A London Weekend Runaround

Two quick reminders: First, the Giveaway Closes at the end of today, get your entries in!  And second, if you’re in/around Paris this weekend, remember the DCR Open House is coming up on Saturday, along with the Santa 10K on Sunday.  Do remember to register!  I’ll send out more details to those registered tomorrow.

This past weekend we took the 2hr and 15min high speed train under the English Channel over to London.  While I’ve been more times than I can count, The Girl actually hasn’t seen London from a sightseeing perspective. So combine that with a few friends and it seemed like the perfect weekend made slightly longer getaway.

While we’ve been doing many touristy things, I did head out for a Sunday run with one reader and very helpful post commenter.  Tim responds and answers tons of questions on the FR920XT and a handful of other posts, and happens to be based in the greater London area.  He runs roughly the same pace as I, so we figured a Sunday long run of sorts would be perfect.

We headed out from my hotel area around 8AM – which turned out to be slightly darker than I thought it would be.  I forgot that with the UK being an hour behind Paris, despite being not much different in longitude or latitude, it would result a much different sunrise/sunset.  So, apologies for the slightly dark/grainy photos.

Within half a mile we were passing Westminster and Big Ben.  This time of the morning there was barely anyone around, so it was rather peaceful still.

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Just a moment or two later we turned onto the river trail and the London Eye was opposite us.  It wasn’t quite moving/operating yet.  I suspect it opens slightly later.

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We’d continue to along the river all the way to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge.  The trail runs right on a boardwalk on the river for some portions, but there’s a handful of portions that the trail is blocked, broken, or otherwise missing.  So you end up bouncing back and forth a bit between tall buildings in small alleyways to the main street to continue making forward progress.

Here’s Tim as we made a loop around the Tower of London grounds.

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After looping around the Tower of London we crossed Tower Bridge.  This is probably the prettiest of bridges in London, as well as being one of the most touristed.  This time of the morning it was completely empty save a few pigeons.

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We headed back along the opposite side of the river until we were trail-blocked again, at which point we crossed over the river and headed inland away from the water.  That’d eventually take us to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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This section of the route was a lot of weaving in between dense urban structures, sometimes on small streets.  But we broke through into Trafalgar Square, to find a blue rooster.  I’m not clear on the blueness of the rooster, but I’m guessing someone here can probably explain.

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We then joined up with some of the parks, which would take us along the Olympic Marathon route, and pretty much exactly where I was standing over two summers ago for the event.

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Then it was into Hyde Park for a partial loop before exiting.  This was where the men and women’s triathlons were held.  We’d end up running right along by the pond and the route for the running portion of both.  Good times those days were!

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For those curious on technology, I had a few things with me.  First was the FR920XT, and then alongside it the new Mio Fuse.  It’s an activity tracker and optical HR band.  It has the capability to store workouts for later upload to your computer.

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And on the opposite wrist, the Epson Runsense 810  It’s a full on GPS watch with optical HR sensor built into the back of it.

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While I’ve also been using the Fitbit Charge as well as Withings Activite this past weekend too – they didn’t make the cut for the run.

After the park we’d work our way back down to the hotel, ending with about 12 miles in total.  Not too shabby!  Thanks Tim for the run (as well as answering all the questions)!

From there it was out into the craziness of London for many more miles of walking than I could have ever imagined.  About 8-10 miles each day this weekend (just walking).  Nuts!

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Hope everyone has a good week ahead!

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48 Comments

  1. Tom

    The blue rooster sits on the Fourth Plinth – it’s meant to be a chance for new artists to make a statement to the world and get their work seen. It gets changed every few months I think, but the rooster’s been there a little whilst longer: link to london.gov.uk

    • Mike Richie

      It’s a great shot though, it looks like a black & white photo that was spot colored!

    • AdamAnt

      That blue rooster has been up for a solid year now unless they just bring it back out every now and then. But I remember seeing it back in Nov of 2013 when I was in London.

    • Simon

      According to wikipedia the Giant Blue Cock-erel (pun intended) is going to be on the plinth for 18 months.
      I remember when I saw it back in September, I was amazed by that thing, it is so much out of place 🙂

      link to en.wikipedia.org

  2. David Lusty

    Nice to see you this side of the big river, and great to see pics of London – though sad to see the tower without the poppies again.

