Before you can take the Runner out for a run you need to go through a simple setup. You need to download the TomTom MySports Connect software from the website and fill in the standard details about weight, height, age, measurement units and watch settings. It’s here where the QuickGPS function is also set up.
Once charged you are ready to go. Again, TomTom has incorporated a foolproof menu system. If you click the left button on the control pad you can see the battery status, internal storage, QuickGPS status and the software version.
To begin tracking, you click the right button on the control pad to pick whether you are running outside or on a treadmill. Click right again and you’ll find the GPS finder screen. A click up lets you see the history from previous runs. Click down from the GPS finder screen and you’ll find the graphical training partner. Here you can pick from Goals, Laps, Zones and Race modes. The Race section already has challenges pre-loaded ranging from attempting a 10k in 50 minutes to a 5k in 20 minutes.
Once you’ve picked your training session and the GPS has hooked on, you can click right to see the real-time data. The screen is made up of three sets of digits. The large digits display pace, average pace, duration, distance, stride length, heart rate and current time. To change the display, you can simply click the down button. The two smaller sets of digits above alternate depending on what is displayed in the centre of the screen.
Putting the QuickGPSFix to the test in on the outskirts of London, the GPS receiver synced within 30 seconds. In our first attempt outside the TrustedReviews HQ, it took a frustrating five minutes to hook onto a signal. TomTom recommends syncing the QuickGPSFix signal every two or three days to improve accuracy. So in our second and third attempts the GPS syncing dropped to three minutes and then to under a minute. It clearly pays off to keep the Runner updated on a regular basis.
In terms of the accuracy of information, the TomTom Runner delivers data consistent with the Nike app and the Withings Pulse so we have no complaints with the Runner in this department.
Heading to the TomTom MySports website and uploading is really easy. Simply plug the watch module into the dock and the data is transferred over. The web tool is separated into a dashboard and account settings. In the dashboard things are pretty basic. There’s a map of your run and information on distance, time, calories burned, and heart rate.
Annoyingly, we couldn’t delete runs we accidentally logged and our attempts to upload data to Runkeeper and MapMyRun were unsuccessful. The site is still in beta, so there’s still time for things to improve. At the moment it’s not quite up to scratch compared to Garmin and Nike’s online tools.
TomTom Runner - Battery life
TomTom claims the Runner can manage 10 hours of battery life in GPS mode. It should last much longer when used as a normal watch. Heavy usage of the backlight and connecting accessories like a heart rate monitor can affect the battery life as well.
On full charge, we comfortably made it through two and a half days, including wearing the Runner to sleep. In that time we ran twice for approximately 30-40 minutes. By the second run, the battery had gone flat. It’s not as heavy-duty as the 16 hour GPS battery life on an outdoor sports watch like the Garmin Fenix. Compared to something like the 5 hours battery life in GPS mode on the Garmin Forerunner, it’s a decent performer in the battery department. You will need to keep that charger at hand though.
Should I buy the TomTom Runner?
At £149.99, the TomTom Runner is thearound same price as the Nike SportWatch but more expensive than the similarly sleek Garmin Forerunner 10 (£99). All three watches feature a light, comfortable design, a nice big screen and a plenty of features to help you stay motivated.
Crucially though, the Runner has a better battery life in GPS mode than the Nike and Garmin watches, some really useful Training modes and the QuickGPSFix technology that really improves the speed the watch locks onto a GPS signal even in built up areas.
It’s made specifically for runners so if you want something packing an altimeter to track cycling or sensors to count laps in the pool, you’ll need to spend more than £150 to get a suitable device.
There is an argument that you could simply download a running app like Endomondo or Runkeeper and use the GPS on your smartphone. It will collect the same kind of data. It really comes down to whether you want to strap on that armband and drain the phone battery.
But if you are a serious runner with your heart set on buying a watch to track performance, the TomTom Runner is a great option.
The TomTom Runner is a comfortable, easy to use GPS sports watch with good battery life and a great QuickGPSFix mode that makes it one of the best sports watches to buy for intermediate level runners.