I'm a Runner: Do I want the Apple Watch?

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by santaliqueur, Apr 30, 2015.

  1. santaliqueur macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Hey everyone. I'm looking at getting a fitness tracker to assist me in tracking statistics from running. I don't like having to carry my iPhone whilst running, but it seems like it's not optional. Now that the Apple Watch is in users hands, I was hoping people would be able to help me out to decide whether or not I'd benefit from it (or maybe another fitness tracker!)

    Must Haves:
    • Track distance whilst running
    • Give basic information about mile split times
    • Stream a playlist of music or podcasts to wireless Bluetooth earphones
    • Able to pause/change music tracks whilst running

    Would Be Nice:
    • Relatively accurate heart rate tracking
    • Able to rewind music tracks whilst running

    If the Watch could do all of this without the iPhone, I'd already have one. I don't really want an iPhone accessory, but it would be nice to have some of these features without needing to take my phone out of my pocket.

    Can Apple Watch do any of these things without the iPhone? Are there any other fitness tracking devices that might be better for me? I played with the Apple Watch in the store yesterday and it seemed quite cool. A few of my favorite apps have Watch apps already (Overcast, 1Password, OmniFocus) so I could benefit from those as well. Thanks everyone!
  2. The Tuck macrumors 6502

    The Tuck

    Jun 8, 2003
    It can do all of these things without an iPhone. You can sync a playlist to your watch and listen to it with Bluetooth headphones and control playback right on the watch. It is recommended however, to go on at least a few runs WITH your iPhone and the Workout app on your Watch so it can learn your stride and match it with GPS info to give more accurate workout metrics when you run without the phone. It can definitely do heart rate tracking without a phone as well.

    Hope this helps!
  3. kjparfekt macrumors regular


    Sep 24, 2012
    Washington, DC
    easy answer - Yes... because it's first gen and literally first week and first version of Apple Watch apps everything will not be flawless but give it a month or two and you will be set.

    I personally don't buy music on itunes - I stream everything with Spotify so I will still take my phone with me on runs but all of the info you mentioned can be gleaned from the watch from any of your favorite apps you might already use like Run Keeper, Map my Fitness, etc.

    The only issue is the list wrist to turn on the screen might be a pain in the ass compared to a Pebble with it's always on screen (I used to use that with a blue tooth heart rate strap) and it worked quite well so that's always a cheaper option. But you won't get the same quality of 3rd party apps.

    Another cheaper option is a dedicated running gps heart rate watch but that won't help you with music.

    Ultimately, go with the short answer, buy an Apple Watch... try it for a week and if it doesn't live up to expectations return it during the 2 week window and try something else.
  4. santaliqueur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Thanks Tuck. You're saying if I went running with the Watch/iPhone combination a few times, it would eventually be able to estimate how far I run based on those initial runs? I don't need it to have +/- 1 foot accuracy, but 100 feet would be nice. I'd likely be using the Map My Run app, as it would sync with the web interface I already use.

    I was under the impression the Watch could not track distance traveled without the iPhone. Is there information somewhere I could read about what you said? Thanks much!


    I don't buy iTunes music either but the music I listen to is imported into iTunes already. If I can load a playlist (30 songs or so) directly onto the watch and listen with Bluetooth earphones and control the music, while using Map My Run and have it be fairly accurate about distance traveled, I'm sold.
  5. seong macrumors 65816


    Feb 11, 2010
    I'm a runner as well, and I can tell you this fits perfectly. Unfortunately I had to get a replacement (irregular speaker pop sounds,) but until today, I was motivated enough to run at least 10+km everyday.
    Music playback is good (no oddities here,) heart rate is accurate, distance is good enough (heard there were minor difference when compared with other equipments,) active/resting calorie burns are accurate (at least for me.)
  6. mistame, Apr 30, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2015

    mistame macrumors member

    Sep 18, 2014
    1. Yes, you can track distance. Apple recommends an initial calibration of 20 minutes of walking or running in a flat area (doesn't have to be 20 minutes all at once) while the watch is connected to the phone (see: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204516). It's not a requirement, but it supposedly helps with accuracy on subsequent runs and treadmill runs without the phone. If you're not using the native workout app for runs, then this might be irrelevant.

