Is your run smartwatch data lying to you? (with Mike Trees)

trees dlake episode artwork - is your smart watch lying to you

A deep dive into the tech and artificial intelligence that goes on your wrist

AI aka Artificial intelligence is here to help us and not hurt us… for the most part 🙂. And, one place it wants to help us is with that thing on your wrist that you wear to track your running data. Find out if your run smartwatch insights and data are lying to you below.

Listen below or on your favorite podcast player

What You Will Learn & Highlights

  • [2:48] What exactly the insights are for each platform/watch
  • [6:12] Why you still need a coach along with your smartwatch
  • [7:12] Why most smartwatches don’t give you an objective to work towards
  • [8:55] Take your smartwatch data with a grain of salt
  • [9:53] Recovery times are not optimised for everyone and Daren’s sum up
  • [12:50] Is Vo2 a necessary statistic to run fast?
  • [14:11] How do smartwatch insights help you run faster?
  • What we love about it and don’t like
  • Comparing Vo2max to Victoria’s Secret bras and measuring male genitals… yes… this one is fun
  • and more!

Notable Quotables

  • “The smartwatches are getting there: but a coach will motivate and limit an athlete better.”
  • “The problem with smartwatch insights is that they don’t give you any input data. You still need a coach”
  • “If the metrics motivate you great. If they run your life then stop.”
  • “You can make yourself very efficient at running and use very little oxygen. Vo2max isn’t the only metric.”



Like what you’re reading/hearing? Want to train and live consistently to do dope shit with your health and fitness? Sign for our newsletter “Three Thing Thursday”. We’ll put three perfectly created and curated things in your inbox. This will be regular motivation from tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and skills. And…. they all revolve around being a better human in endurance sports and wellness.

Sign up now to receive my quick guide on how to get healthy, stay fit and use data to create habits that last a lifetime! Go here to be inspired and motivated on the regular!


This episode is brought to you by NRG – Coaching which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike coaches beginners to pros and all levels in between.

No one is too fast and no one too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve.

They focus on 1,500m to marathon running and triathlon training.

NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked, so Instagram and this new podcast venture gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people.

Contact mike and his team for more info

Original Music Used Here

Full Transcript Below (or download pdf here)

[00:00:00] Daren: AI, better known as artificial intelligence is here to help us and not hurt us for the most part. I’ll be back. And one place it wants to help us is with the thing on your wrist that you wear to track your running data. Find out if your run watch insights are lying to you in more on this episode of trees and DLake

[00:00:23] Daren: What is up? Welcome to trees and D lake a podcast series by Mike trees and yours. Truly Darren D lake creates in this series. Our goal is to educate and entertain smart and committed runners. A bit more on that for Mike trees 

[00:00:35] Mike: And the aim of this podcast is to give in a lighthearted, amusing and entertaining way, hints and tips to help you all run better and enjoy your sporting life more. So let’s see how we can go with that. 

[00:00:49] Daren: Mike’s being pretty modest. He has over 50 years of running and doing triathlons under his belt. And if you’re wondering about me, I’ve been in the endurance sport game for about 25 years now done a sub three hour marathon and completed an Ironman triathlon in 10 hours.

[00:01:04] Daren: We appreciate all the help and support that we can get. So if you can please share out this episode to someone that you know, that would like this, oh, quick language warning. In some rare instances, we might use some bad words. So apologies in advance for that. 

[00:01:18] Daren: As this is something that I’ve really wanted to talk about as well as Mike and it’s really juicy we will just jump right into what you’ll learn in this episode, 

[00:01:25] Daren: What exactly the insights are for each platform slash watch what we love about it and what we don’t comparing VO two max to Victoria, secret bras and measuring male genitalia. Yes, it’s a fun one. And I promise it’s grated while you’ll still need a coach along with smart watches, as they get better, my very opinionated issue with smart watches and how they don’t actually optimize for my own personal goals and much more let’s get into the show.

