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Couch to 5K
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Fitbit app vs. Charge vs. others

Hi, this is a follow-up post to a run a few days ago where I used my Fitbit Charge (watch) to track distance and also my Fitbit app at the same time!

I found they both gave me very different distances - the Charge told me I'd gone much further (almost 1km more) than the app did - with a bit of research I think this is because the Charge goes by estimated walking/running stride based on steps, and the app goes by GPS?

So the app will be more accurate? And I suppose this means I have a shorter stride than the average? I also like the split pace times the app voiceover gives you.

The only thing that annoys me is now that I want to track just the run part, is getting my phone out before I start running (after warm-up walk) and starting the Fitbit exercise going on the app, then trying to sync it with the podcast so I don't get out of time! I just wish I could tap a button on my watch and everything automatically started tracking, and I could be confident of the distance!

So I suppose the next step is to re-enter my stride distance in my Fitbit settings, then try it again and see how they compare?

I don't want to discard my Charge as it was a gift from my boyfriend - but I suppose my question is what is your advice for my setup - someone who likes running with music/podcasts, likes a voiceover to tell them how they're doing, wants to track distance/time and doesn't want to get their phone out mid-workout? I don't want to be hassled by the tech, but I do like looking at the stats afterwards and I want to be confident in them!

...Am I being too fussy/demanding?!

All ideas welcome! Thanks!

5 Replies

I have a fitbit charge HR and it is pretty accurate on the distance. I set it up with the average stride length from my Garmin. I wear both for running as I like to see the total steps for the day but use my Garmin to track my runs and Heart rate. I like the fitbit for measuring sleep etc and it does encourage me to move more during the day.

I bought my wife a Vivoactive and it measures steps and heart rate has a GPS and can even control music on your phone so that would probably work for the podcasts.


As far as accuracy goes, you could compare both to some other baseline? So download Marble (maps - open source), and the Open Street Map map for that, and then pick two clear endmarkers for your run. If you still have voom at the end, you'll need to stop just to note the endmarker readings, before you carry on.

Using Marble, you can right click, "Add Measure Point", and put in enough of these to get a reasonable level of accuracy. Plenty of them in the bends, and just one on each end of the straights. It's not quite as good as getting a measuring wheel (for that you'd have to ask very nicely at wherever they're surveying roads, and see if they think you have an honest enough face to lend one to you) but it's something you can just about arbitrarily improve the accuracy of, just by zooming bigger, and putting in more points.

Then I suppose what you'd need to do is calculate what fraction of actual distance your estimated distances really are from this, and just apply it to the results you get. Hopefully the error is consistent.


Nice! Thank you! Downloading Marble now.


I've just found this which I think does the same as what you were saying! openrouteservice.org/

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Looks much better. It seems to have some kind of contour selection algorithm for "off road" sections. (I gave it a start and and end on the hills of the start page, and it plotted a winding route that avoided going straight up and down) --- Ah, correction, there's a path it just found. But I'm sure it'll be a lot more accurate than trying to follow the routes on Marble, because it does its own curve plotting.

Bookmarked. Thanks.


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