The Scosche myTrek Running Gadget Review

Scosche myTrek Armband

Scosche myTrek is a wireless pulse monitor that works in combination with the myTrek app on your iPhone or Android smartphone.

The full package enables you to set training plans and receive verbal motivation based on target heart rate zones, record your route using the phone’s in-built GPS and then seamlessly publish your efforts on assorted social media sites.

At the moment I keep a manual record of runs and rowing sessions on one of my iPhone tracking logs but the actual data is scattered across an assortment of sites such as garmin connect, nike+ and concept2. I am attracted to the notion of linking my fitness gadgets to my iPhone, I like the idea of all my data and stats being held in one place and therefore easily accessible but unfortunately I don’t think the smartphone is ready for this level of integration yet.

The Scosche myTREK armband is a comfortable contraption that straps around your forearm and doesn’t require any additional wires or chest bands, the pulse is picked up from the sensor on your arm. Linking the Scosche myTrek to my iPhone via the bluetooth connection was easy and so was the set up of the myTrek app. The pulse picked up immediately and the beat and pattern appeared convincing while still at rest. When I moved around the pulse trace became quite erratic but the displayed pulse rate matched that recorded by my Garmin Forerunner.

My first exercise session was not very successful. I had the band attached and confirmed that the pulse was being picked up ok, then pressed the start workout button, wrapped the iPhone in the armband and strapped it out of sight under my t-shirt sleeve. At this point I’d wasted a good couple of minutes with pre-run faffing but the myTrek app was recording it all, or at least I thought it was.

Eventually the exercise got under way but I didn’t get any feedback and I couldn’t see anything as the iPhone was wrapped up and rather inconveniently placed on my upper arm.

When I stopped the run and checked the output I discovered that neither the GPS or pulse monitor had recorded anything – it was just a glorified stopwatch.

I really don’t know what happened but it does highlight a flaw in the design – it’s quite tricky to use a sports tracker without easily being able to view any of the stats while exercising.

I had more success on my second attempt and the voice over gave me enough indication to assure me that it was working – it beeped at me quite regularly to inform me that my heart rate was too high!

Overall I would have to say that I was not terribly impressed. If I wanted the option of verbal feedback on motivation to complete a specific training program then I would prefer to use the Adidas miCoach pacer option which is a beautifully executed device with an excellent website. If I was more interested in the data recording and GPS mapping functionality then I would go for the Garmin every time. Phone based GPS devices are too flawed, the GPS quality is rarely as good as you’ll find in a GPS specific watch and the phone battery is drained at an unacceptable rate. My current Garmin is the Forerunner 310XT but for the same price of the Scosche myTrek you could invest in the highly regarded Garmin Forerunner 110 GPS sports watch.

Where the Scosche myTrek scores highly is the social network aspect. It does make it extremely easy to share workouts to facebook and twitter and that is the joy of a networked device. The Nike+ sportband has social networking down to a fine art but you still have to connect the gadget to your computer first with the myTrek app you can complete your workout and tell the world within seconds.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with the Scosche myTrek – let me know if you’ve tried it out.

Swallowed a Fly

I didn’t entirely swallow it, mores the pity. It lodged in my throat and wriggled or fluttered as semi-masticated flies have a tendency to do.

This was 4k into the “5k Your Way” event for council and PCT employees. It had gone fairly well up til that point, I had pootled along in a resolutely non-walking fashion for the whole distance until the fly dragged me coughing and retching to my knees. I hate 5k events, they always drive me to nausea.

Work organised events are a bit dangerous I think. Six of us signed up for the event but by D-Day 50% had succumbed to some kind of lurgey or injury and had called in sick. It came very close to being a 66.67% sick rate but I needed to test the calibration of the miCoach.

I’d programmed the miCoach to maintain green zone for the 5k distance. I set off a little too keenly trying to keep up with my colleagues and despite dropping back to my usual crawl within the first minute, my heart obviously never recovered. The little pacer just repeated “slow down to green zone” for the duration. That’s quite a satisfying phrase when you’re racing.

The km markers were a little off towards the end of the race but as the parkrun team were involved in the organisation I can only assume the overall route was an accurately marked 5k distance.

The Nike+ sportband recorded an optimistic 5.35km but the miCoach recorded 4.99km and came out the winner in the first head to head test over a known distance. I’m still harbouring doubts but I think I will put them away and just enjoy the running until I find another opportunity to challenge the gadgets.

