Polar and Garmin 2.0

As I’m getting closer to the next half marathon, I’m looking for “what’s next” in my training season. That’s also an opportunity to look to improve the solutions I used so far.

Until now (next week included) I followed a 80/20 plan from Matt Fitzgerald, operated through Final Surge. As a plan, that worked fine .. I’ll come back with details after the race next week, but so far, I’m happy with what I feel regarding the progress. That allowed me to get to know the Final Surge platform, which is nice and has some potential – especially if you’re looking at the beta interface for building/viewing the training calendar and structured workouts. There progress and analysis view still has room for improvement, because in this period I saw Polar Flow in action and that’s just simple and effective. It looks that Final Surge will eventually get there, but at this moment if I’d have to choose – Polar Flow would be my choice every day.

Now … what happens after next week?

I liked the 80/20 plans provided by Matt Fitzgerald, but those are not longer available on Final Surge (I could make some suppositions why, but I won’t comment) so the only way to access those is Training Peaks. Training Peaks is a great platform, with a good mobile app and a great integration with other platforms, especially Garmin’s Connect. So, with me having the Fenix 5X+, it would be great to buy a plan in Training Peaks and continue to use it. The progress data over time you could see on Connect is so limited, that I might commit to Training Peaks premium .. it’s kind of unfair to go to Runalyze or Strava to see if there is any progress on your effort … and please don’t suggest the VO2Max or Training Status report from Garmin Connect. Now that the Garmin Training API is live and adopted by Training Peaks (details here) the life becomes even more easier for users of Garmin gear but also subscribers of Training Peaks. The costs would be 50USD for the plan plus 120-240USD for Training Peaks premium per year, depending on your subscription type – yearly or monthly.

The other option would be to go purchase a Vantage V (I spotted some good prices on Amazon – 390 EUR), have faith that Polar will continue (and accelerate maybe?) to release their firmware updates and operate with Polar Flow. If I would have to use the plan from http://8020endurance.com/, I should translate that by hand in Flow and continue working with their season planner. I would still miss some features that are nice on Garmin – for example the maps, overall sturdiness of Fenix (sapphire glass), multiple alarms (?!) – but those are things you only need from time to time and only nice to have if your purpose is running a marathon (faster).

Garmin

Pluses

  • I already have the device
  • Multi-functional Fenix
  • Seamless integration with TP for 80/20 plans
  • Nice features for hiking and adventure

Minuses

  • 120-240USD/year for TP premium

Polar

Pluses

  • I like Vantage V supporting native power
  • Flow is very nice and intuitive – I like it very much
  • Nicer device for running
  • GPS tracks from Vantage (both V and M) looking better than Fenix 5X+

Minuses

  • I have to pay 390 EUR to purchase the Vantage
  • Some features are missing yet (Stryd calibration), the progress is not very fast
  • Flow is closed .. you have to define the 80/20 plan by hand – no way to import it

So basically, if Polar would add to Training API like capability in their Flow service, that would very much move the needle in their direction because a data geek like me wouldn’t have to pay for the analysis and planning part of his routine. Add to that the fact that after one year of having the same device, I feel a real interest to change it for something new .. be it from the same company or other – so far, I only purchased Garmin .. but that may change since I really liked Polar Vantage V (even with it’s shortcomings) and Suunto 9 (but there the platform is a mess and I have no idea when things will improve – I hope that Suunto does, but they should better communicate that).

So, it’s only 1-2 weeks now … we will see and comment 🙂

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

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