What's accurate treadmill or GPS/pedometer tra... - Couch to 5K

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What's accurate treadmill or GPS/pedometer tracker on phone?

Jamsandwich
JamsandwichGraduate

I am in consolidation runs at 5k and find myself in Ethiopia, not safe to run outside so I use treadmill but still have my phone attached. I key in 5k into both and off I go... The phone finished 0.25k before the treadmill AND registered me as running slower! Work that one out!

As as footnote running at high altitude is slightly bizarre!

7 Replies
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ArthurJG
ArthurJGGraduate

Well GPS won't help on a treadmill because you are not actually going anywhere. Your phone pedometer will be using an average stride length to estimate distance so if your stride on the treadmill is slightly shorter than that programmed in to the phone it will overestimate the distance and vice versa. I would trust the GPS more than the pedometer if I were running outside, but on a treadmill I think the setting on the treadmill itself will be be most accurate?

Jamsandwich
JamsandwichGraduate
in reply to ArthurJG

Yes pedometer on treadmill! Hence the gps/pedometer in my question.

MarkyD
MarkyDGraduate

In order of accuracy, I rate the following methods:

GPS (most accurate)

Body/hip-worn pedometer or smartphone in pocket

Wrist-worn pedometer, activity tracker or watch

Treadmill

Even then, all the techniques are prone to error.

GPS works well in open country-side, but tall building or even the sea can cause multi-path propagation effects and hence errors. Also, GPS has a resolution problem, and so is not very accurate if your run on a windy course, or take tight, 90degree turns. That's why your 5km measured parkrun course reports a different distance on your GPS watch/phone.

A pedometer of smartwatch worn on the hip is pretty good at detecting your footfall with a high degree of accuracy, and can also determine the time that your foot spends in the air. But it has no idea of your stride-length - only your height if you entered this in the app - and so it can only count the number of steps. Distance is therefore not very accurate. A smartphone with GPS can calibrate your stride-length with some accuracy, since it can count steps and then measure distance with the GPS. So in theory, a smartphone when used indoors (no GPS) should be accurate. Unfortunately your stride on the treadmill is different from your stride outdoors, and so the calibration is pretty meaningless.

Think about what a pedometer/activity tracker/running watch has to do. It must count your steps, and at the same time, your arm is swinging about and confusing the signal. So a wrist-worn device is not terribly accurate.

Lastly, the treadmill. The belt is driven, you 'run' on it, but the distance that you run is basically the distance that the belt has travelled, not how far you have run. And different models of treadmills are more or less accurate.

Sorry, I did not mean to give an essay on distance measurement. The critical thing is to only compare distances recorded with the same device. It does not make sense to compare a treadmill distance with a running watch distance. Whatever device is used, it is always equally inaccurate. So if the treadmill reports 5km one day and 6km the next, then you know you've run further. But if one day a pedometer reports 5km, and the next time a GPS running watch reports 5km, that does not tell you anything.

Sofabunny
Sofabunny
in reply to MarkyD

If my treadmill told me I'd done 5k I would put bunting up and announce it in the Times..

Snails don't get very far 🐌 🐌 😂

Hidden
HiddenGraduate

I had to read that twice! I thought for a minute you had run all the way to Ethiopia! 😂. I’ve done all of my runs on the treadmill & since I graduated I downloaded Runkeeper & then realised it wasn’t recording anything because I wasn’t technically running anywhere.

Hidden
HiddenGraduate

I had to read that twice! I thought for a minute you had run all the way to Ethiopia! 😂. I’ve done all of my runs on the treadmill & since I graduated I downloaded Runkeeper & then realised it wasn’t recording anything because I wasn’t technically running anywhere.

Tasha99
Tasha99Graduate

I’ve been there! Loved it!

Back to the point - treadmill always a seem to get to 5k before my Apple Watch. Although I think it’s improving as it gets to know my cadence. It’s very frustrating.

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