Foot Pods at Dawn

It was closer to dusk but the effect was similar – one large, brightly coloured woman trogging down the street with three foot pods attached to her shoes, two watch-like gadgets on her wrists and an iPhone and miCoach pacer bound to her upper arm. I probably looked like a heavily wired suicide bomber, good job I kept clear of the tube stations.

The miCoach pacer has given my running a whole new lease of life, I’ve been out 5 times this week and I’ve even canceled my gym membership as I seem happy enough to run outside now that I have some audible support. If I keep up this level of enthusiasm for two months it would have paid for itself already.

So my feelings are strong for this new gadget but I can’t help feeling a little disgruntled with its accuracy. Hence the head to head foot pod test, pitting the Nike+ Footpod against the Garmin Forerunner FR60 and the Adidas miCoach Pacer.

Here’s the Adidas miCoach output, which is very pleasing to the eye. This particular chart is showing my heart rate against time with the scheduled HR zones overlaid. I was supposed to stay in blue zone for the first and last 5 minutes with a 30 minute stint in green zone. Blue is such a hard zone to stick to, it’s a tiny bit too high for walking but too low for running so I end up running for a minute then walking – hence the zig zags. Green is a lot more comfortable.

The middle dip in the chart occurs because the pacer declared it had temporarily lost contact with the footpod. Although she encouraged me to carry on while she re-scanned I decided to dither on the spot, I was in the middle of a controlled experiment afterall.

The final results from Adidas suggest I completed 5.38 km in 42 mins which is extraordinarily unlikely given that it included 10 mins walking time. The pace image at the top of the chart says 05:36 min/km which must also be tosh. I never run at that pace and it also doesn’t equate to 5.38 km over 42 mins. So something wrong here. Still, I don’t know why I’m complaining, the doobury wotsit tells me to slow down with every step and then declares that I’ve set a blistering pb pace – result!

The Nike+ Sportand is a no-nonsense beast. It consistently performs, it’s cheap and I can’t help thinking its pretty accurate as well. Shame the stats are so painfully naff. How awful is that chart? The axes aren’t labeled, its been smoothed beyond recognition and its ugly.

The Nike+ recorded a distance of 4.76 km over the 42 min run.

Here’s the pace output from the Garminn Forerunner FR60. You would normally also have heart rate info overlaid but I thought it would be a bit overkill to have two heart rate straps on.

The Garmin footpod recorded the shortest distance of the bunch at 4.41 km.

So there was a huge variation in distance recorded:

Garmin FR60 – 4.41 km
Nike+ Sportband – 4.76 km
Adidas miCoach – 5.38 km

Without testing this on a defined route I can’t be sure which is the most accurate but my suspicions based on the fact that I am at my heaviest in ages and also my unfittest is that it won’t be the miCoach. I did map my route on google maps and it came out at 5.22 km which I also don’t believe.

If I needed any more evidence that the miCoach pacer was a little unreliable, here’s the pacer chart from the same run. It looks like a bar code and bears no resemblance to how the run felt to me. It should be directly comparable to the Garmin offering above but obviously isn’t. Perhaps its just teething problems or perhaps I have a dodgy footpod. The miCoach offering is still in its early days and I would expect their to be software enhancements that may improve this sort of output, perhaps it requires a tiny bit more smoothing?

There’s nothing else left to do so I’ve gone and signed myself up for a 5 km race in Regents Park. I’ll take all 3 gadgets out on another outing and calibrate them properly.

Adidas miCoach Assessment

I step out of my door and find myself mid way up the Col du Norbury. The hill has already wrecked my bike and now it has scuppered my first miCoach assessment.

The assessment requires you to start walking and then gradually work your way up the effort scale from 4 to 9. 9 being just shy of a myocardial infarction. With this hill I have to pop glyceryl trinitrate under my tongue within about 10 secs and my heart rate profile shows the undesired angina spike.

So the assessment was unsuccessful in amending my heart rate zones and I had to stick with the default settings for Day 1 of the “Be Fit” plan.

This was an interval session, requiring me to move through Blue, Green and Yellow zones. As you can see from the workout chart I really struggled to hit the easy effort blue zone. The hill broke me to start with but even on the flat I found I had to walk quite slowly to get my heart rate low enough to keep the posh lady happy.

Yesterday I went to the gym to work through a second assessment workout under the controlled conditions of the treadmill. That resulted in a successful output and my zones have now been amended to something more useful. Blue zone has been increased by about 10 bpm and hopefully that will enable me to actually run in my next workout – we’ll see tomorrow.

Both Garmin and Adidas claim that the foot pod sensor is somewhere close to 97 – 98% accurate out of the box.

