Trail Running Challenge Blog (Ethan Banks)

Atlanta Moderate Run + Apple Watch Ultra vs. Garmin Enduro v1

While at the conference, I took time after a quick lunch to do a 1 hour moderate pace run. For me, "moderate" means an HR of 140-160bpm. I did the same route I followed yesterday, only faster plus I made it a bit further before turning around on the out 'n' back.

As described in yesterday's post, I was mostly following a section of the Stone Mountain Trail. Paved. Multi-use. Crosses several intersections, and sometimes I had to wait for a few minutes before I could safely cross. So that made my average pace for the workout a kind of lie, but I think overall I was in the mid to upper 9 minute pace as an average moving pace. My Apple Watch doesn't seem to want to tell me that stat, unlike my Garmin Enduro.

Here are some excerpts from the notes I left for Coach K on this run, because there's some relevance for the blog, too.

1. I can go faster with longer strides, and not just faster cadence. (Obvious, I know. But this other runner really caught my attention yesterday. He was warming up, then took off like a shot...but his cadence never changed. Sorta blew my mind.) I have a short stride normally because that's my habit from trails. But on the road, I can stretch out. When I do go for longer strides, the run flows better. Maybe a little bouncier underfoot, too? Makes uphills less "stumpy" feeling as I grind over them. I don't know if I can incorporate longer strides in trail running, because the rocks and roots underfoot dictate things.

2. Was finding it hard to push beyond 158bpm. I'd have had to break into a hard push, almost a sprint, to make it happen. Or else needed a steeper hill. This path (same as yesterday, I just went further) rolls along, but the incline was not steep at all.

She let me know that on technical trails (what I'm on most of the time), shorter strides are usually the name of the game. You have to react to terrain, and foot placement is forced accordingly.

She also said not to worry about not being able to push past 158bpm. Today's run served its "moderate" purpose as it was. No worries.

More Thoughts On Garmin Enduro vs. Apple Watch

I have had a Garmin watch of some sort for several years. An early Forerunner, a Fenix 3 (no HR wrist sensor), and an Enduro v1 I bought in 2022. Garmin software is designed for athletes. Garmins are crappy smartwatches in my experience, but fantastic for sports and performance data nerds.

I got the Apple Watch Ultra for Christmas from my wife, and I dearly love the thing. The Apple Watch is an outstanding smartwatch...but a "meh" sports watch.

The Apple Watch HR wrist sensor is solid, although I usually use a chest strap (unless finding myself outside and realizing I forgot to put it on, like today). GPS is very good, and maybe the only thing better than the Garmin. The battery life is garbage compared the Enduro, but easily 24-48 hours if you're only doing a few hours worth of workouts. I usually throw the Apple Watch on the charger connected to a 20W port when I hit the shower, and that keeps it topped up enough that I rarely have to think about it. If I'm going on a longer trek in the mountains, I'll make sure it's topped up full, though.

Overlooking the sports shortcomings of the Apple Watch Ultra, it's fantastic as a smartwatch, especially as I'm deeply in Uncle Tim's pocket. No, wait...he's deeply into mine. I have Apple everything, from Apple TV to a MacBook Pro to 2 iPads (both of which I use everyday) to multiple HomePods to AirPods Pro 2.

But the Garmin Enduro gives me...

So after several weeks of the Apple Watch Ultra, I think where I'm heading is to a split watch life. I'll use the Garmin Enduro for workouts, and the Apple Watch for everything else. Maybe. Ugh. The thought of dealing with two watches seems...not fun. But maybe it won't be so bad. I'll give it a shot.