Coros Pace 3 Review | Running Shoes Guru

Water proof

Yes + Swim Tracking

Multi sport

Yes + Event tracking

Music support

Yes from Local Storage

Pros and cons according to our running expert

  • Ridiculously lightweight (30g) I have forgot I was wearing it at times.
  • Excellent navigation
  • Doesn’t try to be anything it isn’t.
  • Incredible battery life (24 days continuous daily use)
  • Doesn’t alert you to training sessions to do that day – have to go search for it
  • Can read heart rate through tattoos in the day however seems intermittent at night affecting sleep data.
  • Doesn’t guide you through a run workout – it expects you to remember.

The Coros Pace 3 is brilliant for serious runners, whether it be on the trails or road because the navigation is on point for both. It’s a simple watch there’s no bells and whistles, especially when it comes to the graphics, but the features are clearly quality over quantity – amazing battery life, fast drying straps, sensationally light weight and well designed, it’s a unique watch.

Straps

The number of compliments I have had, just out and about wearing this watch daily, is quite ridiculous. The off-white colour matched with the white-grey-red nylon strap works perfectly. It’s discreet enough to look like a smartwatch, yet it really catches the eye.

It’s a simple design, with a choice of nylon or silicone straps (22mm thick) that give this watch the edge. Initially, I was concerned about wearing Nylon straps in the pool, but the straps dried quicker than my hair, so I didn’t have to spend a chunk of the day watch-less. It has water resistance of up to 50m and I found zero issues navigating the watch in the pool at all.

The only caveat with white straps is it will start to look a little grubby, especially with everyday wear and dog hairs linger in the strap material annoyingly. But you can take the strap off, wash it and put it back on with ease with Coros’ quick-release pin method, very easy.

Watch case

The watch face itself is only 41.9 x 41.9mm and 11.7 mm thick so it sits snugly against the wrist. It’s ridiculously light at 30g with the nylon band (39g with the Silicone band) and sometimes I have forgotten it’s even on my wrist. Perfect for longer distances and day-to-day wear.

The watch case itself is made from Fibre Reinforced Polymer. It does have a cheap look about it which incidentally is reflected in the price. Coros use a single button and dial on the right side of the watch face to navigate the interface.

Watch display screen

The display is 1.2-inch in size, and made of transflective Mineral Glass, so it is robust – I haven’t managed to scratch it yet with daily wear for over a month. While it has a 64-colour display, the graphics are very dated compared to competitors. It always reminds me a bit of a Tamagotchi, rather blocky but what it lacks in fancy graphics, it excels where it matters.

I must admit the watch face designs are excellently designed they really bring the design tighter with the strap and casing style. I chose a simple tri-coloured 80’s watch face – it’s a huge crowd-pleaser.

Wrist heart-rate monitor

The Coros Pace 3 uses a 5 LED, 4 Photodetector, and Sp02 Pulse Oximeter to measure heart rate. It struggled to read through one tattooed wrist, however, it managed to penetrate through a colour tattoo on the other wrist so there were no real issues here.

Sleep data was a bit hit-and-miss, so for night usage I turned the watch to face my inner wrist throughout the night – and it never missed a beat. It’s so lightweight and comfortable this was no issue at all – I just had to remember to do it!

A crown and button are mostly used to navigate the watch however there is also a touchscreen option available. All options are super responsive even in the pool – but don’t worry there’s an option to switch touchscreen off on workouts if you prefer. By default the screen auto-locks on activity so there’s minimal risk of finishing a run before you actually have.

To unlock the watch, press the crown for three seconds (it counts down for you) which occurs whenever the backlight is off. You also need to repeat that action to officially finish your workout/run.

To select the workout profile/menu click the crown. The button below is essentially a back button. However, hold the button and that takes you to a system menu for settings, music, notifications etc.

The first time I tried navigation I nearly threw the watch in the lake. When on a run and you need to find your way back to the start or even fancy running a route it is not easily found.

You must start an activity, then hold the down button > navigation > course OR back to start via breadcrumb navigation.

This is not abundantly clear. I held the down menu on the normal watch interface (not activity mode) to access the system menu > Navigation. This however does not, I repeat does NOT record any run or walk that you do. It is a pointless endeavour. My data was lost for the day, and I was furious.

However, the turn-by-turn, breadcrumb navigation was flawless. It told me to keep right, and deviation alert does kick in – after about 30-45 seconds of going the wrong way – and this is even the case in the middle of forestry on the trails.

The deviation alert is a bleep followed by how far away you deviate from the route, the arrow also lets you know if you’re going the correct way, it is very impressive indeed.

Whilst on the run there are four pre-set activity faces:

  1. HR, pace, distance, time.
  2. Lap distance, pace, lap pace, HR, distance, activity time
  3. Effort pace, pace, grade, HR, distance
  4. Time of day, activity time

All of which are customizable via the app. Each workout screen can be specific to each activity.

The screen faces are easily navigated with either touch screen and the crown – unless you disable the touch screen.

The data immediately after your run is excellent. It rates training load aerobic and anaerobic scores, best mile pace and average mile splits with graphs, and heart rate too. Power output, elevation stats, cadence, stride length, calories, time and predicted recovery time.

The number of hours to rest comes from data relating to training level, training load and running performance of the previous run. Sleep and resting heart-rate data does not get taken into consideration at all which is problematic.

I had completed a tough gym workout and I had to import every exercise I did in the 45 minutes – that’s not going to happen. So, instead of considering my sleep and heart rate it essentially thought I had done 45 minutes of squats and determined I was ready to go again in a few hours – which I absolutely was not.

