Mar 27: Day 43
Planned Workouts: Rest Day
Today I am going to eat pizza for dinner. It’s sometimes hard to allow myself to do that, but everyone needs a treat every now and again so long as it is every now and again. Besides, on the rare occasions I get pizza for the family I’m the most popular guy ever. That’s a great incentive all by itself!
I purchased an Apple Watch series 2 in the offseason and have been using it as my primary fitness device for these first 6 weeks. There are tons of detailed reviews on fitness devices out there and I’m not going to begin to try and get as technical as those. However, I thought it might be useful to folks to get a sense of what it’s like to use the device from a practical usability sense, beyond the technical stuff.
I got the series 2 with a Nike band. I waited for series 2 so I could use the swim features, which were important to me. I really like this band as it is soft, flexible, and breathable. I wouldn’t pay for one from Apple though: there are bands available for 5-15 bucks on amazon and I got a red/black one that I literally cannot tell the difference between that one and the official one.
For that reason, I wouldn’t bother with the Nike+ version again. I got it for the band, but you get some special faces too which are really….kinda meh to me. Other than that it’s just the same thing with the app preinstalled, but you can install it anyway. So….no big deal either way.
Coming from a Garmin there are some things I love and hate about swimming with the apple watch. The built in app is very simplistic, basic lap counter, goal setting, etc but there are other apps available that have more features. I think Apple’s idea is give you enough to get started but the app store will always be a better source. I personally use one from swim.com.
The good things about it for swimming:
- It does do some HR tracking which is better than I expected, without the need for a strap.
- The screen is bright and easy to read in the water, even underwater.
- There is a setting on the swim.com app that allows me to do kick sets and still get credit for the distance. I LOVE THIS. On my Garmin because my arms are not stroking it does not give credit for time doing kick sets or any drill with a steady arm. This allows me to just twist up the crown, set my drill distance, and twist again when done and I get the distance and time credit.
My wish list:
- It can be hard to stop the workout to pause or end, because the default app locks the screen during the workout. The swim.com app is better, using hard presses on the touchscreen, but it is still harder than physical buttons to do lap counters and quick pauses.
- No exportation of fitness data with Training Peaks or other services. I haven’t found an app yet that will effectively export a workout to one of these features. That’s annoying.
This is going to depend a lot on whether you even use a watch for cycling or rely on a cycling computer. If you do use an app on your phone, like Strava or Cyclemeter to track your workouts, the transition to apple watch is great. I personally use Cyclemeter because I can easily design workouts for each different session. The app itself is where you do this, and then the screen has start/stop buttons and as many customizable data screens as you like.
- If you use apps for bike tracking already chances are there is an Apple Watch partner app available. The interfaces are designed for the type of stuff you’d do on a watch face, and the app is where you do the complicated stuff like set up workouts.
- I love the haptic feedback for doing intervals. I get a “tap” on my wrist when it’s time to change zones. If you have the audio on for your phone it will tell you there, but the tap tells you too, and the watch face displays for about 3-5 seconds a notification of what you should be doing. It’s perfect for me.
- The customizable screens are colorful and easy to read and manipulate.
- I can export my data easily from my phone and load it onto tracking sites like Training Peaks.
- There is no ANT+, so any sensors you use have to be Bluetooth compatible. That might be an issue for some. That being said, pairing had been a breeze with my bluetooth enabled sensors.
- Currently if you use Training Peaks or Garmin Connect to track workouts, you have to manually export. I’ve yet to find an app that automates this. It’s a 15 second process so it’s no biggie to me, but it might be for some.
Very similar as with cycling. If you use an app already to track runs no problem, but if you don’t, you can use the on-board workout app. This is probably where most people use a watch if they use one. The haptic feedback is similar and most other things are too, with a few nuances:
- Many apps require you to still keep your phone, even with the on-board GPS. Not all, but many. I hope this changes over time.
- Audio controls are easy once you get the hang of it. You can play music either from the watch or you can control the music on your phone via a watch interface. I find it easy to double-click the wheel to swap between audio and running app to make audio changes, a heck of a lot easier than digging my phone out of a case or pocket. Your mileage may vary.
- Again, there are no physical buttons so if you count laps and such it may be more annoying, but at least the screen doesn’t lock like in the water.
I’ll just say this up-front, I love my apple watch and use it daily for fitness and non-fitness. But I won’t be taking it on the IM and will borrow a Garmin instead. There are two simple reasons for this, one that might eventually be addressed and one that likely won’t. The first is there is no multisport app or mode currently available on the watch. This means no quick button press to tell the watch you are changing sports. That makes it difficult to use in a race, but this could be easily addressed by someone, either Apple or a third party, via software changes.
The second is battery. While for standard use I’ve never had an issue with the battery (usually I have ~60% charge at the end of the day, including whatever workouts I did), but 13 hours of GPS use is not going to happen. I’m guessing I could get 8, 9 at the most. If the fix the software issue above I would definitely use it for Olympic or Sprint events without hesitation though.
I’ll keep using it and I think for 90-95% of folks out there, even age groupers, it will be plenty of watch. The HR and GPS are supposedly less accurate but I’ve not had any issues when comparing it to a HR strap or Garmin for either. They are really, really close to each other 99.9% of the time, close enough for my purposes anyway. The customization of being able to use whatever tracking app you prefer is fantastic, and because the apps will constantly update I think it will only get better.
I miss some of the physical buttons, especially on the swim. You have to decide based on how you might use it what you might miss or not miss. I also haven’t covered the other 90% of the watch features which have nothing to do with workout tracking, and those are well worth considering.
Bottom line, if you are really hardcore or need it for 8+ hour events this probably won’t satisfy you. Otherwise, I think you will enjoy it.