Running With the Polar S3+ Stride Sensor
Since making the switch from Garmin to Polar last June, I can say that I’ve more or less grown accustomed to the device. I purchased the RCX5 with the G5 GPS pod and heart rate strap. You can read about the reasons why I made the switch, having been a long time Garmin user, here.
The user experience over the 6 or 7 months have been largely positive except for some weeks of adjusting to Polar’s UI. I’ve enjoyed the good after-sales support of Athlete’s Circle, the convenience of the RCX5’s user replaceable battery (changed it once) and the decent features of the polarpersonaltrainer site.
After realizing that data like cadence and stride length would be more useful for my running goals, I bought the S3+ stride sensor and sold off the G5. As with all things Polar, you won’t get ANT+ compatibility. Meaning they pretty much work only within the Polar eco-system’s riding on the W.I.N.D. platform.
Sidenote: the adidas miCoach foot sensor, being ANT worked well with my Garmin 610. The advantage of being on the same platform.
Size wise, the S3+ is huge compared to the teensy Garmin and Nike+ sensors. The S3 is powered by a user replaceable CR2430 battery which means when paired with the RCX5, one could technically cover a multi-day ultra distance event on this setup without having to worry about charging. Construction quality is solid but the unit is a pain to attach to the shoe laces. The earlier version of the S3 attaches to the laces via a clip but the updated version, the S3+ has a different approach where you need to separate the sensor’s body from the soft silicone/rubbery bracket, re-lace your shoes through the bracket before rejoining both components. This is the main sticking point that does test your patience. More so when I’ve 5 or 6 pairs of shoes in rotation, and frequently reviewing new ones. Why can’t Polar implement a friendlier solution to attaching?
Moving on, configuring the stride sensor is simple enough – call up the Settings > Sport Profiles > Running > Stride Sensor Calibration. Then choose to run 400m or 1K or mile on a pre-marked route, set it and you’re ready to start logging your runs. I’ve so far ran a wide variety of paces and the sensor returned accurate distance which is impressive. I also found that I hover around the generally accepted optimal 180 steps per minute for most of my runs.
- Easy to configure
- Useful data such as cadence, stride length on top of other metrics like pace, speed, distance
- User replaceable battery
- Indoor outdoor use
- Switching between shoes is a pain in the butt
- Polar proprietory; not ANT+
- Could be a tad smaller, although its weight is not an issue.
- Not cheap and costs the same as the G5.