Running watches do not need to have GPS and/or heart rate monitor all the times. In a number of instances, we heard of runners achieving PRs (personal record) by not wearing one and, therefore, not conscious nor pressured by it. I use to wear all sorts of gadgetry to track not only my speed, but my route, distance and elevation as well for uploading later in a sports app and sharing on Facebook. It came to a point when all of these just became burdensome – the waiting for the gps to connect and the constant reminder of your speed and distance. Now, after some five years of regularly doing it, I took to running like a fish to swimming – no pressure but just doing it like second nature.
I got this Asics Sports Watch WJ12-4000 for review during the Condura Skyway Marathon last February. However, since I received and wore it for the first time right before my 21K gun start, I was not able to properly study, configure the functions and settings beforehand. Even the time was not set! Well the least of my concerns actually, since, truth be told, it were my legs not prepared to run this half marathon. And in a Skyway at that! Luckily, and with the help of the shirt I am wearing blaring the name of my sponsor, I persevered not wanting to be a let off. The tinkering with the watch and thus, the review, came right after during my recovery and tempo/speed training runs.
Off the box I can see the reason why Judith Staples, Brand Manager for Soleus Philippines, was ecstatic about this watch. She was telling me before hand that it will suit me and my Fabulous Running Diva style. In fact, she personally picked this design for me. This perked my interest to the highest level really. And it did not fail my expectations! The colors it came in were just fabulous! Cheapanggang Diva was more than happy by just the looks of it.
- Diverse color choices – Most sports specific gadgets like watches usually do not come with a good number of color choices and attractive designs. They mostly go for that masculine, geeky and serious look. In fact, my old one is black and gray. Drab right? The other and only choice is black and white. How boring can that get? Luckily, this line considers runners like us who are not only serious in training, but go for gears that camouflage our intense drive but highlights our inner diva. To fool competition maybe? Well, perhaps.
- Superb Design Concept – The Asics sports watch has a superb design in a very sporty looking and sleek oval face neither too big nor too small for easy reading of the digits. The strap likewise reflects this design concept. However, compared to my old one, it is not as soft and pliable. But if this makes for a more durable one, I have no further complaint. This was the problem area for most plastic straps, as they tend to get brittle with time. In fact, it made my old one useless in spite the watch itself still functioning. Neither does it cause any wrist chafing after having worn it almost in a daily basis running nor not, so it is non-issue actually.
- Versatility of Use – In the sample I was given, it has not one, not two, but five colors in a single watch! How’s that for “Fabulousity” factor? ‼ Thus, it can go with whatever color my running apparel happens to be making it not only my favorite running watch but my everyday watch as well!
Asics WJ12 does not have gps and other highly complicated stuffs. The good thing is that it has all the needed functions necessary for tracking time over a known distance:
- Chronograph Function for tracking lap and split time – This is valuable for tempo training where you are tracking your time in covering a particular loop of known distance and checking it against successive ones making sure you are doing a negative split like I always wanted to do but just could not. Maybe this watch will eventually help me get a better recognition of running at different speeds in order to achieve such.
I use this function during my tempo training days in the 3.3K loop in ACRA South. I reside nearby. On most days, I found myself comfortably covering the distance in less than 22 minutes. I usually do 3 loops minimum. Using the watch, I took my time per loop. This constitutes 1 lap. Ideally, it should be lesser time per lap. This is the thing that I am trying to achieve given my tendency to give my all in one go. Sounds familiar huh?
- SPECIAL TARGET LAP TIME FEATURE It has a target lap time alarm feature that can be set to inform you that your time limit per lap is about to expire. And gosh, how extended this alarm goes compared to like the interval alarm (3 seconds seem like an eternity really) just to make sure you are aware of your cutoff! My results show that I have always been way too slow to hit my lap goal. Well, maybe in a year’s time! Ha! I had been promising myself this ever since I learned that negative split term.
I set mine to 20 minutes so that I will be challenged to speed up and slash more than 1 minute off my 3.3K lap time. I consider myself lucky if the alarm blares off at around ¾ of the loop. Well, too much for setting an almost 2 minute minus goal each lap! I think I’ll reset it to 21 minutes, which is more realistic for me actually.
20 minutes target lap time for 3.3K and 7 minutes for 1 k.
- Timer Function for interval time – This is very valuable for speed training and Galloway running (the run-walk method). This function together with the lap alarm configuration is usually not present in most entry-level sports watches. I had mine set to 2 minutes and 1 minute for 8 repetitions. This the interval time I use (and capable of achieving) in my speed training. The longer one for speed, naturally, though performance-wise, not really, and the shorter for recovery (and always wishing it could have been longer all the time). This function I use in conjuction with lap timing for total time training information. Together with the 5 minute warm-up and cool down, it usually takes me around 45 minutes to complete the workout.
In the picture above, the workout was taken during my run from my place in ARCA South to my Wednesday Group of Runners Bonifacio Global City training hub. This is a good 9 km route. To test the interval timing functions though, I inserted my usually-done-stand-alone speed interval of 2:1 in 8 repititions after a 5 minute warm-up jogging. After this intense work-out within a work-out, I literally wiggled my way the rest of the distance. By the way, an intense circuit training followed making me profess, just another of the countless I already did, “nevermore!”
- Data Function where lap and split times per training are saved. Each time you hit stop and reset buttons after every exercise, the digits will revert to zero and all your times will be recorded. You can review and even critique them if you feel like it at a convenient time later. In here you will be able to see not only the total elapsed time of running or training but also other significant digits like:
- Individual Lap Times
- Average Time of all the lap times recorded
- Fastest Lap Time
NOTE: More than 500 lap times can be saved in the watch’s data bank.
Here are some more of the watch’s adjustment and setting features I found worth mentioning.
- Time Interface can either be showing only time, therefore much bigger, and more readable for the sight challenged like me; or together with the date. Both information will then appear in two rows across the interface, thereby shortening the digits, resulting to lesser prominence of either datum.
- Contrast Adjustment for better interface visibility though personally I saw no difference between the -3 (the least contrasted) and the +3 (the most contrasted) adjustments.
Time only or time and date interfaces.
Though not necessary, we need at least two running shoes in circulation depending on the kind of training that we do (speed and tempo require fast shoes and lsd’s better done in a well-cushioned ones) and the kind of surface that we run in (cemented road or trail calling for different sets of shoes). This not only preserves the integrity of the shoes but our knees and joints as well. I firmly believe that as runners we likewise need at least two sets of watches: one with gps for longs runs and races and another for tempo and speed training. Like with shoes, this will prolong the battery life of gps watches by not using it every time you go out for short. Most gps watches likewise look geeky if not bulky for your quick but hard runs. Sports watch like Asics WJ12 with lap and interval timing is best for the latter. Let me remind you though that not all sports watches have interval timing function so make sure they do before buying one. And not all as fab color wise and design-wise, so choose divaliciously!