Question for runners

bmac4

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Feb 14, 2013
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So I have been training for last couple of months for a 5K. Never really been much into running, but I am trying to lose weight. I have been using the Couch to 5K app, and running on a treadmill at my gym. I wanted to complete the training on the treadmill first and then move to the road, so this was my last week of training. I had been noticing the treadmill distance saying 2.9 miles when I was done. I have been wearing my series 2 Apple Watch and iPhone while I run. My watch tells me I have done 3.93 miles total and my iPhone says 3.9. My question being which is more accurate? I have never had an issue trusting my iPhone or Apple Watch, but now I am questioning it.

Just a few added details. I am running on a speed of 4.7 on the treadmill with a 5 minute warmup walk, 30 minute jog, and 5 minute.
 

jbachandouris

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Aug 18, 2009
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Short answer? Neither.

The treadmills are not calibrated for accuracy and the Apple Watch as well as dedicated running watches like the Garmin are accurate on a treadmill.

The only accuracy is found when running outdoors and utilizing the GPS for at least 3 runs.

When I run on a treadmill, I wear a Garmin Forerunner 225 with footpad. If I am aiming for 3 miles, I stop when I see 3 miles on whichever display is the slowest. If the watch says 3 miles before the treadmill, I keep running until the treadmills says 3 and then stop.
 
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ftaok

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Jan 23, 2002
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Even if the treadmill's mileage counter was totally accurate, you'll never get an accurate reading on your AW, unless you nail it by accident.

First of all, you likely do not run the same way as you would outside. Your stride length will be different, and since the AW uses your arm swing (which is related to your stride), it won't be a one for one.

Here's what I would do to try to match the effort level between road running and treadmill running.

1. Find a nice flat, big place to run. The local school track would be a good place. Run a mile or so, using the GPS. Try to run at a consistent speed with a consistent stride/arm swing. The AW will calibrate that distance to your motions. Make note of your time.

2. Set the treadmill for the speed that you ran on your calibration run, but put the incline to 2 degrees. This will simulate the effects of outdoor running that you have to overcome, like wind.

You still will not likely match the distance between the treadmill and the AW, but for the same amount of running time, you maybe will match the effort level expended.

Anyways, that's how I did it (although I was running on an indoor track, not treadmill).

Over time, I just said, "screw it" and went with what my AW was telling me. So I end up running a few more laps indoors to match the outdoor distance. Turns out, my indoor and outdoor times are more evenly matched since I stopped being so OCD about my distances.
 
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bmac4

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Thanks for the replies! I am going to do a road run this weekend, and I guess that will be my true test of how accurate they were. I should not have a problem with accuracy outside should I? I will bring my phone along, and be using GPS.
 
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scriptkitten

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Jul 11, 2007
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my watch and my treadmill are so far off it's incredible. like, on a 5 mile treadmill run my watch will say 3.5 miles.
 

Julien

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Jun 30, 2007
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The treadmill is likely to be a lot closer than your :apple:Watch, especially since you are probably using different treadmills at the gym. Also you don't state if you properly calibrated your :apple:Watch. The :apple:Watch can only count steps and estimate stride length (this can vary by running speed) to approximate the distance. Plus you seem to be mixing walking and running and running requires about 30% fewer steps than walking for the same distance.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204516
 

bmac4

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The treadmill is likely to be a lot closer than your :apple:Watch, especially since you are probably using different treadmills at the gym. Also you don't state if you properly calibrated your :apple:Watch. The :apple:Watch can only count steps and estimate stride length (this can vary by running speed) to approximate the distance. Plus you seem to be mixing walking and running and running requires about 30% fewer steps than walking for the same distance.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204516
I do use different treadmills at the gym, but I only noticed the exact distance today. My concern with the treadmills accuracy, is it's only measuring distance based on the speed of the belt not my actual stride. I feel like I am running at least a little faster then the speed I set the treadmill to.

As for calibrating my AW, no I have not done that outside yet. I did it with my series one, but that is not the one I am using. I also took my iPhone with me with my old AW, and it's readings are much closer to my AW then the treadmill. I really don't know, but I guess I will be finding on this weekend when I run on the road.
 

Julien

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Jun 30, 2007
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...My concern with the treadmills accuracy, is it's only measuring distance based on the speed of the belt not my actual stride. I feel like I am running at least a little faster then the speed I set the treadmill to.....
The treadmill runs at an absolute speed. Your stride length has nothing to do with the speed (accuracy) of the treadmill. In a nutshell human running speed is determined by cadence x stride length. The treadmill is an absolute speed and in oder to run on it you must match the treadmill's speed by your cadence x stride length.

For instance an 8 minute mile (7.5 mph) ideally would be 170spm (cadence) x 1.18M (stride length). You could also run the same 8 minute mile with a 190smp x 1M or 160spm x 1.25M.

So there are three ways to change your running speed.
  1. Increase/decrees Stride Length
  2. Increase/decrees Cadence
  3. A combination of both
In general more experienced runners usually vary their running speed (unless training or terrain variations) by changing their stride length. Again in general.
 
