My New Toy: Polar RS800CX Pro Team Edition

Wednesday, 19 August 2009  |  Gear + Gadgets

I never did get back to you regarding my choice between the Polar RS800CX and the Garmin Forerunner 310XT.  Reason being, it took me a full three months to decide on my next running watch purchase.  With a purchase this costly, I made sure I did my research comprehensively. 

I spent hours upon hours of research on both watches.  You name it, I read it: articles on Runner’s World, online reviews and forums.  I interviewed (read: harassed) both loyal Polar- and Garmin- users about the pros and cons.  I tested the Polar for a week (which was not long enough!) and devoured as much info as I could get my hands on regarding the new Garmin Forerunner 310XT.  At the end of most days, I would lie on my bed wanting to pull all my hair out.  All the research left me even more confused.

You see, all readings and research led me to discover this one truth: both brands come highly recommended.  It was much like choosing between a PC and mac, McDo and Jollibee, or Piolo and Jericho.  (Okay, scrap the last example since Marc Nelson wins hands down.)  The Polar RS800 has a slight edge as it’s been tested by more athletes compared with the new Garmin 310XT.  But, basically, both have their own strengths and weaknesses.  It all depends on the user to determine which watch would fit his/her needs more.

After all this research, I devised a rather simple guide to help you determine which watch is for you:

– you want GPS-based readings
– you’re not a techy (Garmin is very user-friendly)
– you’re more of a runner than anything else

Choose the GARMIN 310XT ($400) if…
– you swim
– you’re in need of longer battery time (say a marathoner or ultramarathoner)
– money is of no concern.  It’s pricey for minor upgrades from the Garmin Forerunner 305

Choose the GARMIN FORERUNNER 405($300 Amazon) if…
– you need a regular watch too
– you don’t mind using bezels (I do!)

Choose the GARMIN FORERUNNER 305 ($165 Amazon)/205 ($154) if…
– you need an simple, affordable, and accurate running watch

* Note: My hubby uses a 405.  I don’t like it since I find the bezel too sensitive and the screens are much more complicated than the 305.  I would opt to purchase another 305 (in my humble opinion, still the best for Garmin) than the 405.

GET A POLAR RS800 (price ranges depending on the model, P25,000 to P30,000) if…
– you run and swim (it’s waterproof) or you plan to get into triathlon
– you need a regular watch
– you train using heart rate (this is what Polar is known for although Garmin has HRM too)
– you’re not too focused on super accurate distance readings (if you use S3 Stride sensor) although Polar also has a G3 GPS sensor too
– you want to count your cadence
– you’re a techy (very complicated to learn, but worth it)
– you’re all for analyzing a lot of data
– you’re a PC-user (Polar software doesn’t run on mac—grrrrr!—but this was something I felt I could overlook considering all the other features)
– you want a friendly and accomodating local service center (Hi Hitler!)
– you want a watch that will last you over a decade (This was one major reason which led me to switch.  Even if the Polar is more expensive than the Garmin, it is still offers more value for money considering it won’t die on me in the next couple of years.)

So, what did I buy?  Introducing my new toy…

The Polar RS800CX Pro Team Edition


The Polar RS800CX PTE is Polar’s newest and limited edition watch in the market.  It differs from the other Polar RS800 watches—Polar RS800CX Run, Polar RS800CX Bike, Polar RS800CX Multi, Polar RS800—in that it is shiny, not matte, and it comes with complete bike accessories.  I opted for the PTE, well, because it looked irresistibly handsome, and I thought I’ll eventually use it on my bike anyway (when I do get serious with my cycling).  I then purchased the Polar S3 sensor (P8,795) for running.  

– Everything else that came with the watch –

– Polar S3 Stride sensor –

Although the purchase was quite pricey (that’s why I shut my eyes the entire time and ran my worries away in Ultra right after), I took comfort in the fact (or my rationalization) that, in the long run, choosing a Polar offered better value for money as the watch will be used more often (even when I’m not running) and for a longer period of time.

I’ll be taking my new toy out for a spin tomorrow morning.  I’m hoping I made the right decision with the big switch.  Goodbye Garmin, Hello Polar!

