… But that wasn’t a surprise. I knew before Christmas what my family was getting me since I extensively researched it, checked it out in a store, found it 20% off online, and then sent my mom the link and very specific instructions on which one I wanted.
The gift was a Suunto Ambit3 Peak watch.
Until Christmas day I had been using a Nike+ GPS sportwatch which I religiously plugged in after my runs, reviewed my stats, and checked out the leaderboard so I could see how I ranked against my friends.
The Nike+ GPS watched served me well. It costs $150 and I used it over a year and a half. During this time I trained for and ran 1 full marathon, 6 half marathons, and 5 other races for a total of about 2,180 km. The cost of the watch equates to less than $9 per month or less than 7 cents per kilometre.
It was an affordable watch and provided all the basic features that I wanted. I had some issues with the battery, which mysteriously and gradually went away. It only died once during a 19 km run but later lasted for a full marathon (although just barely). The only other negative I found was that it sometimes took a while to find GPS signal, especially near large buildings or on trail runs.
With a 50k trail race planned for the summer and a TON of training before that, I justified a watch upgrade. I looked at various options … TomTom, Polar, Garmin, and Suunto.
I quickly eliminated Polar due to aesthetics and TomTom because it seemed pretty similar to the Nike+ watch. I researched Garmin watches, including the Forerunner 620 and the Fenix2, and the Suunto Ambit3. I soon realized that this was going to be an expensive *investment* so I did a lot of research online and asked around.
The Suunto Ambit (I read that this is short for “ambition”) line was the most popular among the outdoorsy people I asked. The Fenix2 seemed to be the Garmin equivalent but I was deterred by some of the reviews which mentioned glitches.
During my searches, I found the Suunto Ambit3 Peak on Altitude-Sports.com and signed up for their newsletter to get a 20% off promo code. I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was valid on electronics. The rest is history!
I’ve been using my Suunto Ambit3 Peak for a month now and there are SO MANY FEATURES! AND SO MUCH DATA! It … is … amazing. I don’t know why I care so much about this stuff, but I do! It makes running even more fun for me so I’ve decided to embrace it.
There are so many things to talk about but I’ll just touch on a few things I like about the watch so far:
For a very complex watch, it’s quite easy to use. There is an iPhone app that allows you to change settings and sync runs using Bluetooth. When I’m done a run, I open up the app and it syncs with my watch. All the data is stored on Suunto’s Movescount website, which I’ve set to automatically sync to Strava as well.
The watch has some cool navigation features. You can create routes on Movescount and load it onto the watch to use during your runs. It’s not quite like Google maps but at least you can tell if you’ve deviated from your planned route! You can also add waypoints and points of interest. Plus there is a compass.
I’ve been using the heart rate monitor on most of my runs. This doesn’t JUST tell you your heart rate while running. After your finish, the watch it estimates your recovery time and the Movescount website displays a line chart showing your heart rate over the course of the run (which you can overlay over other data like pace and altitude) as well as a bar graph showing how long your were in different heart rate zones.
The watch shows you as much or as little information during exercise as you want. You can set up multiple screens that each contain three display spots for data, the last of which can rotate through many items. It is surprisingly easy to set up through the Movescount iPhone app and is customized for each sport mode. As if that’s not overwhelming enough, Movescount allows users to create their own “apps” which from my understanding are equations based on the data the watch collects. For example, you can have your watch calculate and display how many beers you can justify drinking based on calories burned. I know, very useful stuff!
As a bonus, since the watch connects to your phone, it can alert your when your phone receives notifications such as text messages or phone calls. Currently, it seems to get disconnected a lot but I’m hoping this gets resolved with a future update.