Foot Pods at Dawn

It was closer to dusk but the effect was similar – one large, brightly coloured woman trogging down the street with three foot pods attached to her shoes, two watch-like gadgets on her wrists and an iPhone and miCoach pacer bound to her upper arm. I probably looked like a heavily wired suicide bomber, good job I kept clear of the tube stations.

The miCoach pacer has given my running a whole new lease of life, I’ve been out 5 times this week and I’ve even canceled my gym membership as I seem happy enough to run outside now that I have some audible support. If I keep up this level of enthusiasm for two months it would have paid for itself already.

So my feelings are strong for this new gadget but I can’t help feeling a little disgruntled with its accuracy. Hence the head to head foot pod test, pitting the Nike+ Footpod against the Garmin Forerunner FR60 and the Adidas miCoach Pacer.

Here’s the Adidas miCoach output, which is very pleasing to the eye. This particular chart is showing my heart rate against time with the scheduled HR zones overlaid. I was supposed to stay in blue zone for the first and last 5 minutes with a 30 minute stint in green zone. Blue is such a hard zone to stick to, it’s a tiny bit too high for walking but too low for running so I end up running for a minute then walking – hence the zig zags. Green is a lot more comfortable.

The middle dip in the chart occurs because the pacer declared it had temporarily lost contact with the footpod. Although she encouraged me to carry on while she re-scanned I decided to dither on the spot, I was in the middle of a controlled experiment afterall.

The final results from Adidas suggest I completed 5.38 km in 42 mins which is extraordinarily unlikely given that it included 10 mins walking time. The pace image at the top of the chart says 05:36 min/km which must also be tosh. I never run at that pace and it also doesn’t equate to 5.38 km over 42 mins. So something wrong here. Still, I don’t know why I’m complaining, the doobury wotsit tells me to slow down with every step and then declares that I’ve set a blistering pb pace – result!

The Nike+ Sportand is a no-nonsense beast. It consistently performs, it’s cheap and I can’t help thinking its pretty accurate as well. Shame the stats are so painfully naff. How awful is that chart? The axes aren’t labeled, its been smoothed beyond recognition and its ugly.

The Nike+ recorded a distance of 4.76 km over the 42 min run.

Here’s the pace output from the Garminn Forerunner FR60. You would normally also have heart rate info overlaid but I thought it would be a bit overkill to have two heart rate straps on.

The Garmin footpod recorded the shortest distance of the bunch at 4.41 km.

So there was a huge variation in distance recorded:

Garmin FR60 – 4.41 km
Nike+ Sportband – 4.76 km
Adidas miCoach – 5.38 km

Without testing this on a defined route I can’t be sure which is the most accurate but my suspicions based on the fact that I am at my heaviest in ages and also my unfittest is that it won’t be the miCoach. I did map my route on google maps and it came out at 5.22 km which I also don’t believe.

If I needed any more evidence that the miCoach pacer was a little unreliable, here’s the pacer chart from the same run. It looks like a bar code and bears no resemblance to how the run felt to me. It should be directly comparable to the Garmin offering above but obviously isn’t. Perhaps its just teething problems or perhaps I have a dodgy footpod. The miCoach offering is still in its early days and I would expect their to be software enhancements that may improve this sort of output, perhaps it requires a tiny bit more smoothing?

There’s nothing else left to do so I’ve gone and signed myself up for a 5 km race in Regents Park. I’ll take all 3 gadgets out on another outing and calibrate them properly.

3 thoughts on “Foot Pods at Dawn

  1. Drew

    Dunno if you figured it out yet, since this is an old post and I just happened upon it… but the Nike+ graph can be adjusted to be as jagged or smooth as you want it to look.

  2. warriorwoman Post author

    Hi Drew, thanks for the message – I had no idea you could amend the smoothing. I’ll check it out!

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