Click here and here for more info about the Polar RS 800.

POLAR is available at:

Sports Resources Inc.
143 Pasig Blvd.
1600 Pasig City
671-9765/ 671-1563/ 671-9768 to 69

Bonifacio High Street

Market! Market! Power Sleep

Tuesday, 19 May 2009  |  Bullish Insights

It was an impromptu decision via text.  Saturday night, Photographer Ben and I agreed that we would meet up at the Market! Market! Power Mile Run the following day.  “Game!,”  “Tara!,”  “See you there!”  With so many exclamation marks, it was evident we were excited about the next day’s race.  

Turns out, it was all talk from my end.  I woke up at 5:15 am and nonchalantly texted Ben “Sorry, woke up late.  Missed the race.”  He must’ve been at the starting line already, I thought.

Hubby and I decided to proceed with our run.  We arrived at Bonifacio High Street at 7 a.m. and started at 7:20.  It took me quite a while to get all geared up for my road test:  Polar on the left wrist, Garmin on the right, Polar S3 footpod on the right foot, and heart monitor on the chest.  


– How to get a good tricep workout during a run –

We first ran one small loop around BHS, 1.14km according to my 305 and the hubby’s 405, so I calibrated my Polar accordingly.  I used to dread calibrating, but it was fairly easy with just a few buttons to push.  The Polar’s screen, compared with the Garmin 305’s, was more difficult to read at a glance but it wasn’t a big issue for me.  The main problem was my inability to shut down the beeping sound that came every second!  Was it a pacer or my heart rate?  I had no idea, but I knew I couldn’t bare to run with the annoying sound!  My solution: the ipod to shield my ears.

We ran outside of Bonifacio High Street towards the course of the Market! Market! race.  It was a surprise to see small groups of Market! Market! runners (or more like walkers, at that time) who were still on their way to the finish.  We took the same route behind S&R passing by the Lexus showroom and climbing up through British School.   When we hit 5k, we turned around and followed the same way back in hopes of completing a full 10k.

The pace of both the Garmin and Polar were significantly different throughout the run. One reason is that my Garmin reads the average lap pace, not current pace, which was highly recommended in the Garmin forum I browsed through before. (Next run I’ll have it on current pace to compare with Polar.)  The Polar gave me what I believed to be accurate pace readings based on my effort.  Unfortunately, I failed to put the kilometer readings in the Polar’s screen (again, I couldn’t figure  it out!) so I couldn’t compare distances throughout the run.

As for my run, wow, I was feeling awesome.  I hadn’t had a run that good in…I don’t even remember anymore.  No niggling aches nor pains anywhere in my body.  I felt so good I considered doing a 12k instead of the planned 10k.

Shortly after the hubby and I passed our 6km mark, however, the heat got to us; it was excruciatingly hot.  I couldn’t imagine how Botak Marathoners survived that kind of heat.  By the time we hit Market! Market!, hubby took a detour and ran under the shade of Serendra towards the car.  I went ahead, stubbornly resisting the idea of stopping as a strong and pain-free run was such a rare occurrence for me.  My goal was to finish just 5 miles, the distance I should’ve run at the Mkt! Mkt! race. 

I ended at exactly 7.98k according to Polar, 8.01k according to Garmin.  Due to the heat, my face was sunburnt and, despite my shrimp-like appearance, I exclaimed to hubby “This was one of the best runs I’ve had in months!”

We had breakfast at Pancakes where I couldn’t stop raving about my perfect run in between bites of my mushroom omelette. In the middle of the meal, I got a text from Ben.  Turns out he had just woken up and overslept as well!  So much for the Market! Market! Race.

Congrats to Francis Macatulad for finishing 5th overall and 1st in his age group for the 5 mile race at Market! Market! Power Mile! 

Lovin’ My Nike+

Sunday, 8 July 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

Surprise surprise…guess who just got a Nike+ Kit!


I’m afraid to tell you that I have succumbed to the Nike+ fever and I’ve decided to forego any plans of purchasing my Polar—at least temporarily until I am completely sure that this will be a permanent relationship with my new Nike+! Hey, so far, so good.