    2. From the native "Workout" app you can display up to 3 metrics on the screen at once (calories, distance, pace, heart rate). I haven't used Mapmyrun or other apps on the watch or any other running apps so I'm not sure there.

    3. Yes, you can sync selected playlists from iTunes to the watch and play them without the phone and use bluetooth headphones. I believe you get either 1 or 2GB of space allocated for music.

    4. Pausing and changing music from the watch, while possible, is a bit annoying during a run. There's a music "glance" where you can swipe up and use music controls, but glances only work from the watch face. This means you have to leave your workout app, go back to the watch face, swipe up, then change/pause/play your music. Very distracting and annoying on a run. For now, just so I could compare metrics with my go-to apps on my phone, I've been running with my phone AND watch, so it's easier for me to just change music from the lock screen on my armband.

    Overall though, I've been pretty happy with it. I haven't had any other wearable fitness devices before and it's nice to be able to glance down quickly to view my stats and progress as well as get extra info I haven't had before like heart rate. I do hope they remedy the music control annoyance, but I can live with that for now.
  7. The Tuck macrumors 6502

    The Tuck

    Jun 8, 2003
    Yeah, you have to actually implement a "workout" from the Workout" app a few times while paired to your iPhone and it should greatly improve the accuracy of the measurements the Watch takes by itself.

    I also use a Fitbit and have been running both the Workout app and the iOS Fitbit app for tracking runs and they have been coming up with similar (not exactly the same) results.



    I agree that Apple SHOULD allow access to the "Now Playing" glance from the Workout app. That would remove the need to go back to the home screen and open the Watch app to access the glance that lets you change tracks.
  8. Nmeyrick macrumors member

    Apr 10, 2015
    Agree that they should include a "now playing" screen in the workout app - I believe nike+ has this but as it's 3rd party you can't use it without the phone.

    But in the meantime you can use a double click on the crown to switch to the last used app, I just tried it to switch between workout and the main music player app. It's not perfect but much easier than going to the watch face and finding the glance
  9. pdaholic macrumors 65816


    Jun 22, 2011
    Or you could pair a bluetooth headset with the watch and use the controls on the headset to change songs and adjust music volume ;)
  10. Andy in Embsay macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2015
    The issue with the native app (apart from the fact that for me and several others it doesn't seem to connect to the phone's GPS anyway so the distances are out - and by significantly more than 100' - more like 1/4 mile in a 4 mile run) is the lack of available information after the activity - so no miles splits, just an average HR for the full activity, no ability to put it into Strava or other apps, no map of where you went (which would hopefully explain some of the distance wonkiness). Strava or mapmyrun might be the answer, but I think they all require you to carry your phone. I'm sticking with Garmin for running and biking.

    If you're a serious runner or cyclist then it's not there yet, if you just want an idea of calories burned and how long you were out for then it's ok.
  11. santaliqueur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    I'm not a very competitive runner, but I do try to improve my times each time I run. I guess that makes me a serious runner, and being off by 1/4 mile in a 4 mile run isn't acceptable to me.

    I'm looking at Garmin sport watches to see if they offer what I'm looking for. Right now, the only thing the Apple Watch doesn't have that I want is GPS. I run with my iPhone in my pocket now, and it's not terrible. Having the extra convenience would be cool, but then I don't think it's $400 worth of cool for me. If I'm carrying the iPhone to get everything I want, the watch doesn't really add too much to my run.

