My Long Run & A New Toy

**The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Polar**

You know, long runs are a weird thing in that they are all relative. A few years ago, I would have been panicked at the thought of running 9 or 10 miles. I mean, that just sounds so far! But, the more that I do it, the less scary the miles get. These days, anything less than 13.1 seems…doable. Who am I?!

Anyway, this past Saturday was my scheduled 9 miler and I was excited to get out there and give it a go. Like I’ve mentioned previously, my training has been abysmal at best, but I’ve still been getting my long runs done on the weekend. For me, those are the most important because they mentally prepare me for what race day will be like. Learning how to mentally adapt to running for hours at a time has always been the most difficult aspect of long-distance running for me. Luckily, I’ve rediscovered my love of podcasts, so this year’s runs have been a breeze in that regard.

I decided to shake it up just a bit for my 9-miler and hit up the nearby trails. Naturally, this made my run a lot more difficult and my pace was significantly slower, but it was totally worthwhile. I had stunning mountain views and a glimmering lake nearby, so there wasn’t a whole lot to complain about! I finished the 9 miles in one hour, 44 minutes at an 11:25 pace. This is definitely slow, but since I gained upwards of 500 feet in elevation and ran on very narrow singletrack, I’m okay with that. The miles are done; that’s what is important!

Polar RC3

I also got the chance to try out a new toy during my run: the Polar RC3 heart rate monitor and GPS. A few weeks back, I received word that I was going to get the chance to test out this fun gadget, and I was pretty psyched. I’ve mentioned this before, but I really enjoy numbers and data after my workouts. I like looking at my heart rate zones and elevation gains/losses. I have no idea why this thrills me since I’m not a “number person” in real life, but whatever…it does! Up until now, I’ve used an ancient Polar HRM for CrossFit and the Garmin 305 for all of my runs. Unfortunately, my HRM was well over 10 years old and finally died, so I had to chuck it when I moved. My Garmin is still alive and kicking, but refuses to communicate with my laptop. I couldn’t upload data or look at the elevation charts after my run, and it was getting really annoying. So, I was totally amped when the RC3 arrived—once again, I had working technology!

My immediate reaction was to text Will and tell him that he needed to help me figure it out when he got home. I despise setting up technology because it is usually difficult and tedious. However, I decided to pull up my big girl pants and figure it out on my own…and you know what?! The setup was insanely easy. Like, I never even opened the instruction manual, and for me, this is saying a lot! The buttons on the screen are very user-friendly and navigation just makes sense. Out of the gates, this was a definite win for the RC3.

RC3 on the left, Garmin 305 on the right

Obviously, the setup isn’t the only part of the GPS that matters. Since I received the watch, I’ve worn it to CrossFit twice and on a handful of runs, including the long run I mentioned above. The GPS took a couple of minutes to locate the satellite during my first-ever run, but since then, it has been super quick. In fact, I think it locates the satellites faster than my Garmin ever did. Additionally, I am digging the screen and size of the watch. Granted, the Garmin 305 is an older model and is much larger than their newer versions. However, I was pleased to realize that the RC3 is much smaller and sits comfortably on my wrist. The screen is still large though, and I haven’t had any problems reading it while running or working out.

The RC3 has different categories of exercise which makes it a good option for people like me who aren’t just runners. Running is the first category, followed by cycling and then two others labeled “Other Sport 1” and “Other Sport 2.” I setup the first “other sport” category for CrossFit by eliminating the GPS function. Now, I can easily flip to this category so that it measures my heart rate zones but doesn’t waste battery by turning on the GPS. Pretty handy.

Polar RC3

After a CrossFit WOD…

Polar RC3

…and after my 9 miler on Saturday. Kinda interesting to see how the higher intensity (CrossFit) burns so many more fat calories when compared to a long, slow run

Finally, I am totally digging the numbers that it spits out after I finish a workout. Maybe I’ve been living under a rock (likely), but I never realized HRM gadgets could tell you all of these things! Immediately after I conclude a run or CrossFit WOD, I can look at the watch and it will tell me the duration of the workout; the average, max and minimum heart rate numbers; how many calories I burned and what percentage were calories from fat; how much time I spent in each of the five target heart rate zones; and my total miles, my average pace, and my elevation gain and loss, if it applies. It’s kinda fun!

There is one negative that I’ve discovered with the watch, and while it’s not a deal breaker, it totally drives me insane. The charging cable fits into a slot on the back of the watch so that you can plug it into the wall or a computer in order to charge it. When the RC3 isn’t attached to this cable, there is a small flap that covers up this slot. For some reason, I absolutely cannot lift this flap up with my finger nails! When I’ve needed to charge the HRM, I usually dig out a nail file or tweezers or some other small object that I can use to pry the flap away from the back of the screen. This is likely just a “me issue” since I have short nails, but still. I imagine guys may have similar issues since they have larger fingers!

