Different Distance Devices

Different types of runs warrant different types of equipment.

For long or harder workouts I may wear a slightly more cushioned shoe and for shorter runs I typically wear a very minimal shoe. I’ll often carry some fuel in a belt during long runs and I have two pairs of shorts specifically that I always find myself wearing during my shortest weekly runs.

When it comes to tracking distances, I don’t always wear a GPS. Below I go through different ways I track run distances:

No Electronics

We’ll start with the least advanced. Wearing nothing to track!

For easy general mileage and especially short recovery runs, I’ll run routes of known distances. I have a great four-mile loop and a three-mile out and back that both provide some great views . I know Canyon Lake is four or five miles away depending on if I go through Founders Park or not. When the goal of the run is to simply put in some easy mileage (which should typically constitute 80% of your running) your pace matters little as long as you’re at the appropriate easy effort.

I also find that not wearing any electronics seems to lighten my load a bit. Just the idea of not being tracked changed my mentality and helps me run a bit slower. I also find that I tend to pick up more garbage when not wearing a tracking device!


The track is where this is at!

If I’m doing 10 x 400m or 6 x 1 mile at goal 10k pace I’ll wear my Soleus Chicked watch. It’s super light and 100% precise when used on the track.

One must be aware that GPS watches are typically more inaccurate on tracks because such frequent turning causing the watch to cut the corners. As a GPS samples, it assumes a straight line and has trouble keeping up with so much turning and will cut the corners, recording less distance than you actually run. It would be very frustrating during a challenging workout if you’re hoping to do 800m repeats in 4:00 and your GPS auto laps at a different location every time.

If you don’t have a stopwatch, but do have a GPS, you can turn off the GPS function and simply use the chronograph.

For races longer than 10k I’ll typically use the stopwatch. Most events have mile markers and I’ll simply hit the lap function whenever I pass one of these on the course. I always find it frustrating when using a GPS and it’s not exactly synched up with the course markers. This is normal since GPS watches are typically off by a 1-2% plus courses are marked assuming the shortest possible route and it’s rare that runners are able to always take that. Plus using the stopwatch takes away the risk of battery or signal issues that come with a GPS.

GPS Watch

When I’m out on the bike path doing a run with a goal pace I’ll wear the GPS Turbo.

A workout example where I would have the GPS would be an easy two-mile warmup, six-miles at half marathon goal pace, and an easy two-mile cooldown. The GPS is most accurate during these fairly straight pavement runs. The Turbo simply auto-laps and vibrates on my wrist ever mile to alert me of the split, and hopefully I’m hitting my goal!


For runs that take me away from my house like a 20 mile out and back or long runs out in the forest it’s nice to have some form of communication with me. My wife prefers it and it is simply a good idea. You can never be too safe!

I’ll use a GPS app like Strava or Runkeeper on my phone to track the distance and it’s nice to have the option to listen to music during these long solo runs if I feel the need.

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