A rechargeable, GPS-enabled run specific watch, USB charger/downloading clip, and a soft strap heart rate monitor (depending on which package you buy).
A better menu layout. A way to simply turn the watch off completely, a lap-pace data field, a vibrate alert, and a better backlight.
A good option for a relatively low priced GPS- enabled watch with a ton of features.
While the Timex Run Trainer is not technically designed for use as a multisport watch, we think it's a relevant addition to a triathlon review site.
What if you already have a GPS enabled cycling computer and just need/want a GPS watch for the run portion of your training and racing? Or maybe you are new to the whole multisport thing and just want an inexpensive GPS-enabled watch that can be worn in a race from start to finish and allow you to track your time, pace, speed, distance, HR, elevation etc. If that's the case, then the Run Trainer might be the way to go.
Since the Run Trainer does have the ability to go in the water, (basically functioning as a timer for splits) being water resistant to 50M, plus its ability to give simple bike data, it's not outside the realm of possibility that someone might use it as a multisport watch. There are of course better options for true multisport use, but it's worth mentioning from a triathlon standpoint.
We've been putting the Timex Run Trainer through the paces for quite some time now and we like the watch overall. The watch is highly customizable and allows a good bit of flexibility to get to the data you want to monitor from one workout to the next. You can customize settings directly on the watch itself or through the Timex Device Agent software (which is basically just TrainingPeaks software) depending on your personal preference, and how many buttons you want to push.
And speaking of buttons, the Run Trainer's buttons are nicely sized and pretty well laid out. The only problem we had with our sample was with occasionally getting the buttons to respond. This seemed to be most prevalent when scrolling through multiple pages of menus with the up/down buttons on the right side of the watch. That being said, the super sensitive buttons of the Global Trainer that we previously reviewed are not missed. We would like to see a watch somewhere in between the sensitivity of the Run Trainer and the Global Trainer as far as buttons go.
We also like the separate scrolling up/down arrow buttons on some of the other watches we have tested. It may be nitpicking, but several times when trying to navigate through the various menus we would accidentally hit the Start button and send the watch into Chrono mode since the down button is also the Start/Split button. It makes for less buttons on the watch, but the multifunction buttons are sort of a pain in the butt in our opinion.
The menu screens are easy to access, but we couldn't help feeling that they were cumbersome to navigate. Some of the settings felt buried and stashed away in strange layouts. Maybe it's just that we are primarily Garmin users, but we've used dozens of devices over the years, and the Run Trainer is not the most intuitive in our opinion. Even after several months of testing we found ourselves fumbling through multiple screens to find the setting we were looking for.
Many of the options, including the user specific settings are found in the Run Trainer's Configure mode. This is where you can set your specific zones, unit display preferences, recording intervals, data smoothing and some basic watch settings.
This is also the place to enter user specific settings like age, weight, and gender.
Like most devices these days the Run Trainer will let you customize a wide variety of settings and display options. Timex has included a boatload of options for displaying data to your heart's content. In fact, data display is probably the Run Trainer's strong suit, and Timex certainly didn't skimp on this area of the watch. The
Run Trainer will display:
-Heart Rate/Average Heart Rate
-Time of Day
The display screen itself is highly customizable to display data to your liking. You can display 3 or 4 lines of data with multiple pages to configure the display to fit your specific needs.
From there you can select which fields to display.
There's a "Run" display plus a couple of "Custom" screens that you can configure and toggle between allowing you to track and scroll through the various pages of data with a few presses of a button.
We preferred the 3 line setup due mainly to the larger text size that comes with that setting. The four line display is a bit small to read while you're running.
The one data field that seems to be mysteriously missing from the list is the lap-pace feature. This is one of, if not the most used pieces of data that we train with on a daily basis. We would gladly give up one of the more obscure data fields to gain a lap-pace field. You can of course use the Pace data field to get your current pace, but we much prefer to have that data over the current lap (or mile) in most cases.
This mode is where you'll spend the majority of your time when actually using the watch for tracking your activities. This is also where you set some of the specific settings for use in Chrono mode like display settings, Auto Start/Stop and Eat/Drink reminders. Not to harp on the menu layout but it seems like it would make more sense to put some of these settings in the Configure mode.
A feature that we found useful with the Timex Run Trainer for multisport use was the eat/drink reminder. This is one place where a vibrate feature would be a nice addition to the audible alarm, especially when you're fatigued.
It's really just a simple alarm that you can set at specific intervals to remind you to stay on top of your nutrition, but it's a nice addition that carried over from the Global Trainer.
The Timex Run Trainer uses the same SiRFstarIV™ processor that many other GPS enabled devices use. Our experience with this platform has produced consistent results in both acquiring and maintaining signal. Our sample watch produced results that were pretty much spot on in comparison to a number of other devices as far as accuracy is concerned.
Without a doubt one of the biggest improvements Timex made with this model is with the USB charging/downloading clip.
The new clip is much easier to use and and much easier to secure to the watch. The clip is similar to what Garmin watches use and is a huge improvement over what a watch like the Timex Global Trainer uses.
The Run Trainer's battery life is listed at 8 hours in full GPS mode. We found that to be pretty accurate in our testing as well, 7:39:24 is what we got out of our demo unit on a full charge.
As the overall size of the GPS watch decreases, it seems that the want or need to wear these watches as a regular daily watch increases. You could certainly wear this watch as a "daily driver" so to speak, but we've never found it necessary. If you feel the need to have a companion piece to your compression socks at the grocery store so that everyone knows you are an uber cool triathlete this watch is one of the more manageable in the size department.
The Run Trainer allows you to turn the GPS off giving the watch the ability to function as a normal watch while conserving battery power. With the GPS turned off, the watch will give you several weeks of battery life between charges. Personally, we would like to have the ability to just turn the watch off completely and conserve battery life (however minimal the savings may be).
A few shots in comparison to a couple other popular watches.
As you can see the Run Trainer is a bit smaller and a bit more mainstream looking.
The Run Trainer also supports a couple of ANT+ accessories, a heart rate monitor and an available foot pod. You can monitor your heart rate with any ANT+ heart rate strap, so if you already have one, there's no need to buy another. The new Timex soft strap is a comfortable option if you go that route.
Timex also sells a foot pod for tracking cadence, speed, and distance. Mainly useful for those indoor days on the treadmill or track where GPS signal is unavailable. The Run Trainer found and paired easily with compatible accessories in our testing.
The Run Trainer will allow you to store and review individual workouts on the watch. You can drill down and get basic info for each workout like time, splits, distance etc, but for any real detailed data you'll want to switch over to the computer. Timex uses TrainingPeaks for tracking and analyzing your activities. Transferring data is also an easy task with the Run Trainer. Once you install the Timex device agent software, any time you connect the watch to your computer the watch will be automatically detected and data can be transferred.
Another feature that we felt was not a particular bright spot with the Run Trainer is with regard to the Indiglo backlight. It not only lacks in brightness compared to other watches we've tested, it also lacks a setting to control the brightness and the time the backlight stays lit (only 3-4 seconds).
MSRP is $189 for the watch only and $229 for the watch/HRM package which is in line with the competition.
TriBomb Bottom Line
A solid entry for a GPS-enabled run specific watch. If you can deal with a somewhat cumbersome menu layout, and the lack of a few bells and whistles, the watch provides a wide variety of information across a multitude of data fields.