Overall, I love the watch and it has replaced my Garmin. Although I can’t speak to its durability since I’ve only owned it for two weeks, I can attest to its ease of use and serious amounts of data. If you’re into numbers and you’re looking for one watch that appears to do it all, I’d definitely recommend giving the RC3 a shot. In fact, if you’re curious enough to want to purchase one, I have a discount code that will get you 25% of any color of the RC3 (just that particular HRM though!) Click::here:: and use code: “fitfluential” during checkout for the 25% discount. Just so you know, the code will expire on August 10, 2013, so if you’re thinking about it, you’ve only got a few weeks to mull it over!

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Do you run with an HRM or GPS? Which one?

20 Comments

  • Reply Tiff @ Love Sweat & Beers at

    Very cool! I have a more simple Polar HRM, and I feel a little silly wearing it on one wrist and my Garmin on the other. ha. Runner Problems

    • Reply heather at

      My Garmin had an HRM but I couldn’t wear it to CrossFit. Well, I could but I couldn’t shut off the GPS so it was kinda silly 🙂

  • Reply Corrie Anne at

    Love toys like that too!! I have a Garmin but I broke the wristband. Oops. I need to get a new one. Right now I just have a fitbit zip, but I love that too!

    • Reply heather at

      I keep hearing about a fitbit! What is that?!

  • Reply Cory Reese at

    Oh boy, I will have to check this out. I still use the grandfather clock on my wrist (Garmin 305) but I think it’s about ready to meet it’s maker. Thanks for the heads up!

    • Reply heather at

      Ha, welcome to my world 🙂 Mine was gradually dying so I’m psyched that I found a replacement!

  • Reply Jenn @comebackmomma at

    I have been wanting to work with a monitor like Polar to measure my workout progress. Looks like you had a good experience. Thanks for the review.

    • Reply heather at

      If you’re looking, I’d definitely recommend this one– plus, that discount code is a huge deal. I really am digging this Polar and it kinda makes me excited to wear it during my workouts 🙂

  • Reply Logan @ Mountains and Miles at

    I use the Garmin 610 currently, but have previously used the Garmin 405XT and the 910XT. I enjoyed them both, but had elevation struggles with the 910.

    I really like wearing my HRM, because it gives me a better idea of what is hard only in my head and what is ACTUALLY making my heart work harder. It also helps me see progress and improvement, which I really enjoy!

    • Reply heather at

      Tht’s exactly why I like using a HRM! There are days when I feel like I am just dying and then I look at the numbers, and I’m barely out of the first zone. Sometimes that’s fine, but other days it just helps me beat the mental game.

  • Reply Cassie @ Rural Running Redhead at

    I have that same giant Garmn…I’d love a smaller, more comfortable GPS. 🙂 How is the chest strap for the Polar? I never use the HRM on my Garmin because I can’t stand the chest strap.

    • Reply heather at

      It doesn’t bother me at all! The actual monitor piece is removable so you can take that piece off to clean and what not.

  • Reply Natalie @ Free Range Human at

    I’m a huge fan of podcasts, and I’m always looking for new ones. Which ones do you like?

    • Reply heather at

      Oh man, depends on my mood! I think I’ll actually blog about this next week, but in the meantime– my fave is Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me on NPR. I also like Jillian Michaels!

  • Reply Alyssa at

    Aw man super jealous! My polar heart rate monitor just died and I can’t seem to fix it. I want a new one so bad. Isn’t that crazy how perception changes? And then it changes back too! Sometimes 18 miles is NBD and sometimes I’m like HOLY CRAP.

  • Reply Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem at

    I used to have that Garmin and was sad when it died, but it did rub funny on my wrist bones and my new one is so much better on my wrists! Fun to get a fun new toy to try out.

  • Reply Denise P. at

    I typically run (and cycle) with a Garmin and then use a basic HRM for gym workouts.

    My 305 has shown signs of dying over the last year, but I haven’t yet decided on the replacement. (Baby on the way and not much running these days so its not a priority.) I’m totally jealous of your Polar!

  • Reply Beth @ RUNNING around my kitchen at

    It is so good to see this review – I’ve been having a bit of a GPS watch thing lately….we’ve both wanted to replace our Forerunner 305s and haven’t found a watch we like as much. How many pieces of info can you get during a run? Does it give you current pace and lap pace too? And is it accurate?

    Nice job on the long run – you’re supposed to do them slow and getting the miles in is the most important thing!

    • Reply heather at

      While running, you can get lap pace (at the end of each mile) and it shows you your current pace while running. It is super accurate in terms of GPS– I tested it with both my car and with MapMyRun afterwards, and they all matched up. The only thing it doesn’t show is total time since you’ve been running, but if you know your pace and how many miles you’ve covered, that doesn’t bother me so much.

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