Product Review: TomTom Runner Cardio GPS Watch

I’ve always been a Garmin girl and have a 405CX and an Edge 500 for my road bike. But after having my baby I found that with the issues I had with my wrists that the 405cx was way too heavy on my wrist – actually to the point of hurting and becoming really uncomfortable so I started looking for a new watch.

RunStopShop came to my rescue and asked if I would like a TomTom Runner watch. I wasn’t 100% sure as to be honest I hadn’t really heard about TomTom as a running watch – more for their GPS – but I figured both TomTom and Garmin now do both so maybe they were ok.

I looked up some reviews and they were good so I said yes to RunStopShop and my watch arrived in the mail. It came in a  fancy plastic cube box and I loved the colours – red and black and it looked kind of cool with its square shape rather than a boring circular face!

Set Up

TomTom Runner watch - The Girl that Runs
The watch arrived with a small cradle that you plug in and into your computer to charge. Very small and compact.

The set up was pretty straight forward. I literally took the watch out of the box, plugged in the charger to the back of my computer , went to the TomTom sports site and then a wizard took me through everything and I set up my account/watch entering my height, weight etc etc. Then ready to use – how simple is that!

TomTom Runner watch - The Girl that Runs
The packaging is kind of cool. I was very excited when it arrived.

Useability

One thing I love about this watch is there is an optical sensor so no need to wear a heart rate monitor strap which is a definite plus. I used to chafe and find the heart rate strap really uncomfortable especially being a woman and wearing a running crop top or bra.

You simply put the watch on and it measures everything in one go. The downside I guess is if you like to wear your watch loose – you can’t really as for the Heart rate Monitor to work it needs to be tight on the wrist so no light is exposed. When you are ready to run you literally click the button to the right – choose whether it is treadmill or run (outside) and away you go – very simple.

I am not one for massively over complicated especially when I got caught out a few times in races with my Garmin and ended up either spending half the race trying to sort my watch out or not having any splits etc or knowing my time –  as I left the watch and got on with running.

The strap itself on the watch takes a few goes to get it right as it has little holes that you slot the clip into but I am used to it now. It hasn’t given my wrists any major grief so far unlike my 405cx.

Functions

When running you can set up the watch in a number of ways. You can choose for example to run a certain distance or to burn a number of calories off and it will then vibrate when you are 50% through, 90% through and 100% done which would be handy when wanting to run a certain distance or a race (although not all races are 100% the distance they advertise!

You can also set the watch up to race a route that you run regularly so you know if you are faster/slower than last time – a little bit similar to Garmin’s Virtual Trainer. I don’t tend to use things like that.

When running with the watch you can flick through easily to see information such as distance gone, calories, heart rate and pace which is great. I used to get so paranoid touching my 405cx as it was so sensitive whereas this is all a simple button that you press down so not much chance of messing it up.

The stats that the watch records is basic such as heart rate, distance

Stats from TomTom Cardio Runner - The Girl That Runs
The stats on the TomTom app are not that comprehensive but you can sync with Strava and MapMyFitness which gives a lot more detail. It depends how much information you want.

Accuracy

The GPS part of the watch is very accurate and it all syncs with Map My Fitness or Strava as well as TomTom Sports app – their app though to be honest is quite poor in terms of stats so I use Map My Fitness/Run and it gives lots of comprehensive information including elevation, route, heart rate, even lets me pick which trainers I have run in and I can decide to retire them when I have run a fair few kilometres in them. Please note I did pay for a Map My Fitness upgrade which I’d recommend as you don’t get access to much with the free version.

I did used to like Garmin Connect but using Map My Fitness/Strava is not massively different and when I used to wear my Garmin I always used to bring it together under Strava anyway so I am not really that fussed. My running friend (Shaun) couldn’t believe I was leaving Garmin – I’ll get over it! Using a third party app like MapMyFitness really makes it easier.

The treadmill side of the watch as with most watches that monitor indoors is not 100% accurate and most runs it has been .10-.20 out in terms of distance so my treadmill might say 8.20 and my watch says 8.05km but this was an issue for me when I had a Nike Plus many moons ago but the thing I like about the TomTom is I can calibrate after every treadmill run and it works it out. So before ending the run and switching off I go to pause, then down to calibrate and enter the distance it says on the treadmill and it sorts itself out which is great otherwise it would be very frustrating.

Conclusion

I do love this watch and I use it in every training session now. It took a while to get used to it and the strap but I’m all good now. I like the fact that it is easy to navigate and easy to flick through when running. The Tom Tom app itself isn’t great but it;s good that it sync with external programs such as MapMyFitness. The price is reasonable at $345 (as at 21 Feb on RunStopShop – and you can get up to 15% off your order ! – see the tag on the right hand side of the page) and I like that I don’t need to wear a separate heart rate monitor so this device gets my thumbs up.

Pro’s

  • No need for a heart rate monitor strap
  • Great price
  • Easy watch face – easy to see your stats and to flick through whilst on the go
  • Compatible with Strava and Map my Fitness and gives good stats
  • Easy to set up and to start training with
  • You can change the straps and buy new colours if you are into that sort of thing
  • Fairly lightweight to wear

Cons

  • You can’t really use the watch as a regular heart rate monitor without starting a treadmill or run session which some people might find annoying. It’s not a big deal but this watch is not a watch with a heart rate monitor it is a lot more.   You could do it by clicking on treadmill session and seeing what the HR is whilst having it on pause but I wouldn’t buy it if you are solely after a heart rate monitor that you can check throughout the day – this is more for running and getting results back not just for HR. Go and buy an activity monitor like the Loop, Fitbit, Vivo etc with the heart rate strap if thats what you are after.
  • Has to be very snug on the wrist for the Heart Rate Monitor to wear which some people might not like if you like to wear your watch loosely.

p.s make sure you buy the right watch as there are some cheaper versions of this watch without the optical heart rate monitor and you’d need to buy a strap for that additionally.

Please note this review is my own personal opinion and I was not paid for writing this. I try to keep my reviews honest and open and if you have any questions please feel free to contact me. 

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