Trackstaa reviews the latest in wearable sports technology. Kipchoge’s watch of choice, the COROS Pace 2.
I should first stress that COROS are not paying me to write this review, they very kindly provided the watch for me to test and review and so I’m going to give my honest feedback after using it every day for around 2 months. Secondly, the watch is packed with so much technology that I could write a review that would rival the Lord of the Rings in length and scope so, instead, I’ve covered the key points and my favourite bits in order to give you a better idea about this watch and help you choose whether to purchase it or not.
I want to start with the one thing that sold it to me, before I even opened it. Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest marathoner of all time and all-round running legend and hero wears the COROS Pace 2. Enough said. If that alone doesn’t convince you that this is the watch to buy, then read on.
Let’s also start with the basics, the COROS Pace 2 includes all of the main features we have now all come to expect from smart watches, including sleep analysis, fitness level assessments, phone notifications, active and rest calories, step counts and much more. In my experience, I’ve found these to be accurate, easy to use and analyse on the app. These days, however, this stuff is just a given, right? I would also add this is their ‘entry level’ device, it’s designed primarily for runners and running and not extreme sports athletes where their other offerings such as the APEX and APEX Pro might be more suited but, you may be surprised to learn, it nonetheless contains the same software as their ‘higher end’ offerings.
Interestingly however, unlike many of its competitors, the Pace 2 includes barometric pressure and temperature sensors.
The link to the full list of specifications and technical data is here.
There’s a full customizable option too so you can set your watch face just how you like it. My personal preference has been for a very simple watch face, but you can pretty much have it as detailed as you like, including different colour options too as the Pace 2 has a colour display.
Wrist based HR
Before I talk about some of my favourite aspects, a word on the wrist-based HR. All wrist-based HR monitors suffer a little from being well, on the wrist, and that’s why chest straps are more accurate and reliable. However, my experience of the Pace 2 has been really pleasing. I’ve noticed, in comparison to my previous Garmin, a far more consistent, accurate and realistic HR reading. COROS claims that this is due to their unique algorithm which differs depending on what activity you’re doing. So far, my conclusion is that they’ve got this tricky part about as good as you could get it. You can also set the option to either ‘every 10 minutes’ or ‘real-time’ which is 24-7 reading, depending on the level of detail you want to see in the app graphs.
Having never used a COROS watch before, I was excited to try what is billed as the lightest running watch on the market. With the trademark nylon strap, it weighs a staggeringly small 29g, which compared with the Garmin 945’s 50g, seems very light. If you don’t know what 29g feels like, that might not be much help, so take it from me, you genuinely cannot even feel it on your wrist. Indeed, the moment I first held it when taking it out of the box, and I want to be honest as possible in this review, I was a bit concerned about the durability and quality (I was wrong, more on that later).
Some may reasonably ask, why do I need a running watch that is so light. The truthful answer is of course, you don’t, but when everything to do with endurance and distance running performance is about small, marginal improvements having a featherlight wearable on your wrist makes a difference. We invest countless money in the lightest singlets, shorts and, of course, shoes, but have often overlooked our watches. My previous watch, a Garmin model, was permanently there, I was always aware of it and I often found that distracting in faster sessions and longer runs alike, but since I began wearing the COROS Pace 2, those issues have gone. I’m now a total advocate of lightness – the lighter the better.
Okay, so I’m not going to get mega technical in this review, you can check out the geeky science on the COROS website, but one thing I do want to talk about is the user interface. For those of you still using competitor watches which boast a touch screen, I could not recommend the Pace 2’s “digital dial” function which, I’m not exaggerating, has saved me countless minutes. No longer am I bashing the screen with increasing ferocity with a useless, sweaty finger, but with just one button on the side you can access splits, heart rate, calories, pace date, everything. Simple. Seriously, a touch screen watch brings more problems than good.
When it comes to smart watches, one thing we are all concerned about is battery life. The website claims that it offers an incredible 20 days’ worth of ‘daily-use’ battery time and a. 20 per cent improvement on the previous model. I admit, I’ve not counted and in any event I don’t think I have experienced this personally because I am using it twice, sometimes three times per day to track runs and workouts.
What I can say, however, is even with the amount of activity that I am asking it to track, the battery is astoundingly good. At most, I charge it once per week, in reality it’s probably a little less than that. The battery panel feature on the watch is highly detailed too and allows you to analyse which parts of the watch use the most battery so that you can better use your battery in the future. If you’re really desperate to preserve power, you can select the ‘UltraMax’ feature which adds additional strength; I have never needed to use this feature.
Structured strength workouts
The wonderfully easy-to-use interface is also supported by a vast library of over 200 structured and built-in strength training sessions to target all muscle groups and areas. If you like, often stand in the gym for the first 10 minutes trying to think of what heavy stuff to lift and how many times, thankfully, the watch takes care of this for you. All you need to do is turn up and follow the watch’s instructions. That sounds scarily sinister…I promise, it’s not telling me what to write. Uniquely, the COROS also tracks the muscle groups you’ve targeted and how many sets. You can then view the effect of your training in the cool ‘heat-map’ function in the app after your workout.
So, this might be my favourite feature of all. All of us track athletes know how frustrating it can be when your GPS watch is 20 metres out or more when you are running on a track. It makes it hard to analyse your performance, check your splits and compare to previous workouts as well it bleeping at the wrong point. Perhaps we should just all be a little more Marc Scott and wear a basic digital watch. Well, fear not, because cunningly, COROS have developed a brilliant feature called ‘Track Run Mode’.
As well as GPS, the Pace 2 uses a separate algorithm, as accurate as a stopwatch to ensure that regardless of the lane you choose – the watch allows you to specify – it accurately tracks your pace and distance. Eureka! Finally, a watchmaker has mastered the track running anomalies which I never really understood given that the majority of tracks are 400m!
Wrist-based power reading
COROS Pace 2 has an integrated power reading taken from your wrist which requires no integration with another app. Like pace and HR, it gives your total running power as well as data fields based on your chosen parameters. Incredibly you can create structured workouts based on these power readings. This is certainly an aspect that beats almost all competitors, particularly at this price point. I’m not as experienced in running based on power data but if you’re a cyclist or triathlete, I’m sure you would find this particularly helpful.
If you want more detailed running metrics, including more detailed power data, you can pair up your Pace 2 with the COROS Pod and the Stryd device too.
Third party integration
Buying a Pace 2 doesn’t mean you can’t use your third party apps. You can get full integration with apps such as Strava, TrainingPeaks, Apple Health, We Run and more.
Now, for the price. Arguably the best bit about this watch is the price. At £179.99 in the UK and coming in 2 colours, I would go as far as saying this watch packs the most punch for this price point and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Despite being initially concerned about the quality and durability, I have been continually impressed by the Pace 2, its running data and metrics which seem unsurpassed for its price range, its incredible light-weight feeling and user friendly operating system. The Track Run feature is so useful and the battery life is phenomenal.
It also looks great in white! I would highly recommend this watch – I’ve literally not taken it off for over 2 months. Trackstaa approved.
There really isn’t any stand out problems. The only one I can think of is easily fixed. The watch automatically has a feature that locks the controls, which would be beneficial in an extreme endurance event. But in an interval workout its a pain having to unlock the watch and then press Start/stop. So I’d make sure you turn the auto lock off within settings.
Another maybe negative is that there’s so many options to choose from, you need to know what metrics you want. Or else you can get lost choosing from the countless metrics. That’s not really a negative, but it took a good amount of time to choose the exact ones I want. But, that is actually a benefit, because it’s completely customisable.