While the debate over whether 10,000 steps daily is an achievement worth tracking rumbles on, the world of fitness trackers has moved on. Relative SpO2 sensors, which measure oxygen saturation in the blood, have been fitted to affordable devices like the Fitbit Charge 3 and Garmin Vivosmart 4, while the Apple Watch 4 will be able to take electrocardiogram measurements (some time after launch in the US, at least). Not to be outdone, Polar has announced two new GPS watches – the Vantage V and the Vantage M – and the former could change the way you think about your running. Along with all the standard metrics like distance, pace and heart rate, the Vantage V will also measure your running power, making it the first wrist device to do so.
Running power, put very simply, is a measure of your work rate in watts and it can be used in several ways, perhaps most importantly as an accurate gauge of how hard you are working regardless of terrain or weather. Running power should be a better measure of effort than pace or even heart rate, making it especially useful in races – stick to the right running power to pace your run and you might never blow up two kilometres from the end again.
It can also be used to help you improve your running. If you spend time working on your running form or fitness, you should notice that the power you have to create to run a certain speed drops.
Power is a commonly used metric in cycling for all the above reasons, but while there are power sensors for runners like the Stryd footpod, it hasn’t been a major feature of running wearables before now.
Both the Vantage V and Vantage M watches also get Polar’s new Precision Prime heart rate tracking tech, which is claimed to provide more accurate readings from the wrist. In the past Polar has excelled in how it uses these heart rate readings and other activity stats to help shape your training, and the new Vantage watches should be no different. Users are given info on their training load and (in the case of the Vantage V) advice about their recovery, to keep them on track and ensure they’re not overdoing it.
The new watches will also integrate neatly with the Polar Flow website and app, which can provide training plans with the workouts guided by heart rate. We’ve found these to be an excellent service for beginner runners especially.
It’s not all about runners, however. The Polar Vantage watches both have over 130 sports modes, including swimming and a dedicated multisport option for triathletes.
The Vantage V will cost £439 and the Vantage M £249. Running power is the big difference between the two devices, though the V also has a better battery life (40 hours of training vs 30 hours) and the Recovery Pro feature. Both will be available from the end of October.
Buy from Polar | Vantage V £439, Vantage M £249