Finis Tempo Trainer Pro – More than just a swimming tool

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I have been using a Finis Tempo Trainer in my swimming for about a year now and I absolutely love it. It is the #1 training tool in my swim bag without a doubt. In fact it is almost the only one…no pull bouy, no kickboard, no paddles…just short swim fins and a tempo trainer and a stop watch for those times when the pace clock just doesn’t cut it.

However, I have always had a few issues with the original Finis Tempo Trainer:

  • The battery is not replaceable. So, when it dies there is nothing you can do but buy another one.
  • It only displays in sec/stroke so it doesn’t work well for running or biking where you want strides or cycles per minute (yes, I realize you can do the math and still use sec/stroke…90 strides/min = 0.66 sec/stroke…but that is a pain).
  • It doesn’t float. So, if you swim open water with it and drop it…it is probably gone forever.

Tempo Trainer Pro

Enter the Finis Tempo Trainer Pro. With the release of the new Tempo Trainer Pro, Finis has fixed every one of the issues I had and added a little more even. It was almost as if they had my house bugged and listened to me complain about the older version (obviously, I wasn’t the only one that had suggestions…I don’t have that kind of power). So, here is what the new version has:

  • A replaceable battery! Yes!!!!
  • 3 different display modes
    – Mode 1: Sec/stroke just like the old tempo trainer
    – Mode 2: Triple beep from 1 sec to 9:59
    – Mode 3: Strokes or strides or cycles / minute
  • It floats!
  • Synch button: Just hit the synch button any time to restart the mode. So, if you are using mode 2 and you want to start your next interval early (or late), just hit the synch button when you are ready to go and it starts a new set. This will also help a coach synch the tempo trainer to a swimmer as they swim their natural pace.

So, let’s talk about each of the modes individually and what you can use them for.

Mode 1

This is the same as the old tempo trainer so I am just going to refer you to my other blog post where I talk about my progress with the tempo trainer in the pool. CLICK HERE. Basically, this will still be the primary use mode for swimming since the tempo is adjustable in 1/100th of a second and it makes the most sense for stroke length and tempo work in the pool.

Mode 2

This is a completely new mode and offers some interesting versatility to the tempo trainer. As an example, if your coach gives you a set like 10 x 100 @ 1:50, you could set the tempo trainer pro to mode 2 and 1:50. Hit the synch button when you are ready to go and swim your 100. Now, for example, if you finish your 100 in 1:30, you would have :20 to rest and you would go on the next triple beep. No more watching the clock or doing math to see when it is time to go again. As another example, you could set the tempo trainer pro in mode 2 and set it for 5:00 and do a “T5”. In other words, you would swim as many yards as possible in 5:00 and stop and record distance when you hear the triple beep. The old tempo trainer did not have this capacity at all.

Mode 3

To me, this is actually the best part of the new tempo trainer pro. In running, it is a widely accepted principal that a stride rate of about 180 steps/min is an efficient stride rate (that is counting every foot strike…you may have heard this as 90 strides/min when counting every right foot or every left foot as in ChiRunning…same thing). In cycling, 90 rpm is fairly widely accepted as an efficient rate. I have heard as low as 80 rpm and as high as 100 rpm from different coaches and sources but 90 is pretty close to what most teach to be the cycling cadence to aim for. On the bike, it is usually pretty easy to know your cadence by just buying a cycling computer that gives cadence. However, running is not as easy. Some GPS units and footpod units will tell stride rate but it is not as common for runners to have these tools (or use them for that purpose) as it is for a cyclist to have a computer with cadence.

Now, with the new tempo trainer pro, you can set your stride rate in mode 3 and go for a run and hit your perfect cadence for the whole run. As I said above, yes you can take the old tempo trainer and convert the sec/stroke number to do the strides/min you want, but that is a pain in the butt. I know what you are thinking…isn’t that thing annoying just beeping in your ear during your whole run? Well, I suppose it can be but it doesn’t bother me at all and you don’t have to have it next to your ear or even on the whole time. I clip it to my waistband so it is a little more of a faint beep and you can always just use it to check your cadence at different points during the run. Also, you don’t have to use it at 180 beeps/min. I actually run with mine on what they call a “waltz beat”. So, I set my tempo trainer at 60 beeps/min so that it beeps on every third step (right (beep), left, right, left (beep), right, left, right (beep)). You could also do 90 beeps per minute so that it beeps on every right foot or left foot strike. However, I find that it causes an overemphasis on landing on one side and can cause some problems in your stride. I recommend either 180 bpm or 60 bpm (waltz beat).

I must say, after my first weekend of running with this tempo trainer, I am even more sold on the idea of training with a tempo trainer. It was already my #1 swim training tool and now it goes hand in hand with my Newton Running shoes as one of my top running tools as well.

Want to get a tempo trainer pro at a 10% discount? Order below:

3 Comments

  • Bill

    October 5, 2011

    Great information on the new version. Thanks!

  • Ed

    January 31, 2015

    Hi

    I have had problems with using a tempo trainer, hopefully you may know a solution. I get water into my ear canal and that dampens the sound making it inaudible. Swim caps don’t help. Do you have any suggestions?

    Thanks
    Ed

    • BASEtraining

      January 31, 2015

      Hey Ed,

      I have had 2 people that cannot hear the sound at all but I haven’t heard of water in the ear making it worse. Have you tried ear plugs to keep the water out and then keep the tempo trainer under your swim cap right behind your ear? You may still be able to hear it.

      Also, try posting on the forums or searching the forums at http://www.totalimmersion.net. They may have a thread on this.

      Ryan