Adidas miCoach Mobile Review and the Wandle Trail

I had a Wandle Trail run penciled in for today.

I would have very much liked to rub that plan out considering I’ve barely recovered from last weekends 10 mile hair cut run but dedicated half marathoners can’t relax on long slow run day.

You won’t know anything about that 10 mile haircut run as I’ve been too idle to blog about it but basically I went to get my hair cut at my old local, ran home along the Capital Ring, it rained heavily, it was a long way and it hurt, a lot. There it’s blogged.

Today’s challenge was to find the start of the Wandle Trail and run along it until I found a Rose and Crown pub where I could sit and phone for a recovery vehicle. I also wanted to try out and review the new offering from Adidas miCoach – the Adidas miCoach mobile, a free GPS powered app for the iPhone.

I’ve already tried the Adidas miCoach Pacer and was really impressed with the gadget and the associated website with its highly sophisticated training plans. It’s the training plans that set this gadget apart from the competition such as Garmin and Nike+ and the great thing about the miCoach mobile is that it piggy backs all this existing technology.

So you download the free app from iTunes, and link it to your Adidas miCoach account. If you haven’t got one of those yet then go online and get one – it’s free. There’s a little bit of set up to work through and you then get to select your training plan and coaching method. The coaching method is either heart rate based or pace based, I have both options as I have the mobile app and the pacer gadget but mobile only users can only use the pace option.

Back to the iPhone. Having set up your online account and chosen your training plan you can connect to your account via the app and then sync. All of your scheduled workouts will be available along with any custom workouts you’ve set up.

Ideally you would start with an assessment run that will enable the system to accurately assign your pace ranges to the 4 coloured zones used by the miCoach. I’ve found that the assessment is most accurate if you can attempt it on a treadmill, mainly because it is so hilly in my location that its hard to organise a gradual progression in effort. You can also set your pace zones manually which is the option I went for.

The training plans are brilliant but the race related plans aren’t quite geared up for the slow pokes like me. I initially opted for the “Run a Race – 1/2 Marathon Plan” but the longest run never got beyond 90mins which would only just got me over the 6 mile mark. I fiddled the system by selecting the Full Marathon plan and then jiggling the schedule around in the calendar (all carried out online). This has proved perfect for me and today’s run neatly fitted in with the 2:45 scheduled workout.

Having selected the workout you then get to fine tune the coaching environment.

I selected the voice coaching to be Instructional, which is the minimal option, only guiding me into the appropriate zone at the start of each section. The Full option would alert me every time the pace fell outside the desired zone and as it says in the guide this isn’t recommended in built up areas where the GPS accuracy can be a bit patchy.

If you want to listen to your iPod while running you have to select a playlist. I was initially disappointed by this as I like to listen to audiobooks and it didn’t seem to want to let me choose one of these. Then I discovered that you can now create your own playlists directly though the iPod app – this has probably been allowed for ages but I’d never noticed and yet it had always been high on my wishlist. Anyway I digress. Point is, I set up a new playlist with my chosen book – in this case the last hour of The Whole Day Through by Patrick Gale and then the start of The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

So, I found the start of the Wandle Trail, actually the end of the River Wandle at the point it meets the Thames, and pressed go on the Adidas miCoach mobile app and the Garmin Forerunner 310XT. The next 3 miles were fairly uninspiring as I wiggled across fairly built up streets, zigzagging across the Wandle but rarely along it.

The miCoach mobile performed well and matched the Forerunner fairly closely but all that stopped when we reached Colliers Wood and the route started along the river proper. Here the tree cover became dappled and then dense. The miCoach lady got a bit wobbly and started informing me of my km splits every 4 minutes or so. The Forerunner stuck to the truth – a regular but pitiful 8:30 min/km pace.

So unfortunately that miCoach mobile proved to be somewhat inaccurate for me. By the time I reached the fabled Rose & Crown 2hrs 18 mins later the Forerunner read 14.79km while the miCoach suggested I’d run a whopping 18.48km. I’m not going to hold this against the app though. It must surely be a feature of the less robust GPS gadgetry of the iPhone and maybe wouldn’t be a problem for people who run in less built up or covered areas.

Did I mention that miCoach mobile is free? I think it’s a remarkable offering from Adidas, they’ve taken a very accomplished gadget/website combination and done away with the need to buy the £100+ gadget (ie the miCoach Pacer). Generous or nuts?

Either way it’s a winner and I highly recommend it.

4 thoughts on “Adidas miCoach Mobile Review and the Wandle Trail

  1. Ross @ RunTheLine

    Sounds like a great gadget but I guess the only catch for despicable Blackberry owners like myself is that we have to go out and buy an Iphone…well I have been wanting one for a while now… 🙂

  2. Abhay

    It is free for Blackberry as well. I use it for my daily 30 minute jogs and it works fine.

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