I’m wearing the miCoach pod within a specially designed cavity in the Adidas Ride shoe which should ensure it is optimally placed for accuracy, but something is going wrong somewhere. The treadmill recorded a distance of 1.2km versus the miCoach pacer recorded distance of 1.6km. That is a huge discrepancy but as yet I don’t know if the treadmill is dodgy or the miCoach sensor.

I have 3 other foot pod running gadgets available (Garmin Forerunner FR60 and Nike+ Sportband) so tomorrow I put them head to head in a distance comparison. Of course that won’t enable to see which is the most accurate unless I run them on a reliably known distance (like one of those grotty running tracks) but it will give me an idea of the variation. Perhaps then I can schedule in a long overdue visit to the Wimbledon Park Run to calibrate it against the 5km route.

Nike Humanrace and Waterlogged Gadgets

Saturday evening, after entertaining my family with a slightly charred roast lamb joint but a perfectly acceptable bottle of vino (or two), I get an email from Nike. Apparently, if I could resurrect the long dead Nike+ Sportband, and push my sorry arse out of the door, complete with Sunday morning hangover, to complete a 10k of my choosing, I would soon be the proud owner of a freebie Nike Humanrace t-shirt.

Hard to resist a freebie t-shirt, so I left my visitors to rustle up their own breakfast and arranged to meet them in Kew Gardens approx 1hrs 20mins later.


Lovely day for running, providing you don’t have a pointy head or too much body jewellery.

I have a particularly round head and enjoy running through electrical storms and downpours but I was surprised to see quite so many other water babies running along the river. I searched for signs of commitment to the global humanrace but saw none, it seems that some folk don’t need freebies to run.

3 months on the sub-bench allowed the Nike+ Sportband to dry out sufficiently for me to read the screen again, but I thought it prudent to spin the screen round to the underside of my wrist to provide a little water protection. Pity I didn’t do the same for the garmin forerunner 405!

A few weeks ago I had a comment on my forerunner 405 review, warning me of short-circuiting type responses when the garmin bezel gets wet. Apparently a few reviewers had commented on the bezel bleeping and flicking through screens randomly when exposed to water or sweat. I was quick to reject that the forerunner 405 had a problem but I should have kept my mouth shut.

Running through this downpour left my watch bleeping like crazy as I tried to stop the timer and move it off the training mode. In the end I had to wait for it to run out of battery life to switch off. Serious design flaw here.

I’ve had the forerunner 405 for a few months now and as it’s pretty much rained non-stop throughout the whole of summer, I find it hard to believe that I didn’t notice the problem earlier. I’m wondering if it could possibly be related to the recent firmware I downloaded – doesn’t really sound like a software issue but I’ve upgraded to the latest update just in case.

Nike+ Sportband Dies

Nike+ Sportband

The Nike+ Sportband is clearly not designed for use in British weather conditions, after this mornings run in the rain the watch has died on me. It was admittedly tipping it down but it’s supposed to be a running watch and runners run in the rain, they have to.

The screen has clouded up with condensation and half the display seems to have disappeared.

It’s quite a shame really as I enjoyed the motivating aspect of the online challenges. Oh well, at least it frees up another wrist.

Afraid of my Shadow

Smack talk from the direction of JogBlog had me climbing out of my pyjamas and into my running shoes, ready to head out into the cold wet night.

I thought a quickish blast around the block would be sufficient to stop her thinking I was anywhere close to slacking off yet, and also I could use it as an opportunity to calibrate the Nike+ sportsband which keeps coming in short.

Heading towards the level crossing I couldn’t summon up enough of a sprint to beat the descending gates so had to take a sharp left and run up along the tracks. For calibration purposes you have to maintain a steady pace, so no hanging around waiting for trains.This curtailed route took me too close to my flat to ignore and as my own shadow was giving me the heeby jeebies I thought it was time to go back to bed.

Total distance, a whopping great 1.34 km and over that piddling distance the Nike+ and garmin decided to agree for once. They must be sniggering behind my back!

Warriorwoman vs Jogblog 100m Challenge Combo
10.2 miles total

Utility Run

I’m supposed to be off work at the moment on study leave but it may as well be called gardening leave as I’m spending all my time on the allotment. Today I thought I’d make my non-studying day a little bit more productive by running to the plot and I’m glad I did as it brought me and the sportband just that little bit closer.

As usual I left the house with both wrists laden with super sporty gadgets but the garmin was playing me about big time. I was walking down the street exceedingly slowly but it was still taking an age sighting satellites. As I passed WHSmith I got bored and nipped in to see if they had anymore veg growing gazettes that I hadn’t yet read.
They hadn’t.
I went back out and the flippin garmin started back from scratch scanning the skies. A couple of minutes later, after numerous elderly folk had stood on the backs of my heels I decided it was time to start running – the gps would just have to run along behind me.

