First thoughts on the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR

I love my Garmin Forerunner 225. I bought it back in November 2015, a month after I completed the Melbourne Marathon carrying my phone on my arm. Chunky. It brought with it a whole new world of easily-accessible data, and has seen me through so many races since. However, I’ve recently been noticing that it is getting a bit old – it takes a very long time to connect to GPS, and doesn’t have multisport functionality which I’ve been missing through all this triathlon training.

Initial Suunto Spartan tested at the Great London Swim

At the Great London Swim a few weeks ago, Suunto was lending out watches to track the open water swim. I’ve never had any swim data before, and was fairly shocked to see the stats that were coming back – in particular how zig-zaggy my route had been! According to the data I succeeded in swimming close to 300m extra, on top of what was already a very long swim.

After the event, I contacted the team at Suunto to ask about borrowing one of the watches in the lead up to the London Triathlon. Mostly, I felt that a one-hour open water swim didn’t allow enough time to try out all the multisport features, and really wanted to take it for a run! They were kind enough to send me the new Spartan Sport Wrist HR to try out, and I’ve spent the past few days putting it through its paces. I’ll be doing a more thorough write up after the triathlon, but here are a few quick thoughts I’ve had from using it so far.

Firstly: wow do I love a multisport watch! I hadn’t quite realised how many activities I do in my day which go untracked: all the cycle-commutes, any gym sessions, swims etc.. Being able to jump on my bike and click a few buttons on my wrist to see stats about my pace and distance is surprisingly revolutionary. It also makes me quite depressed at how slow I have to ride through London traffic. The Spartan Sport features specific tracking for just about every activity you can imagine, including weight training, hiking, yoga and more (although I didn’t track my yoga session, it felt too weird to wear a watch for that). You can also set up different types of the same activity, eg. ‘race’ or ‘intervals’, which come with different screens and settings.

As for the watch itself, it’s fairly light and the design makes it look good on your wrist. Although it is the same height as my Garmin 225, I find that it feels a bit bulky, mostly because the straps don’t lie flat. This actually annoys me more than I thought it would, especially when I take it off at night! I don’t want to rest it on the screen for fear of scratching it, particularly as the screen is a touch interface for the watch. As I discovered in the open water swim, the touch screen doesn’t work in water, so for this they’ve included buttons on the side of the watch. Once I turned off vibrations for button presses these turned out to be a nice alternate way to interact with the watch, particularly for pausing mid-run.

I’m very happy I was able to go for a run in the watch, because it I’ve already discovered little things which I hadn’t noticed annoyed me about my Garmin. The biggest one is that the Garmin rounds your current pace to the nearest 5 seconds, whereas the Suunto doesn’t. I’ve found this particularly annoying when trying to hit 5:19 splits (eg. for a 3:45 marathon), and I’m interested to see how this would impact my pacing in a race.

However, I have one major grumble with the Suunto: you can’t turn off auto-lap within the watch or the app! I’ve been running without auto-splits for over 3 months now (best decision ever!) and so one of the first things I tried to do on the watch was to turn off this feature. Whilst you can seemingly alter every other setting within the watch (even switching from GPS to GLONASS), to stop auto-lap you have to log in to the Movescount website, change the settings and then sync these to the phone via the app. Perhaps I’m missing something – if so please let me know!

So far I’ve very much enjoyed using the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR. There’s still a number of things I want to try out, such as pool swimming, heart-rate tracking and of course, using it in the London Tri! Keep an eye on the blog for more details on all that and more soon.

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