Foot pods vs treadmills vs smartwatches, what are the difference between them all? The accuracy of treadmills is something that is commonly discussed among everyone from data fanatics to running newbies. Whether you want to complete a run or compete in a race, accuracy matters.
Smashing personal bests, hitting fast paces or completing your longest run helps to increase your self-confidence as a runner, and it can seem irrelevant if you don’t trust the data.
As treadmill technology has developed, there have also been huge improvements made in fitness watches and foot pod technology.
What is a Foot pod?
A foot pod is a device that clips onto the shoe to provide detailed speed/cadence data whether you run inside or outside.
Tip: Foot pods should not be confused with Dynamics Pods such as those made by Garmin and Coros, which clip onto the waistband and do not measure distance or pace.
In this comparison, we tested two of the most popular foot pods brands:
Foot Pod vs Fitness Watches
Fitness watches can measure pace and distance indoors using an accelerometer. However, measuring these metrics from the way your arm swings is notoriously inaccurate. A foot pod will always be more accurate at of the two device types.
Please note: Both device types do not measure distance or speed but rather calculate it by making some assumptions.
Treadmill vs Foot Pod
Treadmills will measure the physical distance travelled by the treadmill belt, compared to a foot pod which attempts to measure the distance travelled by the foot of the runner, using sensors such as an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer.
Unfortunately, despite all the sensors, foot pods are still somewhat unreliable in reporting correct speed and distance on a treadmill. Results are often inconsistent. As cadence varies between runners this can produce different results in distance. Accuracy also varies depending on the speed of the treadmill. At slower speeds, foot pods tend to overestimate distance. At fast speeds, foot pods can often underestimate.
Using the speed of the treadmill belt, you are more likely to find more accurate and consistent distance data. There will always be a marginal slowing down of the treadmill belt when the runner’s foot impacts the belt. The amount of slow down will depend on the weight of the runner and the strength of the motor. You can compensate for this slow down by calibrating your treadmill (please follow individual manufacturer guidance).
We have seen a <15% deviation in foot pod readings (not all foot pods are alike) compared to a well-calibrated treadmill.
Fitness watch vs treadmill
When using smart fitness watches indoors do not use GPS. Therefore, distance cannot be accurately measured. On most smartwatches, you can select ‘indoor running’ or ‘treadmill running’ on the watch settings prior to your activity.
When you finish your workout, some watches allow you to adjust the completed distance and you can manually duplicate what your treadmill distance shows.
Also, if your watch does not allow this option you can always manually add an activity to your fitness tracking apps such as Strava or TrainingPeaks.
Record outdoor sessions and run them indoors
The Kinni app enables you to run a session outsides, convert it to a workout and then run it on your treadmill. We have a detailed article on how to do it here.