500m later the garmin beeped at me and asked if I was actually inside! I switched it off – power to the people! I was only running 2k so I couldn’t afford 10 mins at the start just to capture data, I could have walked it in that time.

No such nonsense from Nike+ Sportband. Just switch on, walk, press start – RUN.

My new discovery, the bit that makes me almost love the sportband, is all down to Buckeye. The training log over there on the righthand sidebar is driven by buckeyeoutdoor and if you have a blog you owe it to yourself to register and get yourself a widget – just look how cool it is! They’ve set up a Nike+ challenge and if you join that and then enter your Nike+ username in your profile, all your runs get automatically uploaded. In this day and age where I seem to be uploading my stats to about a million trillion different online logs, that sort of convenience is just impossible to resist.

Nike+ Sportband

Nike+ Sportband

I’ve taken my time to write this post because I’m not sure whether to come clean about my sins or to attempt a bluff.

Nike+ Sportband

I was sent the Nike+ Sportband to try out at the beginning of the week but as I don’t have holes in my running shoes I couldn’t possibly go running before I had some hi-tech means of carrying my speed sensor – you wouldn’t catch me putting gaffer tape on my Kayanos unlike Joggerblogger and Jogblog.

The little thingammy pouch that I ordered from ebay arrived just before I left for work on Wednesday though, so I pretty much had no choice but to pack my bags and prepare for an enforced running commute.

My first impressions of the strap weren’t great, I wondered why Nike would design the watch to have a ridiculous piece of plastic wedged underneath the usb face. It angled the watch and meant I kept catching it on my sleeve. Thankfully I spotted the photo of joggerbloggers sleak sportband before I went out in public, the plastic bit is meant to be thrown away! Moron. Now I’m wearing it as a watch although I have to ask the person sitting next to me to read it as I haven’t got used to deciphering the vertical numbers and the screen is too dark but I still think it looks cool.

Anyway, back to the running.

When I left the house it was chucking it down so I packed the long sleeve top again, of course when I left work it was flippin scorching and just to ensure that I got heat stroke at the edge of a deserted canal I left the building with my empty water bottle in hand. With no means of re-entering the building I had to set off sans hydration system – bollox!

3 seconds later the Sportband is telling me to start walking but the garmin is persistently ignoring my request to locate my position. I can’t start walking now or the garmin will have a paddy fit. By the time the gps picks up the Nike system has gotten bored and gone back into clock mode, who can blame it?

I was feeling hot, sweaty and lethargic so I pretty much ignored both gadgets for the first 4k as thoughts vacillated between diving in the canal and diving in the canal. When I entered Brentford I headed straight for the nearest shop where I knocked back a bottle of water before I reached the till and handed over 90p for an empty bottle of plastic.

I set off again but now thoughts were of cool beers, enjoyed by the rivers edge. As I’ve never been known to resist the lure of beer and I was just about to reach the Thames river bank, I rather shockingly dived into the next shop and came out with a can of Stella. Now beer can’t be shaken so I paused both gadgets while I wandered down to the river. I thought I’d just enjoy my can and then carry on with the run.

Oh baaaaad runner! I thought it would be rather pleasant sitting with my legs dangling in the river enjoying a refreshing brew but the reality was rather seedy. I’m clearly a runner – running clobber and shoes, beetroot face and sweat, not one but two running watches and headphones in ear, only I’m walking and not just walking, this is no-good can swigging bum walking. About 300 hundred proper runners came past me in and in the end I realised I wasn’t enjoying this whole cool beer thing and tipped it all away.

Art is Not a Crime

Running was pretty tricky from here on in, 300m run, huge gasp, hands to temples and then walk for 1km – repeat. Nice treat at the end as there was a new piece of graffiti on my steps. Not quite Banksy but it isn’t bad.

Painful but the Sportband faired pretty well.
Total garmin distance (running only): 5.78km
Nike Sportband distance (running only): 5.65km

No way of telling which was the most accurate but they were close enough to ensure that I’ll never bother calibrating the Nike Sportband.
Post run, the usb face automatically uploads (after inserting into the usb port of course) to the Nike+ website and displays whizzy graphs.

The Nike+ website is pretty good if you like online motivation. You can join no end of challenges to push you out of the door and it looks like the next Nike organised run will be a worldwide Nike+ only event. The sportband is a great way of a gaining entry to the event, its also got to be one of the cheapest available speed and distance monitors on the market.

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