The Apple Watch allows the information displayed while running to be customised. You can either choose to show a single metric at a time and swipe through them app, or you can choose to see multiple metrics, of which you can choose up to 5. You don’t need to fill up all 5 slots however, and choosing fewer pieces of information means the metrics that are shown will be bigger and more legible. After using the Apple Watch for running for 5 years now, I’ve settled on the following metrics.
Distance So Far – While I don’t particularly care about time elapsed, knowing the elapsed distance allows me to know how far there is to go, and therefore how much energy I can afford to expend.
Current Heart Rate – The speed of the heart is a good indicator of how hard you’re working. I generally know if I’m above 185 then I’m putting in a lot of effort. A more relaxed run should be between 140 and 167. However if it’s particularly hot, or I’m coming down with something then my heart rate will be higher even if I’m not running at my usual pace – therefore I’ll want to take it easier than usual to avoid overly fatiguing my body.
Current Pace – I’ve always worked in kilometres when running, possibly because this is how the treadmills worked at the gym I belonged to when I first started out running. Knowing your current speed is of course the best way to make sure you’re on track to finish in the time you planned to.
Average Pace – This among with a bit of mental maths let’s me know my predicted finish time. I know whether I should speed up or hold off the gas slightly. One thing I wish Apple would add is the ability to see your predicted finish time instead, based on your average pace.
Average Cadence (Steps Per Minute) – Knowing my cadence is for me the best indicator of whether I’m running well. When I’m tired I am prone to running with bad technique and this usually coincides with a lower SPM. Making sure I keep above 175 reminds me to avoid stomping and focus on posture and arm movement, crucial factors when trying to avoid injury. I tend to get better times with a higher SPM too.