Tyler Robbins Fitness

Tyler Robbins has his B.Sc. in Biochemistry: Pre-Medical, is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), is certified through USA Weightlifting, and a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer.

Apple Watch Week 2 - Run/Walk Tracking Accuracy

*You can read all about my Apple Watch Initial Thoughts here.*

So I have now had the watch strapped to me for just under a week. I am still learning new things here and there, but for the most part, I feel as though I have a pretty good handle on how things work, as well as the functions and limitations. So far, I have to admit, I am really enjoying the Apple Watch experience!

I have used the watch for several workouts already, including a couple of runs that were just under 5km. I will write about my experiences with the watch and how it tracks more traditional strength training at a later date, but today is all about my experiences with its run tracking abilities so far.

On my runs, I wore my iPhone in an armband on the same arm as the watch strapped to my wrist. I used the RunKeeper app, using GPS to track my distance/pace/etc. I would like to think that RunKeeper would be accurate since it is using GPS tracking, however, I have seen the app misbehave a bit in the past, so this should by no means be a clear and decisive scientific study. There will be a slight discrepancy in time simply due to not being able to start both apps at the same time. Apple has a webpage set up detailing how to Calibrate your Apple Watch, so I tried to follow the directions as well as I could. The route I took for both runs was essentially the same with only slight differences towards the end of the run. There were slight changes in elevation, but nothing crazy by any means!

Posted below is the data collected from those 2 separate runs I went on in the past few days. The top images details the data collected from the Apple Watch whereas the small images underneath represent the corresponding 

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

RunKeeper

RunKeeper

So, on the first run, there was a 0.07km, or a 1.5% difference between the Apple Watch distance and the RunKeeper distance. The second run, however, gave me a 0.12km or 2.5% difference.

Now I am by no means saying that the RunKeeper app on my iPhone is the most accurate and detailed tracking device out there, but I would at least assume that it would be a bit more accurate than just my Apple Watch alone in collecting this type of data. If you are an avid runner that lives by your distances, split times, etc., then this may be too much discrepancy between the data for your. On the other hand, if you are that serious about your running then I would guess that you are probably already using other means to collect data on your training and races.

The other notable discrepancy in data is the amount of calories burned on these runs. The RunKeeper app is estimating a 65% and 30% increase over the Apple Watch's estimation. If I was to take a guess, I would say that the Apple Watch is probably more accurate in this regard. The first run listed there, for example, pegs me at burning over 500 calories in just 4.66km of running with the RunKeeper app. That certainly isn't impossible, but seems awfully high to me considering my level of effort on that run. For those of you wondering, yes, the data that I put into the RunKeeper app, including my height, weight, age, etc. is all up-to-date.

I am actually quite impressed with how accurate the watch is already, and it still has time to improve! According to Apple, the goal is to continue to use the watch so that it is calibrated to understand your stride, so over time, it can be even more accurate in tracking your activity. I will continue to test the watch on my runs to see if this gets even more accurate over time or if this slight discrepancy in data continues to exist. Time will tell, so stay tuned!