[00:01:51] Daren: But we’re talking about smart watch insights, and this is all of the fun, smart watch out there. So Garin, you gotta even Strava is gives you insights, training, peaks, CHS polar whoop oring, which I’m probably not gonna get for a while. It just feel like it’s double up on my garment.

[00:02:10] Daren: Even the apple watches, the apple watch all of them are giving you insights and. What do you do with them is the biggest thing. And I guess it does tell you what to do, but are they accurate? Are they lying to you? Like, all so before we talk about why we don’t like them, why we think they’re useful, et cetera, et cetera, let’s define them.

[00:02:32] Daren: So Mike, if you wanna define what are the smart watch insights, everyone has their own different ones. Let’s talk about the big metrics, which is recovery. A lot of them tell you how long you need to recover training load training stress, which is the same as load. and maybe fitness.

[00:02:51] Daren: I think those are probably the top four. 

[00:02:52] Mike: That would be VO. Two is the big, the VO two. Oh, and VO two max one. The biggest one, to be honest with you, does a quality of sleep as well, which okay. To get to, to give them a bit of marriage is the quality of sleep’s not too bad. My wife uses that a lot and it picks up when she has a bad night’s sleep and it picks up when she’s been drinking.

[00:03:09] Mike: And so she had a bad night’s sleep. So that metric doesn’t seem to be too far off. 

[00:03:15] Daren: You might even answer this, but the it’s because as it’s based on HR heart rate, variability, heart rate, variability and resting heart rate. Yeah. So you know all about that, but feel free to, to define 

[00:03:25] Daren: that.

[00:03:26] Daren: Yeah. Go. Yeah. So what I was, what I would get down to later on, on that, that, yeah. The metrics are put in there to help guide people. And although some of them are helpful. Most people don’t actually understand them and don’t have understand how the data is compiled. So therefore. They don’t know when they’re relevant or not relevant.

[00:03:45] Daren: So for example I accept that the, this quality of sleep is quite a good metric. And we both tend to look at it from time to time and think, yeah we know had a good night’s sleep or a bad night’s sleeper, and the watch tends to pick it up because the heart rate avail availability. But when it gives me my video, two max, for example, It’s telling me at the moment, my VO two max is declining, which is good.

[00:04:08] Daren: Yeah, that’s right. Cause I’m not training much. And it’s telling me that I could run a sub 20 minute 5k at the moment, which is wrong. Cause I have a broken leg. So you’ve gotta take the real world in it. It doesn’t understand I’ve got a broken leg, for example. It’s telling me that my VO two max is a lot higher than it is.

[00:04:26] Daren: And for some reason it, it calculates the VO two, a lot higher than it should do. So everyone comes out with an artificially high VO 

[00:04:34] Daren: two, I have an analogy it’s Victoria speaks secret bras. Like I, I remember when I was young, I remember a lot of the girls being like, oh, I’m a sea cup at Victoria secrets when actually they were being every other bra, but it’s Victoria’s there to make you feel like you have bigger boobs and it’s the.

[00:04:50] Daren: I guess if we could measure our penises, it’d be the same for penis size . But it’s oh, I have an inflated V two max. But if you were actually going a machine that gets the oxygen, the carbon dioxide output from your system and you run on it. My V two max is 10 points lower when I did the machine.

[00:05:05] Daren: Than what it’s saying on my watch. And I know you’ve done the machine too, so you know that, so you keep going, 

[00:05:09] Mike: but also the VO two max is only a measurement of view of how you performed at that time on that day. So your VO two max will, will vary. If you’re tired, you’re gonna get an AR 50 lower VO, two max, even when you’re taking oxygen samples on a machine.

[00:05:25] Mike: So that VO two is very complex. It should be taken quite often to get a baseline for it. But it’s better than nothing. However it’s an inaccurate figure. And when you’re doing a lot of aerobic training, which I think is great for capillary development and mitochondria development and to grow the aerobic system make you stronger, healthier, fitter all around, it tends to show that your VO two is going down.

