Apple watch for running?

Last Updated:  

The Apple watch series 9, for instance, is a smartwatch, that wasn't only designed for running. So is the Apple Watch any good for running? The answer is not quite easy.

Are you an avid runner or are you looking for a tracking device for your daily workouts? Especially when you are training seriously you are looking for a device that offers accuracy in your GPS and paces.

How accurate is Apple Watch GPS for running?

Of course, we love our paces and routes to be accurate. Tracking with the running watch has to be correct. For serious athletes, ultra- and trail runners, the GPS of the Apple watch just can't compete.

The most recent Apple Watch 9 series has an excellent GPS but it is still not as legit as the ones that a brand like Garmin brings to the table.

A lot of new running-focused features that were developed over the years might make the Apple Watch the most comprehensive fitness tracker you can buy.

Is the heart rate accurate on the Apple Watch?

If we talk about the heart rate it's a different story. The HR of the Apple watch is bad. There is no sugar coating. It's just not accurate. When I used to run with an Apple Watch, that's where I found the Apple Watch to slack most. Since the Series 8, we have seen several running-specific updates, establishing the Apple Watch as a solid option for casual runners.

To this day, the measurements of the Apple Watch are inaccurate for me. While running with an Apple Watch you should run with a chest strap to get more accurate results.

The Apple Watch for running: The hard facts

If you can't decide if you should buy the Apple Watch for running or rather have a Garmin GPS watch please check out my comparison of Apple vs. Garmin. From a runner's perspective, if you already own an Apple Watch and you're running here and there but not too seriously, the Apple Watch will do its purpose.

Great for casual runners

It's also great if you do a little Yoga here, have a gym workout there and run a few times a week. Overall you can keep track of your activity level with the workout app on your iPhone. Growing the display for the series 9 Apple watch has implications for other aspects of the design.

The battery life is awful

A dying watch during your long run is the worst that can happen to you. Even though the new Series 9 brings some changes over the Series 8, like a new, more efficient S9 chip, it doesn't have better battery life It's still rated at up to 18 hours or up to 36 hours when in Low Power Mode.

Accuracy is debatable

When I was debating if I should switch to Garmin I kept track of how many runners are using an Apple Watch for running and it wasn't many.

Most runners, especially those who are training for marathons and other big goals, are running with a running watch such as the Forerunner 45, the Garmin vívoactive® 4, or the Garmin fēnix 6.

One of the main reasons to switch for me was the GPS accuracy and the long battery life of a Garmin running watch.

What about the new watchOS 10 update

A lot of features that the new update for Apple Watch will bring this year are especially geared toward runners and serious athletes. Measuring your running power, arm swings and so much more will come. Also, you will be able to create custom workouts with their own distance and time intervals or pace yourself against your routes.

These new additions to its already robust fitness features might make the Apple Watch the best sports watch ever. If only the rumored battery life improvements had materialized.

But what exactly is "running power" in Apple's eyes? Running power is a relatively new concept that quantifies (in Watts) the amount of power a runner is outputting throughout a workout.

It’s a more comprehensive way of measuring how hard you’re working and makes it possible to fine-tune your training runs and nutrition. Running power is something that could formerly only be measured with a compatible smartwatch with a heart rate monitor strapped to one’s chest or a running pod clipped to one’s shorts.

What is the best running app for Apple Watch?

While running with your Apple watch, you can use the Workout app to track your runs, which in outdoor run mode displays as many or as few metrics as you want. Simply swipe left to end your workout.
If you're planning on recording your run on a running app, the question arises what is the best running app for Apple Watch?
There are the Best Running Apps for the Apple Watch
  • Strava.
  • Runkeeper
  • Adidas running app
  • Endomondo.

How do you use the Apple Watch for running?

The usage of the Apple Watch during your run is simple and easy. Besides the problem, that rain is not great for the touch screen and gives you issues using it, the Apple Watch is easy to use. Here are the easy steps to use Apple Watch while running:
  • Open the Workout app on your watch
  • Scroll to Outdoor Run or Indoor Run if you are running on the treadmill
  • Tap the More button (to set a calorie, distance, or time goal)
  • Tap Start and then wait for the three-second countdown
  • To skip the countdown, tap the screen

Do you need your phone when running with Apple Watch?

Apple Watch Series 2 and later and Apple Watch SE have built-in GPS that allows you to get more accurate distance and speed information during an outdoor workout without your paired iPhone which makes it easier as you can simply leave your phone at home.

What is the race route in Watch OS 9?

Race Route has you compete against your previous performance in Outdoor Run, Outdoor Cycle, and Outdoor Wheelchair Workouts which can be super fun.

Why you can trust Sabrina Wieser
Runningbrina is committed to bringing you unbiased ratings and information. Her editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Sabrina uses data-driven methodologies to evaluate all products, so all brands are measured equally.
  • Most featured running blog, past 6 years
  • USATF certified running coach
  • Experienced endurance athlete
  • 7 marathons

You may also like

View all