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    I'm a 20-something, recently married, runner who recently moved to New York City. Questions? Email therunnerwife (at) gmail (dot) com!

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7:35, what?

Now that I’m up and running again (ah, puns, love them. LOVE them.), I’ve been getting more acquainted with interval workouts. And even though, for the most part, it’s crazy hot here in NYC these days, I’ve tried to take a run or two out to the streets. But what’s a girl to do when her training plan demands she run a workout like this??

400m 7:35/mile
600m 7:40/mile
800m 7:45/mile
1200m 7:55/mile
800m 7:45/mile
600m 7:40/mile
400m 7:35/mile

First of all, let me just say I think these paces are absolutely absurd. Since when can I run at a 7:35/mile pace? Well, apparently I can. It’s not pretty, but I can do it!

Second, how am I supposed to gauge distance and pace when I’m outside? Several months ago, the Huz literally had to drag me away from the computer just seconds before I bought myself a Garmin. Um, hello, Katherine. You quit your full-time, cushy desk job back in April, remember? Let’s not go blowing hundreds of dollars on a watch, mmmkay? Truth be told, the money wasn’t the only issue. By all accounts, Garmins really aren’t great in NYC. Apparently the interference of all the skyscrapers and tall apartment buildings scrambles the GPS so it’s really only effective in Central Park, or along the rivers. And even then it can take a while to find signal. I don’t know about you, but when I’m staring at a training run like the one above, the extra 10 seconds I have to stand and wait for my watch to figure out where I am is more than enough time to turn me around and lead straight to the couch.

I could always just ignore the .75 miles to and from Central Park, but I have to say I like getting credit for ALL the running I’m doing. That mile and a half starts to add up after a while, too!

So, a Garmin was out of the question.

Suddenly I found myself on the hunt for a reputable running watch that tracked pace and time without GPS. I didn’t need a heart rate monitor or lots of bells and whistles. I just wanted something that would help me run that nasty interval workout without sneaking in extra seconds or, worse, extra distance! Sometimes I’m amazed by the power of the internet. In no time, I found Tech4o, a company that makes the exact watch I was looking for! And, even better, they agreed to send one to me to put through the training ringer. Hooray!!

Welcome home my beautiful, pink loveliness!

First off, I had to calibrate this watch. Similar to a basic pedometer, the watch needs to have a registered stride length. However, it records both a walking AND a running length, which is great for those of us who sometimes need to take a quick walk break (or have a rest interval between 400m dashes) and don’t want our pace or distance to be completely miscalculated. It also doesn’t require a foot pod or additional gear. I’ll admit, running and walking circles around the Central Park Reservoir ad nauseum didn’t really endear me to the watch, but it was a great excuse to get out and enjoy the scenery for about an hour. I can’t say how thankful I was for the meter and yard markers around the reservoir. Without a good track, the calibration would have been almost impossible!

I took this watch out for several easy runs and then decided to put it to the true test – a road race! The Mothers Day 4 miler seemed like the perfect opportunity so I strapped my iPhone around my arm, my Accelerator watch around my wrist and ticked off the miles marked along the course. Success!!

Official course distance: 4.0 miles
iPhone app recorded distance: 4.15 miles
Tech4o distance: 4.07 miles

I’ll take the .07 mile variation since I definitely wasn’t on the inside of the course for the duration.

Test #2 was the Japan Day 4 miler, a race with very different weather conditions and one that was run about three minutes slower.

Official course distance: 4.0 miles
iPhone app distance: 4.17 miles
Tech4o distance: 4.19 miles

Uh oh! I think this race demonstrated the limitations of a stride-based pacing watch. Because I was running so much slower (thank you 80% humidity), my stride was shorter. The watch still registered the movement as running, but assumed I was striding out to the length I usually ran. Oops! The good news is that I took my pink princess out for a repeat of the course later that week and ran it at my more natural stride and it was right back on track. It even properly tracked the 30-second walk I took to answer my phone while running.

Bolstered by the good results, I decided to take it out this week for an interval run. I’ve never used all the functions on a Garmin so I don’t know if the experience would be similar, but I found intervals to be so convenient with the Accelerator. I used the sequential timers and set the view to show my distance and pace, so I had no trouble knowing when to sprint and when I could collapse and recover and the screen was easy to read and uncluttered so I didn’t have too much information to confuse me. (Hey, it’s easy after 4 miles of hot, sweaty intervals!)

I guess the moral of the story is that nothing is perfect. However, if you run a pretty consistent pace and live in a major city, I would very strongly recommend you look at Tech4o’s products when considering your next watch purchase. I know Garmins are the hotness as far as running gear goes, but my watch is smaller, more feminine, more user-friendly and, most importantly, more accurate for city running! And the cheaper price tag is a nice perk too.

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