Can You Run With Just an Apple Watch? (8 Tips on Running without an iPhone)

Apple watches are a popular way for people to monitor their run time, calories burned, and blood oxygen levels during exercise. Monitoring your exercise and how your body reacts is a fantastic way to improve your running routine. But can you run with just an Apple Watch?

You can run with an Apple Watch because it has all the exercise features you need without having to bring your iPhone. You can track your run time, monitor your heart rate, and see how far and fast you ran only using an Apple Watch. You can even make phone calls directly from your watch!

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about running with just an Apple Watch.

Can you use an Apple Watch without an iPhone when running?

You can use your Apple Watch without an iPhone while running, and it’s a good idea to leave your phone behind during your run to minimize distractions so no one can interrupt your workout. 

Your Apple Watch can give you a hands-free running experience without disconnecting you from the outside world. In addition, you do not need to bring your iPhone with you on your run, allowing you to focus more on your exercise routine.

When running, you want as much range of motion as possible to ensure you get the most out of your workout. 

You can still make phone calls using your Apple Watch even if you leave your iPhone behind. Plus, making calls using your Apple Watch without having your iPhone with you allows you to talk to people hands-free when necessary.

can you run with just an apple watch

Is Apple Watch GPS for running accurately?

Your Apple Watch has a built-in GPS so that you can navigate throughout your run without any trouble.

This GPS works great for running because it tracks your distance, speed, and altitude during your run. You do not need to bring your iPhone along if you want to use your Apple Watch GPS.

You may need to calibrate your Apple Watch for accurate GPS locating during the run.  Calibrating your Apple Watch will give you an accurate representation of your GPS coordinates and whether you are going on an incline or descending.

If you don’t calibrate your Apple watch, you may be frustrated by your GPS location while running.

Tips for running with an Apple Watch

Running with your Apple watch and leaving your iPhone behind is a fantastic way to get the most out of your exercise by minimizing distractions.

For the best results running with your Apple Watch, you should:

  • Calibrate your watch’s GPS
  • Input your information
  • Tightly secure Apple Watch onto your wrist
  • Select your desired metrics
  • Set goals for yourself
  • Turn on the autopause feature
  • Monitor your battery 
  • Do a post-run analysis

Calibrate your watch’s GPS

Before you start your run, you’ll need to use your iPhone to calibrate your Apple Watch. This will ensure you have an accurate GPS location throughout your run.

You must enter the watch tab on your iPhone to calibrate your Apple watch and reset fitness calibration data. Apple makes the process pretty easy, but there are a few steps you’ll need to follow to make sure the device is calibrated properly.

  • Open the Apple Watch app for iPhone
  • Navigate to the ‘My Watch tab’
  • Select ‘Privacy’
  • Click on ‘Reset Fitness Calibration Data’
  • Find a flat, open area and take your watch (and phone if you have Series 1) out for a light jog
  • Initiate your run using the Workout tab, and maintain your workout for 20 minutes
  • After this, your watch should be properly calibrated, and its systems will begin to track your individual movements with increasing accuracy and nuance.

Tightly secure Apple Watch onto your wrist

No matter how you wear your Apple Watch throughout the day, you’ll want it to be fairly snug for accurate readings during your run. Your watch requires firm and consistent skin contact to be able to track your biomarkers. Also, if you don’t tighten your watch band before your run, you risk losing your watch while you swing your arms.

You may need to purchase a new watch band that you trust to stay on your wrist throughout your exercise. Fabric watch bands don’t work as well as nylon for running because as you work up a sweat, a fabric band can absorb water and become slick, causing the watch to slide on your wrist. 

Select your desired metrics

There are quite a few different metrics that Apple Watch allows you to track. Make sure you select the data-tracking features that will best monitor your own personal performance or growth.

Your Apple Watch will allow you to track metrics such as distance & duration of your run, pace, calories burned, heart rate, elevation gain, and much more. Make sure you manually select the features you want to track by going to the Apple Watch app on your phone and activating the button for each of the metrics you think you’ll need.

When you select your running workout on your Apple Watch metrics, you can select from the full list of tracking options. 

can you run with just an Apple Watch

Set goals for yourself

The best part about using an Apple Watch running is seeing how far you’ve traveled, how high your heart rate is, and how long you run.

