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home > training > training tips > fitsense speedometer makes a lot of sense

FitSense Speedometer Makes a Lot of Sense
I must admit that I was a little skeptical that any device could accurately measure my running mileage. I run on very hilly routes and my stride length and pace is constantly changing. Nevertheless, when my FS-1 arrived in the mail I was ready to test it with an open mind.

FitSense Speedometer Makes a Lot of Sense

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By Dave Camire
Posted Monday, 10 June, 2002

Imagine a device that can measure running distance, speed, pace and heart rate with impressive accuracy. Now imagine being able to download this information, at the touch of a button to your own personal online running log. Does this sound to good to be true? Well it isn't! The Fitsense FS-1 Speedometer does all that and much more.

I must admit that I was a little skeptical that any device could accurately measure my running mileage. I run on very hilly routes and my stride length and pace is constantly changing. Nevertheless, when my FS-1 arrived in the mail I was ready to test it with an open mind.

The box contained all the system components needed to get started -- including a watch, foot pod, Netlink, the optional heart rate monitor and user manual. The 25-page user manual was nicely written with lots of diagrams and graphics accompanying the text. The first thing I did was sit down and read the manual from cover-to-cover. This took me about 45 minutes and was time well spent in understanding this feature rich device.

The FS-1 watch resembles something you might expect to see George Jetson or Captain Kirk wearing. It took me a while to adjust to its space age design. It has a side-mounted display so you do not need to turn your wrist to view it. The window of the watch is larger than your conventional digital watch, but with all the information you can monitor during workouts you quickly realize the reason for this additional real estate.

The foot pod, which you must wear to measure speed and pace, is slightly larger than the champion chip and weighs about the same. The pod has a simple yet very clever design for attachment. It uses a rungee (elastic) cord that makes attachment and removal simple. I do not need to unlace my shoes to remove it.

Finally the Netlink device connects to your PC serial port and communicates wirelessly to the watch. This device allows you to store and chart your activities online and to personalize your watch from the web. In many ways this reminded me of how a Palm Pilot communicates with your computer sans the cradle.

Once I familiarized myself with the components, it was time to calibrate my FS-1. According to the manual there are two ways to calibrate the unit, one is on a measured track (400 or 200 meters) and the other method is by using a treadmill. The recommended method is a measured track. Unfortunately with all the snow we have had this winter, track calibration was not a viable option for me.

I decided to use a treadmill for my calibration. I soon discovered that not all treadmills are properly calibrated. After I completed my treadmill calibration, I was off to check it against a USATF certified 8-kilometer course. To my dismay, the watch was off by about a half-mile.

As luck would have it, that afternoon I received an email newsletter from Fitsense outlining a method for calibrating the unit on the road. Using my certified course, I was able to properly calibrate the unit using my 8-kilometer course.

Once I felt I had the unit properly calibrated, I started checking it against other training loops. In every case the measurement matched the distance of the course. However the real test came during a run in late March. The run was a measured point-to-point 30-kilometer Boston Marathon training run. At the start of the run I started my FS-1. As we ran along I became engrossed in the conversation and totally forgot about checking my FS-1. It wasn't until we stopped at a water stop at 15 miles that I checked it. To everyone's amazement the display read 15 miles!

After each run, I am able to keep track of my run on the Internet via my PC using the Netlink device. At the push of a button, all the information stored in the FS-1 downloads automatically to my own personal running log located on the Fitsense website. This information includes distance, pace, running time, calories burned and heart rate throughout the run. Heart rate is captured using the optional heart rate monitor.

The FS-1 also has many more nifty features including a log that displays data from the last 28 runs or data from the last 75 splits and the ability to set interval alerts and pace zones. The odometer mode allows you to display total distance and calories burned the date of the last reset. Additionally it can be used as a regular watch and has the standard alarm mode found on most digital watches.

I can imagine lots of uses for the FS-1. It will make trail running a whole new experience and fartlek training can now be much more precise. Having vital information such as pace, distance and heart rate is a great aid to coaches.

The device is well engineered from my perspective. I really like the fact that the batteries on the watch, foot pod, Netlink and the heart rate monitor strap are very easy to replace. My unit came with additional batteries.

So my advice is to drop whatever you are doing and buy a Fitsense Speedometer! This is the most revolutionary piece of technology I have come across in my three decades of running, and it's a piece of equipment I'll use for years to come both in my training and those that I train.

Dave Camire is the head coach of the Gate City Striders, New Hampshire's largest running club, and head cross-country and track coach at Dracut High School in Massachusetts.



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