in Gear and Reviews

Improving Treadmill Accuracy on the Garmin Forerunner 620

Does adding a foot pod to the Garmin Forerunner 620 improve treadmill accuracy? Yes.

I’ve had the 620 for about 8 months now and I love it. The size is great, the touchscreen works really well, the GPS is accurate and the watch locks on to the satellites quickly. The HRM-Run strap that comes with the 620 includes some additional metrics like ground contact time and vertical oscillation for nerding out on data.

Treadmill accuracy? Not great

But the performance on the treadmill has never been what I would consider great. As long as I ran about my usual 5:00/km pace, it was passable. But running anything different than that (slower or faster) didn’t seem to make much difference—the watch insisted I was just running my usual pace all the time.

The Forerunner 620 features an accelerometer in the watch itself that is supposed to handle indoor running. But mounting that sensor on the arm instead of the foot means it just isn’t very accurate.

Adding a Garmin foot pod

Today I added Ginny’s standard Garmin foot pod to the mix to see whether that would help. I did some basic testing on the treadmill, altering the pace either up or down for a minute or two, and also running everything from 6.8mph right up to 8.0mph to see if I could fool it.

The good news? It tracked all the speed changes beautifully, and even after the 6km run, it was still bang on accurate compared to the treadmill distance display.

Note the stair step showing that the foot pod tracked the changes in pace (blue line) perfectly over the run, right up to 8.0mph near the end.

I’m really happy that I’ll be able to make better use of the watch for indoor runs now, and not have to worry about whether the distance and pace are accurate.

Using data to improve performance

I’ve already order a foot pod of my own to add to my collection of running gadgets. At $75, it isn’t cheap, but having some accurate data about my treadmill runs is always nice over manually logging the distance and time. It’s important for me to run a bit slower pace these days and running with the inaccurate 620 without the foot pod usually ended up with me running 7.5mph (too fast) to get into the accurate zone for the watch.

I’m also going to start wearing the HRM-Run heart rate monitor strap as well to get the full benefit of staying in the proper zones during the various workouts.

It’s easy to take all the data these various gadgets output and not really do anything with it. But things like a heart rate, cadence and even just accurate pace measurement can all be used to ensure that you are running the right runs as part of your training program.

This time around I’ll be paying more attention to the pace I run, whether I’m running in the right heart rate zone, and keeping track of my cadence to continue that focus on proper form. I’m hopeful that better quality training will lead to a better performance on race day, and will also help me reduce the strain on my body that comes with doing the wrong kind of running.