    So unless you’re testing a new firmware for the 920XT does this mean the 620 is no longer your running watch of choice?
    I guess firmware wise you could be testing Connect IQ if it’s about a month away? Now I have the 920 I have to admit there’s very little I’d want added in terms of apps other than specific hardware support from vendors and a nicer clock face. Everything else seems present and correct, including some kind of magic battery that doesn’t really go down 🙂

  3. Bond

    Ray do you have plan to write sth about EPSON ?

    • I do indeed. Right now I’ve been heavily focusing on the Epson 810, though I’ve got all of them. I won’t have the capacity to test all the units, but am cherry picking the ones that I think are most interesting to readers.

    • Martin

      Hi,
      Any news about the review of Epson 810?
      I was hoping to wait until your review before ordering myself a christmas present…

    • Working away on a review. Might be able to squeak it in next week.

      In short, it’s a good GPS watch and optical HR monitor covering the basics, but the software platform is pretty rough.

  4. Greg

    I do a pretty similiar run when I travel to London as our office are right where your friend is looking at by the tower of london. The run accross the bridge and then through the river walk on the south side of the river is really neat with all the new shops.

    You should try the “high speed bike highways” early morning (esp on sunday)…its a blast and you can really haul

  5. Anders

    Nice! Looking forward to your thoughts regarding the Epson and HR accuracy.

  6. morey000

    Hey- I understand that you are probably limited to 2 watches per wrist… but Tim could have worn a few. 🙂

  7. Tim Grose

    I had a 920 (right wrist), 620 (left) and an iPhone 5S running the Strava app in my back pocket so nicely balanced 🙂 The 920 one made it onto Strava BTW – as did Ray’s 920 one. I got asked the other day if I ever run in “challenging conditions”. Central London, especially by the river, certainly counts because of the number of nearby tall buildings and short periods where you have to go under bridges.
    I think our 920s were only 0.04 miles different which is very good but I need to take a closer look at the respective GPS tracks to really see how they did. On distance comparisons alone the 920 seemed to do best. The Strava app was a mile “long” and that was definitely wrong as we did not throw in a 5:30 mile split mid run (!) and the 620 was 0.23 miles longer than my 920 which is about par for that course.

  8. Jeff

    Doesn’t Mio use the same technology as Scosche? If so, it would be great to have the Scosche reliability combined with an activity tracker. I believe the Mio Fuse doesn’t have 24/7 HR monitoring, but I don’t know if that’s needed anyway. It would be nice to have an activity tracker that lasts at least 1 week, while also offering HR for workouts. Now that the Basis Peak is essentially off the table as an exercise device, I don’t see this product on the market yet.

    • Juro

      Mio Fuse looks good… but similarly to the question raised re. Fitbit Charge HR in a different discussion, the question of whether it’s possible to change bands is a critical one. Silicone degrades over time, I’d be surprised if the band lasts more than 1 year if worn 24/7.

    • No, different technology. Mio has their own sensor based on Philips technology, Scosche has their sensor based on Valencell technology. Basis is based on something else (TBD). Fitbit is still unknown at this point (also TBD).

      In general, the only sensors I’ve seen truly work for optical HR recongnition during excercise are those by Mio (used in Adidas, Mio, TomTom products), Valencell (used in Scosche, iRiver, and a few others), and then a company called LifeBeam that makes a few other head related products like the Smart Helmet. Everything else I’ve tested uses random OEM sensors from no-name companies…and generally suck.

  9. no HR showing on the Epson despite having the ability? was it not picking up? look forward to that review.

  10. Francis C

    Mio Fuse looks interesting. I do have the original Mio Ant+ and it keeps on dropping my HR at least once every run. I have slightly dark skin so that may be why I’m having the drops. I just received my Scosche Rythm+ and saw a few drops last night. However, it may have been cause by my long sleeve shirt and me wiping the sweat out of my head while running.

    Ray, do you know if they have improved their technology since the original KS Mio Ant+? How tight did the Mio have to be to get your HR? I normally choke my wrist for it to work and I still get at least one drop every run with mine. That’s why I decided to try out Scosche because of your explanation regarding the yellow sensor being better at reading darker skin tone.

