Adidas invited me and a few other bloggers (Big Runner and Running Matters) to try out their recent entrant into the sports gadget market – the miCoach pacer. On Thursday evening I arrived at the Millenium Arena in Battersea Park ready for the presentation. I began to sweat almost immediately as I spotted the running track and sporty types. I haven’t been near a running track since the humiliation of 1984 – where I was the pitiful fat kid in the schools sports day and found myself lapped umpteen times, over the 1500m distance – I don’t like running tracks.
Back to miCoach though, I heard of it a while ago in connection with a Samsung mobile phone but they’ve now branched out and produced a very capable standalone system. In brief its a coaching system based on heart rate zones. They appear to have two systems on offer, the miCoach zone at £70 and the miCoach pacer at £120. The zone offering consists of a heart rate monitor and a bracelet that displays the coloured zone you are in, I haven’t tried this out but it seems pretty pointless to me. The miCoach pacer on the other hand is very interesting. It consists of a foot pod, heart rate monitor and a little electronic “thingy” for want of a better word. The thingy or pacer stores your workout details, both scheduled and completed and relays a series of instructions via the included headphones.
It’s the verbal instructions that set the adidas system apart from its competitors (ie. Garmin and Nike+). While Garmin and Nike offer systems that record workout details, Adidas have opted to focus on the training plan. The miCoach is aimed at the recreational runner who isn’t fortunate enough to have a personal running coach.
The Adidas website is very accomplished and offers a wide range of training plans, such as preparing to race, improving race time, losing weight etc. I’m quite a way off my next planned event – the Great North Run in Sept so I’ve set myself off on the “Be Fit” plan and will progress to the half marathon schedule in early summer.
The idea of the pacer is that it syncs with your online training plan and stores your scheduled workouts in its memory ready to relay to you on your run. The instructions are based around four coloured heart rate zones:
Blue – Easy Effort
Green – Medium Effort
Yellow – Hard Effort
Red – Maximal Effort
So a typical session might see the pacer instructing you to run in Blue zone for 2 mins before increasing to green zone for the duration and then ending in a cool down back in blue.
I have a very well spoken English lady talking to me and I think she has the level of interruption to my general thought process sorted. She gives me my instruction clearly then only butts back in to tell me that I’ve hit the relevant zone and need to maintain or to encourage me to either up or decrease the pace as appropriate. If I need more feedback I can press the central button on the pacer and she will inform me of pace, heart rate, distance etc.
The actual presentation event from Adidas was fairly disastrous. There were probably 15 people trying out the kit and almost all of us had a problem with the sensors failing to pick up. Seriously embarrassing for a product launch but I was decidedly grateful. I did one lap of the dreaded track and then got to quit as the gadget wasn’t working – result!
I had another go the next evening but the sensors still wouldn’t pick up. I have a feeling that the assorted parts got muddled up during setup and paired with the wrong pacers for the presentation day because it worked absolutely fine after I re-paired the sensors and pacer.
Part of the set up process required me to enter personal details such as height and weight. The weighing scales have been out of action for about a month so I haven’t been keeping an eye on myself. Hunting out new batteries revealed the full horror of a month long slide – 6 whole lbs of bad news.
The shock was so great that despite me being two cans of Stella down and it being just past bed time, I strapped the new gadget on and went out for the 12 minute assessment run round the mean streets of SW London.
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