    Thanks for all the help!
  12. Symtex macrumors 6502a

    Jan 27, 2005
    Take a look at Suunto Ambit or Polar for a running watch only. They offer excellent alternative. They do not support music. I use to carry an older Iphone 4 as my music player while I am using the Suunto Watch. The HRM strap provides me with a more accurate and faster heart rate reading.
  13. fitshaced macrumors 68000


    Jul 2, 2011
    I'm a bit OCD when I'm running or rather when I'm about to finish a run. The stop button needs to be immediately accessible. From what I can see, you need to press and then tap to stop the activity.

    One other thing, music control seems to be much better on the Fenix 3 as you have actual buttons you press to skip, pause/play. Sure, you can't browse but on a run you probably just want to set your play list off and occasionally pause or skip. Physical buttons make a big difference. Maybe it will be possible to customise the button below the crown to do another function when in an activity.
  14. Sphyrna macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2008
    Music controls are one of my disappointments with using the watch for my walks. Glances only work from the watch face so I can't have the workout app open, swipe up, and bring up the Now Playing glance to pause or switch tracks. Best I can do is get it to where I double-press the digital crown to switch between the workout app and the music app. But sometimes my double-press isn't fast enough and the either the watch face or home screen comes up. So I still just use the buttons on my BT headphones.
  15. blg123 macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2010
    Bluetooth headphones for running

    What bluetooth headphone are the best for jogging / running (and have controls to pause/play/skip songs/volume/etc.)?
  16. Andy in Embsay macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2015
    Garmin Fenix 3 does almost everything - accurate onboard GPS, notifications from either iOS or Android, ANT+ sensors, basic navigation, music/camera control - as a sports watch it's excellent. But it's not as good a smarteatch at the Apple by some distance.
  17. Lagmonster macrumors 6502

    Sep 22, 2007
    Right now I'm running with two watches. My Garmin 620 is still too good. I think we may get there (assuming you are OK with bringing your phone) but it will take time. It's going to take a third-party app to get us there. And one that will work with an external HRM.

    If you have a Garmin or other watch, you won't be happy. Yet.
  18. markfasel macrumors newbie


    Apr 29, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I read somewhere that the apple watch can connect with an external HRM such as Wahoo or Polar. I am thinking about getting one myself.
  19. Andy in Embsay macrumors member

    Apr 20, 2015
    It'll connect with bluetooth HRMs but not ANT+, which is what the majority of them have been until now (as that's what Garmin, Polar etc have used).

    Edited to say: I've just found out that my Mio Link wrist mounted HRM does both ANT+ and Bluetooth, so it's now happily paired with my AW.
  20. kurzz macrumors 6502


    May 18, 2007
  21. Sphyrna macrumors regular

    Jul 9, 2008
    I have the Bluebuds X. Have had them for years and like them. They were definitely the best option available when I purchased them. Although if I was to buy some now I'd probably give SoundPeats a try since they're only $30.
  22. santaliqueur thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 7, 2007
    Music is my primary concern, and since none of these devices do what I want, I'm going to buy nothing. I wanted to replicate what my iPhone does but leave it at home, and it looks like it's not possible yet. Maybe revision 2 :)
  23. D1G1T4L macrumors 68000


    Jun 26, 2007
    Savannah, GA
    While I have never used one or even read a review of it but might look at the Adidas Micoach SMART RUN Watch. Think it might have what you are looking for.

    Edit: DCRainmaker does have a review on it. Not sure it is that great of an option
  24. PatrickNSF macrumors 6502


    Jan 24, 2011
    I've been looking for something to replace my Garmin 620 for a while. The thing that it lacks that I want are full-day activity tracking and a built-in HRM. I can't stand wearing the HRM strap, so I usually don't.

    I haven't been able to find anything that has built-in GPS, activity tracking, HRM and even basic notifications. The Garmin vivioactive was tempting, but it has a separate HRM.

    The Apple Watch comes closest to me despite lacking GPS as I always run with my phone in my waist pouch anyway. It's the apps for me that are lacking now.

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