone, will also be updated to provide new  tools for in-depth analysis, enhanced navigation and improved opportunities for sharing.

For more product details and full specs, visit www.suunto.com

 

Garmin Fenix GPS

Garmin® fēnix™ Outdoor Watch Lets Adventurers Go Even Further Off-Trail

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Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced fēnix, its first GPS wrist watch for outdoorsmen, such as mountaineers, hikers, cyclists, hunters and backpackers. fēnix provides comprehensive navigation and tracking functionalities as well as trip information to guide adventurers during their challenging activities off the beaten track. Its built-in sensors provide information on heading, elevation and weather changes. Utilizing Garmin’s leading GPS technology, fēnix can guide adventurers off the trail and back to the safety of a vehicle, trailhead or campsite. Sporting a classic round watch design in a high-strength housing with a scratch-resisting display, it is built to endure the toughest outdoor conditions and also makes a stylish day-to-day timepiece.

“fēnix packs Garmin’s leading and trusted outdoor technology into a robust, wrist-worn GPS watch that outdoorsmen can rely on,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “Being able to go hands free while still having access to Garmin’s precise and accurate information on weather, elevation and position provides adventurers the confidence and peace of mind to take their outdoor activities even further off-trail.”

Plan, Navigate and Track

fēnix includes a comprehensive navigational toolset that allows users to plan trips and create routes, record waypoints, such as campsites or points of interest, and record GPS bread crumb trails on the move (tracklogs). Adventurers can navigate to coordinates, along a track or route, towards waypoints, geocaches or along any other selected bearing. A navigation arrow provides clear directional guidance and the TracBack® function can guide one back along a previously recorded tracklog. This provides adventurers peace of mind knowing they’re never “lost” and can easily find their way back in case of an emergency or bad weather conditions. Also included is a worldwide basemap displaying cities nearby. Using the BaseCampTM desktop application, fēnix users will be able to easily plan trips and share their adventures with friends and family. fēnix is equipped with both ANT capabilities and Bluetooth® to wirelessly share tracks, waypoints, routes and geocaches with other compatible Garmin devices. A Basecamp mobile app allows users to transfer waypoints and tracklogs to view them on a more detailed map and larger screen of select smartphones.

Altimeter, Barometer and Compass

fēnix is equipped with ABC sensors (altimeter, barometer and compass) to provide explorers relevant real-time information. The built-in altimeter provides elevation data to accurately monitor ascent and descent, the barometer can be used to predict weather changes by showing short-term trends in air pressure and a 3-axis electronic compass keeps the user’s bearing whether he’s moving or not. Utilizing its GPS receiver, fēnix can auto-calibrate its ABC sensors and also auto sets the time based on location. For an extremely accurate temperature reading, fēnix can be paired with tempeTM, Garmin’s new external temperature sensor.

Measure Performance

Similar to Garmin’s running watches, fēnix provides real-time performance data, such as distance, pace time and calories, helping outdoorsmen keep track of their progress during and after their adventures. This is especially useful to keep track of fitness activities off the beaten track, such as adventure or trail running. fēnix is also compatible with Garmin’s premium heart rate monitor for heart rate info and with a speed/cadence sensor for distance, speed and cadence while on a bike. The displayed data fields are fully customizable right from the watch.

Built to Endure the Roughest Conditions

fēnix is built to endure the toughest outdoor conditions, combining a high-strength housing to survive shocks with a mineral glass lens to resist scratching. It boasts a large LCD display with LED backlight and a robust polyurethane wristbands. Garmin’s outdoor watch is waterproof to 50 meters and has a battery life of up to 50 hours in GPS mode (depends on settings) and up to 6 weeks in watch mode. Basic watch functions include alarms, tones, vibration alerts, timer, stopwatch and world clock with the ability to display several times zones at once.

Read on Garmin site HERE

Garmin fēnix is expected to be available in fall 2012 and will have a suggested retail price of $399.99. tempe is an optional accessory and has a suggested retail price of $29.99. The polyurethane wristband will be available in olive or orange and an optional leather wristband can be added.

fēnix is the latest solution from Garmin’s growing outdoor segment, which focuses on developing technologies and innovations to enhance users’ outdoor experiences. Whether it’s Golfing, Hiking, Hunting or Geocaching, Garmin outdoor devices are becoming essential tools for outdoor enthusiast of all levels. For more information about Garmin’s other outdoor products and services.

http://www.garmin.com/us/products/onthetrail/

http://www.garmin.blogs.com and http://twitter.com/garmin.