Tracking the fitness trackers: a mixed bag of results

The results are in: head on over to page two to see how each fitness tracker coped with the 10k, and page three for a 3k second opinion

Around a month ago, an innocuous Slack message appeared. It was my Editor David asking if I wanted to take part in Run in the Dark – a five or ten kilometre jaunt around Battersea Park, which – as the name suggests – is done at night. Being a pretty regular 5k runner, and still taking on the advice from my Science of Running piece, I agreed. Then I was signed up for 10km, despite my protests.

The run is for The Mark Pollock Trust, a charity focused on finding a cure for spinal cord injuries and paralysis. If you like their work, please do dig deep and donate.

Anyway, between us, we ran 45km (one of us, who will remain nameless, stuck to 5km), and immediately the question became whether we should cover it on the site, or take our inevitable uninspired, sweaty performance to our graves. In the end, we decided it was a great opportunity to test fitness trackers, but given we’d be traveling at different speeds, it made sense to stick them all on one person.

Readers, I was that guinea pig.alphr_run_2

We dug around our drawers, cupboards, homes and wrists to dig deep and pile as many fitness trackers onto my arm as possible. What you’re looking at there is (from left to right) is a Misfit Flash, a Jawbone UP3, an Apple Watch, a Fitbit Flex, a first generation Moto 360 and a Sony Smartband 2, all talking to a HTC One M8 (and David’s iPhone 6s). My arm has never been this valuable, with a recommended retail price of £895 on wearables alone – though over half of that is on Apple. There was talk of including a Google Glass as well, but perhaps taking pity on me, it was overruled.

For the race itself, I divided them up a bit more neatly than that. Watches on the left wrist, step counters on the right, with the exception of the Misfit which – appropriately given its name – was worn on my shoe.

On Thursday morning, feeling like my legs were attached by string, I began to analyse the results…

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