Apple Watch Not Good Enough for Runing (Yet?)

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by r0k, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #1
    Apple Watch has lost its place on my wrist for running (except for slow goof-off runs). I'm set to run in the Detroit Free Press international marathon this coming weekend. I have an Apple Watch and a Garmin Forerunner 220. The Apple Watch on training runs has been spotty at times and downright unusable at others. I've done about 700 miles on the Apple watch with various problems along the way. Some of the problems were my own fault for not disabling the useless (to me) activity app which kept popping up notifications during my run. No crap, if I run 16 to 20 miles, I'm pretty much guaranteed to achieve my activity goal around mile 7. Other of these problems involved my iPhone 6 running iOS 8 and then 9 and a had issues with audio prompts and constantly losing bluetooth between my iPhone 6 and Plantronics M70 during runs (usually on mile 1) but at least glancing at my wrist was rock solid. WAS rock solid... I do have an appointment at the Genius bar this Thursday to diagnose persistent bluetooth issues with my iPhone 6. Perhaps they will give me a new one and at least the bluetooth nonsense will be in my rearview mirror. There was also an unrelated annoyance where Siri refused to allow me to dictate text message replies even after a reset. What an unstable device this has been for me. It's fine for sitting at my desk checking the time, weather and reading texts but for running, it's a non-starter.

    The reason I was willing to switch, despite my belief in overall Apple quality and usefulness (in all things other than iTunes) was that the problems I was having were increasing in frequency and severity as the date of my marathon approached and this past Friday the problems rose to the level of UNUSABILITY. I never I thought I'd have to say this about Apple tech (other than iTunes.) I found these problems distracting me from my runs and once the body is physically ready for 26.2 miles, the only thing left is a mental battle. I cannot afford to divide my attention between my run and software debugging.

    First, on a 10 mile run Sunday, October 4th over the "seven sisters" hills in Lake Orion, my Apple Watch kept asking me to punch in my passcode. Yes you heard me right, I'm running at marathon pace over rolling hills and I'm supposed to stop and tap 4 of 9 ladybug sized regions of my screen with sweaty hands just to check my pace? EPIC. FAIL.

    But wait, there's more...

    I reset the watch and my iPhone 6 and hoped that episode was behind me.. On a 10 mile training run this past Friday Oct 9th, my Apple Watch decided to go to the icon screen on wrist raise. Yes once again you heard me right. When I raised my wrist, I had to find and tap on a ladybug sized runmeter icon to see my pace. Why has "open last app on wrist raise" stopped working? Not my problem. I've beta tested this thing long enough. And no, I don't participate in Apple's beta program. I'm alleging that the public release of WatchOS 2.0 amounts to a protracted public beta.

    But wait, there's more...

    Once I found (once again with sweaty hands) and tapped the Runmeter icon, which meant disrupting my pace, I got... A pinwheel. A 45 second pinwheel. That's a significant number of steps at my cadence. After that run I headed straight over to REI and picked up the Garmin.

    Why Garmin?

    I had met a Garmin rep at REI few weeks earlier who bragged of the sophisticated algorithm using the inertial sensors in the watch to not only detect steps but estimate stride length in the absence of GPS. This is all important to me because there is a mile of the Detroit marathon that goes under the Detroit River through a tunnel 100 feet below the surface. No. GPS. At. All. When I asked Abvio support about the behavior of their app going through the Detroit Windsor tunnel, they suggested stopping then restarting my run at the entrance and exit of the tunnel. Really? My workload is focused on my legs, not my wrist during a long run! The ultimate irony is that the $400 Apple Watch probably has a more sophisticated sensor than the Garmin, but Apple's priority is on watchfaces and absolute control and how the thing looks. Look, I need a physical button to start and stop my run. Not a damn touchscreen. The Garmin features a big red button on the top right of the watch which should be easy enough for me to hit with gloves on when it's 36 degrees the morning of my marathon. On Saturday, I did an 8 mile training run with the Garmin. No. Problems. At. All. And I could upload my Garmin TCX file directly to my coach for evaluation instead of providing her a link to the runmeter results. On Sunday, Oct 11th, I ran the same 7 sisters course with my Garmin and there was no problem whatsoever.

    For Apple Watch to Earn Its Former Place on My Wrist During Runs...

    With my Garmin, I never have to think about it and every time I glanced down I saw TIME, DISTANCE and PACE not some freaking "Activity Achieved" or "icons" or "unlock" or useless (during running) "watch face" screen. It buzzes for me once a lap, which I have set to miles and shows trailing pace by default rather than having me fish 27 menus deep to enable such a fundamental feature.

