PEAR Training Intelligence System
Craig Fellers, January 1, 2015
Call me a fitness nerd, but I can honestly say that there are few inventions that have impressed me more than the PEAR Training Intelligence System. Sure, revolutionary innovations such as structured irrigation, the combustion engine, and electricity were a pretty big deal in their time, but this is 2012 and we’re in the era of the iPhone app. With this product sitting in my hand I can’t help but smile and wonder why nobody else has thought of this before. It just makes sense.
Now, I am notoriously skeptical of new gizmos and will be the first one to speak my mind if something seems gimmicky. I find it really irritating when products try to fill a niche that doesn’t exist, e.g. the Campagnolo 11 speed drive train for road bikes. Thousands of Euros spent on research and all the Italian engineers can come up with is adding another gear?…Reminds me of this clip from the movie Spinal Tap – Please, please click this link.
For the most part, running has prided its self on being a ‘back to basics’ sport, but PEAR Training System innovation proves that technology can successfully infiltrate and improve this primordial activity. Depending on your attitude, running is a way to compete against yourself and others, a relaxing activity to clear your mind, an opportunity to catch up with friends, or a great asset to avoid missing your flight (I think my PR mile time was actually through the SFO international terminal).
Besides any love of running, everybody likes to improve. It is just human nature. The obvious question that arises is how to become a better runner. The classic runner mentality is to merely say, “run more” and to some extent that is absolutely true. The PEAR Training System, however, will help you run and train more efficiently and you will definitely have more fun along the way. Improvement means different things to different people. PEAR understands this by providing a variety of different goals to select on your device whether it be to cut minutes from your marathon time, inches from your waist or complete your first 10k.
If you are like me, the first thing you do after signing up for a race is to Google how to train for the event. With PEAR, you don’t have to, you already have the information literally in your pocket, sitting right next to Angry Birds in your iPhone. When you purchase the PEAR Training Intelligence System, you receive a Bluetooth heart rate monitor that pairs with their free app (more on this later) as well as some really innovative earbud headphones.
As I cracked open the box of my new PEAR Training System, I was instantly taken by these headphones. It was evident that somebody put a lot of thought into the development of an earbud that will actually stay in your ear while running! Wow, somebody finally realized that the iPhone headphones suck and did something more clever than changing the color or getting Dr. Dre to indorse them. While PEAR did make them ‘PEAR Blue’ they also have silicone molding to fit inside the Cymba Conchae folds of your ear, so they don’t fall out within the first 5 steps and since the headphones don’t completely seal off the auditory canal, you still hear sounds besides your music. While it’s nice to have Taylor Swift accompany you on your runs, it is nicer still not to get hit by an unexpected car. These headphones alone make the PEAR a worthy investment, but they are a mere accompaniment to the awesome app.
You cannot fault PEAR for lack of sex appeal either, they found such good looking runners for their loading screen that it doesn’t even bother you when the app occasionally stalls here.
Once inside the app, the easy-to-use interface guides you to download a free single workout, complete a multi-week goal oriented training plan, or embark on a self-guided freeform run. While the freeform selection will monitor heart rate, distance, time and pace and graph them on your iPhone after the run, the coached workouts set this apart from other available software. Whether you choose a pyramid interval, half marathon simulation, or stretch workout, your coach will provide verbal prompting through the headphones to guide in keeping an appropriate pace and heart rate zone to train more effectively.
Now, as a fairly accomplished runner, I am quick to think that I don’t need a robot telling me what to do while I am out on the trail. After running with my PEAR, however, I found that for many of my runs, gentle prompts urged me to undulate my pace rather than just settle in to a semi-comfortable cadence that really is not necessarily an efficient way to improve.
Finish the run, and your heart rate will be immediately graphed on your phone along with a route map. Daily, weekly and monthly tallies are also stored for bragging rights. Just make sure to turn the app completely off by double clicking the home button and shutting it off manually otherwise the PEAR will run in the background and deplete your battery.
Even if you are a minimalist, it is hard to argue that the PEAR Training Intelligence System isn’t cool, innovative and functional. It is easy to use and a great tool for any runner, even those who consider themselves elite. The PEAR system retails at $150, and can be purchased on their website.
Craig Fellers is based out of Santa Cruz where he is the owner and optometrist at Midtown Optometry.