We saw the adidas miCoach system when it launched at CES earlier this year, and in its previous incarnation as part of Samsung miCoach. Adidas put aside quite a bit of space at this year's Virgin London Marathon expo for it, so we thought we'd take a closer look whilst we chase one down for review.
The system compares itself to Nike+, Polar and Suunto systems (strangely Garmin and Timex don't get a look-in) on their marketing information, pointing out that it offers real-time audible coaching, which is real unique feature here.
The other core elements, heart rate monitoring, training plan development, post-training analysis and a "running community" are all offered elsewhere, and heart rate monitors that prompt you to speed up or slow down to hit a target heart rate have been around for many years - we've dumped some links to reviews of alternative devices at the bottom of this story.
The adidas miCoach is a system with different components and essentially you need the heart rate monitor on a chest strap, the Stride Sensor and miCoach Pacer, all of which is sold in a kit for £120.
The miCoach Pacer is the brains of the outfit. This is the part that talks to all the other components, taking your stride rate from the foot sensor and the heart rate from the strap. It logs and processes the data and feeds back the appropriate information based on your training programme, via the headphone(s).
You get the option of looping through your own MP3 player too, which is where it could get a little more cumbersome, as you'll have to connect your MP3 player to the miCoach Pacer via an additional cable. Your music is still controlled by the MP3 player as normal. You do, at least, get the option of using any headphones with a 3.5mm jack you like, with the recent link-up between adidas and Sennheiser being an obvious option, but Philips also make headphones specifically for sport.
The miCoach Pacer connects to your PC and links in with the miCoach website, via the miCoach Manager (free PC and Mac download). The website is free to register, so you can head over now, browse the plans and make a decision on whether it suits your requirements before you part with your cash. You could even just use the website for a training plan and nothing else, with a range of different types of programme, from learning to run, to specific distance race training, including the marathon.
You then sync your Pacer with your training programme and off you go, and from what we can see, the programmes have been well designed, offer plenty of variety and take into account sound training principles.
Once you are running, the Pacer will update you on your progress, telling you to speed up or slow down to hit one of four training zones. This means your training is at the right intensity, which is the most efficient method for achieving the best results, especially when training for a long distance race like the London Marathon.
The guys on the stand at the Virgin London Marathon expo told us that the system is rolling out across Europe now, and it already available for those in the UK from the adidas website. We'll bring you the full low down when we get one in for review.
And if that's not enough, here's a video that explains it all again.