Polar Grit X Review: Great Training Coach, Poor Backcountry Companion

Each endurance athlete fears the dreaded bonk. There you might be, working and not using a care on the earth, when rapidly your physique crashes. Abruptly, you metamorphose from a succesful particular person into an motionless sea anemone, your ineffective tentacles waving wildly.

Marathoners name it “hitting the wall”, however it may occur in any sport for any variety of causes. Perhaps your blood sugar crashed otherwise you forgot to sip water. Perhaps the wind was a lot tougher than it was in coaching, or your new protein bars don’t have as many energy. Determining the exact quantities of gasoline you want, and when, can take years of experimenting.

Health wearable firm Polar thinks it has figured it out. Its newest sports activities watch is geared towards severe endurance athletes, with a brand new characteristic referred to as FuelWise that means that you can program sensible or handbook reminders to eat or drink. It has a couple of huge flaws, however I nonetheless just like the Grit X so much.

Adaptation Station

{Photograph}: Polar

If all health wearables had been highschool stereotypes, Garmin could be the burly jock, Fitbit the promenade queen, and Polar the lovable nerd busily programming their graphing calculator.

The Grit X has built-in GPS and Glonass, a compass, altimeter, and optical coronary heart fee monitor. It information extraordinarily granular information in its accompanying internet and app service, referred to as Polar Movement, which syncs with standard well being platforms like Apple Well being, Strava, and Nike+ Run Membership.

Polar Movement isn’t probably the most enticing app or the best one to make use of, however on the watch, it’s one in all my favourite coaching platforms. The coaching program, referred to as FitSpark, is adaptive, which implies it adjusts in keeping with the train you’ve got accomplished or need to do.

First, you’re taking the onboard health take a look at, which estimates your cardio health by measuring your coronary heart fee and heart-rate variability when you’re mendacity down, and takes under consideration different components like your age, gender, top, and physique weight. It is a (very tough) estimate of your VO2 max, a measurement that our editor in chief, Nick Thompson, calls “the scale of your automotive’s engine.”

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As soon as the Grit X has measured your health degree, it can decide which exercises can keep or enhance it. It remembers my earlier workout routines and means that at this time may be a fantastic day for energy conditioning versus cardio or stretching. If I click on Sure to enhance my energy at this time, it suggests body weight coaching. If I haven’t got my very own routine, it can counsel particular workout routines, like squats or sit-ups.

In contrast to most health platforms which might be very prescriptive—you both take note of the suggestions or you do not—the Grit X will accommodate any choices I select to make, whether or not I need one other day of cardio or completely different strength-building workout routines. It additionally took under consideration my sleep patterns (or “nightly recharge” in Polar-speak) to suggest what sort of train and depth of exercise to do.

Once I did document workout routines—I ran, did yoga, went on walks and hikes, and biked—I didn’t expertise lag time or inaccuracies with the GPS recording for out of doors actions. I didn’t discover any discrepancies within the mileages, maps, and coronary heart charges on established routes as recorded by numerous Garmins. The sleep tracker was additionally fairly correct. It instructed me after I had a poor evening’s sleep after a cocktail and a fantastic one with out.

Misplaced within the Woods

{Photograph}: Polar

In contrast to different Polar watches I’ve tried, just like the Vantage M and the Ignite, the Grit X is a backcountry watch and Polar’s try to go after the hardcore Garmin followers. It has a 1.2-inch colour touchscreen, with a sport strap and 5 buttons round a stainless-steel bezel. Higher but, it may survive as much as 40 hours with the GPS working, and in any other case round 4 to 5 days on a single cost.

However right here’s the main flaw with it: There aren’t any onboard maps. I get misplaced within the woods by stepping 10 toes off a path to pee. I’m not going to purchase a watch to be used within the backcountry that doesn’t include maps. The Grit X does have a compass, and it integrates with the Komoot app for route planning. However including Komoot to the watch and preplanning routes is a ache within the tuchus. Additionally, I do not all the time comply with preplanned routes.

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I am additionally not satisfied in regards to the utility of FuelWise. Studying the right way to gasoline your self effectively is an imprecise science, a undeniable fact that Polar acknowledges. With sensible reminders, FuelWise takes under consideration your age, gender, top, weight, most coronary heart fee, resting coronary heart fee, VO2 max, cardio coronary heart fee threshold, and anaerobic coronary heart fee threshold.

It’s an formidable, attention-grabbing mission, however your physique already has a fairly delicate system for alerting you when you have to eat or drink. These reminders are referred to as “thirst” and “starvation.” Within the few lengthy bike rides and hikes that I used to be capable of take with the Grit X, my mouth and abdomen tended to ping me earlier than the watch did. FuelWise reminders may be helpful on lengthy runs once you’re within the zone, however for a lot of athletes, I’m wondering if tinkering with efficient FuelWise reminders may be extra annoying than simply taking a break each hour.

On the Grit X, Hill Splitter is one other new utility that routinely detects hills and tracks your ascent time versus your descent time. In contrast to ClimbPro on the Garmin, it’s automated and simple to make use of. It simply flicks to a distinct display when it detects you going uphill at a threshold of round 30 toes.

Nevertheless, it is so much much less helpful than you may assume. All of the mountains close to me are presently closed as a consequence of shelter-in-place legal guidelines, however on an 80-foot climb, Hill Splitter didn’t activate till I used to be close to the highest. Additionally, the one factor I need to know with a hill is how for much longer I’m going to need to huff up it, which is one stat Hill Splitter can’t inform me (however ClimbPro can).

A Enjoyable Experiment

Finally, the Grit X feels extra like a enjoyable thought experiment than a completely baked watch. It was enjoyable to try to push myself to set off the fueling reminders, however particularly in the course of the week, I’m far more more likely to run 30- to 60-minute path runs the place maps are far more needed than snacks or water.

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Nonetheless, I like the Polar Movement coaching app. It comes with a bunch of enjoyable, presumably even helpful options, and most significantly, it’s a lot, less expensive than a comparable Garmin. In case you’re planning a summer time of lengthy solo hikes, you may do so much worse.


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