Geeks like me love to track their workouts. I have been using a heart rate monitor for about 5 years now and a GPS watch for about 3.5 years. I’ve tested and used regularly a minimum of 10 different varieties. Late summer, a TomTom Runner Cardio watch was given to me to test and I was a skeptic. How can a GPS watch accurately measure my heart rate through my wrist?

After a painful shower after an 18-mile training run thanks to the chaffing of my HR chest strap, I finally gave the TomTom a try on a short recovery day.

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Not only did it pick up a signal within 2 minutes of leaving my home, but it also picked up my heart rate that felt accurate at the time. I had a feeling it would lose my heart rate once I started running but it didn’t!

“Your heart rate is measured through a sensor in the watch that monitors changes in the blood flow in your wrist. This is done by shining light through the skin and detecting the changing light reflections.” TomTom

After my first quick outing, I wore the TomTom Runner Cardio watch for every training run thereafter. My heart rate felt accurate every time. The watch also tells you what zone your HR is in; Easy, Fat Burn, Endure, Speed and Sprint.

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During your run, you can check your heart rate, heart rate zone, calories burned, average and current speed, distance, duration and clock time.

In addition to the outdoor GPS option, you can also use the watch while running on a treadmill and also as a stopwatch – which is great for me while I teach.

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The battery is excellent. It charges quickly and holds a charge for over a week. Specifically, it lasts 8 hours while using GPS or 10 hours without.

It’s a little larger than some of the other watches I’ve tested but is still comfortable. I happily will wear a slightly larger watch without a chest strap any day. It is also waterproof and equipped with bluetooth technology which allows you to transfer data to your smart phone.

Don’t like the red and white band it comes with? You can change out the wrist bands for your own personal style and more feminine fit.

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Once connected, you can view your previous runs in the app easily with every details recorded. It’s fun to see different paces and heart rate levels on long training runs for me. This activity log is from the end of my marathon training. I forgot to bring the charge with me to Scotland and my watch died on me on Friday that 12th!

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Priced at $269 it is expensive but many will find the price tag is worth it if you are a serious runner. If you don’t want to spend the money but still want to track your fitness, I recommend buying a bluetooth heart rate monitor and use it with an App like RunKeeper that can connect to it. I like this one from Pear which is $79 but requires you to use your phone – and subsequently precious battery. For a 4 hour training run, I would be nervous mine would die which is why I think the watch is worth the price tag for some people. It avoids the dreaded dead battery and chest strap chaffing.

I only have 2 complaints which are personal problems

#1 is the fact that when I’m at Barry’s and I use the watch in treadmill mode, it doesn’t accurately count calories burned when I’m on the floor doing strength training. For this season, I’m not a huge fan of the watch during group exercise classes. It will pick up your heart rate and you can see what it is but it won’t count calories burned unless it senses you are “running”.

I just discovered complaint #2 when the weather got cold. You have to have the watch on your wrist in order for it to pick up your heart rate so pulling down your sleeves to use cold weather thumbholes causes a problem. If you want to see your splits or heart rate, you have to roll up the sleeves or keep the watch face covered. I hate wearing gloves so I sacrifice knowing details and just wait until I finish to look at the data.

Watch More

In my new YouTube video from yesterday, I reviewed my Fall Favorites featuring the TomTom watch and a bunch of other products including activity tracker Garmin VivoFit. You can watch it by clicking here 🙂

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What is your favorite heart rate monitor or do you prefer using the old-fashioned method of perceived level of exertion?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated to write this review.

TomTom Runner Cardio Watch Review

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9 Comments

  • Christina
    Reply

    Hi Sarah,

    Did you compare the calories burned while running according to the TomTom watch vs. calories burned using a chest strap HRM? Are the roughly the same?

  • Ken
    Reply

    Hi Sarah, Your blog is very nice. I like the watch it will track all the things kike heart rate, calories and all. Thanks a lot for sharing such blog.

  • Ed
    Reply

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for your review and videos. Very good ones, and device looks like a good purchase.
    I want to ask a quick question though, if you don’t mind:

    You mention the watch can’t track floor work calorie-burn as it doesn’t sense you’re running.
    I’ve read elsewhere that in “treadmill mode” or something, the watch will count calories burned even doing resistance training by monitoring heart rate and time working out.
    I wouldn’t purchase the watch if it only tracked burn when running, as it’s a pretty basic function in most others.
    Can you please let me know, if you read this, whether you found a way?
    Thanks a million.

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