    I was the only runner in our running club, including elite runners (one guy has run 116 marathons including Chicago yesterday and he'll join me in Detroit this coming Sunday for 2 marathons in 7 days), nobody but me wore anything other than a runner's GPS watch. At the beginning of the season I snickered at them for doing without so many "useful" features during their runs, but watching me debug my watch by the side of the road they began snickering at me. And while I couldn't keep up with any of those elite guys as a recreational I did notice their focus and they never fussed with or tinkered with their Garmins and Polars like I did with my Apple watch.

    To me, for Apple Watch to be useful to a runner, it needs to allow me to designate a running app (ie Strava, Runmeter, Runkeeper or MapMyRun) as my ONLY POSSIBLE watch face during a run and set the watch to "watch face on wrist raise" so I know that every time I raise my wrist I don't see nothing but my run data. And I can even do without Apple Pay to get rid of that contemptable code dialog on wrist raise. Why not simply ask for the code for Apple Pay so at least my watch is useful for the other 99.97% of the things I need it to do after a momentary loss of bluetooth (which I suspect was the cause of me having to enter my code at all seven of the seven sisters hills.)
    upload_2015-10-12_9-49-12.png
    I started to reply to an existing thread about Apple Watch in the Chicago Marathon this past weekend but since my experience was the opposite of that poster, I decided this needs its own thread rather than appearing merely as a differing opinion in his thread. I'm glad AW worked for him but for me it is sidelined. I'll head over to his thread and link back here for those who want another point of view. Who knows, WatchOS 2.something or 3.something might win me back. Until then, I'm running with only my Garmin.
     
  2. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2014
    Location:
    Jacksonville, Florida
    #2
    I gave up on mine due to it not tracking my HR correctly. No matter where I wore it on my wrist or how tight or loose it was I would find my watch was not recording my HR or more often it would tell me it was a something crazy like 63 bpm during a 3 mile run. It was the reason I bought my AW.

    Anyway back to the FitBit hardware that works even if my Charge is so loose it slips over my wrist bone to my hand. Never misses a beat!
     
  3. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #3
    I tried using heart rate on my AW after running. There aren't any 3rd party apps that offer it yet. It seemed to work well at 80 ish BPM shortly after the run settling into the 50s resting. But your post reminded me of something...

    Today I was talking with another AW owner at the office who theorized the reason I kept having to put in my unlock code is the AW somehow thought I had taken it off. It couldn't see my arm when I'm encrusted with salt during a hard run. This still doesn't explain the bluetooth magical mystery tour my iPhone 6 has been taking me on by randomly switching audio source between my earpiece, car and internal speaker faster than I can comprehend or react to what's going on, especially while driving. But he did mention that simply losing bluetooth is not automatically a reason for an AW to lock itself... I know it locks itself quickly if I take it off but I wonder if I wear it somewhat loose if it locks itself if it thinks it's lost wrist contact due to salt and has intermittent bluetooth around the same time? It could be that after a repair to my iPhone 6, most of my AW problems clear up. That's what I'm hoping at least.
     
  4. Newtons Apple macrumors G5

    Newtons Apple

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    #4
    I hope it works out as you wish.
     
  5. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    #5
    Only reason Apple Watch makes you input passcode is it thinks you have taken it off. Bluetooth has absolutely nothing to do with it.

    In your original post, you mentioned you'd be willing to go without Apple Pay. If you take Applepay off, you can use the watch without a passcode set, and your passcode problems will be over.

    Not sure why raise wrist to go to the last app isn't working for you, it's never failed to go to the last app for me, either on watch OS 1 or 2.
     
  6. yillbs macrumors 6502

    yillbs

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #6
    You can disable the wrist detection, and on runs that long you should, it's going to get sweaty and your likely not going to have a good detection. This is by design, and now really a flaw, however I totally feel your pain!
     
  7. MBHockey macrumors 68040

    MBHockey

    Joined:
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    New York
    #7
    Yes but then you have to tap the screen every time you want to see any info instead of just looking at the watch.
     
  8. Mad Mac Maniac, Oct 12, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015

    Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

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    Location:
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    #8
    I've used my Apple Watch to train for 2 half marathons this summer, and for those distances I've found it to be sufficient.

    First of all, I admit that a dedicated GPS watch will always be better in some respects. Built in GPS, always on display, ability to use buttons instead of messing with a touch display, etc.... I've never used a GPS watch before and have always just used my iPhone. So as a run companion I find the apple watch to be good not great, which for my needs has been acceptable. Especially combined with all the little "bonuses" of the apple watch, such as notifications, music/podcast control, ability to use apple pay, automatic syncing to all my health kit data, etc....

