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.) 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.