Over the last 2-3 months I spent less time training, definitely less than I would have wanted – Covid got in the way … but all came back to normal (almost) with the start of 2021.
For me, one of the big motivators for sport is the data of my training sessions and that depends on the input. Since I’m lucky enough to have a number of devices that are very nice – Polar Vantage V2, Garmin Fenix 6X and Garmin Forerunner 945 – it easy to create a dilemma – should I use Garmin or Polar? I was tempted to buy an Oura ring as well, but both Garmin Fenix 6X and Polar Vantage V2 have acceptable to good sleep analysis, so I saved the Oura money for the next watch .. be it Garmin Fenix 7, Suunto (maybe) or even an update of my Stryd.
For the period of time I stayed inside, Polar had a slight advantage, since it not only measures the steps you make, but also takes into consideration any activity (indoor cycling for example or strength sessions) to count against your activity target (more details here) whereas Garmin is very efficient at counting steps, but that doesn’t help too much if you’re not outdoor or running and might demotivate you after several hours of intense indoor cycling.
During the Covid-19 sickness period, I grabbed the Fenix 6X because it measures the Body Battery (more details here) and that was nice. The recent on-device sleep analysis that Garmin released on Fenix 6 family of watches is pretty similar in results with the sleep score Polar provides and the accuracy is much improved.
I’m aware that in terms of features, Garmin wins hands down, but not all of those features are important for me (music, payment) – some are, but I can live without for a while (maps are good when running/cycling in unknown places or hiking) so I can always take the Vantage V2 for a ride and not miss that much the functions Garmin has (maybe the “Resume Later” sometimes). I use Polar OH1, Polar H10 for HR measurements (I won’t rely on oHR, even though I’d say that Polar wins here because of lightness and maybe it’s sensor size) and Stryd for distance, pace and power.
Polar Vantage V2 is a very nice looking watch (from my point of view), light and comfortable – now has most of the functions you’d like to have in a running watch. Because it lacks ANT+ (most probably is a software limitation and not a hardware one), it has some limits for cycling, but I can live with that as well. I enjoy it for the lightness, the look and the intuitivity of Flow web app. As nice as it is, Flow is not without flaws – it’s very limited in activity search, it has only running plans, no routes editor, no equipment tracking, pretty closed system – but has very good graphs.
In terms of GPS accuracy, the distance measured by the Vantage V2 is very close or identical to the one measured by the Stryd footpod and since I have a Stryd footpod, I’ll use that for distance/pace/power. The native running power support is a missed opportunity at Polar (unlike Coros), even the Vantage V2 can only have structure workouts defined on the mobile app, but not on the web app .. it feels like the Polar development team is (too) limited in size, they can’t maintain the feature sync between their own platforms – I presume (read hope), they will eventually bring it in the web app .. I was actually dreaming of even having training plans based on running power.
As for the Garmin Fenix 6X, it has all the features I could dream of .. cool stats, Threshold/FTP tests, Body Battery, multiple alarms(?!), long battery life, maps and navigation features … yes, it comes with a higher price but once you have it, you shouldn’t look around for anything else, right? It’s comfortable, I don’t mind wear it during night or running even if it’s close to double the weight of 945 or Vantage V2. As an outdoor watch, it has no rival … maybe Suunto 9 for Suunto fans (but the feature comparison doesn’t help the older S9), Grit X is not in my mind a real competition for Fenix when you can’t save your location or see your coordinates.
Tough choice when you like them both? Maybe for some, they may have an easy choice praising the qualities of one watch or the other … but I like them both (and actually there was a period when I wore them both).
The decision is that for the next 3 months, unless something important comes in the way, I’ll use only the Vantage V2 and register for a running plan from Polar. I started today with a Running Test, which was nice .. to setup the HR zones .. I’m a bit afraid of the zones, they seem low for me .. but I’ll try .. I’ll re-take the test regularly to accommodate any fitness level changes.
The Half Marathon Polar plan seems rather low volume, usually 5 hours of running in a week, which is not too much compared with other plans (for example 80/20 Half Marathon Level 2 plan from Matt Fitzgerald that I’ve used in the past has 5-7.5 hours of training per week). One nice thing is that you get also supportive activities in the plan as well and that comes handy.
I’ll probably write more about my journey and progress during the plan, next step would be the next Running test which I plan 3 weeks from now.