The Timex Ironman Run x20 GPS is a great basic fitness tracker. That’s all it is, though. It’s a very simple little device and if you’re after the bells and whistles of a Garmin or G-Shock, you’ll be disappointed. As fitness wearables go, the Timex Ironman Run will be a faithful companion, but it is cheap and cheerful at around $100.
This is a no-frills minimalistic watch for runners. Sometimes you just need something to do what it says on the tin. It’s got a GPS connection (which some might class as a frill), and it uses this to monitor your distance in real-time as well as pace and the calories you’ve burned. That’s all. That’s the whole functionality and features bit covered.
It’s not a Garmin Forerunner 935 or Polar Vantage V (which you should read about, here), but at $100 you can’t expect it to be.
Design, display and power
You can get hold of an Ironman Run in a few colours from a bright magenta to black, blue, white and yellow. Whichever you go for, please don’t think this will be a suitable accessory for any kind of formal occasion. It’s for wearing during your run and nowhere else.
The strap has a lock-in mechanism that keeps it secure on your wrist. So secure that some users have said it’s difficult to open, but there is a technique to it that you’ll get used to. The idea is that it stays with you during your run.
Considering it is a GPS watch, it is fairly slimline. It’s light, at only 60g. It does have a plastic feel to it, which is no surprise because, well, it is. There’s no pleasant surprise of feeling more lux than what it is. If you’re out on a marathon run, you want your watch to be practically non-existent. The Ironman Run will disappear on your wrist, in a good way.
It has a basic crocodile clip attached to a USB plug that bites into 4 charging docks on the belly of the watch. It’s a little uncouth, but it works.
You can expect up to 7 days between charges. This is based on a short to mid-length run, every day. In constant full GPS mode, you get 6 hours of power.
It shares a feature with the best smartwatch on the market (the Apple Watch Series 5), and that’s the always-on display. It’s a little difficult to read in either very bright or very dull lighting, unfortunately.
It has five buttons, which is good. It means the Ironman is really easy to use. You have a button for off and on (top left) and light (giving you a blast of LCD lumination), stop, menu, enter and back. They all help you navigate inside the menus too, but it’s easy to figure out.
Tracking your run
You can use the Ironman in two modes, either intervals or as a stopwatch. The latter is what it says it is, you running against a clock. The former is a bit more complicated, where you run in intervals of time or distance. Great for anyone into HIIT. You can name your sessions, which is very useful.
You can use a format of your choice, either mile or KM. It’ll record your laps and vibrate to indicate you’ve met an increment. If you’re not just a runner and like the odd bike ride, you can use these modes for cycling too.
The Ironman does offer a level of water-resistance at 50m, so you can go for a shallow swim but not a dive. Note, the GPS won’t work underwater, of course.
It offers you no sensors for heart rate or sleep. It doesn’t carry an altimeter or gyroscope or compass. You cannot use it for contactless payments. It’s a simple running buddy who looks after the numbers whilst you concentrate on your movements. It does offer an alarm to remind you to get outside, though.
Does it work well?
Like any other GPS watch, the synchronisation process with the nearest satellite can take a while. It’ll only work outside, too. Sometimes you might be better off starting your run so it can catch up with you. You’ll know when it has because it’ll buzz. Once connected, it’ll hold onto that connection.
It doesn’t come with a lot of onboard memory, so if you’re keen to store lots of runs, unfortunately, you’re restricted to only ten.
The data it will store per run is: distance, time, minutes per mile and miles per hour, number of laps and calories burned. A lot of alternatives have better capacity, like a number of Fitbit Flex that will store it more efficiently within the dedicated app. The Ironman might have you creating a spreadsheet, which some people actually enjoy.
Speaking of apps, there isn’t one. Nor does it play nicely with any other app. You have zero digital strings, which, again, is not a drawback to a lot of people. If you want to monitor your progress, you’ll be needing that spreadsheet.
If you’re seeking a fitness tracker that will do what you need it to and offer nothing more than that to impress you, the Ironman is perfect. If you’re not someone who wants or needs their smartphone with them on a run, this wearable is great because it doesn’t rely on the phone to supply the GPS connection, or to sync to an app or connect to the internet.
The best selling point about this watch is the price. It’s always under $100 but typically around $80. It’s built using cheap materials and you pay for exactly what you get. Having said that, there’s a benefit to the plastic case, as it’s incredibly light and doesn’t weigh you down.
The time it takes the GPS function to kick in can be frustrating, as can running out of memory in less than 2 weeks. The design will not be winning any awards and people will not think you’re cool. It’s almost aggressively lame.
But, and this is a big but, it gets the basics absolutely right. It’s reliable because it’s only purpose is to deliver the essentials.
If you’re a novice at running, don’t have or want to spend a lot but want to measure your performance, the Ironman is really advisable. If you want something with more features, check out our article where we discuss which is best between Garmin and Fitbit.
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