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bmac4

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The treadmill runs at an absolute speed. Your stride length has nothing to do with the speed (accuracy) of the treadmill. In a nutshell human running speed is determined by cadence x stride length. The treadmill is an absolute speed and in oder to run on it you must match the treadmill's speed by your cadence x stride length.

For instance an 8 minute mile (7.5 mph) ideally would be 170spm (cadence) x 1.18M (stride length). You could also run the same 8 minute mile with a 190smp x 1M or 160spm x 1.25M.

So there are three ways to change your running speed.
  1. Increase/decrees Stride Length
  2. Increase/decrees Cadence
  3. A combination of both
In general more experienced runners usually vary their running speed (unless training or terrain variations) by changing their stride length. Again in general.
So your saying the distance that the treadmill gives me is pretty much correct because it's an absolute speed? Because I am matching the speed of the treadmill with my stride and cadence, this would be pretty close to actual distance.

Thanks for the info. I am a really big noob at running, so any info I can get super helpful. I guess I am in for a rude awaking tomorrow when I try my first road run. Got to run a lot faster to get my distance in, or for longer then 30 minutes.
 

Julien

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Jun 30, 2007
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So your saying the distance that the treadmill gives me is pretty much correct because it's an absolute speed? Because I am matching the speed of the treadmill with my stride and cadence, this would be pretty close to actual distance.

Thanks for the info. I am a really big noob at running, so any info I can get super helpful. I guess I am in for a rude awaking tomorrow when I try my first road run. Got to run a lot faster to get my distance in, or for longer then 30 minutes.
Yes, the treadmill speed and distance to time while not calibrated is probably very close to actual. It doesn't matter whether you are on it or not it will still be the same speed/distance/time.

The BIGEST rude awaking you are likely in for is terrain (hills). Most of Atlanta is hilly and the 5K you are running in will likely be hilly.

To run a 30 minute 5K requires an under 9:40 minute mile pace or 6.2mph.
 

bmac4

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Yes, the treadmill speed and distance to time while not calibrated is probably very close to actual. It doesn't matter whether you are on it or not it will still be the same speed/distance/time.

The BIGEST rude awaking you are likely in for is terrain (hills). Most of Atlanta is hilly and the 5K you are running in will likely be hilly.

To run a 30 minute 5K requires an under 9:40 minute mile pace or 6.2mph.
Ok thanks! Yeah I knew the hills where going to be what was going to get me. My watch says I running a 9.15 minute mile on average, but I guess not.
 

jbachandouris

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Aug 18, 2009
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Ok thanks! Yeah I knew the hills where going to be what was going to get me. My watch says I running a 9.15 minute mile on average, but I guess not.
Prior to my first 5k, I had only run on a treadmill. I was running almost 6 miles and thought the 5k would be a piece of cake. It was not. Outdoor running is totally different.

I was not a runner until 2011. What I can tell you is that running itself won't make you faster. My first 5k was 26:02 (mostly flat course). I was taking a boxing class which meant doing burps (squat thrusts), mountain climber, wind sprints, running up and down stairs, etc. Since that class ended, my times have gone down. I realize that you didn't ask about this, but training your entire body will make your runs that much better.
 

bmac4

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Prior to my first 5k, I had only run on a treadmill. I was running almost 6 miles and thought the 5k would be a piece of cake. It was not. Outdoor running is totally different.

I was not a runner until 2011. What I can tell you is that running itself won't make you faster. My first 5k was 26:02 (mostly flat course). I was taking a boxing class which meant doing burps (squat thrusts), mountain climber, wind sprints, running up and down stairs, etc. Since that class ended, my times have gone down. I realize that you didn't ask about this, but training your entire body will make your runs that much better.
Yeah running is only half my workout each day. I am working out with a personal trainer and doing a boot camp class. Hopefully I am not way far off, but I imagine I still will have a really hard time. I am going to run in my neighborhood tomorrow, which is both hilly and it's a complete mile all the way through. Should be a good test.
 

jbachandouris

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Aug 18, 2009
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Yeah running is only half my workout each day. I am working out with a personal trainer and doing a boot camp class. Hopefully I am not way far off, but I imagine I still will have a really hard time. I am going to run in my neighborhood tomorrow, which is both hilly and it's a complete mile all the way through. Should be a good test.
The whole time I was running, I was quoting the line from Jarhead: 'Do not f-in die!' And this was with no hills.

BTW, there's no shame in stopping to walk if you need to.
 

bmac4

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The whole time I was running, I was quoting the line from Jarhead: 'Do not f-in die!' And this was with no hills.

BTW, there's no shame in stopping to walk if you need to.
Haha I will remember that. I talk to myself now, keeping telling myself I can do. Plus telling myself this is for all the people that doubted me, or look down on me because I was not perfectly in shape. Got to keep myself motivated.

