Why I am not buying a GPS Fitness Watch…… yet

I have been extremely torn to leap at the latest and greatest gps smart watch for my runs. I have a Fitbit Charge HR2 and normally run with my cell phone. The dream of losing the added weight of my phone was a nice idea.

As I think about my normal runs, at least training runs,  sometimes I want access to the normal pace, distance and elapsed time for run information. I don’t want to look away from the course and stare at a display either on my phone or a watch, so I do like audio prompts.

In fact that led to a nasty fall for someone I was pacing in a 10K trail run recently. They looked at their watch display and the many roots on the trail knocked them down. Not only did they fall but buttons got mashed and their display changed so they couldn’t check their pace or distance. Any more button mashing while running could have caused them to lose their gps track and more time to sort it out.

I also appreciate having some music or podcast available to kick off when I need motivation or distraction during the run, especially the long runs. The only way to control that without pulling out my cell phone is via bluetooth headset controls. But you can’t switch between apps like that.

One feature that I greatly appreciate about the Fitbit fitness tacking is its use of audio cues on a regular basis. This is a function available on many phone apps, but no gps smart watch that I am aware of in a price range I want. A serious strike against fitness trackers and smart watches.

In the instance of the fallen runner I was able to call out our pace and distance as I received audio cues.

To alleviate the carrying of the phone either in my hand or strapped to my arm, I have an inexpensive running vest to tuck it into for my long runs. Then I try to refrain from touching it at all, opting to use headset controls. But then that means I’m stuck with audio from whichever app is cued to play at the time I set out on my run. If Stitcher is cued with podcasts, I won’t get driving motivational rock when the need arises to get that extra spark.

The last point I have is in the interest of safety. I will likely continue to carry my cell phone for emergency or the “come pick me up” calls I may need to make on a long training runs.

So a gps smart watch? Not  yet for me.

One other option would be for weather resistant sport Android smart headphones. A set that could understand audio commands just like a Google Home. If I find something promising, I’ll share my thoughts.

Endomondo vs CardioTrainer – "Fitness Apps Comparison"

I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Endomondo and CardioTrainer fitness apps for the past several years, so I’ve had a little experience with them.

First, both are “freemium” apps. You can download them to be used for tracking  workouts, but both are primarily designed as “workout” logging devices. They allow manually documenting and approximating of  many styles of workouts. However they primarily shine as GPS trackers that use the distance traveled and your body weight to calculate your level of exertion. Both are good at what they do. But both have functions and features that are locked unless you pay a premium.

I’ve personally not paid the premium on either of them, so I can’t speak to the value of the extra features. I’ll only be talking about the free versions. 

I discovered CardioTrainer while doing internet searches. Endomondo came recommended because I had bought a Jabra Sport Wireless bluetooth headset and the company documentation indicated special functionality that would work with the headset.

This will not be an in-depth feature by feature deep dive. This is a high level very subjective viewpoint.

Basics – Both lock on GPS signals, both track your basic information like speed/pace, distance, duration of workout, and both provide the capability for countdowns prior to the start of the workout.

In the basics they are comparable and accurate.

Where they differentiate? Many of the added features you may have to pay a premium for in Endomondo are available in the CardioTrainer free.

The added features of the Jabra Sport Bluetooth didn’t work consistently with Endomondo and really didn’t add anything to the experience. Things like music pause and some other simple audio controls. In fact Endomondo starts up an app when I use the Jabra Sport headset, that lock up any of the music streaming services I use. It attempts to push you to GooglePlay. Endomondo would stop tracking mysteriously at times. I had more than a few two and three mile runs that only logged a mile. It’s audio prompts to tell you elapsed mileage and speed/pace were locked to one mile intervals, so I would have to wait a long time to hear or not hear whether it was working. Not a resounding vote for me to consider investing in the upgrade.

I worked around some of the issues related to the headset software with a wired headset, but the app still wasn’t as reliable as I hoped. So why did I pay good money for the bluetooth? To force me to music services I didn’t want? Another hopeful function was that it was supposed to link up to a calorie /diet app I use called “MyFitnessPal”, but it never worked for me.

Working with CardioTrainer, it just worked. It allowed so much more control over the audio prompts, which when you’re running helps immensely. It hasn’t failed on me and works with every head set I own with no adverse affects. It doesn’t interrupt any of my streaming music apps. It also provides for workout scheduling notifications and calorie tracking through the week as part of the free version.

Behind CardioTrainer is a calorie /diet tracking app looking for you to upgrade to premium. So there is no interaction between CardioTrainer and “MyFitnessPal”. Oh well, it does a great job for what it does and it does it well.

All in all, I prefer CardioTrainer.