Tracking the fitness trackers: a mixed bag of results

Tracking the fitness trackers: a mixed bag of results

Right. Anyone looking for something quick and easy to digest has come to the wrong place. The data were messy, inconclusive and incomplete, but here’s what was tracked and how.

First and foremost, I came last of the Alphr 10k runners, with a finishing time – according to the offical stats – of 59 minutes and 26 seconds. Hooray!


Okay, great. Let’s look at what Runkeeper – tracked through the phone and via the Moto 360 – had to say about that:runkeeper_10k_route

Right. That makes sense: cruelly the start line wasn’t clear, so I ended up running to it, meaning I went a little longer than I intended to. 

Apple Watch, do you agree?apple_watch_overview

Not so much. There’s a mystery extra 0.36km here – I’ll give it a pass on the calorie discrepancy, as it’s set up for David’s height and build rather than mine, but distance should be near identical. 

Things get stranger when we look into the splits. On the left is Runkeeper via Android, on the right is Apple Watch:apple_vs_runkeeper

Now granted, I don’t have enough arms to set all my trackers off simultaneously, but those are pretty big differences. Kilometres 4, 5 and 6 are pretty close (less than 10 seconds) but the rest are all over the place.

Okay. Steps, then. This gets a little complicated because most of the apps don’t bother to break down steps by time of day. Take a bow Fitbit for letting me isolate which steps were which:fitbit_10k_stats

Now in theory, green is supposed to represent energetic, orange moderate and red lazy, but given the race didn’t begin until just after 20:00 and I sure as hell wasn’t running to get there, I think you can take that with a pinch of salt.

Still, isolating the specific race start time I can tell you Fitbit tracked 8,750 steps, and because it breaks it down into five minute segments, I can roughly say that at 8:35 and 8:50 I took less steps – 678 and 673 respectively. This roughly matches up with Runkeeper’s slowest kilometres, which makes sense.

Now we turn to another step counter. The Misfit Flash:


That’s… not very helpful. There’s no option to break down by time, so I can’t tell exactly how many steps were carried over from the run, and how many were after heaving over the finish line (the time stamp at the top was my edit, though the app had a good old guess at when I stopped.) Around 700 more steps than FitBit, but it was worn on the shoe, rather than the wrist which would suggest higher accuracy, perhaps? Oh, except you’ll notice that 5.7 miles does not equal 10km. I’ve lost half a mile somewhere.

The Moto 360’s step rate isn’t too helpful – it gives you a daily total: 20,522, but no way of breaking that down to the specific time. Or at least not on the watch itself.

Which brings me to heartrate. Or rather, it should, but only the Apple Watch bothered to track it in a usable way. The Jawbone – due to a misunderstanding – wasn’t installed on either me or David’s phone, and the Sony Smartband 2 logged it, but then forgot it when I didn’t install the Lifelog app. In any case, the latter was constantly disconnecting throughout the race.

All of which leads to the main point… I need to do this again. Tomorrow morning, I’m going to run 5k before work, with all the fitness trackers on again. Everything should work, and more importantly, as they’ll be my first steps of the day, they won’t get muddled up with my usual wanderings.

Did you hear that? That was my legs screaming out in terror…

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