One of the benefits to using a Garmin GPS watch to track your runs, is that it records all of your run data, which can then be uploaded to Garmin Connect, Strava, or other websites for further analysis. As the weather has gotten colder and the roads icy here in Minnesota, I’ve been doing most of my runs on the treadmill. By using the Garmin Foot Pod, you can keep track of all your indoor runs on the treadmill.
|Place Velcro on the back of Foot Pod to use w/ VFF
You could manually enter all of your data, but this can be tedious, and doesn’t track things like laps and changes in pace. This is where the Garmin Foot Pod comes in. The Foot Pod is a device with a built-in accelerometer that measures cadence and acceleration to estimate stride length and thus pace & distance.
A more accurate speedometer
In addition to being used to estimate the pace and distance while running on a treadmill or indoor track, the Foot Pod can also be used while running outdoors to keep track of stride rate and pace. But why would you use a Foot Pod to track pace, when GPS already does that?
GPS is notorious for giving runners erratic readings for instant paces. If you are like me and want to know how fast you are running, RIGHT NOW, then the Foot Pod can help. You can set the Foot Pod to show up on your Garmin GPS watch to give you the instant pace reading, rather than relying on GPS. The distance and average pace will still be tracked by GPS, but your instant pace will be estimated from your Foot Pod. Some runners find the Foot Pod to be more accurate and consistent.
I am obsessed with trying to find out exactly how far and fast I ran. I like to know how fast I am running to see if I am making progress. Can a little Foot Pod really be accurate?
To get the most accurate calibration, go to a track and calibrate your Foot Pod. You could also use the built in GPS on your watch to calibrate the distance, though this will not be as accurate. Alternatively, you can calibrate using the Garmin Foot Pod Calibration Tool, which allows you to use longer distances to calibrate more accurately.
I tested the Foot Pod accuracy on a 2 mile run. I used a measure wheel to verify the distance. I initially calibrated the Foot Pod using the measure wheel, while running at about a 10 minute pace (which is the pace my dog likes to run). My dog and I then went for a 2 mile run with my Garmin 205, Garmin 310XT (GPS off and Foot Pod enabled), my iPhone 5 with the Garmin Fitness App, and the measure wheel. The run has about 75 ft of elevation gain and involved several stops with my dog.
|Measure Wheel to Verify Accuracy
- Measure Wheel: 2 miles (3218 meters)
- Garmin 310XT w/ Foot Pod: 1.98 miles
- Garmin 205 w/ GPS enabled: 1.99 miles
- iPhone w/ Garmin Fit App: 2.10 miles
As you can see, the Foot Pod was extremely accurate. Measuring 1.98 miles gives a percentage error of 1%. The Garmin 205 using GPS give a percentage error of 0.5%, and the iPhone with the Garmin Fitness App gives a percentage error 5%.
I have found the Foot Pod to be extremely accurate when I am running a the pace I calibrated it to. If I calibrate the foot pod while running a 10 min mile, it does a great job of estimating my distance at that pace. If I deviate from the calibrated pace, the pace and distance begin to deviate as well.
Since I like to capture as much data as possible from my faster workouts on the treadmill, I calibrate the foot pod while running at a faster pace.
Treadmills are said to be notorious for inaccuracy. The foot pod will not give you 100% accurate information, but it will come close.
I wear the foot pod for treadmill workouts because it is fun to see my pace, stride rate, and run dynamics.
|Garmin gives various colored lines based on stride dynamics
|Garmin gives you averages, max, and stride length
|If I am doing a specific workout, and want to know the exact distance covered, I use the treadmill readout for measurement. I measured the treadmills I use with a measure wheel to verify accuracy. Both treadmills I use were within a couple of feet of true distance.
If you use a Garmin GPS watch and would like to easily keep track of all your indoor running, or stride dynamics for outdoor running, I’d highly recommend the Garmin Foot Pod. While it’s not 100% accurate, neither is GPS and it makes looking at your data a lot more fun.