TomTom Runner Cardio review

A few weeks ago I was given a TomTom Runner Cardio to demo for a couple of weeks. After a quick intro to how to use the buttons (completely different from the Garmins that I’m used to) I was ready to go.

Apparently I was too eager because when I got back from my run and tried to work out how to upload the activity, I discovered that the watch was linked to somebody else’s account – presumably the last person to demo that particular watch. Set up involved downloading some software and connecting to the computer which was pretty simple – that was when I saw that another account was linked and no option to change it. The advice was to do a hard reset (which is worth bearing in mind if you ever buy one and decide to sell it – reset first). That meant I lost that activity so that’s worth thinking about if you buy a used one. Set it up first!

Unlike Garmin, TomTom does not have its own activity site for automatic upload – it uses mapmyrun (*note that I have been informed that TomTom does have https://mysports.tomtom.com which asks you to sign up by downloading the app and connecting the watch – it was at this point it prompted for a mapmyrun account and there may have been a way of signing up without it that I did not see). Personally, I use mapmyrun, strava and Garmin connect (there are various reasons I like to track in all those places) and one of the things I like about Garmin is that I have it set up such that Mapmyrun and Strava are both linked to my Garmin account and when an activity is uploaded to Garmin it automatically goes to the other two.

During the time I had the watch I wore it alongside my Fenix 3. There have been various issues with GPS tracks and pacing with the Fenix 3 (which, as of today, may have mostly been dealt with after the introduction yesterday of new firmware) so I was interested in how it compared.

What surprised me most, given that the Fenix 3 has always reported shorter distances, is that the TomTom didn’t give much higher distances. They were surprisingly close, and in one case, exactly the same:

Fenix 3: 17.24; TomTom: 17.30

Fenix 3: 8.33;   TomTom: 8.37

Fenix 3: 3.34;   TomTom: 3.34

The difference definitely showed in the tracks though, with the Garmin being off the actual line many times (again, hopefully that’s fixed by the recent updates):

Garmin not consistent with where I ran

Garmin not consistent with where I ran

TomTom more accurately showing my route

TomTom more accurately showing my route

Garmin off the road and corner cutting

Garmin off the road and corner cutting

TomTom again showing a much better "true" path

TomTom again showing a much better “true” path

During the time I had the watch I was taking part in the RVRR “Train”ing Run which is a non-competitive run. I was asked if I could pace the 8:30 group for the second half (in case the pacer for the full 34.6 couldn’t keep it going) and I’m glad I had the TomTom because I knew I couldn’t rely on reading the pace from the Fenix 3. The TomTom did a good job, although after each stop at a “station” it did take a while to settle again. Without it I think I might have been lost.

What is most confusing about this run is that, although the TomTom displayed the pace correctly during the run (often around 8:20 to 8:25), the pace chart on Maymyrun is way off – looking at the graph for pace for the activity and tracking it along, the reading it gives seems to indicate pace was in the 9 to 10 minute mile range: http://www.mapmyrun.com/workout/1018421885

By contrast the activity from the Garmin (it seems maymyrun identifies it as a Garmin 920XT) has the pace chart spot on (despite it not being so accurate during the run) – if I didn’t know which was which I would swear they should be the other way round: http://www.mapmyrun.com/workout/1017497979

For my final run, I found myself at the gym when the kids had a swimming lesson, so took myself off to run on the treadmill. The TomTom was not at all accurate at getting pace which is not necessarily all that surprising (my Garmin is better at that), however what I did like about the TomTom is that when you stopped the run, it asked you to correct the distance – a nice feature I wouldn’t mind having on the Garmin (although I really don’t run on treadmills often if I can help it).

In summary, the TomTom is a decent watch. I wasn’t a big fan of the look, but that wouldn’t stop me using it. The built in heart rate monitor is handy (particularly when it’s hot, I don’t like wearing a strap), and it was pretty good at showing me my actual pace during runs. If you want to see a lot of data while you are running it might not be the best – you’d have to scroll through the screens to see additional data. In the cold of an NJ winter, if you want to record your heart rate you would have to wear it under your clothing to get that reading, which is fine if you don’t need to glance at your watch during your run.

 

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