[00:05:49] Mike: So it doesn’t like aerobic training is a measurement of VO two, but also I’d like to say. Is V2 necessarily an important statistic. To, to some point, if your VO two is very low, which is the volume of oxygen that you can use per minute per kilogram, if it’s low it’s obviously not good, but you get to a certain point where, you know, Derek clay and I famously quote in, in the seventies, broke the marathon world record.

[00:06:16] Mike: I think he was the first guy to go sub two 10 for a marathon, 2 0 9. His VO two was 69, which is pretty low. My VO two, the highest I had to recorded was 84. I think Kristin Blueman fell, who is the best C in the world at the moment. I think he’s 93. So again it roughly correlates, but you can make yourself very efficient at running a news, very little oxygen.

[00:06:40] Mike: So you don’t have to have a high VO two, if you become more efficient, obviously Derek Clayton was a very efficient running. So that statistic while being. I think is off it. It’s also not necessarily an important statistic. And yet people get stressed up and hooked up on it a lot. Stress load.

[00:06:57] Mike: That’s good. Again, it depends on when you look at stress load and the watching, it says you need 36 hours to recover from this run. Again, it’s based on your maximum heart rate and what percentage you’ve worked with your maximum heart rate on that training. And it, it relies on your zones being set up correctly.

[00:07:13] Mike: And very often they’re not, most people have just put their watch in, put their date of birth in and off they go. And so their zones could be totally wrong. So for example, with me, my heart rate’s super. I haven’t touched any of the settings really on the watch apart from putting my date of birth and my weight in there.

[00:07:30] Mike: And so it’s always saying that I’m under training, so I can go out into a hard run. And it says your recovery time is 12 hours where really, I know it’s 36 to 48 because my heart rate generally lower. So you need to understand how the statistics are compiled. So without going into all the data too much, if you don’t understand how the data’s compiled.

[00:07:51] Mike: Take it with the pinchy salt. Just look at it and look at the figures and look at them over time and see if they’re varying over time. That’s the main thing. If you’re doing well with your training, it’s always saying you need 12 hours to recover, but you did 24 and everything’s going well, just.

[00:08:07] Mike: Just keep looking and work out that actually, when it says 12 I need 24 or when it says my VO two max is declining. That just means that you’re doing more aerobic training than anaerobic training. So there’s lots of little things, but take them with a pinch of salt is my is my best Statement to say or not.

[00:08:27] Mike:

[00:08:28] Daren: think it polarizes a lot of people where they get really frustrated or on the flip side they’re like, oh, it’s saying these things would actually it’s probably lying to you. Look, I’d say this. We sat down, we defined it. Mike talked about why he doesn’t like it.

[00:08:42] Daren: He talked about why he thinks it’s useful. You gotta pick apart certain things. So you really like the. Score and all those things that Garin does, everyone has their own thing. The body battery, I will give it this, the body battery that Garin has, which I think corals has a version of body battery.

[00:08:59] Daren: Phenomenal. It actually is really nice to see the body battery, but it’s just correlated on your resting heart rate. Your H heart rate barrier ability HIV. And it does take into account how you slept in all those other things. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:09:14] Mike: Some people get hooked up on stats.

[00:09:16] Mike: Some people love stats. If it motivates you, get you out training, it’s good. But if the watch runs your life, it’s bad. Remember you are the boss and the watch is a tool. Don’t let the watch run your life. You need to run the watch, what to decide what you’re doing. And that’s just a little bit of extra data to help you make the decision what’s best for you.

[00:09:34] Mike: Yeah, take it all with a pingy salt 

[00:09:37] Daren: add. Break

[00:09:42] Daren: this episode is brought to you by energy coaching, which is Mike tree’s, coaching service, Mike and his team of coaches work with beginners to pros and all levels in between. No one is too fast and no one is too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve. They focus on 1500 meter races to marathon running and triathlon training energy coaching is constantly overbooked.