Yeah I know, but the couch to 5k app said to jog for 30 minutes straight, and I tell myself I have to jog the entire time. Now tomorrow on the road might be a completely different story. Might have to stop and walk for a bit. Though I find it harder to get back going after stopping. I like just staying at the same pace. We will see.
 
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Relentless Power

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Jul 12, 2016
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Prior to my first 5k, I had only run on a treadmill. I was running almost 6 miles and thought the 5k would be a piece of cake. It was not. Outdoor running is totally different.
You're correct about outside running. I personally never use treadmills, even in colder climates where I reside. I train outdoors running with a weighted vest and running outside creates your own resistance versus a treadmill creating the resistance for you. I actually hate running, but I'm totally addicted with how it instills positive energy and stamina.
 

BarracksSi

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Whenever you get around to running in an organized 5k race, just keep going until the finish line, even if your watch says "5k achieved!" a few hundred yards short. ;-p
 
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bmac4

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You're correct about outside running. I personally never use treadmills, even in colder climates where I reside. I train outdoors running with a weighted vest and running outside creates your own resistance versus a treadmill creating the resistance for you. I actually hate running, but I'm totally addicted with how it instills positive energy and stamina.
I would have to agree slightly. Don't love running much either, just love the exercise that is gives me. It paying off because I am losing weight.
 
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bmac4

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Whenever you get around to running in an organized 5k race, just keep going until the finish line, even if your watch says "5k achieved!" a few hundred yards short. ;-p
Will the Watch tell me 5K achieved? I have gone past the 3.1 mile mark running on the treadmill and have yet to get a notification.
 

Relentless Power

macrumors Nehalem
Jul 12, 2016
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I would have to agree slightly. Don't love running much either, just love the exercise that is gives me. It paying off because I am losing weight.
Keep up the good work. Running will build stamina for you to continue to push yourself a little further every time. Set a goal for yourself and hopefully you reach it. Good luck.
 
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bmac4

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Keep up the good work. Running will build stamina for you to continue to push yourself a little further every time. Set a goal for yourself and hopefully you reach it. Good luck.
Thanks! Yeah I think my goal might be a 10K. Because I am doing other stuff, I really don't want running to become the only thing I do. I like the boot camp stuff as well as the weight lifting. Plus if my knees ever go bad, I need a backup exercise to fall back on lol.
 

Julien

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Jun 30, 2007
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Will the Watch tell me 5K achieved? I have gone past the 3.1 mile mark running on the treadmill and have yet to get a notification.
No, you will have to look. Don't overthink it, and just run the best pace you can. Since you are new the discomfort can be disheartening but stick with it and keep working through it. Working out will soon become just another part of your life. You will get to a point that 'suffering' to get an improved pace will feel rewarding good and while driving you will pass people running and wish you were out there.

I'm guessing your not doing the Peachtree this year but do you plan to next year (first mile is the worst mile so 10K not that big of a deal)? What area of Atlanta do you run in and what 5K are your doing?


EDIT: Carful with the boot camp because in group training (and being new) your are more susceptible to injuries.
 
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bmac4

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No, you will have to look. Don't overthink it, and just run the best pace you can. Since you are new the discomfort can be disheartening but stick with it and keep working through it. Working out will soon become just another part of your life. You will get to a point that 'suffering' to get an improved pace will feel rewarding good and while driving you will pass people running and wish you were out there.

I'm guessing your not doing the Peachtree this year but do you plan to next year (first mile is the worst mile so 10K not that big of a deal)? What area of Atlanta do you run in and what 5K are your doing?


EDIT: Carful with the boot camp because in group training (and being new) your are more susceptible to injuries.
Thanks for all the advice!! I am really enjoying the rewarding part of the workout. I am so ready to get on the road, and really see what my body can handle.

I actually live about an hour out of Atlanta now, so I don't run in Atlanta. I would really like to try the Peachtree, so yeah I might sign up after I try my first 5K. My goal is to be ready for the 5K by the end of April or beginning of May. We will see. Do you live in Atlanta?

Yeah I am being super careful with boot camp. I have had shoulder issues in the past from a broken collarbone back in the day, so I am super careful. I told my trainer before I ever started that I had hurt my shoulder before, so we are really careful. Really enjoying it all.

Again thanks for the support! Can't wait to get use to running, and it's so bad. I also have stomach issues from time to time, so I have to run through that. It makes every mile that much harder. Hopefully it does not slow me down to much.
 

Julien

macrumors G4
Jun 30, 2007
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....I actually live about an hour out of Atlanta now, so I don't run in Atlanta. I would really like to try the Peachtree, so yeah I might sign up after I try my first 5K. My goal is to be ready for the 5K by the end of April or beginning of May. We will see. Do you live in Atlanta?....
Yea, I live in Cumberland right inside the Perimeter and about *1 mile from the new stadium. We have miles and miles of new running/bike trails and adding more all the time. Here is the Bob Callan Phase 2A (Rottenwood creek) from last week.




* First exhibition game is tomorrow night (NYY) and debating with neighbors if we will hear it (and especially rock concerts [Billy Joel on 4/28]).
 
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