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Do Pedometers work? (Read 2294 times)

Chicago 26.2 07


    Recieved a pedometer / Timer/ step counter as gift, doesn't seem to measure distance accurately. My map routes on the map tool measure my routes much longer than the pedometer. The map function seems to be accurate compared to a car odometer. Do you have recommendation for a novice who just wants to keep track of time / distance / split times?
      I've never had a pedometer that worked. Walk a hundred steps and get answers ranging from 40 steps to 200! Do it again and get a wildly different answer! Then again, every pedometer I've treid has been really cheap. Perhaps the pricey ones work better?

      Roads were made for journeys...

      Scout7


      CPT Curmudgeon

        Pedometers generally aren't made for running, anyway. I like the mapping function on this site. Before this, I used gmaps-pedometer (basically the same as the map function here). If you can, you can try to remember about where the miles are on the map and go off that. Another option is to drive the course and mark where each mile is with flour (people don't like spray paint in their yards, so I discourage that). Option three is to get some sort of speed/distance device from Garmin, Timex, or Polar.
        Mile Collector


        Abs of Flabs

          Pedometers are designed to count the number of steps you took in a given amount of time. Distance is a product of number of steps and the length of your stride, which the pedometer has no chance to knowing. Your stride length is not an absolute number either. It is dependent upon your pace (how fast you run), and other factors. In other words, pedometers can give you a ball park range of your distance, but you can't rely on it. If you want a truly accurate way to keep track of time, distance and splits, you'll need a GPS watch. The most popular one is the Garmin Forerunner. Timex also has a similar device. These gadgets will give you your distance (accurate to probably 98-99% over a long distance), your speed/pace as you're running, and can automatically create split times. They cost anywhere up to $350. If you have only a handful of running routes, you can just measure them with the mapping tool on this site, and save yourself that money. Just be sure to zoom all the way to get the most accurate distance.
            Do you have recommendation for a novice who just wants to keep track of time / distance / split times?
            Frankly, the easiest - and probably best - way to do it is simply to measure your routes, before or after your run, and then time yourself. And since you happen to be posting at a site with a very nice mapping feature, it should be pretty easy. The Google satellite maps are at least as accurate as any GPS device I've played with. Of course, that does mean you have to either plan your runs ahead of time - or remember your route, so you can map when you get home. Despite the fact that I'm now fully stocked in the gizmo department, I'm not a big fan of gadgets. Simple is better. Take your watch and go run. That said, I have been playing with iPod+ Nike stuff that I got for Christmas, and I've been impressed so far. The whole set-up is $30, plus the cost of the nano iPod, of course (another $150, although you can do better than that if you look around). You don't actually need the Nike+ shoes, either, although it makes it easier. There are several companies that sell products to hold the sensor in non-Nike shoes. It's not a pedometer actually, it's an accelerometer - but the same idea. After I calibrated it at the track the other day, it's accurate to within a few steps every couple of miles. Might be worth checking out. It's a fun toy, if nothing else. But the maps right here, and a cheap watch, are the easiest way to go.
            E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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            vicentefrijole


              It's not a pedometer actually, it's an accelerometer - but the same idea. After I calibrated it at the track the other day, it's accurate to within a few steps every couple of miles.
              Nike used to make a an accelerometer that went with their Nike Triax Elite (watch + heart rate monitor). I can't find it on their website anymore (that's doesn't mean much, though.. their website is a circus) so maybe they stopped making it in order to collaborate with Apple's iPod? Still, I'm sure there are a few of these Triax Elite watches bumping around the stores (probably on clearance now). Personally, I took mine back after I received it as a gift and traded up for a Garmin GPS... but the iPod option is a lot less expensive (and less dorky Blush ).
                Pedometers are designed to count the number of steps you took in a given amount of time. Distance is a product of number of steps and the length of your stride, which the pedometer has no chance to knowing. Your stride length is not an absolute number either. It is dependent upon your pace (how fast you run), and other factors. In other words, pedometers can give you a ball park range of your distance, but you can't rely on it. If you want a truly accurate way to keep track of time, distance and splits, you'll need a GPS watch. The most popular one is the Garmin Forerunner. Timex also has a similar device. These gadgets will give you your distance (accurate to probably 98-99% over a long distance), your speed/pace as you're running, and can automatically create split times. They cost anywhere up to $350.
                Hmm. I run through wooded trails that have some hills. I have this cheap pedometer that lets you put your stride in, so that's what I've been relying on to figure my distance. I haven't really worried about how exact it is because I'm only just beginning to get into running again and the need isn't really there....yet. I'm not really a gadget person, but the GPS watches interest me. I would love to know what distance I'm actually running (and eventually pace), especially since I'm going up and down hills a lot. I know the pedometer has its limitations...not to mention my trying to remember the times so I can kinda figure a pace. Problem is, the GPS units don't work very well where it's heavily wooded, do they?
                Chicago 26.2 07


                  Thanks everyone you have been very helpful! I have posted my maps on my log...
                  vicentefrijole