With all this tracking information readily available, you should set goals to push yourself to improve.

For instance, you could set a distance goal for a 30-minute run or set a goal to run five miles. You can even get more specific with your goals by getting deeper into the data-tracking features that Apple Watch offers. More on this below!

Man using a stopwatch to measure running metrics

Turn on the autopause feature

Another way to ensure that you’re running is accurate is to enable the auto pause feature on your Apple Watch.

This way, you don’t have to pause every time you manually hit a stop light or street sign manually. Instead, your Apple Watch will detect that you’ve stopped and positive workout until you start running again. 

Monitor your battery

People typically wear their Apple Watches throughout the day to monitor their activity levels.

Some people are so used to wearing their Apple Watches everywhere that it’s not uncommon for the battery to die unexpectedly. You should ensure that your Apple Watch is well-charged before you start your run to avoid having it shut off while you’re in the middle of your exercise. 

Your best bet is to determine how frequently your Apple Watch needs to be charged and develop a routine to charge it at regular intervals.

Do a post-run analysis

One of the more important aspects of running with an Apple Watch is completing a post-run analysis of the data you’re collecting.

Completing a post-run analysis can help you utilize the data you’ve collected to make adjustments that improve your performance or track your fitness growth more accurately. Failing to complete a post-run analysis can negate the benefits you could gain by wearing an Apple Watch in the first place!

Use your post-run analysis to track your heart rate across runs, monitor your blood oxygen levels, and record your average stride lengths. Using this data to make adjustments to your runs can allow you to reap some major performance and health benefits.

Best running apps for Apple Watch

To make the most out of running with your Apple Watch, you should install the best applications to monitor your run. 

The best running apps for your Apple Watch are

  • Runkeeper
  • Map My Run
  • Nike Run Club
  • iSmoothRun

The more monitoring tools you have for your workout session, the easier time you’ll have to push your goals.


RunKeeper is the most popular running app across Android and iOS watches.

Runkeeper is completely free and can help you monitor your run. For instance, if you feel like you need some guidance throughout your workout, this application will provide prompts throughout your exercise to help you push your limits.

Runkeeper also keeps accurate information about your location using your smartwatch, so all the information is accurate. This application monitors your distance traveled, calories burned, time running, pace running, and average pace throughout the run.

runkeeper demo pages and data screens

Map My Run

Under Armour has a plethora of fitness-tracking applications you can use with each other to ensure you have the most accurate workout and diet tracking.

The Under Armour MapMyRun app will allow you to monitor your heart rate, distance traveled, and calories burned. This information can also be shared with any Under Armour applications you have if you.

Another popular application people use by Under Armour is MyFitnessPal, which you can pair with MapMyRun. Connecting a network of applications is a great way to monitor your exercise and diet goals so that you achieve everything you desire.

Nike Run Club

One of the best ways to keep up with your exercise routine is to connect with other people interested and the workouts you perform.

The Nike Run Club app allows you to connect with others in the running community. Connecting with other runners allows you to become more immersed in the activity and hold yourself accountable.


Whether you’re an avid outdoorsy person or enjoy running indoors, iSmoothRun can help monitor your activity levels.

This would be your best application if you enjoy multiple cardio activities like running, biking, and hiking. This application features fantastic stride sensors to track your running power accurately. 

So, can you run with just an Apple Watch?

Not only can you, but maybe you should!

Once I moved from running with my phone and watch to just my watch, I felt less distracted during my runs and lighter on my feet.

Go enjoy your next run!

Can you use an Apple Watch without owning an iPhone?

No, you must have both an Apple Watch and an iPhone to integrate the data-tracking features and sync your information. While technically, an iPhone user could set up an Apple Watch for someone else that doesn’t have iPhone, they wouldn’t have access to all of the same features an iPhone owner would have.

Can you use Apple Watch as a phone?

As long as your Apple Watch is synced to an iPhone, you can use your Apple Watch as a phone. Though the audio isn’t great, you can use your watch to receive calls even when your phone isn’t with you!

Can you use Apple Watch to race against yourself?

Yes, with Apple Watch’s new ‘Race Routing’ feature, you can race against your last or best time for a specific distance.

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