    Thanks Ray and as always, really appreciate your blog 🙂

    • With the Mio, you’ve got two separate items to look at:

      A) Proper HR accuracy – i.e. can it detect your HR correctly. On the Alpha and Fuse this is easy to separate out because it visibly shows you it on the band. Whereas on the Link you need anothe runit.
      B) Proper HR transmission – i.e. does the signal reach the device you’re sending to.

      Typically, transmission errors are easy to pickup because they show up as drops, or as a constant line (which indicates the receiving unit is just repeating the last known value). Accuracy issues tend to look like odd fluctuations, or just completely incorrect values.

      So you’d have to narrow it down a bit there. I’d say that in general, the Mio has one of the best sensors out there from an accuracy standpoint. Where a small number of people have problems (primarily with the Link), is the transmission side.

      For me, the strap was snug, but not overly tight. I did brainfart and forget to start the secondary historical timer on the Fuse, so I don’t have a downloaded file for it. But during the run it seemed to track within 1-2 beats of the HR strap.

    • Francis C

      Thanks Ray. I see that you’re doing a review on the fuse (I’m looking forward to reading that). I may get it before my 70.3. I’m interested in using some form of HR while swimming and I don’t think the Scosche Rythm+ will survive the swim.

      A is where I have a problem with. B has never been a problem. I normally wear my Garmin 910XT on my left wrist and the Mio Ant+ on my right wrist. I tried using them both on the same wrist but I still get the drop.

  11. Patrick

    Got sold on the Scosche Rythm+ already but I’m curious to see more news on that Mio band. The one think the scosche is lacking is a HR display (not really needed, but it would’ve been nice)
    Also interesting to see it at your wrist and not higher up on the arm, still a good place for optical reading?

    • For the Mio, it’s designed for the wrist, whereas the Scosche is designed more for the upper. For me personally, I can generally get good readings on the wrist. In general though, I find people that have trouble with the wrist, can generally get a good reading up on the warm with the Scosche.

    • BillM

      I use it on wrist with no issues. had the mio link previously but got fed up with having to wear it on the same wrist as the watch. Scosche works fine on opposite wrist.

  12. PeterG

    It would be interesting to have your first impressions of the Epson optical heart rate technology and how it fits in the works (Mio, Scosche, …), don’t works categories. I’m glad to see you going off the beaten tracks and spending time on the Epson products. I’m interested in understanding if their efforts are to be taken seriously and how they compare against the classics like Polar or Garmin. What added value can a company like Epson bring coming into this space at this time of the game ?

    • From what I’m seeing on the Epson, optical HR and GPS accuracy are very solid (though, I need to download this run, because it was a bit off the Garmin).

      The challenge Epson will have is the greater ecosystem (app/site/etc…) being a bit more in the rough compared to existing solutions.

  13. Mirko

    Hi Ray,

    is the review for the Fuse due anytime soon? Really tempted to order it right now but it might be wiser to wait for your thoughts…

    • I’m hoping next week for Fuse review. So far, so good. One does have to keep in context that they have a far less featured app/website for activity monitoring than most other solutions though. On the flip side, they seem to nail optical HR while working out (as usual).

  14. Stephen

    Hi ray – just wondering when the epson 810 review will be available?

    thanks

  15. Nicholas

    Looks like an awesome weekend. Have fun doing the touristy thing because why not as long as you are doing them in so many places and with new and interesting faces.

  16. Tim Grose

    And a few observations from me on how our devices did (especially the Garmin Forerunner 920XT) link to forums.garmin.com

  17. So this is the second time we were running in the same city and not able to run together, lol!!!
    I’ve spent 4 days in London with my wife and ran saturday and sunday at the Regent’s Park 10k race!
    One day I will join you somewhere around the world for a run!
    Just got my garmin 920xt, first run today but I’m sure I will love it.
    Best,
    Luca

  18. Chris

    How many other people, immediately upon seeing picture of Big Ben go:
    “Hey Kids, look Big Ben, Parliament”.

    I can’t be the only one right?

