I have to admit, when it comes to GPS sports watches I’m a bit of a junkie. I’ve owned multiple Garmins, two Timex units, four Polars, a Suunto, a Nike, a Basis and now an Apple Watch. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to test the adidas miCoach Smart Run, a GPS sports watch that has all of my favorite GPS sports watch features all rolled up into one package.
There’s only one button on the miCoach Smart Run. It’s located just below the watch’s face on the band. This button allows you to “wake” the watch (the screen turns off to save battery), mark splits and end workouts. The rest of the features are reached via the touchscreen. There are four main screens you can access by swiping right or left and multiple items under each screen that you can access by swiping up or down. The touchscreen is responsive, but because many of the menu items are small, it’s easy to activate the wrong field (corrected by swiping back across the screen and reselecting the proper choice).
One of the biggest advantages of the miCoach Smart Run is having the built-in heart rate monitor on the wrist. I hate wearing a chest strap, and often have problems with chafing on long runs. No more! This is the third watch I’ve owned that has a HRM on the wrist. The first, the Basis, works great while at rest but does not give an accurate reading during workouts. The Apple Watch works very well at rest and while running. The miCoach Smart Run is as accurate as the Apple Watch, with only one drawback: You have to keep the band pretty tight to maintain full contact with your skin while running. Because I have a very tiny wrist, I have to cinch the strap so tightly that it leaves an impression on my skin. While this is fine while I’m running, the watch isn’t quite comfortable enough for me to wear all day long. Of course due to it’s size, I wouldn’t even consider wearing it as an everyday watch, but people with larger wrists (men) could wear it all day with no problem.
The miCoach Smart Run isn’t as intuitive as some of the other GPS sports watches I’ve tested, but that’s mostly because it offers so many advanced features. Not only does it have the traditional GPS watch functions (heart rate, speed, distance, pace, average speed, average pace, calories), but it’s also Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled, has an MP3 player (with Bluetooth headphones only), offers demonstrative animated videos and has a cool new partnership with MixRadio that gives you a free six-month subscription to the service and allows you to download pre-made pop, dance, urban, charts and indie mixes. There’s also adidas exclusive training and racing mixes for 5k, 10k, half marathon and marathon distances. After the first six months, you can choose between an ad supported or a premium subscription. The device has 4GB of memory available to download music and workouts.
With the word “coach” in the name, it’s safe to expect that the adidas miCoach Smart Watch offers some coaching too. You can download training, racing, recovery, strength, speed and general conditioning workouts to your watch. You can also add training plans for every distance from 5k to the marathon, and event specific plans for the Boston Marathon and a few other races. When you select a specific workout on your watch, you are guided through your workout with both audio (if connected to a Bluetooth device) and haptic guidance in the form of a buzz to your wrist. Guidance is based on your specific heart rate zones, calibrated through an initial 12-minute fitness test with the watch.
When you’re done working out you can analyze and track your runs on the adidas miCoach Train and Run smartphone app (available for both the iPhone and Android devices). You can also review your workouts online through your adidas miCoach account. The adidas miCoach website allows you to add workouts and customize your watch screen to show your preferred views, displaying up to four stats at once, and allowing you to see other stats by sliding to the next page.
The adidas miCoach Smart Run isn’t just for running. You can also track walking, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, cycling, Pilates, yoga, circuit training, hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, rowing, inline skating and cross training workouts. One of the only things you can’t track is swimming workouts. The device is water resistant so it’s fine to sweat in it or wear it in the rain, but because of the optical heart rate sensors it’s not meant to take a dunk in the tub or pool.
There’s so much the adidas miCoach Smart Run can do that it’s difficult to fit it all into one review. In fact, I know I’ve left some of it out, and there’s some features I’ve yet to discover. It takes awhile to figure out how to use each of the features, but once you get it down, it’s relatively easy to scroll through each item to start a workout, play music or adjust the watch settings.
If you’re a gadget junkie who likes to have every feature that a GPS sports watch can provide, I highly recommend the adidas miCoach Smart Run. If you’d prefer a watch that’s cheap, simple and basic, look elsewhere.
The adidas miCoach Smart Run is available online for $299.99.
(Disclosure: adidas provided the adidas miCoach Smart Run to test, but in no way influenced the content of this review).