A fine gadget " if only I could make it work
August 27, 2008
The problems with the Polar RS800G3 heart rate monitor and GPS started before I even ran with it.
Inexplicably, the instruction manual had been written for those who purchased the entire four-piece RS800 system, even though my “multisport” package just had three pieces. After an extensive search, I finally figured out that the stride sensor was an extra $140 purchase ” on top of a $450 expenditure for the stuff I already had.
The case of the Missing Stride Sensor was followed by The case of the Heart Rate Monitor that would not work. Apparently the very fussy battery must be inserted in exactly the right way. After several days of trying to figure out what was wrong, I finally had to swallow my pride and plead with my husband for help. And he figured it out in about 5 minutes flat, by carefully studying the tiny indents in the plastic.
So far I was not impressed.
But after running with the RS800G3 for a few weeks now, I have to admit I’m starting to love it. How could I not? Getting this much feedback about myself is kind of addictive.
The system uses a combination of GPS and heart rate technology to tell athletes, among other things, how hard they’re working, how far they’ve gone and how many calories they’ve burned. It’s a heart rate monitor on steroids.
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Apparently, runs can also be planned on a computer and then downloaded to the watch. Actual workout data can then be uploaded back to the computer to graph the planned workout week against the actual week. But here the whole technology thing fell apart for me again.
The infrared system that was supposed to transfer information between the watch and my computer never worked. And when I tried to upload the software from a CD, my computer told me that the non-compatible program could crash my computer now or in the future. I gave up. But if it actually worked, it could be cool.
A brief note here in defense of running computers in general. I agree that the beeping is annoying, the constant crawl of numbers can be distracting and the whole thing holds the possibility of becoming way too serious for an allegedly “fun” activity.
But I like them for one reason: They keep me honest, especially when I’m out on trails, which I generally am. If you’re the kind of person who always runs 10 miles at medium speed when you want to, more power to you. Personally, I find I’m way too optimistic when I’m training. I’m more likely to run seven miles slow, then later wonder why the race I’m training for went so badly.
Perhaps a smarter person would have seamlessly navigated the RS800G3 technology, but I think the Ipod has demonstrated that all technology is best when it is idiot-proof.
Polar is on the right track, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their RS800G3 is the heart-rate monitor of the future. But when I use a heart-rate monitor, I want the running to be hard, not the technology.