One of the best ways for you to stay motivated and improve your running is to keep track of your workouts. In the old days people would where their watches, map out some known distances and write things down in a runner’s journal when they returned from the workouts. I skipped the journal and went straight to a computer spreadsheet for tracking. I’ve been diligent at keeping records since 2003.
Anyway, as technology evolved so has my methods of tracking my runs. When MapMyRun came out, I was so happy to be able to determine just how far I actually ran by loading up the website and tracing my route. While it was pretty cool, it was also time consuming and I wanted another way.
The first GPS type device I used was my iPhone. There is an app called Runkeeper which I like very much. It is so much easier to just run with the iPhone and let the app automatically track your time and distance. Unfortunately, there are a couple of problems.
First, as an urban joggler there are a number of times when I have to stop and wait for lights. It is not practical to stop the app timer every time so my times are all off by a few minutes. To solve this, I continued to wear a running watch and used the iPhone app for the distance.
The second problem was more troubling though. The accuracy of the distance is off. Sometimes I would run the same route and would have slightly to vastly different distances. The satellites can get a bit unreliable in the city I guess. I didn’t have a great solution to this problem but I thought a Garmin watch would be a great solution. My old watch (the Polar) was a good one but lacked some features I wanted.
Garmin Watch Tracking
When I got my Garmin 410 watch I was pleased. It was like any other watch and wasn’t huge like previous versions of the Garmin. I figured out how to use it and have been tracking all my runs with it since the start of the year. At first, I was extremely pleased. I thought I might not even need the iPhone tracking any more. The Garmin allows you to save and download all your workouts. I’m sure there are lots of features I haven’t discovered yet but it’s cool.
Unfortunately, I have to question the accuracy of this device too.
Case in point…
Yesterday, I did a nice long run through the city using both my Garmin and my iPhone Runkeeper app. Here are the stats from the run.
Runkeeper stats: Distance 11.10 miles. Time 1:59:17
Garmin stats: Distance 10.04 miles. Time 1:50:06
Now, what do I believe?
There is a 9 minute difference in the times. This is expected and understandable. The Runkeeper app continues to run no matter what. There were a number of times that I was stopped at a stop light or even paused to take a few photos. I like taking photos while I’m doing long runs through the city. The Garmin is superior here because I can just pause the timer when I’m doing some non-joggling activity. I’m completely satisfied with the Garmin accuracy here.
This is the problem. How can there be almost a 1 mile difference? And how far did I really run?
The answer to the first question is simple…satellite inaccuracy. All these tall buildings and other city interference just messes up the signal for both the iPhone and the Garmin. C’est la vie.
So how far did I run? I’m fairly certain the Runkeeper app is more accurate for this. I looked on the website for the map of my run and it is fairly accurate. But to get a true measure, I’m going to check out my path on Mapmyrun.
Mapmyrun says I went 11.11 miles. Looks like the iPhone Runkeeper app wins.
Now, I wonder how you make the Garmin more accurate. Anyone know?