    I should also note that I haven't had any of the buggy issues that you've been experiencing :-/

    Edit: Also, I'm not sure what your workflow was for runs, but I would start the built in workout app on the watch at the same time starting my Nike+ running app on my iPhone. It works pretty well for me, because I always see my run data when I look at my wrist, but the Nike+ app aggregates the data a million times better (plus I've been using it for over 4 years). If/when Nike+ gets a native app I might just switch entirely (assuming it has the automatic display to workout app ability)
     
  9. yillbs macrumors 6502

    yillbs

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2015
    Location:
    Texas
    #9
    I run with my watch all the time. Pull my wrist up see the map, speed and how many calories I've burned. Strange you can't do that :/
     
  10. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2007
    Location:
    Atlanta
    #10
    I always have my :apple:Watch on and when I run (or do any cardio) I put my Garmin 620 on right wrist. :) No need to make the :apple:Watch lose it's place to the Garmin since you do have 2 wrists.;)
     
  11. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #11
    I have been thinking about this. My Garmin is easy to operate with my right hand on my left wrist and I have my AW set for left wrist so I gotta decide if I want to switch it to right wrist for runs or simply leave it on its charging stand when I'm running. Because the thing is so adept at disrupting my train of thought during a run, I think it's best to leave it at home or perhaps in the car during a race or training run.

    I haven't experienced these issues all along or I would have opted for Garmin a long time ago. I loved being able to hit start on my watch and have either RunKeeper or RunMeter start taking data. Of course I hated the screens that would popup saying "start xxx app on your phone" if I neglected to have the phone app running first. I've never used Apple's workout app. I need my running data uploaded for my coach in Garmin format or in Runmeter's online viewer and I won't take a chance that my data gets captured into some proprietary quagmire and I can't get it out during training season. I work too hard for those miles. I would like to know my cadence, pace, and average pace for every one of those miles, but is essential for my coach to access to this data. After training season, I'll tinker around with workout and see if it is any better than 3rd party apps as well as tinker with exporting my run data in various useful formats.

    I've run 3 competitive half marathons this season out of 12 timed races and my AW performed flawlessly all 3 times and performed fairly well. It also performed well for the first 500 or the 600 training miles I've run. The problem I'm having is that starting with WatchOS 2.0, my AW is suddenly too distracting and unreliable during a run for me to bother with.

    As for advantages of a dedicated GPS watch, Apple Watch probably has superior sensors but inferior software. I have no doubt Garmin, Polar and the like have built patent walls around the best algorithms for calculating distance based on steps and Apple or any 3rd party developer has to tiptoe around these limitations to develop an app that does not suck relative to a dedicated watch. Apple's seeming priority on flapping butterfly wings and little swimming jellyfish over reliable operation also tends to make it difficult for developers to deliver a solution that competes well against Garmin.

    Yes it is very strange. I'm rather upset with Apple about this and if there was more time before my big race, I'd invest some time in figuring this out. I'm just glad I'm not faced with being on mile 15 of 26 and having my AW stop showing pace or go off in the weeds because I got a text leaving me without any instrumentation to avoid running too past and burning out before mile 26.2. This is the main reason I invested in a Garmin. It isn't going to catch on fire at mile 1 and leave me guessing my pace for the remaining 25.2 miles. As for calories, I can wait until after the run to see that. I already know I burn through roughly 2,000 calories in 16 miles at my marathon pace so it's probably 3200 calories for 26.2 miles or more than one normal day's food intake for me. :eek:
     
  12. barjam macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    #12
    I don't do long runs but I do go for long bike rides and haven't had any complaints using the built in app. I have no use for third party running apps as the built in one does everything I care about right now.

    I will say that without my phone the watch is a bit off on it's distance measurements. I should probably recalibrate this. Using the built in heart rate is a bit of a battery hog so I sometimes pair a polaris chest heart rate meter to the watch (the watch is smart enough to use this instead).

    Running without my phone is great! I hate bringing it.
     
  13. barjam macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2010
    #13

    You mention "proprietary quagmire". All of this stuff is logged to "Health" and any third party program can pull it out if they choose to. Workouts are logged as a unit and I use a program that gives me a nice graph of heart rate during workouts. I don't see why there wouldn't be another one that would get the other data pulled out in a format suitable for your needs. At least it is technically possible.
     
  14. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

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    #14
    Good point. What app do you use for your HR graph?
     
  15. r0k, Oct 12, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2015

    r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #15
    Today I had an easy 6 mile run so I took both my Garmin and my AW. I left my plantronics earpiece at home. No passcode hassles. No wrist raise to the icon screen hassles.

    You know what I think? I think there is a sophisticated sweat sensor that can tell I'm doing a hard workout and I can't be bothered and then it runs "General Order 66" (or whatever it was to assassinate all the Jedi in Star Wars or destroy a planet in Star Trek).

    The results of today's test were somewhat inconclusive. First of all, AW and Garmin are off by 5%. That's troublesome because AW seems to agree with distances on USATF regulated 5K, 10K and Half Marathon courses I've run, though I assumed longer distances were because I normally don't try to run apexes as close as the elite runners do and my overages on any measured course were always less than 5 percent (from what I remember).

