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The Timex Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 is a GPS-enabled watch that runners of all levels can use to log their workouts and measure their time, distance, heart rate and other useful training-related data. The Run Trainer 2.0 costs $180 (or $220, if you get a heart-rate monitor, too), which makes it cheaper than similar devices such as the TomTom Multi-Sport or the Garmin Forerunner 220. I used the Ironman for a few weeks and found it easy to use and especially useful for training, but perhaps too sophisticated for casual runners.
Overall Rating: 4.75/10
If you are a runner, or are training for a marathon, you'll probably get great use out of the Timex Ironman Run Trainer.
However, if you are a triathlete, or if swimming is a regular part of your workout, a multisport watch may be a better option. For casual runners, the Run Trainer can be motivating, but a simple and cheaper device, such as a fitness tracker, might be just as good.
The Ironman Run Trainer 2.0 is redesigned from its earlier versions to fit both men and women. I have a very small wrist and the watch looked quite bulky on me, but it was very light and comfortable. The watch comes with access to a free online training website, so you can review post-run maps and performance data. [Video: How to Get the Most from Wearable Devices]
The watch was easy to read and interact with. Its display is large, and has backlight for nighttime use — I found I could read it in all light conditions. There are five buttons placed around the display, and I could easily reach and press them while running. The watch can also be programmed to automatically pause if you've slowed down, or, start a new lap or split at your preselected intervals, so you don't have to press a button every time.
The Run Trainer is water-resistant, so you can wear it while swimming. Most alerts can be set to make the watch vibrate.
Although a quick-start guide is provided with the watch, I found it a bit difficult to find more detailed information about using my particular device on the website. I also had to look around to find the right software to download onto my computer. (The program you need is called Device Agent, and I actually needed to download an update as well, to upgrade the software for my watch.)
Working with the software didn't come naturally to me, probably because of its old-fashioned design. While doing a simple task, such as transferring the data from my first workout from the watch over to my computer, I encountered several alerts and error messages. I was a bit disappointed that all that didn't just happen automatically. These glitches could be especially annoying because after every 15 workouts, you have to transfer the data from your workouts over to your computer, in order to free up space on the watch.
However, after getting used to how the software looks and feels, this wasn't a big problem.
Device Agent then syncs with an online training site, such as TrainingPeaks,and sends your saved workouts there. I found the site much more user-friendly and easier to navigate than the software.
Generally, the information provided in the quick-start guide was enough to get the watch going, especially if you have experience with other similar devices. But if you want to use all the features and don't have patience for trial and error, it's best to study the detailed online user manual first.
Value of Information: 5.5/10
For athletes in training, a GPS-enabled device will provide more precise measurements than a regular activity monitor that uses accelerometers to track movements. When I was training outdoors, the Run Trainer didn't have any trouble connecting to the satellite. You can't use the GPS if you train indoors, but the watch can wirelessly connect to a Foot Pod Sensor (sold separately) to track your speed, distance and other data points.
The Run Trainer lets users time workouts or train in intervals, and provides a lot of data that can be invaluable for training, including split and lap time; pace; cadence (the number of strides per minute); speed; distance; and heart rate (if you're using a Timex heart-rate monitor).
The watch has three screens that show your workout data in real time, and each screen has two or three fields. You can configure each screen to display whichever data you want, including pace, distance and time. Once you stop and save the workout, you can review summary data for the entire workout, as well as data about each individual lap.
Syncing the workout data on the computer and with online training sites allows you to review your workouts. I tried TrainingPeaks, but the Ironman is compatible with several other online training sites as well, including MapMyRun, Endomondo and Strava.
The watch also allows you to set upper and lower limits for heart rate, speed, pace and cadence, and will sound an alert when you are outside your range. This is particularly useful for people training for a marathon who might want to precisely monitor their speed and pace.
The watch can also be used to alert you to drink or eat at certain time intervals. Although I didn't use this feature a lot, it may be helpful for people training for long hours or running marathons.
The watch doesn't do much for swimming, other than to time the workout, which is possible with simpler devices, too. [Best Fitness Tracker]
I had some difficulty getting the Run Trainer up and going, but once it was set up, I started to enjoy using it and felt motivated to improve my time.
I also found it interesting to have access to this much data at once, and to be able to see all the different stats about my workouts.
Editor’s Note: In February 2015, we changed the rating system we use in our health tech reviews from a 5-star system to a 10-point system. Not all of our ratings were a straight conversion (i.e. 2/5 stars = 4/10 points). Instead, we adjusted some of them in order to give our readers a better idea of how these devices perform in relation to each other.
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