A common question that runners have is what people use to track their running. Are they using a running app, a running watch, or something in between? There's actually been some research on this topic that offers some interesting insight as to who uses what and why.
In the July 2017 issue of the journal PLoS One, researchers took a look at who uses running apps and who uses a running watch or device. They report that there has a been a large increase in the number of people who are using smartphone apps and running watches over the years. To gather information, they surveyed almost 2,200 people who finished the same half marathon. They set out to gather information regarding socio-economic variables, running-related variables, and psychological characteristics.
The results of the study indicated that the use of running monitoring devices is affected by socio-demographics as well as sports-related and psychographic variables, and this relationship depends on the type of monitoring device. They found that apps are typically used by younger people who are new and less experienced runners as well as those who are less involved in running. Meanwhile, sports watches tend to be used by runners who are more experienced runners, older, and more involved in running.
So which one do I use? When I first tried to have a running program (the numerous times that I started and stopped, because I wasn't committed) I was using a running app. When I decided I was going to have a program and make the commitment to it, I immediately bought a running watch. Since I got serious with my running program, which was in December of 2015, I have been using a Garmin Forerunner 10 (pictured above), and I have to say that I love it! The running watch is easy to use and I love being able to sync it with the program online to get all kinds of data. It shows me graphs of my running progress, my routes, the temperature and humidity, monthly and yearly totals, and much more.
Which one you use will depend on how much money you have to spend and whether or not you are committed to being a runner. If you are new to trying out running and not sure you want to stick with it, then you may want to try an app. Once you know you are committed to being a runner, I'd recommend investing in the sports watch.