[00:10:01] Daren: So Instagram and this new podcast, venture trees in D. Gives Mike and the rest of his energy coaching team, a way to reach out to more people and help them contact Mike and his or go to the link in the show notes.

[00:10:24] Daren: And. Back to the show. Oh I will say there, there’s one thing that I think that the watches don’t do, which a coach does, and this is all the reason why coaching, I guess coaches might be in trouble when watches are allowed to do this, or they figure out how to do this. They don’t give you any input.

[00:10:43] Daren: Objective. So obviously the input is how long you’ve been running and how long you’ve been sleeping and your heart rate and the pace and all these other things your body weight. But it never actually says for me, and I have a problem with it. It never says, Hey, what are you trying to accomplish right now?

[00:10:57] Daren: Whereas a coach would say that and the coach would then be like, do these runs. Oh, I’m trying to run an Ironman. So do a lot of bass. So whatever it is do a lot of sprinting in the early season and then start doing more Ironman specific. Or if I’m doing the 5k, I’ll do a lot of bass in the beginning and then I’ll start doing more 5k specific work as I get closer to the race whatever it is.

[00:11:17] Daren: So this thing almost is I feel like it’s just very generic in general. It’s oh, I’m just a person that likes to be generally fit. But it’s odd that Garin who really, they, they cater towards a lot of different people from amateurs to, I call myself sub elite I’m very committed, serious runner.

[00:11:36] Daren: I take my data very seriously, but all they have to do is just go oh if you’re doing all this space training, then that’s productive for this moment. For this block for these 12 weeks, you’re being productive versus it saying, oh, you’re unproductive. And it constantly tells me I need more anaerobic as I’m sure it probably tells you, it says anaerobic low.

[00:11:53] Daren: And I’m like, Okay. It’s like high anaerobic or whatever. So I do a lot of low aerobic and high aerobic. And then it’s like your anaerobic and I’m sitting there and I’m like, okay. So I did SI six weeks of the hardest training I’ve ever done since I’ve had a smart watch over the last 10 years, my heart rate was through the roof.

[00:12:08] Daren: and I barely think I got it to the lowest part of enough or anaerobic. And it still was saying, you need more anaerobic. I’m like, I can’t give you anymore. I’m gonna kill myself. What do you want me? You want my heart rate to be at like one peg that one 90, like the whole 30 minute run. 

[00:12:25] Mike: It means that the settings.

[00:12:26] Mike: In their algorithm are wrong for you. Absolutely. It’s got the setting. So that’s what people misunderstand you exactly. It means that it doesn’t understand the settings and the parameters for you. You said objective subjective. I think the thing is it’s trying to be objective and give you objective data, but what a coach can do is he can be subjective.

[00:12:47] Mike: And again, at some point that will come with I E. A coach can look at you and say, look, I know your history, I know where you’re going. And they can change it. There’s so much that when we, and. You read so much these days about potential and physical potential when you’re tired.

[00:13:06] Mike: I probably David Goggins that, that said you probably own about 20, 30% of what you’ve actually got in the body. And so the, this the smart watches is measuring, saying you 90, 90% or you’re there or there about, so it needs to be safe. It can’t have people having heart attacks and dying because the watch is giving.

[00:13:23] Mike: Statistics outset. It needs to be a little bit objective and a little bit airing on the side of caution, but a coach can look and he can motivate people. What a coach can do with his athletes, he can understand them and say, look, get in the gym. I know the watches saying this out and the other, but if we can get some more core stability work, if we can get a bit more power, we can get you stronger.

[00:13:42] Mike: It can find out he can look at the athlete and tell them where they’re lacking. It can tell you to go to bed earlier, but what he’s getting there. But a coach can really motivate and push and understand the athletes so much more than a smart watch. I think. I E will get there soon, but I just think there’s too much information to get condensed into the size of a watch.

