hands-on with new workout features in watchOS 9

A wide range of useful new running features come with watchOS 9. From heart rate and stride length zones, ground contact time to vertical oscillation, and new features like ghost running your personal best and creating custom workouts, here’s a hands-on look at the new Apple Watch run metrics in watchOS 9.

Whether you’re already an avid runner, just getting started, or looking to make deliberate progress, watchOS 9 delivers the most robust Apple Watch running metrics yet.

Becoming more efficient with your form or more intentional with heart rate zones, getting extra motivation with a ghost run feature, or staying on track with a new pacer and alerts are all possible with watchOS 9.

Some of these features could also hint at an Apple Watch crash landing this fall.

Apple Watch runtime metrics: What’s new in watchOS 9

watchOS 9 is currently available as a developer and free public beta. Learn more about installing watchOS 9 in our comprehensive guide.

Here are the top 9 new Apple Watch runtime metrics and features:

  1. Heart rate zones
  2. Stride length
  3. Ground contact time
  4. Vertical swing
  5. average power
  6. Race against the best or the last run
  7. Pacer with on-screen metrics and alerts
  8. Create custom running workouts with “work” and “recovery” segments
  9. Multi-sport workout type that automatically switches between running, cycling and swimming for triathletes

Here’s a look at the new Apple Watch runtime metrics in action:

Heart rate zones

After starting a running workout in watchOS 9, the first default screen will show elapsed time, current heart rate, mile run, average pace, and distance. Apple says you’ll be able to customize the metrics displayed

You can swipe up or down or use the digital crown to access the new running metrics screens. The second is heart rate zones.

Apple Watch automatically creates your 5 heart rate zones based on the Heart Rate Reserve method. And peak and resting values ​​are updated automatically on the first day of every month.

But you can manually enter heart rate zones by going to Settings > Training > Heart Rate Zones on your Apple Watch or on iPhone in the Apple Watch app > Training > Heart Rate Zones.

Apple Watch running metrics heart rate zones 2

There are three other screens that you can scroll vertically: Split, Elevation and Exercise Rings.

After your run, you can see a more detailed breakdown of the estimated time you spent in each heart rate zone on the iPhone Fitness app. Choose the workout in the Summary tab and press See more details next to Heart rate.

1658439910 591 Apple Watch hands-on running metrics with new workout features

Stride length, ground contact time, vertical oscillation and average power

The first time you run with your Apple Watch on watchOS 9, stride length, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, and average power will be measured but may not be displayed on the training app main screen while running.

After tapping the saved run in the Summary tab of the iPhone Fitness app, tap Show more next to Workout Details.

Viewing Apple Watch Runtime Metrics on iPhone

At the very bottom, you can also choose to reorder metrics.

1658439911 936 Apple Watch hands-on running metrics with new workout features

Apple Watch running metrics: Race against latest or best race, Pacer, Custom workouts

From the Workout app on Apple Watch, if you tap the three-dot icon in the upper right corner of a workout, you’ll get more options. These will include suggestions such as your last race or your best race.

1658439911 810 Apple Watch hands-on running metrics with new workout features

You can also choose to sort the different types of running workouts by suggested, goal-based, custom, or route.

Apple Watch running custom workouts with metrics

And if you don’t want to use the available workouts based on goals, routes, or pace, you can create a completely custom one:

1658439911 364 Apple Watch handy runtime metrics with new workout features

What excites you most about all the new Apple Watch runtime metrics in watchOS 9? Share your opinion on our social networks!

For an overview of these and other Apple Watch health and fitness improvements for swimming, sleeping and more with watchOS 9, check out the coverage from our sister site Connect The Watts:

Learn more about the latest software from Apple:


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