A Guide To Smart Watches For Triathlon Training


As we begin to shift into the warmer months, more people are beginning to take their fitness activities outdoors, and this is especially true for people who enjoy running triathlons. This iconic competition features three different outdoor activities and requires a great deal of endurance in order to even complete all 3 events, and more still to finish in the top 10-20.

If you are someone who is considering running this strenuous competition, it may be wise to utilize a smartwatch to keep track of your exercise metrics. A smartwatch will make it very easy to track your running, swimming, and cycling metrics.

Additionally,many watches now offer the ability to track your heart rate via an embedded heart rate monitor

Lastly, there is a great deal of different smartwatches on the market, but few that are suited to triathlon training. Ideally, you will want to look for a watch that has an open water swim tracking mode and the ability to pair a heart rate monitor, if the device does not come with an embedded one. And it is also wise to consider a device that offers a SWOLF score as well. WOLF is short for swim golf, and it is mostly found on triathlon focused smartwatches.

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It is also advisable to consider a device that can accurately measure your ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and running cadence. These are advanced measurements that elite runners use to improve their speed and power.

So if you are looking for a solid triathlon watch, consider these 5 watches below. They should contain all of the above features and more to keep track of your triathlon stats.

Suunto Ambit 3 Sport

The Suunto 3 is a solid smartwatch in its own right and comes with many different fitness tracking features that are ideal for triathlon training. The Suunto has GPS, heart rate monitoring, and a multisport mode that will allow you to set up the activities you want to be tracked in advance. The watch is able to automatically switch between them without any interaction from the user at all. This makes it ideal for triathlon training as is completely hands-free.

Garmin 920XT

The 920 XT is one of Garmin’s more popular smartwatches. This watch actually has a dedicated triathlon training mode, which allows you to utilize the devices built-in GPS, accelerometer, and open water swims mode to record your triathlon training.

The 920 XT can also estimate VO2 max, which is a measurement of how oxygenated your blood is during times of physical exertion.Many elite athletes use this metric to judge their overall cardiovascular fitness, and with the 920 XT, you can as well.

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Additionally, the 920 XT is waterproof up to about 50 meters, and also supports Bluetooth/ANT+ devices. This makes it ideal for pairing with a smartphone or heart rate monitor. And thanks to Garmins Connect IQ (Garmin’s version of the app store), you will have no shortage of apps to choose from.

Garmin Fenix 3

The Fenix is a little on the bulky side, but it doesn’t skimp on features. In addition to being able to track running, cycling, and swimming, the Fenix 3 also features the all-important open water swimming mode.

Of particular interest is the Fenix personal trainer feature, which is able to track your exertion status in real-time. This will give you constant updates on how your training is going and will also alert you when you are approaching an overtrained state.

The Fenix is also notable in that is has a dual GPS/GLONASS (GLONASS is a Russian based GPS tracking system ) module. This allows the watch to be able to utilize both satellite networks, which makes for increased tracking accuracy and redundancy.

Polar V800

Polar’s V800 is a solid triathlon tracker and works especially well when you pair it with a heart rate monitor(we recommend using Polar’s H7) for improved tracking efficiency. The V800 is able to keep track of many different activities, and even has provisions for some of the more obscure ones such as yoga or kayaking. The V800s stand out feature is its fitness trainer mode. This mode allows for intricate testing of all of your triathlon-specific stats, the most useful of which is the orthostatic test. Polar claims that this test can help you determine how well your body is responding to your training over time.

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The downside to the V800 is its large size. Out of all the triathlon watches on this list, it is easily the largest.

Magellan Switch Up

The Magellan Switch Up is the budget option on this list. This is a very affordable smartwatch that surprisingly has GPS and an open water swim mode. You will also be able to set up nine different activity profiles, which will cover triathlon training very well.

The Switch Up is, of course, waterproof and comes withANT+ functionality, which allows you to pair up things like heart rate monitors or power meters to the watch itself.

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Unique to the Switch Up is its bicycle mount, which is ideal for those who do a lot of cycling. This makes switching in and out of a bicycle a breeze(hence the devices name), and the device pairs with many different power meters as well. Indeed, this smartwatch seems ideally suited to keeping track of cycling methods, and that is a good thing since so few watches are built around such a specialty.

Wrap Up

To conclude, there are three things that are crucial for keeping track of triathlon metrics: GPS/accelerometer support for running, distance tracking for cycling, and an open water swim mode/waterproofing for swim tracking. It is also worthwhile to utilize a device that is cable of recording your SWOLF score and running metrics like cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. The 5 devices on this list should be able to do all of that and more, which makes them ideally suited for triathlon tracking and reporting.


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