I ran my first 10k 'run' last weekend. And it was not enjoyable. I've done 10k on my own, on my usual routes, a bunch of times but the Great Manchester Run really wasn't my day.
Here's the thing. Yes, it rained and yes, there were a few more uphill sections than I'd anticipated. But my main problem is that I cannot run without music. I was wearing a Nike armband with my Galaxy S6 Edge in. It must have been some water inside the armband or some other such nuisance but my extremely carefully planned Spotify playlist (Beyonce, Fuck Buttons, Battles, the occasional burst of live action The Jungle Book) kept messing up.
It would repeat a song, annoyingly one of the slower tempo choices, or skip back to an earlier part of the playlist, or just stop. At one point it switched to a completely different playlist, of Ashra, a German ambient electronic band which was not what I wanted to hear at that precise moment. My poor Grandad, who I was running with, had to help me get the goddamn phone back in and then my wired earphones back in. About three times.
So imagine how intrigued I was when I saw the Pebble Core news this week - a GPS tracking wearable that lets you play up to 4GB of stored music or stream Spotify playlists over 3G. So simple, so elegant. Maybe this is the answer.
On second thoughts, there's no screen so when I was "training" for my 10k I wouldn't have had glanceable access to my distance, time and pace. And James Stables pointed out that there's no mention of other running metrics like cadence, form and heart rate so this is looks it could be one for casual runners or beginners. So the Core is a bargain for some but won't suit everyone.
Still, considering I had a Garmin Forerunner on my wrist for the run, I really should have given this lot below more of a look in.
WEAR - TomTom Spark
The TomTom Spark is generally agreed to be the best option for runners who must have music. In our four star review of the sports watch, we found that the music playback process, which involves adding tracks via its MySports Connect software for PC and Mac, is more fiddly than it needs to be. And it's a pain switching music mid run.
But it works and that's good enough to keep it our recommendation for now along with the heart rate tech, GPS and affordable price.
NEARLY THERE - Moto 360 Sport
The 360 Sport has a hybrid display, GPS and running features and 4GB of storage for music. Moto's sporty Android Wear watch is slightly better on paper than in use, though, and in our three and a half star review, we found a couple of niggles including how clunky the music loading is as it just takes playlists from Google Play Music.
What we have to look forward to is Android Wear 2.0 which should make this more of an all rounder. The update is bringing standalone apps, so you don't need your phone nearby, third party fitness apps will be able to exchange data via Google Fit and you'll be able to launch Spotify and other music apps straight from your smartwatch's homescreen, even if your phone is off.
SQUARE - Sony Smart B-Trainer
I personally think the ultimate running and music wearable will simply sit in our ears but boy, are we a ways off that being reality. We're about to test the Bragi Dash, which is definitely a step in the right direction but not so long ago Sony was touting this, the biometric Smart B-Trainer, as a phone-free running option.
It's good to see Sony experimenting but this feels very much like the first draft of a potentially awesome future product.
Let us know what you use for run tracking and music in the comments below.
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