Avoid using fitness trackers and smartwatches if you're running a marathon

If you’re preparing for a marathon, you might want to be careful when selecting your fitness tracker or smartwatch. Some wearables can be outrageously inaccurate at measuring the 26.2 mile distance, according to research released before tomorrow’s London marathon.

Which? We evaluated the accuracy of 118 fitness trackers, sports watches, and smartwatches from eight different brands. The tests weren’t done on the newest gadgets because they were conducted between May 2016 and February 2018. The findings revealed notable variations not just between brands but also between devices from the same brand.

The Garmin Vivosmart 4 tops the list of wearables you may want to stay away from if you’re preparing for a marathon. The well-known gadget may be excellent at tracking routine activity and sleep, but it will make you run 37 kilometers before declaring that you have reached the finish line. That’s an additional 11 miles, or 41.5 percent, over the actual marathon distance.

The Misfit Ray, Amazfit Bip, and Samsung Gear S2 all performed poorly. The distance was overestimated by each person by more than 30%. The one true surprise on this list is the Amazfit Bip. Given that it contains a built-in GPS chip, which should improve accuracy.

The eight Apple watches that were put to the test did quite well, but the Series 3 watch was the furthest off the mark, measuring only 22.8 miles for the entire marathon. Strangely, the Series 1 watch was only 1% off the mark! Guess what?

Over short distances, precision might not be a problem, but it might leave marathon runners out of breath miles from the finish line. Some athletes might not reach the finish line if they don’t choose their clothing properly, while others might wind up running considerably farther than necessary.

In a real race, it might appear like this!

Avoid using fitness trackers and smartwatches if you’re running a marathon.

While the Vivosmart 4 had the weakest performance of the bunch, Garmin does have a number of devices that are extremely accurate. For instance, the Vivoactive 3’s estimation of the marathon distance was exact to the millimeter.

In response to the study, a Garmin spokeswoman said that the Vivosmart 4 is an all-purpose smart fitness activity tracker designed to measure wellness, health, and fitness for a variety of activities.

“Since the Vivosmart 4 does not include GPS, we would advise someone who is running a marathon to select a tracking device like our Forerunner line, which is specifically designed for runners and has GPS.”

The best solution to this, as Garmin quite correctly advises, is to buy a high-quality running watch with integrated GPS. Although it increases the cost of the purchase, this significantly improves accuracy.

Running a marathon is no easy task, so athletes who prepare for it months in advance want to be sure their fitness tracker is reliable and won’t affect their finish times, according to Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services.

Before you buy, make sure you do your research to discover a model that you can rely on. Our testing has found a lot of models from big-name manufacturers that can’t be trusted when it comes to calculating distance. “

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