Wearing A Fitbit During Marathon Training

Wearing a Fitbit during marathon training

I train for and run several marathons a year. I’m currently training for an ultramarathon. I usually run 5 days a week and during peak training weeks I’m running at least 50 miles a week.

I also wear a Fitbit step tracker every day.

I’ve had friends point out that this seems strange since I often hit 10,000 steps before 8 am.

Why would I still track my steps?

Note: this post is NOT sponsored by Fitbit, that just happens to be the tracker I use (though if Fitbit wants to sponsor me I’d be happy to talk 🙂 ). 

Fitbit step tracker

Why I Still Wear A Fitbit During Marathon Training

One Run Isn’t Enough

If I don’t think about it, I tend to think like this: ‘I ran 5 miles this morning, so I’ve done my exercise for the day.’ That can, in turn, lead me to sit on my butt for the rest of the day.

But that is not the way our bodies work. One big workout followed by a day of sitting is not enough to create a healthy lifestyle.

Long Run + Sedentary Life = Not Healthy.

My Fitbit is a reminder that I need to keep moving throughout the day. The Fitbit app ‘Hourly Dashboard’ view is especially good at showing how much I move throughout the day.

See How It All Averages Out

It can be eye-opening to not only to see how my activity averages out over the course of a day, but also over the course of a week.

My longest runs during marathon training are on Saturday, and not surprisingly, my step count is through the roof.

On rest days, my step count is usually well below average (on-purpose).

My Fitbit lets me know how I’m doing for the week as a whole.

Rewards (a.k.a Cold Hard Cash)

Do you walk? Do you sleep?

Of course you do.

Did you know there are apps you can link to your tracker and get paid for it?

There are a few of these types of apps out there. The only one I’ve used and can vouch for is Achievement.

I have my Garmin and my Fitbit connected and every few months I get $10 sent to my PayPal account.

Idle Alert

A great, and I think underutilized, feature of many trackers is an idle alert.

If you haven’t been active in the period of time you’ve set, a vibrating alarm will alert you you’ve been idle.

It is so easy to get lost in what you are doing. Sitting down to ‘quickly check email’ can easily turn into an hour-long rabbit-hole adventure. On several occasions, if it weren’t for the alert, I would have been oblivious to my inactivity.

That’s not good.

Vibrating Alarm

This is a bit of a niche reason to wear a tracker, but for me, it’s very important:

I’m a really light sleeper. If there is any noise from anywhere, it will wake me up. So I often wear earplugs, which can be a problem if I’ll need to wake up to an alarm clock.

Enter: A vibrating alarm.

For me, this is the coolest feature ever and (without hyperbole) has totally changed the way I sleep.

Bragging Rights

If you are a part of any workweek step challenges and you are in the midst of marathon training – you will totally crush your competition.

It feels kinda like cheating, but it can be fun nonetheless.

Step Tracking For Runners: Options

There are a few different approaches to wearing a Fitbit during marathon training:

  • Not wear the tracker during your runs, but wear it at all other times, leaving your step-count goal at 10,000.
  • Wear the tracker all the time (including runs), but up your step-count goal. If you use this approach, be sure to look more at your weekly averages since a one-size-fits-all step goal will not work for both long run days and rest days.
  • Always wear the tracker, but ignore your specific step count and focus on features like the idle alert (the current Fitbit dashboard calls this ‘Reminders To Move’) to make sure you remain active.

For Me

I wear my tracker continually, even during intentional exercise.

I like seeing how my sometimes super active and sometimes super inactive days all average out.

But I also don’t live or die by my step count. If it’s a rest day and I’m only at 5000 steps, who cares?

Besides, the vibrating alarm, idle alert, and the Achievement rewards are reason enough for me to wear it.

What about you? Do you wear a Fitbit during marathon training?

arm with a gps watch and a step tracker


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