First Time Heart Rate Monitor User: Mio Link, First Glance

I have been running for about 9 years, since I first started college and had notions about myself being an undiscovered sprinting superstar. Although I was wrong about being Usain Bolt’s greatest living competition, I quickly developed a love for athletics, running, races and the great feeling it always leaves you with in its aftermath. In the early days, my running gear consisted of a cheap pair of adidas trainers, a baggy pair of adidas 3/4 lengths, a long-sleeve fleece top and my ipod, which I carried in my hand. Basic but functional. As an 18 year old starting out in University, it was primarily about getting around as fast as I could without being seen by anyone, lest I should die of embarrassment if anyone I knew might detect me beneath the chaotic, confused running shape I imagined I must have looked like. Within a year, however, running brought me more confidence, in that lovely way that running does, and I quickly ditched the clothes I was hiding beneath. Into the bin went the hideous dark, heavy, cover-all gear and out came the running vests and my first pair of running shorts. Bright blue, 6-inch tempo shorts which I love and still have as my favourite pair today! I’ve heard many stories like mine from other people who initially start out running and are too embarrassed about what other people might think of them when they see them out running. It puts them off running completely or like one particular cousin of mine, they choose to run at night, in the dark when no one can see them. She has since run the New York and Dublin marathons. (That would be that running confidence again) Of course, this self-consciousness and fears about what others will think of us is often just in our own head and who ever really notices you when you’re out running? And those that do, are either runners or non-runners. The runners will be generally be thinking “Great job, fair play to her…” or “…he’s got great form, wish I ran that good…” or “…I like her shoes…”. Then, the thoughts flashing through the non-runners mind, no matter what they say out loud, might go something like “…I wish I could run too…”, “…he makes that look so easy…” and guilt, guilt, guilt! So bottom line, no one really cares what you look like.

Tangent over. I got a Garmin 910 XT last summer, fell in love with it instantly and have been running with it ever since. I’ve used it for training and races, including a glut of duathlons and two triathlons. It worked superbly for the triathlons and I was admittedly, very surprised at how well it did given that there was an ocean swim involved. My only complaint about it was that there was no inbuilt heart rate monitor. It came with a chest strap which I tried a few times but could not get to work properly. It was difficult to engage and when I did finally get it to work, it would keep cutting out and skipping mid-run. It drove me mad. Stopping in the middle of a run to keep adjusting your chest strap renders the whole thing pointless and in the end it was enough to put me off using it altogether. I probably should have been more patient with it but I am not the patient type. If the technology doesn’t work as it’s supposed to, I quickly get frustrated and forget about it. Enter my new toy – the


The Mio Link is an optical heart rate monitor worn on the wrist like a watch. It measures the heart rate continuously via the optical heart rate monitor on its reverse side.


It comes in two colours, black or slate grey/white. I went with the second option and visually, it’s very neat and looks, well… pretty neat!


The first thing you need to know about the Mio Link is that it has no screen. This needs to be made clear. The way it works is it reads your heart rate and communicates the info to either your smartphone, tablet, GPS watch, activity tracker or bike computer via ANT technology and Bluetooth. I tried this out today and it worked like a charm. My Garmin 910 immediately picked up the Mio Link and didn’t cut out or lose my heart rate at any stage. The Mio Link itself is very easy to use – you simply hold down the big button on the front (where the screen would be) to turn it on, give it a few seconds to find your heart rate and then you’re good to go. While the Mio Link is activated, it flashes a small round light which can change between 5 different colours to indicate your heart rate zone. These heart rate zones are preset but can be configured to your preferred settings via the Mio Go android app. I found this very useful on my run today using it for the first time, as it’s effectively giving you a very direct instruction that you are either going too hard or too slow for whatever session it is you happen to be doing. This is what I am looking for from a heart rate monitor and I’m looking forward to being able to use it for speed sessions during the next phase of training when I’m done with base training. It will be good anyway in the meantime in terms of teaching me about the correct heart rate zone for easy running and recovery sessions. Up until now, there has been a hell of a lot of guesswork on my part, trying to go by physical feel, my breathing and my own opinion about how hard I think my body is working so it will be interesting to see how this compares with what I’m being told by the Mio.


I’ve come a long way from my first days of running and while I may still look like a nutter while running (or Phoebe from Friends…), at least I can feel a little bit more confident and cooler with my Garmin 910, Mio Link and all the funtastic data they bring. Stoked about getting to try this out properly over the next few weeks with a more detailed review to follow.


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