The Coros Pace 2 : Initial Thoughts

I don't normally write posts on GPS running watches simply because I'm no expert on it. What I know about GPS watches I glean from the more professional reviewers like DC Rainmaker, to name a few. This post is just my very initial thoughts about the Coros Pace 2 and I won't be delving into any technical aspects of the device.

My first ever running watch back when I first started running was with a simple basic Casio G-Shock. It had a simple stop watch and you had to actually measure your route on a physical map with a thread to know how far you would be running before even heading out and then manually calculating your pace. Let's not even start about stride length, oscillation, ground contact time and all the many stats of today. The closest I got to a running centric watch was the Nike+ Sports Band and I was so excited by it.

My first foray into a real GPS running device was with a Garmin, the Forerunner 610 to be precise. I was in awe of it. Life was going to be so much easier, I thought. The amount of data I got off it was already overwhelming and it really wasn't as much as compared to the present but nevertheless, running life got that much easier. All I had to do was run and let the watch do the techie stuff for me. 

Since then, I've always stood faithful to the Garmin brand, upgrading with every new model of the Forerunner series, after all, they were the leading name in GPS sports watches. As far as I was concerned, there really wasn't any real competition to them at that time. Many PR's were obtained with the brand,  my first sub 4 marathon, my longest ultra run at 84km, my longest walk at 42km, to name a few and many disappointments were obtained too like my first marathon and ultra DNF and the brand always had a place close to my heart. 

But of late, since I moved on to the Forerunner 245, I've had one issue after another with the watch. I had to send it back to the shop on the second day as the wrist HR wasn't working and two more times since I've had it. The last straw was just a few weeks ago when it started acting up again. Maybe the 245 series just hated my guts, I don't know. I made up my mind to look into a new device. Budget was a concern for me, seeing as how the Pandemic has kinda reduced my buying power or I would have just gone for the Forerunner 945 series.

Ever since Coros launched, I've been keeping an on/off eye on the brand. Now, with the issues I was having, I started looking at it more closely and was intrigued with the Pace 2. It looked like the Forerunner 245 and had almost the same specs as the 245 series and the price was appealing. But I was still apprehensive about switching brands. I mean, as much as Coros has made some excellent progress, Garmin was still THE player in the GPS sports watch market. Besides, I was not sure if I could get used to a whole new eco system of recording my runs.

But I was really a little pissed so I decided to sell of my 245 and just go head long into getting the Coros Pace 2. The initial hunt for it was also quite stressful. At the incredible price it was going for, the device was practically out of stock almost everywhere. After a few calls here and there I located one and headed there to purchase it immediately.

There, I was finally on a new GPS sports watch brand. What new and exciting things and PR's were waiting for me? It was time to find out. The model I got was the Dark Navy colorway, though I was looking for the white one. The Pace 2 came in a pretty classy and expensive looking packaging though if they went a little less overboard with the packaging, maybe the watch could have been a little cheaper. But I wasn't complaining, it was still a pretty good package of a watch at RM899.00.

Upon taking it off the box, it was really one of the lightest GPS sports watches I had ever put on. Even my wife said it felt feather weight compared to the Forerunner 245 and she was right. It was practically weightless on my wrist. I didn't need to charge it cos it was already 88% charged and I got down to messing and configuring it immediately which wasn't really difficult at all. I didn't even need to take the manual out of the box. 

The setup and downloading of the app was straight forward and I was done in less than 10 minutes, with 2 firmware updates waiting from the get go. The Pace 2 has only two buttons on the right, a dial knob and a regular button unlike the original Pace which mirrored the Forerunner 245. I was initially skeptical and worried about the dial knob of the Pace 2 as many users and reviews online didn't really like it but to my surprise, I actually loved the dial knob so that was a good thing. It was easy to use and I could access everything just from one button so less fiddling around while running.

Being on the Garmin eco system for so long, everything was a little new to me. The watch and workout displays took some getting used to and I set them up as close to my former Garmin setup as possible to keep some familiarity. Functions and details were similar, save for a few here and there, to the 245 and I got used to it pretty fast. I couldn't wait to take it out for an actual run to compare the data with the 245 but it was already too late into the evening for a run so it would have to wait for the next day.

The Coros app was only accessible through the phone unlike the Garmin Connect which was web accessible. It was a little disappointing but I'm always on my phone so it wasn't that great a deal. Interface and functionality wise, the Garmin Connect app had it beat hands down in my opinion or I could just be so used to Garmin Connect. Don't get me wrong, the Coros app is not bad at all but it's still got a long way to catch up to Garmin.

All that aside, the app still had all the metrics nicely laid out and easy to understand and access. The main home screen shows you all the activity stats for the day somewhat like Garmin Connect. The bottom of the page lists any workouts you may have done along with its summary stats relating to training load, fitness levels, etc. Swiping right brings you to more customization pages. The app itself is very basic but got its job done. You can also setup training/interval programmes, change your watch face, etc from the app.

Now, I finally managed to get the watch ready for a run the next morning. The GPS acquisition was what surprised me. It took all of 10 seconds or so to acquire a signal and this being the first time I used it for a workout. My 245 took me way longer than that and I've had that device for a while now. So that was a plus for me. The device though, won't let you start a workout until it's acquired a signal though I guess you could just ignore the warning and force start it but I'm guessing you'll get some screwed up data at the end of the day.

Since I do my runs very early in the morning, I kinda loved the Night Mode function of the device. The Night Mode is an option to turn on the backlight constantly during your run but at a very low light setting just enough to let you see the display all through the run until sunset where it turns off automatically or you finish your run, whichever comes first. The Garmin has a similar option which is flick your wrist to turn on the light but sometimes had me flicking my wrist two or three times too many to turn on the display backlight. The Coros Pace 2 clearly has it beat in that aspect.

Now, I run a very familiar route every morning and know exactly how long and how far the route is. The Coros Pace 2 was spot on with the distances of every lap from start to finish once I compared it against the Garmin data of my previous runs. So another plus point for the Coros device. I had on a few other metrics as well such as running power, a built into the device metric and it was really the first time I was using it so I'll need a few more runs to understand it properly and see how I can use it to my advantage.

The rest of the metrics were basically the same as the 245 and also mirror my 245 specs such as cadence and stride length which were more or less the same. GTC, Oscillation, balance and a few other metrics I would only be able to get once I purchase the Coros Pod. Being a data reliant person, maybe a little too much according to my wife, I tend to like reading all the data it spews out after a run. Lastly, the battery life is simply phenomenal.

So, was it a wise choice to switch brands? While it's too soon to really say so, but I've no regrets whatsoever. My initial apprehensions about giving up on the Garmin brand was simply unfounded and I think Coros has done an excellent job since the time they've launched and having snagged Eliud Kipchoge's NN Running Team along speaks volumes for their credibility. Here's looking to new PR's in the years ahead with the Coros Brand!