                    Problem is, the GPS units don't work very well where it's heavily wooded, do they?
                    I think the newest ones (the Forerunner 305 for example) are better than in the past. I bought one and was concerned about running to close to tall buildings (since I run through a big city most of the time). But, once I've connected to a satellite, I never have any problems. I've never lost signal due to tree cover, either, but I haven't gone into densely forested areas (yet). Running through a tunnel does completely wipe out the signal, so there are limits. Maybe you can find a friend who will let you try one out on your most densely covered running route?
                      I messed with the Nike/iPod+ set-up again this morning, and it remains relatively accurate. At least as far as distance goes. I did my regular run today, which is just a hair over 7 miles, according to everything from GPS to Google maps to the car odometer (not that they couldn't all be wrong, of course.). The nice voice in my ear at the end told me I'd gone 7.04 miles ... so I'm pleased. Plus, you've gotta dig Lance Armstrong or Paula Radcliffe telling you what a stud you are. On the downside, the minute-to-minute pace does NOT seem accurate. It varies pretty wildly; it could be improved dramatically if it would compare the reported pace to the time and distance, to even it out a bit. Then again, my GPS monitor is pretty useless with pace, too. For pace, nothing works better for me than knowing the mile markers and glancing at my watch. I'm so old skool.
                      E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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                        Maybe you can find a friend who will let you try one out on your most densely covered running route?
                        Thanks, vicentefrijole, good idea! After doing some reading I think this little-timer will stick to more basic stuff for now. Somehow your "They cost anywhere up to $350" didn't register and then I saw the cost on the Garmin site. Holy cow! Those things are pricey. I have to become more worthy to invest in something like that! Smile Thanks for the Nike info too JakeKnight! I did some reading on it and that sounds more accurate (and fun) than my pedometer, even if I have to wear that AND my watch to get an accurate time. (Let's see..Nike iPod stuff, watch, mace, cell phone, water bottle in the summer..*ack*) I never had luck finding comfy Nike shoes for my wide feet, but heck, if I can use it with my own shoes, what a sweet little deal! As one site put it, "Turn your rancid smelly bargain bin trainers into Nike clones with this little gizmo." Makes you wanna run right out and get one! Big grin I was concerned about the sensor getting wet, but it apparently is waterproof. Bummer is when the 800-1,000 hr sensor's non-replaceable batteries die, you have to trash the whole thing. Not that I'm worried about the time factor, but I hate wasting perfectly good stuff when I'm thinking they could have made it so you could just go buy some more batteries instead of another kit. Jake- do you use an armband or do you clip the iPod onto your clothes? I read something about the armband covers the display so you can't see it? Would you really need to see it anyway with Lance or Paula giving you updates all the time? Which leads me to my next question- Can you use the iPod w/o music if you just want to track your distance and time? This may sound stupid, but I honestly don't even know how the iPods work! This is how non-gadgety I am: my husband bought me an iPod Shuffle last *September* and it's still in the box! In my own defense, though, 1)We have dial-up and to download a single song is frustrating beyond words and 2)I got hooked on running trails and I don't have any desire to listen to tunes out there. It will definately get used (unless I trade it in for the nano to use the Nike kit of course), but only after hubby downloads songs off his puter at work and brings 'em home on one of those tiny pocket memory chip thingys for me. As I was reading on the Nike iPod, I came across an interesting site describing how criminal-minded individuals could use the sensor's signal to track the whereabouts of the person wearing it. For all you semi-paranoid individuals out there (like me), it's interesting reading. Plus, nothing like telling somebody how to go about doing it!! (Do your turn your sensor off JK? I thought when I was browsing around in past posts something about the monkeys were after you???....) Smile http://www.cs.washington.edu/research/systems/nikeipod/tracker-paper.pdf Ok! Can anyone tell me how to do links? Smile
                          Ok! Can anyone tell me how to do links? Smile
                          There's a little button for it just to the right of the bold/italic/underline buttons. You can also link pictures that way.

                          Roads were made for journeys...

                            There's a little button for it just to the right of the bold/italic/underline buttons. You can also link pictures that way.
                            Hey, thanks Wingz!!! Smile
                              Sockoni: No I don't turn off the sensor; it would be a pain to pull it out of the sole of the shoe. Had no idea the battery lasted only 800 hours. Of course, that should last me a couple years. I got all sorts of iPod/Nano gear for X-mas: I have long pants with a place to slide the thing in, shorts with the same deal, and the arm band. And in the end, guess what I'll bet I do ...? Yup - go get the case so I can just clip the thing. While I'm digging the distance accuracy of the thing, I swear they didn't have actual runners test some of this stuff. The pants and shorts (and a shirt with cool holes for the wires) are all just set up too clumsy. The arm band is okay. I even took it out this morning wearing a tank top, to test it on bare skin. Not bad for 5 miles. Wouldn't do it for 20, though. But yes, the most annoying thing is that NONE of the above equipment comes with a little hole to see the screen. Stupid. A little piece of plexiglas or clear plastic would solve the problem. Not that big of a deal, really: once the workout is set, you don't need to push much. But if switch workouts or want to go looking on a different playlist, you pretty much have to pull the Nano out of its sleeve. I'm actually considering getting a knife and putting my own hole in it so I can see the very pretty screen. All in all, the thing has a lot of potential ... but they didn't ask enough runners enough obvious questions. Fun though. Not really worried about the security thing. Anybody wants to find me, there are plenty of low tech ways. One note on using it without Nike shoes: I've heard it may not be as accurate if you clip it to your shoelaces. Some people actually cut holes in the insoles of their other shoes ... but then you're risking hurting the shoes. Bottom line: it's a fun toy, and far more accurate than any "pedometer" like thing I've ever played with. But the truth is that the RunningAhead maps and a watch do the job just as well, if not better. Minus Paula Radcliffe, of course. Who has a charming accent, by the way. She seemed delighted with my pace this morning, too.
                              E-mail: JakeKnight2002@aol.com
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                                Running through a tunnel does completely wipe out the signal
                                It does lose the signal in a tunnel. However, it keeps recording as if you were going in a straight line and at the last pace you were running. Once out of the tunnel, when it recaptures the signal, it goes back to 'real-time' data.
                                My Masters (>50) Race PR's: 5K - 20:17 10K - 42:36 HM - 1:31:22 Marathon - 3:20:48
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