Trenara blog

Trenara blog

Our advice on wearables

Our advice on wearables

Discover the best wearables for runners at Trenara. Read about our seamless integration with Garmin, tips for choosing the right GPS watch, and exclusive discounts! Improve your training today.

Discover the best wearables for runners at Trenara. Read about our seamless integration with Garmin, tips for choosing the right GPS watch, and exclusive discounts! Improve your training today.

Christophe Roosen

Christophe Roosen is the co-founder and coach of Trenara. Runs a marathon in 2:31:34.

A topic we get a lot of questions about in the helpdesk, mailbox, and Facebook community: which wearable do we recommend in combination with Trenara? I'd like to dive deeper into this.

It's indeed a very relevant question: Trenara depends on data. And because we don't want to confront you too harshly with all sorts of figures and study work, we indeed have watches that we are more or less fans of. Because some watches truly enhance your training experience in combination with Trenara.

  1. Fully Compatible: Garmin
  1. With fully compatible, we mean that we can both read training data from the device and send training data to the device. This latter function is very handy because it means the training plan sits on your wrist!

Anyone who has Peak Pro and a Garmin wearable will thus see their planned session right on their wrist. This function is the main reason for many to choose Garmin. We'll take a closer look at the Garmin Forerunner series – all currently have the option to display structured workouts, our export function.

1.1 Entry Model

The Garmin Forerunner 55 is the entry model: excellent GPS with the pure basics regarding running functionalities. If you only need a watch to ensure the quality of data import & export, this one suffices. Although Garmin also sees other devices as entry models, this is the only real entry model for me. Why? You'll find out below.

1.2 For the Advanced

The other Forerunners, including the new 165, are there for those who want a bit more. Let me explain: these watches include options such as recovery advice, with the main feature being HRV. To clarify HRV: it stands for heart rate variability and provides insight into the stress your body is experiencing. A lower HRV indicates that your body is recovering less, e.g., due to heavy training labor, poor sleep, or stress at work. A higher, stable HRV is a sign of fitness and freshness.

The FR165 Music has a music option, handy for those who want to listen to The Running Crew. If you want to be future-proof, then start at least with the 165. And since running and recovery go hand in hand, I would take this advice to heart.

From the 165 and onward, each screen also has an OLED display. Read: an enormously bright screen. Especially for those who occasionally load a route and thus use the watch as a navigator, such an OLED screen is a real game-changer. Believe me: I've often took the wrong route.

Those who want even more options can choose the 265 and 965 (my beauty). These two share several handy features, especially for those who, like me, live in hilly areas. With GAP, Grade Adjusted Pace or 'pace adjusted for elevation,' they indeed provide a pace reference when you make altitude gains. You're running at a 6’ pace uphill, but it has the value of a flat pace of 5’15. Thanks to GAP, you can pace yourself better uphill – it's the useful translation of what some call 'power.' The 965 offers even more sports profiles and is for the nerdy runners: what's your 'hill score'? Are you acclimatized to the altitude and/or heat? And with fully detailed maps, navigation is even easier.

1.3 Not Forerunner, But Specialized

Here fall the series of the Tactix, Fenix, and Epix. These watches are mainly focused on robustness, as they specialize in 'outdoor activities'. Longer battery life, possibly rechargeable via solar energy, and somewhat heavier. However, they do not have 'better' running functionalities than the FR965. If you only run, then these series are primarily just more expensive. Or you have a bigger wrist and find a Forerunner too small, that can also be the case.

1.4 Lifestyle

Garmin also offers non-specialized watches that do have (a minimum of) running functionalities. But let's be honest: they are watches aimed at women because they are just a bit more fashionable. In terms of functionalities, they all offer a bit less (no navigation, no PacePro), but of course, at a higher price. They have wristbands that wear out faster than a pair of Nike Vaporfly... Why must products aimed at women so often be more expensive? I've said it and I don't regret it.

1.5 Our Partnership with Waypoint

It should be clear: we at Trenara are fans of Garmin. And so, we've found a partner in Waypoint Leuven, a specialist in GPS wearables. Together, we can offer you a 10% discount on the FR165, FR165 Music, and FR965 from today until May 15th. Take your shot with the code TRENARA10 on the webshop of Waypoint Leuven! To unlock your discount, you need an account on the webshop.

  1. Partially Compatible: Apple Watch
  1. When we look purely at compatibility with the app, the Apple Watch is currently the 2nd best choice after a Garmin. The number of running functionalities of the Apple Watch has grown significantly in recent years, since last year you can also create structured workouts with it. We don't have a direct export yet, but thanks to Watchletic, you can still export our training to your Apple Watch.

The fact remains that we are not talking about a running watch here, but a smartwatch with running functionalities. These functionalities are not as specialized as those of the typical running watches, or of lesser quality (there is, for example, debate about the way Apple applies HRV). The battery life is also definitely a downside.

  1. Minimally Compatible: Polar
  1. With minimally compatible, we mean the watches where we can read data from, but not send to.

As often as we get the question: a Polar export is technically not possible, and that is due to Polar itself. That's why I put Polar under the label 'minimally compatible,' because we can only read data from Polar Flow, and not send to Polar Flow. To be clear: Polar also makes good running watches. They are by far the second largest brand within our user base – albeit at a respectable distance from Garmin.

I find Polar very strong in mapping out training load and their 'nightly recharge.' As a coach, I also use Polar Flow when my athletes train with a Polar – Mieke has been a Polar fan from the very beginning. In terms of data, you are absolutely not wrong with Polar. The HRV data is also very prominently present at Polar. Do not forget that the Polar heart rate band, the H10, is the market standard. They are therefore not inferior to Garmin in this respect.

Polar has 4 series, from 'minimal' to 'maximal': Ignite (more lifestyle than running), Pacer, Vantage, Grit X. What I personally absolutely miss at Polar: offline music.
And promised: when Polar makes the export possible, we will develop it.

  1. Other Brands
  1. Fitbit, TomTom, Suunto, Coros, Wahoo: these are the other brands that come up in our user base, in descending order of numbers. Because most people have both a brand account and a Strava account, we have chosen not to set up direct integration with these brands yet. The numbers do not outweigh the development and maintenance costs. We see some brands decreasing in share. TomTom even no longer produces running watches, Wahoo stops with their Rival. Coros doesn't break through - we see, via Strava, regular switches from Garmin to Coros back to Garmin.

  1. Summary
  1. There you have it, this is our current advice on wearables. If you want to fully utilize all the functions of the app, then Garmin is the right choice. And with the TRENARA10 discount code, you can now score a 10% discount on the Garmin Forerunner 165 (Music) and Forerunner 965 at Waypoint Leuven, on the one hand, the newest and on the other hand, the best running watches of the moment. Again: to unlock your discount, you need an account on the webshop.

How satisfied are you with your wearables? Tell us under our Instagram post!

And in the meantime, we keep our eyes and ears open to keep up with the latest developments in wearables, and if possible/interesting, to process them into the app. With HRV, I already know what I want to do!

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