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Good to have numbers on your side

Posted by Matt Pepin, BostonGlobe.com Staff  April 4, 2012 10:45 AM

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100robin_nichols2.jpg Robin Nichols is one of five Boston Marathon entrants testing the Polar RCX5 personal training computer and blogging about it for Boston.com
I love numbers. Having the important numbers at my fingertips while I am running is really important to me.

During my first Boston qualifying race, I was doing a lot of math in my head. I think sometimes I do this to keep my mind occupied. I made it to mile 18 and, after seeing the time on the clock, I figured out that I could run 9 minute miles the last 8 miles and still qualify for Boston. This was a huge mental boost and it pushed me even harder those next few miles.

Figuring out my pace at that time really helped me because at mile 23, I tripped and fell hard. My not-so-faithful Garmin had a touch bezel and left my overall time screen, and I couldnít get it back. If you know the Garmin that I am speaking of, this is one of my biggest complaints. The touch bezel should have been a convenient feature that allows you to switch the display screen while running. Instead, I found it a nuisance. As soon as you start sweating, the touch bezel doesnít always work correctly. I ran those last three miles blindly because the clocks on the course also were broken.

I did not know that I qualified for Boston until I saw the clock at the finish line because I was running by feel and hoping that my cushion I had built up was enough.

Now the Polar RCX5 has a feature that would have solved my problem on that day, the HeartTouch function. When you want to switch display screens while running, rather than touching the watch, you move your arm to where your heart rate monitor chest strap is. The watch senses the chest strap and switches your display screen for you. I love not having to worry about pushing buttons and worrying that I may stop my clock or never get back to the screen I want to be on.

Because of the touchiness of the Garmin, I never used more than one display screen, so I only had the option of reading three numbers while I ran. Since changing screens is easy with the Polar, I have added a lot of information to the displays so that I have more information to pull while I am running.

rachel_screenshot.jpgThe next feature I like is that you can customize your screens on your computer while synced with the RCX5 (click the screenshot at left to see in better detail). This makes it easier to see an overall picture and pick out the data that you want to see while moving.

The training computer also stores more information than you see on the watch so after completing the run you can head to Polarís website to analyze your run even more. After a week of using my new Polar RCX5, I have accumulated a lot of running data that I hope will help pace me on April 16.

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Look for updates, news, analysis and commentary from the following.
  • Steve Silva, Boston.com senior producer, two-time Boston Marathon sub-four hour runner.
  • Ty Velde is a 16-time Boston qualifier who's completed 12 consecutive Boston Marathons and 25 marathons overall. Ty is now training for his 13th Boston run and will provide training tips for those who train solo and outside, no matter what temperature it is.
  • Rich 'Shifter' Horgan is a 19-time Dana-Farber Marathon Challenge team member who runs in honor of his father, who died of colon cancer. He will provide updates on local running events with a focus on the charitable organizations that provide Boston Marathon entries for their organization's fund raising purposes

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