  19. Hendrik

    The MIO Fuse looks like a very promising device.
    As I am lucky enough to get the chance to give some hints for a Christmas gift and the Fuse is a good candidate, I would like to ask the following. Hopefully you can provide some (preliminary) answers:
    – is the Fuse firmware upgradeable and does MIO plan to upgrade it along the way?
    – is MIO planning to add additional activities (such as swimming for example)
    – is the silicone band removable/replaceable

    With its incorporated accelerometer, its heart-rate monitor and its screen, the Fuse has the potential to be a simple yet effective tracker for most sport activities. I personally would love for it to incorporate swimming dynamics.
    Thank you.
    Hendrik

    • 1) Yes, both Fuse and Velo are fully firmware upgradeable.
      2) They do have future plans, but none they’re ready yet to announce. I suspect you’ll see most of the updates on the app side for now.
      3) For Fuse no, for Velo yes.

    • Hendrik

      Thank you Ray for the informative reply!!

      it seems companies are getting closer
      Kind regards,
      Hendrik

    • Hendrik

      Thank you Ray for the informative reply!!

      It seems companies are getting closer and closer to delivering a device that is able to track both daily activity as well as workouts.
      In fact the Fuse comes very close to what I am looking for, with only the swimming metrics missing. Whether I will order one is something I have not fully decided yet, I am certainly looking forward to your full review.
      Kind regards,
      Hendrik

  20. Stuart Brown

    The Mio Fuse looks very intriguing. I emailed Mio to get a few answers and unfortunately the replies I got were a bit confusing. Maybe Ray could clarify a few areas in his review? I’m primarily interested as to whether the unit will feature sleep tracking and if it will (maybe eventually integrate with HealthKit on iOS).

    Also as to whether the battery life really is that good (they say 6-7 days).

    I’d be really interested how the exercise tracking works (ie how to get it to become a sensor for an app like Strava or connection to a head unit/watch). Does that exercise count towards the daily goal?

    And how visible/noticeable is the display and the indication of HR zone? If you have a cycling head unit it would be good to have a secondary display that could potentially free up some space on the head units display.

    I am really hopeful it is useful. If it does little more than counting steps then I may as well leave my iPhone in my pocket and buy a Scosche Rhythm+. It would be nice to have a fit and forget style device that happens to have a nice accurate optical heart rate sensor already in it though (I currently wear a Polar Loop)

    Looking forward to a typically thorough review Ray, hope my home town of London treated you well recently.

    • Battery Life: Thus far, I haven’t charged it since last weekend. So far, so good.

      Workout: You long hold a center button once, and then it enters workout mode and finds your HR. At this point, it also starts broadcasting your HR over BLE and ANT+. You then press again to actually start the workout (recording, sans phone). Press again to pause, and hold long again to save.

      Tracking: Yes, a workout counts as steps towards the day. I’m finding it undercounting steps by about 10% (sometimes less though). Mio says that was a purposeful decision to make it more realistic in that some activity trackers pickup more random day to day non-step items (i.e. washing dishes). Not really a big deal to me either way honestly – it’s more about trends.

      Display: it’s very easy and clear. During a workout it’s on the entire time.

      I’m aiming for a Fuse review next week. I don’t think I’ll have a Velo review next week – merely due to limited time on the bike right now with lots of travel. So far, I’m liking it. To be honest, more than I thought I would.

  21. Gabriel Eguia

    Ray,

    Would you comment on the Mio Fuse – how do set a workout? does it upload that workout to say Garmin Connect or Training Peaks?

    Is your Mio linked to the 920xt for the Heart Rate Function?

    Do you find having the HR visible useful?

  22. Gabriel Eguia

    hah – answered right there

    would you differentiate the person who would want a MIO link, Mio Fuse or a Mio Velo?

    they seem very similar and capable.

  23. Sissi

    Hey,

    i live in London – good to see you are in London! I love your gadgets reviews, helped me buy two watches so far. Welcome to Europe where more things are happening..

  24. Stian

    Love your blog DC.

    Are you planning to make a review of the Runsense sf-810?

  25. steve

    Hi Ray – when will the Epson runsense sf-810 review be available?

  26. Steve

    Thanks Ray – are you able to comment briefly on HR accuracy and GPS accuracy/fix (speed).