As someone who enjoys running and CrossFit in equal measure, I am always struggling to figure out how to balance both these activities so as to not burn myself out. I haven’t found a perfect way to do this. But I think what helps is having a routine and tracking my workouts. This routine is flexible, of course, so that I can focus on running more if it’s racing season, or if I have to cut back on my running and do more strength work, when I have a CrossFit meet coming up.
Recently, I found one smartwatch that actually helped me for both running and strength training, the Coros Pace 2. This super lightweight GPS watch (only 29 grams) is also easy on the pocket, looks extremely simple, but does the job.
First things first. I have been using a Garmin for over 8 years now, having changed the model about four years ago. The Coros Pace 2 comes at the same price range of my Garmin, and yet packs way more features. There’s a caveat to this: my Garmin is four years old the technology has moved on since then, so the comparison is not exactly fair.
This watch has all the basic features in place. Use the GPS for your run or ride; it even enables you go for swimming in the sea should you choose. You could also opt for strength training, cardio, rowing or even a triathlon. The watch doesn’t have a touch screen, but I find this useful because this way I don’t end up accidentally pausing anything or stopping the data tracking while engaged in any activity. Instead, it has two simple buttons on the right—one for selecting and scrolling, and another to go back to the main menu.
The scroll button also locks automatically which I found a little difficult especially when I had to stop a run or workout and wanted to check my exact time. I encountered the same problem when I wanted to scroll between the different screens to check other data while running. You have to rotate the top button to unlock it to begin a workout, and long press to end it. This for someone who is used to a single press of the Garmin can be a little complicated, but that’s only a small adjustment.
It has a wrist heart rate monitor, which is handy when you are trying to do a steady run. But along with that it also has a barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyro sensor, sleep tracking sensor and a compass. Most of the data however is accessible only through the app, and won’t show up directly on the watch. The battery is pretty good, had lasted me at least three weeks with a few runs and workouts in GPS mode included. The website claims that the watch battery will last 30 hours with the GPS mode on continuously.
The tracker also gives the additional information of your training load and recovery time (though this is calculated only after at least a week of continuous usage of the watch). This is also a feature in many of the Garmin watches, but not their basic models. And at this price point, this is a very useful feature to have. When it comes to balancing my running and strength training, this feature helps me understand how soon I can go for another run or a strength training session. The watch also tells you just how much power you are using for your run, so that you can fine-tune it if you think it is too hard.
The app, just like the Garmin Connect app, lets you compare different data. For example, I usually compare my pace with my heart rate and elevation, to see if my heart rate was steady during a climb even if I slowed down my pace a bit. One thing which is unique to this watch however is the “running power”, which lets you check how much effort you are using and change it accordingly. For example, if you’re running uphill on a trail or running on a flat track, you can now keep the power steady, while varying your pace.
I was curious about the watch’s muscle heat-map feature, imagining it to have some sort of predictive ability to show which muscles were most used after a mixed workout or run. But it turns out this can only be used for strength training and information on the muscle group being worked on has to be put in manually. Once you do that, the watch does the rep and set count by itself. Right now, it tracks functions only for major muscle groups (traps, glutes, triceps, biceps). The app also comes with training plans that can be downloaded from the website. But this is a function that’s available with almost all the other wearables now as well.
In conclusion, the watch is more good than bad, the only shortfall that I could see was its inability to store music and the instant lock of the watch. The features are otherwise great, the data is accurate, and at that price point, it is one of the best options out there for runners, riders and fitness enthusiasts.
Coros Pace 2, price ₹21,999, available online and at multibrand retail outlets.