Outdoor calibration


To preserve battery life of the Apple Watch, Apple has compromised on some of the functionalities of the watch. None of them is really relevant from my point of view given the sum of the pieces, which is amazing. But I can somehow see why one would miss the GPS functionality, though I think that people who vigorously complain about that are missing the point.

To sort of mitigate for no GPS but yet report accurate distance run, Apple suggests to calibrate the watch to your stride by taking the iPhone with you for a 20 minute outside run. Watch and iPhone will communicate during that exercise and adjust for your actual step length, arguably at different speeds. The more often this calibration happens, the more accurate the result, or so it’s said.

This morning I had a doctor’s appointment and I used the free time before that for such a calibration run. This was the first time I was running outside in Singapore, but I thought that 20 minutes or so should be manageable for me. I even was a little cocky and set it to 30 minutes.

The first few minutes went very well and I actually wondered why I did not run outside before.

But then the high humidity and the temperature got to me. It was only 7:30 in the morning but I started to sweat like crazy and struggled to keep my pace. At one point, in a mix of utter conviction and growing desperation, I was certain that I had to be close to 20 minutes already.

I was at 9!
Oh, man!

I did like how the Apple Watch gave me updates on my progress and my heartbeat and remained the control center for my podcast at the same time. But I enjoyed this less than I normally would, because I was so much more occupied not to get a heart attack.

In the end I completed the 30 minutes through a mix of running and walking.
I certainly am not ready for outside sports in Singapore…

Now I am curious how close the watch will be to the actual distance I’ve run when I work out in the gym tomorrow.

Edit June 6th:
My morning exercise showed that I might have to calibrate more (dang!). The watch was always ahead of my actual distance which I tracked on the treadmill. When it alerted me of crossing 10 km, the treadmill reported 9.5 km. So I am 5% off, which is not a big deal for an indoor runner like me, but I know from Abraham that his was virtually perfect after calibration. He also runs more outside than inside and has arguably more data points… Hum. I might give it another go next week or so.

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