Apparently I scale walls when I run

So yesterday I was out for a run and, as I mentioned yesterday, I’m using an iPhone app that tracks my pace.  The first few times I did it, I was constantly checking my iPhone because I didn’t really have a good sense of how fast I needed to be running.  Now that I’ve done a few timed runs, I’m a little more familiar with how fast a 6:30 pace feels, so I find I don’t need to check it as often.  Anyway, I needed to do a 4 km run yesterday, so I had planned out a 4.5 km route, to give me some room for a bit of a warm up and a cool down walk.  I set off on my run, checked my pace early on and, seeing that I was on target, didn’t check it for awhile.  When I got to what I thought was ~3 km mark, I checked my iPhone with the thought, “I must be close to the end of the 4 km,” wondering where I was supposed to stop running and start my cool down walk.  And my app said I’d run ~1.5 km.  What the what?  I was sure that I’d mapped out a 4 km route, I was sure that I’d followed said route and I was sure that it wouldn’t have taken me this long to run a meager 1.5 km!

As it turns out, I must have accidentally hit the pause button when I first checked the app, so it wasn’t recording the running from that point until I again checked the app, about 2 km later.  I hit the resume button so it would at least record the rest of the run.  Here’s what the map showed after my run:


The blue line is the route I’d intended to run and the red line is supposed to be what I “actually” ran. Notice how I disappear at the bottom right of the map and then magically appear a several blocks southwest of that?  Apparently this app thinks I’m magical!

Even funnier, though, is the elevation diagram, which shows me instantaneously at a much higher elevation1 than I was the moment before at around the 1.5 km mark:


At least my app has faith in my super human abilities!

  1. and pace, though that is because I’d slowed down to a walk to try to figure out what was up with the app []

4 Replies to “Apparently I scale walls when I run”

  1. I’ve had several runs tracked by RunKeeper and most of the time they’ve been tracked properly. However, I discovered after one run, where apparently I transported from Guelph to Simcoe in a very Superman-envying 2 seconds (approximate distance of 90km), that if your phone has WiFi set to ‘on’ it can sometimes triangulate incorrectly. I’m not sure why this is the case, but it is. I’ve since turned the WiFi off and haven’t had any issues that I can recall.

  2. Thanks for the tip, Dr. Dan! I’ll be sure to turn off the old wifi from now on… if only the wifi actually did make us able to fly 90 km in 2 seconds. That would be awesome!

  3. Heh! I’ve used Runner and Cyclemeter, and the elevation is always waaaay off. It will pick up large changes like the big hill from Spanish Banks up to the anthropology museum, but not little ones, and even the big ones show sudden leaps worthy of Superman.

  4. Dan, my guess is that your phone was grabbing the GeoIP tag associated with the IP address of the access point you ran by. My ISP for our DSL is about 70km away, but since my IP is in their block I regularly get websites that autodedect my location as over there because I don’t have GPS on my laptop. Why your phone would use a horribly inaccurate GeoIP instead of the local GPS info is beyond me. Maybe you lost connection to enough satellites to get good GPS data and it reverted to the next best thing, just for a second until the local GPS reconnected.

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