When the apple watch first came out, I saw it adorning many wrists, especially within the tech and fashion worlds. I’m in neither, so thought nothing of it.
Until Nike partnered with Apple to bring out the Apple Watch Nike+. Running and fitness, now that is a world I understand.
I’ve had the watch for about a month, putting it through it’s paces before writing my review, and running plenty of miles with it to provide a useful review, and partly because I’m a technophobe who has issues with new technology so it took me a while to figure it out – to be totally honest, there is still a lot I can’t do/don’t realise that you can do). But the big question I wanted to know, was is the Apple Watch actually a good watch for runners?
I loved that I could use my everyday watch to record my runs, not needing to charge another electrical, swap watches when I got changed or skip recording a run because of the hassle of searching out my Garmin. I even recorded a lot of easy runs that I wouldn’t normally track, turning the Nike interface off to ensure I didn’t obsess over pace and enjoyed the miles.
Are we running today? A simple question on the watch that prompted me more times than I care to admit to lace up my trainers and hit the road. It’s Nike’s big running push currently, and wow does it work (I’m such a sucker for marketing motivation).
Inbuilt GPS function means you don’t need to have your phone with you to track the run, and bluetooth headphones allow you to use the watch to listen to music, have a phone conversation (Tom said the quality was actually very impressive, although it was slightly embarrassing talking to my wrist), and read texts. It hasn’t quite worked out how to take a post-run selfie yet though.
You can switch to ‘Indoor running’ for treadmill workouts, as well as recording classes, gym sessions and swimming all on the same watch. Winning.
There’s no missing important phone calls or emails because you’re working out, you can quickly check to see who is calling/emailing, ignoring those that are unimportant and responding immediately if needed. You can even set it so that only certain people can interrupt you at certain times.
I really liked the activity readings, highlighting the moments when I was inactive or sitting for long periods of time. As runners, we often think because we have achieved our run for the day, that we’re set, but really we should all be more active throughout the day – even on days where I achieved my exercise score, my mobility and standing scores could be very low – especially long days at uni in lectures and on the train. Time to put my bike/walk commutes into practice.
It’s more than just a running watch… My favourite app on the watch was the Breathe app, it reminded you to take a minute out of every hour just to focus on your breathing. Counting in, then out, vibrating on your wrist to observe the inhales and exhales. It was incredibly calming, and I loved that I could easily utilise it on the tube, before a uni presentation or at bedtime when my anxiety levels were rising.
Checking your heart rate is awesome, I was surprised to see just how much my HR rocketed before and during aforementioned uni presentation! If you’re a heart rate runner then this easy to see function on the Apple watch without the need for a chest strap is an awesome addition.
I’m using to a Garmin watch where you press GO and you start running, it took me a while to adjust to the 3,2,1 countdown in the Nike+ app on the watch.
The functionality just wasn’t up to scratch for my more technical speed workouts, where the lap function and easy switching between miles and kilometres on my Garmin are far superior. When workouts involve 2 mile warm up, 20 mins at 8.10, 4 X 200m at 0.50, 2 mile cool down, the Apple watch technology and interface just wasn’t what I needed (and was able to use) unfortunately.
Auto-pause is both a blessing and a curse. The first run I used the watch during was the Tough 10 race on Box Hill – with rather steep inclines it was a bit disheartening when my watch auto paused while I was climbing. It’s great for traffic lights but means that you don’t always get an accurate reading from your workout.
I use running as an escape, a time to breathe, think and reflect. Having the watch on meant that I was receiving notifications from Whatsapp, Gmail, Hotmail, Facebook, Instagram and twitter, not to mention texts and phone calls on my runs. Not so bad during the 5am sessions, but rather distracting during my evening runs. Luckily these can be muted/turned off easily by pressing the Moon symbol (Do Not Disturb) while you’re getting the miles in but it’s a nuisance if you forget.
The straps that come with the new Nike Apple Watch feature the fluoro yellow that has adorned Nike kit for years, however it’s quite a sporty, utilitarian strap for a watch that is supposed to be worn all day. I understand that the perforations are designed to keep the wrist cool, but I don’t think it much went with my day wear, nor my smarter evening outfits. There are some beautiful straps available for the watches, with are easy to change out to suit your wardrobe.
You need to charge it every night, like your phone, which I found slightly annoying.
Ultimately, I actually really like the Apple Watch as an everyday watch that I can use for some of my runs and workouts.
But it won’t replace my actual GPS running watch for my races and speed/tempo runs.
So if you’re a runner in the market for a new watch, then this is an awesome addition to your Christmas list/January shopping. However if you’re looking for a new running watch, specifically to track your training, then I think the more exercise specific brands do a more accurate job.
Plenty of Garmin watches are now capable of being worn every day and of receiving notifications, although you can have them automatically disabled during activities. Furthermore, they can be used in regular workouts but go for days (depending on how many workouts and how long) without needing to be charged. And of course they do sleep tracking too. Maybe you should look at something like the Fenix Chronos if you would like a smart Garmin that can be worn all the time, without having to compromise with your training and racing.
Wow I’ve never seen those ones before – pretty snazzy (and pricey!) I wear a Garmin Forerunner 220 for my tempo and speed runs and love it for that – although the purple is a bit garish for everyday wear!
Great review! Husband and I just got a Nike Apple Watch for each other for Christmas. <3 It will be my first time using NRC/Nike+.
2 questions – on the phone app you can turn off the 3,2,1 countdown and the auto pause – can you not do that on the watch?
Obviously I didn’t even know you could do that – please can you try for me 🙂
i’ve wondered this exact thing, but like you, i don’t want to receive emails etc while running, smart you can pause them. But for me, I don’t trust myself not to pull over and just start checking Insta mid-run, even if I shut off alerts 🙂
It is so tempting but without the notifications I can switch off a little bit from it.
Used the new Apple Watch for the NY marathon…had my phone on airplane mode and all notifications switched off to conserve battery. It ran out at Mile 23 🙁 Same for a couple of other people I know. Advise not to use for a marathon.
OH no that is SO annoying, you must have been so frustrated.
Great post Charlie! Do you know if the Nike+ features are available on the standard Apple Watch? In other words, is it only the strap that’s different? x
Also wondering this – I’m thinking about just getting the rose gold apple watch 2 with the sport band – not sure if those features are different or not. The autopause thing would be a dealbreaker if it did it on the regular watch as well…
Great review. You capture many reasons why I am so tempted but haven’t taken the plunge yet!
I don’t think I’d want notifications etc. to come through on my watch, that’d really annoy me. It is pretty though, I have to admit! And I’m a sucker for an apple product, but interested to hear your thoughts on the interval and specific training sessions set up, think I’ll stick to Garmin. I need to buy a new one for this season!
So it USED to really annoy me to have notifications come in until I had a kid. And now I HAVE to have them just in case daycare or my husband is calling me.
I’m really looking at getting the rose gold watch with the sport band. I wonder about the difference between this and that! I may have to stop into the apple store for a chat!
I just got the fitbit HR 2 and like all of the features as well, I first looked at the apple watch but it’s so expensive and I’m rough on equipment I wasn’t sure it would hold up to hours of abuse. I’ve heard the battery life still needs some improvements. I’m such an apple lover I just can’t get into the watch, your is beautiful though!
I agree. I got the Apple 2 watch and I love it but for racing, I still use my old Garmin.