Running a Spartan Race with Android Wear
Ubiquitous computing for health and fitness Part 1 of 2
If you’ve followed any of my Google Plus collections, or seen one of my tech talks, you can probably guess that I’m a connected fitness nut. For over 5 years I’ve dedicated my career to doing more with the sensors in wearables. Counting steps is great, but combining sensors in interesting ways to make your watch do more to help you live a healthier life is still an untapped opportunity.
Obstacle course racing with a connected thing:
I run a lot of obstacle course races. If you’re wondering what this, imagine paying to do a military style bootcamp whilst running an 8, 10 or 30 kilometers. I run Spartan Races, so that would be Spartan Sprint, Super or Ultra races . It is really fun, but naturally I wouldn’t advise anyone to just jump into the sport without preparing adequately. I always train and run with my Garmin 910x. It’s a rugged single purpose wearable device, great battery life and I swear by it. With this last event that I ran, however, I chose to leverage the power of Android Wear to get me prancing across the fiery finish line. I decided to train and run with my the Motorola 360 Sport and surprise, it held up.
Let’s talk battery
Unlike my Garmin 910x, running with the 360 after a full charge means I also expect to wear it all day. During my training, I had no issues. I’d run or exercise at dawn, leveraging offline GPS and Bluetooth for offline audio and it lasted a full day.
On race day, however, I wasn’t so lucky. I set out to Maryland International Raceway after a full nights charge at 8am. I ran for 1 hour and 45 minutes through mud, muddy trails, muddy forests and muddy obstacles. I left at the event noon. When I got home the phone had 5 minutes of battery left.
Benefits of running with Android Wear though, is that I have active and resting heart rate sensing, speed and a map of my run saved to Google Fit. After the race, I realized I over exerted on those damn hills.
The take away, is pretty obvious. When utilizing sensors more than normal, you lose more battery life. This doesn’t affect the Garmin, because I don’t wear it all day with the sensors enabled. With the motorola, I use more sensors, and thus on intense workouts, more battery drain. I’m also skeptical on the accuracy of the active heart rate data.
The Garmin 910x is old, but it is a beast. It’s been through 3 dozen obstacle course races, if not more and it has the scars to show. Unlike a general purpose smart watch, I don’t wear it all day so I don’t care if it’s banged up. I do however, wear the 360 all day and care enough to avoid scratches. For this first race, the Motorola held it together here as well, however, there were some visible scratches on the watch face, which sucks.
This smartwatch is water resistant. IP67 dust and water resistance means I was able to wade through chest deep waters during my race without issue. After the run, I rinse it off with no issues there either.
It’s a very comfortable watch, and during running, the rubberized watch band didn’t give any discomfort. I strongly recommend giving it a shot but don’t make it a habit with the 360. If you don’t want to damage the watch check out Casio’s Outdoor Smartwatch also powered by Android Wear.