5 Apple Watch features all runners should know about

5 Apple Watch features all runners should know about

The Apple Watch is an excellent running companion and fitness smartwatch. That’s why it’s dominated our best smartwatches guides since its launch in 2014, and really only specialist running watches from the likes of Garmin can match its prowess.

But once you dive under the hood, there are some excellent features that many runners may not know about.

Read on for five features every runner should know about:

> Read our complete guide to the Apple Watch Workout app

Race yourself


If you run the same routes regularly, there’s a handy feature that can spice up your workouts.

The Race Route feature tracks your past routes, and enables you to race yourself, for an extra dose of motivation.

We used it for our local parkrun, and it provided a whole new experience to race your PB in real time. And if you don’t feel at your best, you might as well make your last attempt instead.

To use the feature, just start an outdoor running session in the Workout app, but press the three-dot menu button.

Select Routes, and then select one from the list.

We didn’t see any routes here on the first try, and we had to update our iPhone to iOS 6.2 before routes were displayed. If you see an empty list, start there. Also, make sure your Apple Watch is updated as well.

Build your own workout


You can also completely build your own workout.

Go back to the Outdoor Run option in the Workout app and press the menu button.

From here you can start building a workout, or set a target time, pace, distance or calorie target by selecting a Custom > Goal Based Workout.

Pace-based goals are especially interesting, as you’ll get a graphic to show you how far behind or ahead of your pace goal you are.

You can also build in interval timers and set warm-up and cool-down periods.

This means that the Apple Watch can guide you through specific sessions, so you can concentrate on the workout.

If you like building structured workouts on the Apple Watch, we also highly recommend downloading and using Nike Run Club.

Automatically upload to Strava


For years we used Strava to track our running workouts because we didn’t want to miss out on the social and performance analytics for our runs.

But as the Workout app improved, it became annoying not to be able to enjoy the richer interface during runs that Apple’s experience offers.

A few years ago, you could manually upload workouts from the Apple Watch to Strava, which closed some of the gaps. And now it can all be done automatically.

We have a full guide to connecting Apple Watch and Strava, so we won’t reproduce it here. But there is now an option to have workouts sync automatically.

Just turn on automatic uploads – and go run.

Precision begins


Only one for Apple Watch Ultra (strangely enough), Precision Start lets you have the Workout app ready to go at the start line of races – and push to start.

When you turn on the Apple Watch Workout app, tracking starts immediately, by default. You get a 3,2,1 countdown, and you go.

This is not only difficult when you are in the funnel of a big race, but also presents a challenge for accuracy. That’s because the Apple Watch doesn’t spend time finding a satellite lock like almost every other GPS sports watch, and uses other signals to plot a location before locking.

That’s fine with practice laps, but if you’re on the start line of your big race, you’ll want the clock locked and ready to go.

To turn on Precision Start, go to Settings > Workout and turn on Precision Start. You won’t go back.

We hope this rolls out to the Series 8 and SE, as it’s a useful feature for any runner.

View live running power


In the past few watchOS updates, Apple has added a bunch of running dynamics updates, including vertical oscillation tracking, cadence, and more recently running power.

We’ve written a lot about running power, and it’s effectively a measure of running effort, rather than heart rate effort. And if used correctly, it can be an effective tool to ensure you don’t burn out on races.

The problem is that it doesn’t show up on the Apple Watch Workout app by default, but you can make it show up as a live metric.

This is a great chance to explain how to edit and adjust the metrics you see during a workout.

Go to the outdoor running activity in the Workout app and press that menu button again. Go to the Open Workout, and then tap the small edit button, and select Workout Views.

Here you can scroll through all the screens for running metrics, and you can choose whether or not to include them.

Running power will be part of that list – so press Include and have it displayed live on your wrist while you run.

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