There’s a nerdy side effect to getting fit. Training makes you obsessed with stats. How much do I weigh? How much have I lost? How many calories have I consumed? How many did I burn? What distance have I run? At what speed? What’s my fastest mile? The list goes on.
This desire to track our every move comes from the need to feel like we’re achieving our goals. We need benchmarks that say every day: “You are getting somewhere.” One of the most common reasons given, when people are asked why they gave up their new fitness regime, is that they couldn’t see any difference. We want instant gratification and if seeing our gut shrink instantly isn’t an option, we need help in other ways. Luckily technology has the answer.
In recent years we’ve seen a huge increase in fitness apps and super smart watches which track your every move and give you the tools to see how you’ve improved, hopefully. Timex’s first GPS-enabled watch to carry the Ironman name, the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Speed+Distance with Hear Rate, offers just that. But does it live up to the grandeur of its inordinately long name?
Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Watch: First impressions
The first thing you’ll notice about the Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS is that it’s a chunky looking watch. If you felt more generous you could say sturdy but whichever adjective you choose, this isn’t a watch you’d wear for normal daily use.
Set up is arduous. Unlike the Nike+ SportWatch GPS, this is not a device you can use without reaching for the manual. We had to consult the ‘Quick start guide’ for at least 45 minutes before we had the basics sorted and preferences set up.
In its defence the Global Trainer’s complexity is down to the sheer amount of functionality, customisation options crammed into this training computer. There’s far more statistical muscle and tracking capability to this than the Nike+ watch and most smartphone apps.
The main screen can be customised to display up to four data windows with an impressive selection of stats including pace, speed and distance.
Multi-sport mode gives you the power to track different activities like cycling and swimming and, if you’re a real ironman, you can even monitor your transitions between activities.
However, the buttons are unresponsive and, despite their size, we found that they were not that easy to use on the move, making it hard to move between screens.
One big advantage over the new, cheaper sport tracking apps is that the Timex Ironman is water resistant to 50m. Try taking your Android into an Olympic-sized pool and seeing how it copes.
You can store up to 20 workouts on the watch’s built-in memory and race against your past runs and routes, great for motivating you when you’re on the routes you run most regularly.
As with the Nike+ SportWatch we did have trouble getting the Timex to pick up GPS. Although we were testing in a built-up area there were occasions where we had to wait well over 10 minutes before the GPS kicked in.
The fact that you need a special charging USB cable that clips to the back of the watch is another mark against.
Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Watch: Online tracking
Just like the Nike+ and apps like Endomondo and RunTracker Pro, all you info can be uploaded to an online tracking tool via USB.
The Timex comes with one of the most in-depth online tracking tools we’ve come across so far, powered by Training Peaks. After a simple registration you get access to a suite of information and graphs that lets you plot and monitor every minor detail of your workout and performance. However, just like the watch, the amount of information here is to overwhelming to be useful.
Despite Timex’s claims that they’ve created a ‘thoughful and intuitive’ interface, there is a real lack of simplicity and usability. Even getting the information from the watch into the Training Peaks tool is cumbersome, requiring special software and a level of technical smarts that would alienate all but the most serious athletes.
If you’re not serious enough about your training to dedicate an hour to prepping your tech and managing the results, or you simply don’t need super fine performance data, then this is probably not the gadget for you.
Timex Ironman Global Trainer GPS Watch: The verdict
The Timex Global Trainer is a frustrating beast. On the one hand it offers one of the most comprehensive ranges of tracking information we’ve seen in a sports watch, with everything a serious athlete needs to fine tune their performance. On the other hand, having all that data hidden behind an almost impenetrable user interface on the watch and the online tracking tool means this isn't a tool for the casual runner.