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A Runner’s Guide for the Apple Watch

Not all runners are super high tech, though many of us all do want those new toys, like the Apple Watch. Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever Solstice Holiday you happen to celebrate tends to bring them along to enjoy in a new running season.

Some runners may not know how to use the Apple Watch effectively, though Apple did give some good directions on how to use this combination of fashion statement, fitness wearable and running watch. In this tutorial, I’ll show you some of the tips and techniques you might want to know to use the watch effectively on your runs.
I’ll assume you followed Apple’s directions on how to set up your watch. If you Haven’t you can go to Apple’s on-line directions to get started.

Pick a Watch Face

With the watch showing a face, press down and hold on the watch, which we call a Force Touch. You will feel a tap, and the watch face will grow smaller.

face change.jpg

By swiping left or right, you can pick a watch face. Tap on the watch face to keep it. Tap on the customize button to change the features, known as complications, to the watch.


The page indicator at the top of the watch tell you there are more settings. If there are more, swipe left or right. Tap a complication to change it. Twist the digital crown to change the setting. You’ll see the complication or color change, and the crown indicator move.

Continue to do this until you have your watch set the way you like. Click the crown when you are done.

Photo Dec 25, 4 28 47 PM

Using Apps and the Stopwatch

With the watch face displayed, click the crown. You will get a view of your apps.

Photo Dec 26, 7 31 57 AM

You can scroll around by dragging with your finger. Tap the app you like to use. For example, tap the stopwatch app. In the screenshot above it is the one to the right of the clock. You will get an analog stopwatch.

Photo Dec 25, 4 37 02 PM

By force touch, you can change the type of stopwatch you want.

Photo Dec 25, 4 37 58 PM

Analog simulates a mechanical stopwatch.  Digital has a digital stopwatch with text splits. The Graph charts the splits on a line graph and Hybrid combines all three stopwatches into one.

Besides clicking the app, there are two other ways of getting to the stopwatch app. The chronograph watch  face has a stopwatch embedded in it.


Click the stopwatch button in the upper left and the stopwatch starts.


If you use the stopwatch app often and don’t want the chronograph,  set one of your complications to the stopwatch.


Tapping the stopwatch complication launches the stopwatch app.

Using the Apple Workout and Activity apps

There are two native apps you should know for your running and fitness workouts: The Workout app and the Activity app.

The Activity App

The activity app measures and records three daily activities: Standing, movement and exercise. After some initial setup of gender, height,weight and activity level, you don’t have to do anything. The app sits in the background and records your activity. It will also notify you as the day goes on when you have completed your goals. Ten minutes before the hour, it will also remind you to stand if you have not yet. You can change those notification setting in the Watch app in your phone.

On the watch, the activity app is mostly informational. There are three ways to look the activity app. Like the stopwatch, you can launch from the three-ring  icon from the home screen.

The app can also be a complication.  The complication will fill in the rings during the day.

Photo Dec 25, 4 28 47 PM

You can tap the complication to launch the app. The third is to use the glance. From the watch face, swipe up. You will have a series of pages called glances. These are quick sources of information for various apps you have on your watch.  You might for example have the power glance:

Photo Dec 25, 4 45 27 PM

You can the swipe left or right to find  the activity glance:

Photo Dec 25, 4 45 44 PM

Tapping a glance launches the associated app.

Photo Dec 25, 12 47 31 PM

In the fitness app you will find three rings. The inner ring is your stand goal of standing once every hour for twelve hours, outside of that is the exercise goal of thirty minutes of active time and the outer ring is the move goal, measured in calories. You may get a little frustrated with the active goal at first, since the watch changes  what it considers a minute of active time depending on your activity level and heart rate. Supposedly this is a brisk walk according to Apple, but often it will require a run depending on fitness levels.

To find more detail about each ring swipe to the  left.
Activity app.jpg

Scroll down on any view to see more information.

The iPhone app will record your daily data. You can look at your  daily, weekly and monthly activity in the app.

For any given day, tap the 3-ring icon. Scrolling down on a day reveals more detailed information about that day.


The Workout App

The workout app records many types of common workouts.   You access the workout app fromthe home screen. It is the runner, in this screen shot next to the Activity App.

Photo Dec 26, 7 31 57 AM. You can choose from indoor or outdoor walks, runs, and cycling. There is also rowing, elliptical, stair stepper and other.


Photo Dec 27, 12 29 17 PM

You’ll be given one of several screens, depending on how you want to run. You have your choice of a calorie run, a distance run, a timed run, or an open run.

run types.jpg

By swiping left or right, you can find your choice.
Set the desired goal and press start. Go have a nice run.

You may get a message about keeping your phone with you on your first run. Your first run calibrates the motion sensors in the watch. Go for an outdoor run of 0.25 miles(0.4K) or more to calibrate the watch. After this first run you can use your watch without a phone — even for your music list. See below for more on this.

While running you can swipe the watch to see your stats, including time,pace,distance,active and total calories and heart rate.

fitness app in use.jpg

When done with the Apple workout app, force touch or swipe left to right until you get to the run/pause screen. tap end.
You will get your stats for the run. Scroll down for more

Your workout is automatically added to the Activity  app or you may add it manually. For detail on your run, go to the iPhone  Activity app. You will find the exercise as an entry on the daily page.

Select the entry and you get more detail including splits if you wish.

Using Third party Apps

Most of the major developers for running apps have watch extensions available for their app.  Your favorite app might be among them, but you might be, at least for the short term disappointed in it. While we will not discuss each app individually, there are few points to remember about the third party apps we’ve tested.

  • Unlike the Apple Workout app, they require the use of your phone. The apple watch does almost everything on the watch.  You have to select the app on the phone before you use it on your watch for the third party apps.
  • Your phone is the primary processing for your run info in a third party app. this leads to latency issues. It may take 3-5 seconds from the time you raise your wrist to the time you get an accurate  time, distance or pace information.
  • Some watch apps use the accelerometer on the phone others on the watch.  You may have to wear your phone to get any distance data on a treadmill. This is especially true for ones with auto pause mode.
  • Third party apps require a change of setting on your watch.    Go Settings>General>Wake Screen. Set the wake screen to on, and Resume to Previous Activity. This will show the app when you raise your wrist.

Apple watch wake screen settings

With these tips you should have a good running experience with your apple watch.

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