[00:14:01] Mike: I just don’t think you get all that processing power in the watch to do it in real time. I remember when I was at university, just an analogy from a long time ago that we I did, my first degree was actually in weather forecasting. And we calculated that the computers could work out weather forecasting, but it would take about one week.

[00:14:20] Mike: To forecast the next hour ahead on the computers that time. It was possible to do, but it’s been really, isn’t it waiting a week to, to get to find out what’s gonna happen in hour’s time. It will happen with IE, the same thing with the watches and things. A I AE we will get much better and they will get defined, but it’s a learning curve at the moment.

[00:14:40] Mike: And each year the watches are getting better, but there’ll always be a place for a coach, a physical guy to, to help motivate and tweak and work with his athlete and set goals and parameters for them. 

[00:14:53] Daren: You meant artificial intelligence, correct? AI. AI. Yeah. There we go. Yeah. I 

[00:14:58] Mike: said AI at first then I chased AI.

[00:15:02] Mike: Totally mean AI. Yes. 

[00:15:07] Daren: Let’s go. Welcome to the show. I’m your host down. So AKA D link tips and tactics. You could train like a friend there’s cast to help you faster than you could go ball. Y’all your be course record that comes in your upcoming of sees five don’t you. Endurance. Sport’s a metaphor for life.

[00:15:26] Daren: That’s that metaphor, baby eating clean so you can rest, sleep all night. Don’t master a lot. Don’t master a little, just stay in the middle don’t master nine. Just be a master of some

[00:15:40] Daren: is the help and fitness internet too much, sometimes too many conflicting articles and videos that confuse you on how to train and eat, or you don’t have time to just read and watch everything about, I don’t know, the new trends on. Link for trail running. Don’t worry. We’ll take care of all that for you.

[00:15:56] Daren: Sign up for our free email newsletter, three thing Thursday, 1, 2, 3, we’ll put three perfectly curated and created things in your inbox for better living and training. Go to D lake We do the hard time consuming work and scour the health and fitness Internet’s deepest and darkest corners.

[00:16:15] Daren: This is so that every Thursday you have a piping hot new email with the latest and coolest tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and skills. At you can train and live consistently to do dope shit in your next endurance event. If you sign up now, you can receive my quick guide on how to get healthy, stay fit, and use data to create habits that lasts a lifetime.

[00:16:35] Daren: That’s DLA to be inspired and motivated on the regular

[00:16:43] Daren: time. Time is a resource. No one can make more of, so we appreciate you taking precious time out of your day to listen. This far, our goal is to show the world how to live better through running. Cycling and triathlon the episode, and many others have a transcription go to the show notes description to find out more.

[00:16:59] Daren: This was produced in Sydney, Australia, and I’d like to acknowledge the Gadigal of the Euro nation, who are the traditional custodians of this land. I pay my respects to the elders past president and future. I recognize that continuing connections to the land waters and culture, these lands were stolen and sovereignty was never seated.

[00:17:15] Daren: If you like this episode again, we’d highly appreciate it. If you go on whatever app you listen to and make sure to follow delay creates podcast, we’re. Apple podcast, Google podcast, Amazon Acast and a bunch of others. And if you’re feeling real loose, a rating review or share of this episode to anyone that would be into something like this would be amazing.

[00:17:34] Daren: If you have any questions, concerns, suggestions for the episode or hell you wanna be on the show, hit us up. The best way is to email talk T a L We’re also on the socials main Instagram. You can hit up Mike trees at the letters. Are you in dot NRG? Or you can hit me up on or just wherever you can find us is fine.

[00:17:57] Daren: If you need any transcripts you’re into podcasting, or let’s say you just are big into accessibility. Please use the company that we use. Speech docs. You can check them Don’t worry. If you didn’t get all that, there’s a link in the show notes description. Thank you again so much for listening.[00:18:12] Daren: Peace.