When you catch the fitness bug there is always a chance it will quickly escalate and what might have started out as a gentle plan to cycle to work or run your local Parkrun every week suddenly morphs into an all-action training schedule for a marathon. Or a 100-mile bike ride. Or, in the long run, a triathlon.
First-timers swell the ranks on the start line at every mass participation triathlon nowadays, and the sport is growing at a furious pace. Sport England stats show that over 200,000 people tackled a tri in 2016 – 67% more than in 2009 – and that there are now an average of 26 events every week.
Training for a triathlon, especially when it’s your first, requires a firm plan and a very capable multi-sport tracker that can help you analyse your performance across the three disciplines. The new Apple Watch on EE is not only such a tracker, it will also keep you in touch with the rest of the world during your training thanks to its mobile connectivity with an iPhone that is on EE. The Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) uses the same number as your iPhone, so both the iPhone and Apple Watch need to be on EE if you want to call, message, use apps and stream music, without having your iPhone on you. If your iPhone is on another network and you buy the latest Apple Watch, you simply won’t get access to all of the great 4G functionality.
Considering how much time you need to spend on the bike, in the pool, and pounding the pavements to prepare for a triathlon, taking calls, receiving emails and streaming an unlimited choice of music while on the go is very handy indeed.
The latest Apple Watch’s great strength when it comes to fitness tracking is the vast amount of apps available for it, and that holds especially true for triathletes, as you can pick out the perfect app for you in each of the three sports, or use the native Workout app for all three of them.
You are spoilt for choice when it comes to running and cycling, with all of the most popular fitness tracking apps – including, Nike+ Run Club and Cyclemeter – available as Apple Watch apps. The most common route into a triathlon is for a keen runner and cyclist to take up swimming, in which case they probably already have a favourite app for tracking running or cycling, so it’s great to be able to simply carry on using that app on the latest Apple Watch.
There are also impressive third-party apps available for swimming such as MySwimPro, but the recently revamped swim support through the Workout app is perfect for the first-time triathlete. When you’re in the pool the new Apple Watch counts lengths automatically and divides your workout into sets for you – so if you take a breather after 10 lengths before going for another 10, your post-swim report will break down your stats – like distance, time, pace – by set.
Most impressively of all, the Watch automatically recognises your stroke type in the water and divides your workout up accordingly. So, if you do five lengths of front crawl, then five of breast stroke and then five backstroke, you’ll get details on your performance with each stroke. You don’t need the flawless technique of Michael Phelps for the Watch to recognise the stroke either – even beginner attempts at each type will be picked up and categorised correctly.
The new Apple Watch on EE also offers open-water swim tracking, which is essential for triathletes. When it comes to race day, you’re not going to be knocking out 50 lengths at an indoor pool, you’re going to be plunging into the open water, so you need a tracker that can take that plunge with you. With open-water swims the new Apple Watch uses its in-built GPS to provide a map of your workout afterwards, as well as your stats including distance, time and stroke types.
If you also track your runs and cycles with the Workout app, you can take advantage of another new feature on the watch, which is the ability to transition between exercise types at the click of a button. Well, two buttons, but that’s still pretty quick. Swipe left from your current activity and you’ll see a ‘+’ icon, click that and it will save your activity while offering the sports menu for you to select your next workout, allowing you to switch from say, running to cycling, in rapid fashion. It’s not hard to see how useful that is for triathletes.
Of course you might want to use three different apps for running, cycling and swimming, depending on your ability in each, and the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) will let you do just that. For running you might fancy the Nike+ Run Club, which offers training plans tailored to your ability, as well as guided runs where a coach (or a famous athlete like Mo Farah) will talk you through the session from the Watch itself. If you are a new runner, you can select the distance of the run in your triathlon and Nike+ Run Club will set up a training plan for you that builds up to race day. Easy! Although you will have to do the running yourself.
You could rely on the native Apple Watch Workout app for your cycling, as it does a very good job, or you could go the third party route with something like Cyclemeter if you’re looking for more in depth analysis of your rides.
Likewise, if you’re looking for an alternative to the excellent swim tracking on the Workout app you can also get a training plan for the wettest part of your triathlon with an app like MySwimPro, which will guide you through workouts in the water and help improve your technique via videos on the partner phone app.
That’s just one possible combination of apps you can use for your triathlon training with the new Apple Watch. There are thousands more, and if you can’t be bothered to pick through them all, there is always the easiest route of using the native Workout app for everything.
So the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) is a tremendous tri tracker, and that’s before you even get to the extra benefits of its mobile connectivity available on EE. If there’s one thing all triathletes share, it’s a busy training schedule, so having a watch that can handle all your emails, calls and texts, and help manage your work and personal calendar on top of tracking your workouts is a real bonus. You can leave your phone behind and go for a run, or a ride, or jump in the pool – you really shouldn’t have your phone with you for that last one anyway – and stay connected to the world, taking calls and replying to texts and emails by dictating your response to Siri, or using a pre-loaded template response.
On top of that, the latest Apple Watch’s mobile connectivity through EE also allows you to stream music directly through the device, so you can access both your music collection and the entire Apple Music library from your wrist. When you consider the hefty workload of a triathlon training schedule it’s impossible to overestimate the value of having instant access to unlimited entertainment while you workout. It’s also a great way of making the most of your 6 months of free Apple Music that you can get with your iPhone’s EE pay monthly plan.
With a huge variety of running, cycling and swimming apps to pick between, the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) is the perfect fitness tracker and coach for a triathlete, but it’s not content to do just that. On top of tracking your activity the cellular connectivity on the Watch allows you to manage your life alongside your training schedule, as well as entertaining you through the long hours of training. It is, in short, the perfect training tool for the first-time triathlete.
EE offers the Apple Watch Series 3 (GPS + 4G) from just £25 per month with unlimited data, and customers require an iPhone 6, SE (or later) on a EE pay monthly or EE SIM Only plan.