    Now I think I'll take both watches on a "field trip" to a local tunnel where I know GPS doesn't work and see what they do side by side. I've just gotta find such a tunnel where I won't get arrested for trying to cross into another country or run over by a train. Too bad we don't have subways here. I could probably figure this out with a short subway ride or even simply standing on the platform. Why didn't I think of testing this when I was riding the subways in Seoul? Because I thought everything was working then, that's why. 5%, eh? Maybe I only ran 15.2 miles in Seoul when my AW said I ran 16!?! Arrggh! And these random errors could definitely explain why I ran such a fantastic pace in Arizona that I've never been able to repeat. I found an article that discusses accuracy of running apps versus running watches in more detail and unlike the OP in the Chicago Marathon thread, this guy thought his smartphone let him down. I'm SO glad I picked up a Garmin before my race so I'd have some idea what pace I'm really running.

    Wait a minute. I think my chip times in two half marathons were the same as my Apple Watch times. I gotta go look again and make sure...
     
  16. scriptkitten macrumors regular

    scriptkitten

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2007
    #16
    It's really hit or miss. I bought my AW a few days before a half and it did a stellar job. Since then I've been fighting with it on shorter runs with all of the problems you've mentioned.
     
  17. Applenoob34 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2014
    #17
    I've also posted on the accuracy in these forums before. Long story short, I was using the native running app and mapmyrun at the same time. The AW was always behind in distance measurement from the mapmyrun app. I double checked the distances online and I drove it. Both online maps and my driving matched up perfectly with mapmyrun app. I don't even use the native workout app anymore. The funny thing is, they used to be very close to each other. I'm not sure if the latest update did something or what.
     
  18. Obi Wan Kenobi macrumors 6502

    Obi Wan Kenobi

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    #18
    Since OS2, I've found the AW distance (and therefore pace) to be much more accurate. I have experimented with other apps on the watch, but I find them laggy. So I use iSmoothRun on my iPhone, but I've reverted to the native workout app on my AW.

    All I want from the watch is distance and pace. iSmoothRun gives me the rest of my stats every .25mile over my headphones, or on the iPhone's speaker (where races forbid headphones).

    But to go back to the OPs points.

    I've only done a couple of hundred miles with my AW, but I've noticed that sweat + some other means of contact (headphone cord?), can be interpreted as touches by the AW. This has led to my preferred watch displays being unintentionally changed (eg from pace to calories). Might this explain some of your glitches?

    But the bottom line must be, if it'll distract you from your marathon, ditch the AW, and go with your Garmin. 26.2 miles is a long way to go with a constant irritation on your wrist.
     
  19. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    Detroit
    #19
    All this started when I started wearing long sleeve running shirts and got even worse when I started wearing my Arcteryx polar fleece over them. I wondered if my sweaty sleeves making contact with the watch might be interpreted as touches. This explanation makes a lot of sense. This is why I immediately balked when the Garmin rep offered me a touchscreen watch. I've had enough of touchscreen running watches to last a lifetime. I noticed that sometimes I'd look down and see the stocks app. Other times I'd be back to the icons screen. There needs to be a way to ignore the touchscreen during a run, but then Apple would have to give developers access to disable the touchscreen and take over the digital crown for all input. Not likely. I wouldn't mind turning the digital crown to start and stop a run if it meant no more of this long sleeves+sweat=touch nonsense. I guess I could roll up my left sleeves? Yesterday when I ran with no issues it was a warm evening and I had a short sleeve running shirt on. The morning of my marathon is projected to be 37 degrees. Not a day for wearing short anything. :eek:
     
  20. Obi Wan Kenobi macrumors 6502

    Obi Wan Kenobi

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    #20
    Now that it's colder, I've been wearing my AW over my long sleeve running tops. I have a HRM chest strap, so I don't rely on the AW for that data source, although it still seems to get readings.
     
  21. alFR macrumors 68020

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    Aug 10, 2006
    #21
    Force press screen, tap Lock (see here).
     
  22. Night Spring macrumors G5

    Night Spring

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    #22
    Wow. This is great to know! Was this function always there, or did it get added in Watch OS2?
     
  23. Julien macrumors G3

    Julien

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    Atlanta
    #23
    wOS2
     
  24. r0k thread starter macrumors 68040

    r0k

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    #24
    Unfortunately this only seems to work in the workout app. Another have/have not tier for native versus third party apps. Or perhaps the 3rd party running apps haven't picked it up yet. I guess I can try workout but I'm sure Apple hasn't taken the time to integrate it with things like Garmin connect or the ability to export to runkeeper.
     
  25. BarracksSi macrumors 68040

    BarracksSi

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    Jul 14, 2015
    #25
    That's for Garmin to write, not Apple.
     

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