Thursday Jun 07, 2007

Polar F11 and Electro Magnetic Interference

Last Sunday, right before I was about to start my PG&E run @ Rancho San Antonio I started the monitor on my Polar F11 wrist watch. But instead of starting the counter in a normal way, it just started emitting a shrieking sound. And it will NOT stop. If you are familiar with Polar F11, it has 5 visible controls. I tried pressing all of them in all possible combinations and it will not go away. It was audible to the level of disturbing during the run, to me and to others. Since I was not able to deal with the sound in any apparent manner and wanted to get done with my run sooner, I decided to drop the monitor in the car and started running without it.

All along the run, I had no clue about my timing. I used it to my advantage and instead took a detour through Upper Wildcat Canyon trail which is very beautiful and much more shaded. After I reached my car back I realized that the noise level has not reduced at all. I checked the manual for the symptoms after reaching home but it does not mention a clue about it. I took it to a nearby REI store and they had no clue either. They told me to contact to REI customer support and hide the clock away until then. This anyway was my last resort as well.

So the watch was hidden in the garage they whole Sunday to keep the noise level low. Luckily, Polar customer service opens up at 5:45am PT. I called them before Monday morning run and they told me to hold all the visible buttons together for 10 seconds. And voila, that reset the watch and the sound went away!

The customer service rep suspected it might have been caused by the electro-magnetic interference. I've used this watch multiple times on the exact same route but something was different that day :)

Anyway, I learned something new about Polar F11 - how to reset it!

Technorati: polar heartratemonitor

Sunday Jul 23, 2006

Polar F11 status report

I'm using recently bought Polar F11 for past 3 weeks and have no major complaints so far. Today I transferred daily files from previous days to Polar Personal Trainer using Polar Weblink (ver Sonic Link.

The instructions along with Polar Weblink are detailed. After starting the software and configuring the network settings, I tried connecting to the network kept getting the error "Connection failed ... an unknown error happened during connection!". I finally disconnected my VPN and then could see the "Listen" button. A more meaningful error here definitely would have helped. But googling (yep, that's one of the newest verb in dictionary) for solution gave me pointers to Australian Polar Forum.

The display of heart rate as absolute and %HRmax tells you about the training zone. I like the fact that I can change HR limits during the run to meet my requirements but have not tried this feature yet. Here is my wish list so far:

  1. Distance logging would make it a complete runner's paradise.
  2. F11 does not give the feel of a sports watch. There are definitely brighter colors than Red Chili and Black.
  3. Why data is stored for 12 days ? I would've rather had it for 14 days so that data can be uploaded on a bi-weekly basis.
  4. There is no way to export the data from the website. This would allow me process the data and populate my training calendar at a click of button.

Technorati: Running Fitness Training Polar Heart Rate Monitor

Monday Jul 03, 2006

Heart Rate Monitors and Marathon Training

With only 16 more weeks remaining for my marathon training, I'm planning to buy a heart rate monitor (HRM) to assist me. Read here to see why heart monitoring is beneficial along with an explanation of different features of a HRM. Here is a comparison of features for the options that I'm considering:

Feature Timex 5C411 
Ironman Triathlon
Polar S120 Polar F6 Polar F11 Nike Triax C6 Description
Heart Rate Display Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  
Zones 5 3 3 3 4 Preset desired heart rate exercise zone.
Out-of-zone Alarm ? Yes Yes Yes Yes Alarm notification when you are not in zone.
Time in Target Zone Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Amount of time spent within selected heart rate target zone.
Average Heart Rate Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Average heart rate over a period of time.
High Heart Rate No Yes No Yes Yes Maximum heart rate achieved during a session.
Recovery Heart Rate Timer Yes Yes No No ? Measure your heart rate after a timed recovery.
Calories Burned No Yes Yes Yes Yes Total calories burnt per session.
Lap Timer Yes Yes No No Yes  
Laps 30 60 - - 100 Number of laps that can be recorded.
Clock Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes  
Stop watch Yes Yes Yes Yes ?  
Countdown Timer Yes Yes No No ?  
Date Yes Yes No Yes Yes  
Water Resistance 50m 50m 30m 30m 50m  
Heart Rate Memory Recall ? Yes Yes Yes Yes  
Coded Signal Yes? No Yes Yes Yes Minimizes interference with other HRM.
PC Compatible Yes Yes Yes Yes No  
User Replaceable Battery Yes No No Yes Yes  
Opinions 1 1, 2, 3 1, 2 1 1  
Price ($69.99, original $90.00) ($79.95, original $99.95) ($99.95, original $109.99) ($149.95, original $159.95)    

A detailed set of comments from the users of HRM is available here.  Here is an extensive review of Polar AXN series. REI allows to generate a comparative chart of different HRM here. Overall, I've heard mostly positive comments about Polar. Timex and Nike seems to have a few problems as can be found from the opinions row in the table above. The opinions row in the table above helped me decide on Polar F11. I finally bought it yesterday from Sports Authority (fka Sports Mart). Got a $25 discount for any purchase over $100 and then there is an additional mail- in rebate of $10 so it will turn out to be $125.64, that's pretty much the cheapest I could find anywhere on the web or in retail stores.

I used it for a 9 mile run this morning and found it useful. The out-of-zone alarms are just great and a continuous feedback about the heart rate really kept me within my target zone. I plan to use it more-and-more during my training sessions and report on it's usage in subsequent entries, so far it's a pleasant experience but I've hardly used it!

A random set of  helpful reviews is given below:


Technorati: Running Fitness Training Heart Rate Monitor Polar Timex Nike

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Arun Gupta is a technology enthusiast, a passionate runner, author, and a community guy who works for Oracle Corp.

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