Apple Watch + RunKeeper: First Look

HiTechMomGeek Out, Get Healthier, Master Your Gadgets, Sweet Apps


One reason that you might be going ga-ga over the new Apple Watch is it’s activity tracking features. The watch comes with some great built-in apps for activity tracking, as well as integration with services that you may already use, like RunKeeper. Because RunKeeper is one of my all-time favorite apps, I thought it was only appropriate to take its watch app on a test drive right away.

What is RunKeeper?

RunKeeper for iPhone

Image from

Runkeeper is a great workout tracker app. It runs on iOS, Android, and integrates with quite a few popular apps, health gadgets, trackers and services. This means that if you’re still waiting for your Apple Watch, you can probably still use RunKeeper on another device that you already have. You can create a little fitness community on RunKeeper with your other friends who use the app. You can share your activities with them, compete to be the most active, and join challenges with others to keep yourself motivated. You can also create goals for yourself and track your progress. I’m currently getting college credit for PE by taking an online walking class where we track our walks through RunKeeper (my most productive online class ever). You can read about all of the cool stuff that it does that I’m forgetting about right here.

Why not use the Built-In Health Apps?

You can! RunKeeper integrates seamlessly with Apple’s Health Apps, so you don’t have to choose between using the built-in apps and using RunKeeper. You can use all of them together. If you choose to do so, your RunKeeper data can be shared with the Health Apps and their data can also be shared with RunKeeper. Of course, if you are not comfortable with this integration, you don’t have to use it. It will ask for your permission before it tries to sync any information.

Click here to learn how to connect RunKeeper with Apple’s Health Apps.

In Apple’s Health App, here’s how you can choose which information it shares with RunKeeper. Notice that RunKeeper will also pull information from other cool places – like my weight from my digital scale, my calories from LoseIt and previously, my Misfit activity tracker for Pebble.

Setting up RunKeeper with Apple Watch:

I was already using RunKeeper on my iPhone. So what did I have to do to set up RunKeeper on the Apple Watch? A whole lot of NOTHING, that’s what. I simply made sure that all of my apps were up to date before I set up my watch. Because of this preparation, there was no extra setup to use RunKeeper on my Apple Watch, other than answering “yes” to the question of whether or not I wanted to sync the apps on my iPhone to my watch. When it was time to workout, I just strapped my phone to my arm, my watch to my wrist, and off I went.

Using RunKeeper with Apple Watch:

The Apple Watch does not have built-in GPS, so you still need to carry your iPhone with you to use RunKeeper. I personally do not mind, as I want to have my phone with me on a workout for many reasons. Find a good arm band or fitness belt that will keep your phone safe.

RunKeeper Apple Watch app

Just touch “go walking” or “go running” or whatever it says for you – it will display the type of workout that you usually do.

You can start your workout in the Apple Watch App. Open the app, start the workout and go. The watch app seems to default to the workout type you last used, so you don’t have to touch your phone unless you want to change this. You can also use the app to pause and resume your workout.

I would suggest not switching back and forth between the app and the watch when pausing and resuming the workout. It had a bit of a hiccup when I did that. I’m not sure if that was my fault or the app’s fault, but I don’t want to risk testing that any further.

During my walks, my priorities are distance and pace. Before the Apple Watch, if I wanted to see either of these statistics during a workout, I would need to either take my iPhone off of my arm to look at the display or wait for the audio cues (which are super annoying when you are listening to podcasts because you have 2 things talking at the same time). With the watch, I can now look at my wrist at any point in the workout and see all of this information quickly.

RunKeeper Apple Watch app

The watch displays your elapsed time, number of miles, pace, and a pause button.

RunKeeper Apple Watch Tips:

You can turn off RunKeeper’s audio cues now, since you can just look at your watch for this info:

RunKeeper audio cues setting

RunKeeper app – settings – audio cues

I found it annoying that unless I was glancing at my watch pretty frequently, I’d see the watch face instead of the RunKeeper app each time I lifted my arm. It’s not hard to switch from the watch face to the app because you can just double-click the crown to go back to the last app you were in. However, I found that you can turn off this default action and make your watch show you the last app that you were in instead of the watch face whenever you lift your wrist.

Apple Watch resume previous activity on wrist raise

Apple Watch – Settings – General – Activate on Wrist Raise

It would be nice to have an easier way to do this. If you agree, submit your feedback to Apple here:
(My suggestion was to allow a certain amount of time to be set before it shows me the watch face. Maybe you have a better idea)

Another tiny bit of confusion: The RunKeeper app looks very similar to the Apple Watch workout app. RunKeeper is blue and Apple is green. I decided to put the two apps right next to each other so I’d remember that – you may choose to spread them farther apart. Just do whatever helps you remember.

RunKeeper vs Fitness app

It’s the blue one.

You can change the position of watch apps in the Apple Watch app on your phone under App Layout.

If there is a store on your route that takes Apple Pay, you could potentially stop in for some liquid refreshment in the middle of your workout. Be sure to activate your credit card with Apple Pay ahead of time.

One last thing…

Battery life on the Apple Watch is fantastic. It lasts all day, even after using it for a workout. My iPhone… now that’s a different story. It would probably last longer if I stopped messing with it all day, but I’m just not willing to make that sacrifice.

Get exclusive content, free downloads and site updates.

* indicates required