Partly a user error here but there was no way I was spending hours imputing my every move into the watch as I went to a class. But this kind of lack of data in the wrong hands would cause injury.

Features

Music is one area that this watch seriously lacks. You need to have downloaded MP3 files to import onto the watch otherwise you’re stuck with three weird pre-set tracks. Who still has that? It does not support Spotify or any music/podcast streaming service at all. Nor can you control music on the watch it must be done on your phone.

Sleep data, albeit through the Coros Pace 3 doesn’t actually help determine your recovery time. Regardless of how you’ve slept the watch will believe you can still run that marathon today which to me makes the sleep data obsolete.

When it comes to recovery, the watch takes into consideration the data from your training level, training load and running performance of the workout previous to determine how many days or hours are left for a full recovery.

It’s not great, I did a gym workout and barely slept at all – I was riddled with DOMs (delayed onset of muscle soreness). But the watch remained determined to tell me I had made a full recovery and should be running – not good. For this, I’d say this watch suits someone savvy to recovery and using their common sense over relying on the watch.

Sunrise – Sunset feature is nice so I can plan runs in daylight, especially throughout the winter months. Other than that it’s not a useful feature to have.

Other metrics the watch measures daily are: Heart rate, steps walked, how many floors of stairs you’ve climbed, running fitness score/race predictor, training load and 4-week intensity distribution, calories burnt, time spent active that day, recovery percentage in hours. HPA (air pressure) and skin surface temperature.

Personally, I’d trade some of those features in to max out sleep and heart-rate-related recovery stats because that is more useful for my training performance than skin temperature, or HPA and active minutes counter.

Serious fitness watch competitors offer reports on your heart rate. So watches tell you to have more rest when your resting heart rate is a little high (from stress, sickness, or overtraining) likewise regarding sleep quality impacts the next day’s performance, suggesting the Coros Pace 3 is behind the times regarding how to optimise the data.

Workouts

It has 22 sports profiles on the watch itself which include snowboarding, jump-rope indoor rowing and open-water swimming however there is no Yoga or Pilates, why?

The Coros Pace 3 is compatible for integration with many fitness apps such as Strava, Training Peaks, Relive, Adidas running, Apple Health, Stryd, Final Surge, Runalyze, Running Quotient, Decathlon, Runna, Komoot, RunGap, GP3S, RunMotion Coach, UTMB For the planet, UTWT Virtual, SisRUN, Nike Run Club, ALPI training and so much more.

However, it doesn’t send a reminder that you have a workout today. If you’re a bit scatty-brained like me and forget to check the watch or the app, then this can get annoying pretty fast.

Also, there is a little faux par when it comes to structured running sessions. There was one I didn’t understand at all and couldn’t view it once it started. The Coros Pace 3 kept bleeping at me to change pace or heart rate target but I wasn’t sure what was going on and essentially ignored it. But it was annoying.

Competitors have a better interface which states the stage of workout you’re at or is coming up, so the Coros Pace 3 needs improvement there. You can view the session before pressing ‘start’ on the Coros Pace 3 but then you just have to remember what’s going on at each stage.

Accuracy

The navigation accuracy is extremely accurate thanks to the usage of GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beisou and QZSS satellite systems.

Breadcrumb navigation system is brilliant, It doesn’t give turn-by-turn notifications however there are checkpoints along the way – if the course director inputs notes ‘stay right’ for example is incredibly useful.

I tested its deviation alert, and it was snappy. The map updated right away so I could visibly see I was off-route however it took just over 30 seconds to notify me. It’s the best navigation system I’ve used to date, but to get to actual routes requires you to dig a little.

On the run hold the bottom button > navigation > back to start/route. However, you can use the navigation without keeping run/walk metrics from the system menu.

All the navigation was completed in the middle of a forest – my phone struggled with signal but the Coros Pace 3 never missed a beat.

Battery life

I did say what it lacks in graphics it excels elsewhere and battery life is one of them.

It takes less than two hours to charge fully from 0, but I never let it get that low. A quick 15-minute while in the shower was sufficient to keep it high.

Coros says wearing the watch for day-to-day basic use can last 24 days, without all systems on and the always-on screen option – and I believe it. I have the Heart Rate monitor always on, use GPS on my runs and it lasts easily three weeks without a charge.

For the Ultra-marathoners out there, it states how much battery life it has left (in hours) before you click ‘start run’ and it has a 38-hour battery life in standard full GPS mode – this will see you through most ultra-distances.

A longer 10-mile run used 1% of the battery, that’s it. – should you require more there is a little keychain charger to pack with you for an extra $25 online.

What I really enjoy about this watch is how it doesn’t try to be an everything-watch or even attempt to compete with the likes of Apple when it comes to smartwatch functions or on-screen graphics. Instead, this is a training-focused watch with no bells and whistles with epic battery life, navigation abilities and cool style.

However, it seriously lacks in several features even the most basic kind such as music and how they’re using the data to help the user.

The Coros Pace 3 measures sleep and heart rate but doesn’t include those metrics when it comes to recovery, a huge flaw – especially in a less experienced runner’s hands – which given the low price tag of $229 may just attract beginner runners.

The running plan options on the Coros App cater for beginner runners right up to ultra-distances which is refreshing. Most would not cater for the latter. However, they do not include weight training in any of the plans – again an oversight for the watch considering its capabilities workout-wise – that part is a little baffling.

Recovery just seems completely neglected in this watch compared to Polar and Garmin’s competition.

So, although it looks and feels much better as a wearable – it lacks that final “pazazz” to be recommended – unless you are savvy and confident enough to override some of its data.

Price comparison:
Coros Coros Pace 3


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