Once upon a time, I was in high school track. I did it for all four years and although I was never quite the fastest runner on the team, I still fell in love with the spirit of the sport. To this day, running is my choice of exercise despite the numerous creative workouts I've come to learn about (ballet routines, anyone?).
As much as group classes get your heart pumping, I always argue that running is free. Plus, you could do it anywhere. If you were to spend any money, however, it'd have to be on a fitness device that helps you track your runs. Enter the TomTom Multi-Sport Cardio watch. The GPS-powered device provides all the basics—distance, pace and calories burned—but there is so much more to discover that makes it well worth the $300 price.
Something I truly miss about track is having a coach pushing you. This was especially true for High-intensity Interval Training (or HIIT, as it's known in the fitness world), when my coach would blow a whistle every time we had to do a sprint, run or jog cycles. When I tried doing this workout on my own, I had to keep checking my iPhone in my hand, which is not ideal. One of TomTom's many functions is the ability to pre-program HIIT workouts on the watch. It times your activity and rest for you, and buzzes when it's time to switch gears. Genius!
TomTom's biggest bonus is its heart-rate monitor. Similar devices require a strap to wear on your chest, but this watch's technology is built in. A sleek, easy-to-read display allows you to see the effect of your exercise on your body in real time. This is key for knowing whether you are hitting different training zones to build endurance, gain speed or burn fat. There are five heart-rate zones on the watch that you can pick, depending on your goal. A big arrow pointing up or down will direct you to either speed up or slow down to reach it.
For competitive types, there are also settings in which you can "race" your past performances. The watch will indicate whether or not you are on pace the last time you ran the same route—I don't know about you, but that's major motivation. To all those training triathletes out there, you can also bike with this watch (after buying a mount, $20) and swim with it in a pool. Convinced yet?
Get your TomTom watch here.