You all know that I was pining for the Polar RS 200 for what seemed like f-o-r-e-v-e-r. I wanted the HRM in the Polar badly. Very badly. To the point that I would always tell my hubby “How can I ever improve without knowing my training zone?” or “Do you know what Grete Waitz said about heart rate monitors?” or to go straight to the point “Can’t you buy me my Christmas gift in advance? I can’t wait till December.”

I had little or no interest at all in the Nike+ that—from what I read online—was changing the fitness landscape and getting more people across the globe hooked into running. Blah, I thought. It’s no good if there’s no HRM.

Then, it started happening. All things in the universe started conspiring to persuade me to buy the Nike+. First, I read about it in the papers. Then, I heard more from friends and Philmuggers who were raving about their own kits. Last but not the least, the one that got me seriously thinking was my brother’s SMS: “A guy I met while swimming at Ultra says Nike will eventually include an HRM with its kit.” Really? No way! Really now….hmmm….

I researched online and, true enough, people were talking about it. It was the blog of Brilliant Days that got me completely convinced as he wrote “I’ll eat this webpage if there isn’t a iPod-ready heart rate monitor from Nike within a year.”

So, I was off on a mission: to canvass prices and decide ASAP which one to purchase. Here are the results: (Please note—I included the ipod shuffle under the Polar because I still would need an MP3 player for my tunes. The Nike+ would allow for this through the nano.)

Price Chart

Now, if I had all the money in the world (or if I was married to the Prince of Brunei—wait a minute, was that a redundant statement right there?) I would get the Polar. It is still the best brand out there for these things. But, for little ol’ me who has mouths to feed, tuition fees to pay, and outfits to purchase (yup, that’s part of the household budget), I am pretty content with the Nike+—and extremely ecstatic about the P9,000 savings!

So, last Monday, I sold my ipod shuffle to Mon of H@ppy Feet Runners and instantly bought my Nike+ and ipod Nano. Fine, it doesn’t have an HRM yet, but I can wait. (Hitme says they should launch the HRM by October this year.) Now, I finally know the distance I’m running and the calories burned (and how much I can eat thereafter to make up for the deficit!) Oooh, I’m lovin’ the Nike+!

My Polar Dream

Tuesday, 15 May 2007  |  Gear + Gadgets

Elite runners probably know their bodies so well that they know when to push harder, slow down, run longer, or stop. For the novice runners, it will take some time to listen and learn to what their previously indolent bodies have to say (I’m speaking for myself, really). For all types of runners though, it’s been said that monitoring your heart rate is still the best way to go to determine your pace, maximize your training runs, and track your progress.

For the longest time now, I’ve been using my hubby’s hand-me-down stopwatch that he received as a giveaway in a company sales conference. It’s not very attractive—it has a high-tech cum alien look to it—but it’s free so I don’t mind looking like a martian at all during my runs. Then, last week, Mayi and Jamike ran with us and Jamike was sporting his Polar. He even had the foot module on to track our distance and pace.

Oooh, I thought, I want one.

No, that’ll cost you, my conscience tells me.

You’ve worked hard and you deserve it.

You’re spending way too much on accessories.

Shut up, conscience, I said. Maybe my hubby can get me a second birthday gift? The following day, I drop by Time Depot at Festival Mall and pick up a Polar brochure. That evening, I show the Polar RS 200 to my Hubby and exclaim with much excitement “They are more affordable than I thought! I should’ve asked for this on my birthday instead of the ipod you gave!” Biting the bait, he replies “Yeah, if the budget permits then why don’t you get one?” I want to tap myself on the back for a job well done, but before I can celebrate my victory, my authoritarian conscience whispers “Isn’t it preschool enrollment next week?” Shucks, I nod in forced surrender.

So being the good mother that I am (don’t laugh), I shall patiently wait for the right time (read: Christmas) to buy my Polar Watch. In the meantime, I shall drool over and dream of the Polar that shall be mine.

Polar RS200

– the Polar RS 200 with the option to connect to the foot module (when I get it for my birthday 2008 haha!) –