Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Final preparations - testing the foot pod

Hi everyone.  I just went for a run to Merzouga centre and back in order to try out the Suunto Foot Pod Mini for myself (if you recall Anny tried it out the other day), and to see how accurate it is for me.  The reason I chose that route is that I did the same route the other days with my GPS watch, so know how far it should be.  I couldn't really wear both at the same time as they both use ANT so may have interfered with each other.

It is hard to follow exactly the same route as I took the other day when I was wearing my GPS watch, as the hemada is just an open plain and there are paths crisscrossing it everywhere.  It should not make that much difference though, as I can more or less remember where I ran.

The Suunto Food Pod Mini uses an accelerometer to measure the speed and distance, so it will never really be as accurate as a GPS device.  Saying that, GPS devices are not really practical in the MDS as if you want them to last the duration you either need to carry lots of spare batteries or to carry a solar charger, both of which add extra weight to your pack.  The Food Pod Mini on the other hand can handle 400 hours of continuous use before you need to change the single lithium battery.

Apparently with some models of the Suunto watches it is possible to callibrate the Food Pod Mini using a run of known distance.  I haven't figured out how to do that with mine though.  Uncallibrated, Suunto claim that it is 95% or more accurate.

My GPS watch showed the run I did the other day following the same route was 9.73km.  The Foot Pod Mini showed the distance as 9.42km, so this is certainly within the limits of accuracy specified by Suunto, and will be fine for the MDS as long as I allow for the error in terms of pacing.  In fact it is better that it underestimates the distance rather than overestimates the distance to avoid premature sprint finishes.

The route today took me 1 hour 1 minute and 16 seconds, and that was a really leisurely pace with several photo stops included in that time.  I had decided to take my spare pack with just a bottle of water, my camera, room key and sunscreen in it, in order to give my legs a nice breather.  I was amazed at the difference it made running without the usual 8 to 10kg.  Even though I still had several kilos in my pack I felt so much lighter on my feet than usual.  When I start running without the pack after finishing the MDS it is going to feel like a breath of fresh air.  I have basically had that pack permanently strapped to my back on every run I have done since I got it.

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