GPS Running Watch Mistakes and How To Correct Them

Last Updated: May 29, 2022

Disclosure: All products recommended on TheUltimatePrimate are independently selected by our team. If you make a purchase through any of these links, we may receive a commission. Learn more about our product selection process here.

Motivation is key to having a successful health routine. Everything from your diet to your physical activities is part of this routine, and in order to remain dedicated to it, you have to see some progress. 

Many people rely on GPS running watches when it comes to physical activities (and sometimes diet). These tools allow you to track things like your heart rate and distance run, with which you can better understand your overall results.

These watches use GPS technology to do all of that. But what do you do when that GPS running watch comes up with errors? How do you fix them? Can you fix them? 

We’re going to take a look at this and a bunch of other information. We hope this information will help you in protecting your investment.

Benefits of GPS In A Running Watch

Before we get into looking at mistakes you might have to deal with when utilizing a GPS running watch, there are probably some wondering if a GPS running watch is worth it.

There are a lot of great benefits that you can take advantage of by investing in a high-quality GPS running watch. 

Though you will never really run up against errors or mistakes when utilizing it, you can also rely on the following benefits:

Real-Time Data

The GPS sensors installed in these watches allow you to see in-the-moment numbers when it comes to things like pace, distance, and calories burned as well as your heart rate.

Most of them also offer the ability to customize alerts and also workouts. Having in-the-moment data also makes you feel safer when you’re out on the trails and keep your running routine fresh.


One of the critical aspects of ensuring that you reach your goals is motivation. That’s why many people invest in trainers, but those that want to do things on their own can do this with a GPS running watch.

By looking down and looking at that real-time data, you see progress, which will help motivate you to continue on your journey.

Tracking Your Progress

What do you do if you don’t see any results? How can you even know if you are improving if you can’t track your progress? GPS watches allow you to track your real-time data.

This allows you to see your progress and make any course corrections in your workout routine if necessary.


Tracking your runs helps you create an in-depth and challenging workout. Doing it on your own without a GPS watch can be challenging. Most of these watches are super accurate and will allow you to have up-to-date real-time data and accurate data.

Versatile Usability

Most of these GPS running watches come with other systems that allow you to use them for more than just your physical activity.

On top of having multiple sports profiles you can choose from, some of them even come with integrated interfaces that allow you to track diet and utilize it as your personal assistant.

Mistakes You Might Have to Deal With

Though most GPS running watches are very accurate and use high-quality technologies, they are not infallible. In fact, there are two main issues that can arise that can cause inaccurate tracking and interfere with your route recording.

Both of these have to do with the GPS technology itself, and here are the two main issues:

GPS Drift

This is the difference between the recorded location and where you actually are. No GPS technology is going to be 100% accurate when it comes to this.

Because of this, there will inevitably be a little bit of drift that you have to account for. Most of the time, this is a distance shorter than 10 feet. 

This can be exacerbated by consistent moving and scanning, as any type of GPS signal will be more accurate when standing still. That means that when utilizing a running watch with GPS, you will have to deal with GPS drift.

Environmental Factors

The other issue that may cause some troubles are environmental factors. These are things like tall buildings or a large crowd. But they can also include those runners that like to trail run underneath a forested canopy. 

All of these implements will block the signal of the GPS technology and will cause poor tracking capabilities. This may mean inaccurate tracking of your trail and metrics like pace. In turn, this might lead to a lack of motivation or even the inability to view your results correctly.

How to Correct the Mistakes

Now, how do you correct these issues so that you are getting a better GPS distance and accuracy? This will, of course, depend on the model, but many of the tricks below are available on a wide range of watches. 

So if you’re looking to correct the mistakes and get improved and more accurate monitoring, try these techniques:

  • Wait – When you first turn on your GPS technology on your running watch and see that it is ready, that does not necessarily mean that it will give you the most accurate numbers. In fact, what it does mean is that it has to be connected with a satellite or a minimum number of satellites to be able to run. If you wait a few minutes, it will pick up more signals from different satellites, improving your accuracy.

  • Auto Pause – Inevitably, you might want to take a breather when you’re on the trail, leading to inaccurate numbers. So when you have stopped, make sure you turn on pause. Some models come with an auto-pause setting that you can turn on.

  • Every Second Recording – Some models of GPS running watches will give you a choice between utilizing a smart recording system and an every-second recording system. This is regarding the amount of time that cycles through recording the GPS data into your file. Those smart recordings will take up less memory. The every-second recording option is better if you’re looking for a more accurate track.

  • Secondary Satellite Constellations – Depending on the model you have, you may also have the option to use secondary satellite constellations. This allows your GPS running watch to connect to another satellite constellation so that you get more accurate tracking and are less likely to have GPS drift or environmental interference issues.

  • Distance and Speed Recording Accessories – There will be times when you can’t avoid having some sort of issues with the signal. This could be because of environmental factors or simply because of distance. So one way to navigate around mistakes and inaccuracies with a GPS running watch is to combine it with the use of secondary distance and speed recording accessories.

  • Environmental Factors – A lot of your mistakes and errors when it comes to your GPS running watch are due to environmental factors. So if you’re looking for a non-technological way to fix these mistakes, the best option is to reduce those environmental factors as much as possible.

Frequently Asked Questions on GPS Running Watch Mistakes

No matter how high-end your GPS running watches, there are bound to be some inaccuracies and mistakes that come about. We have answered a lot of the questions on how to fix those and what to look for, but we’re sure there are other questions as well. 

Having access to all the information you can have to decide or improve your GPS running watch’s accuracy is essential. So we dove online and found some of the most commonly asked questions and answered them below.

Why is GPS data occasionally inaccurate?

As we said above, one of the most significant issues with inaccuracy regarding GPS running watches is environmental factors. But other issues could be causing problems. Sometimes there are just not enough satellites available for you to get a pinpoint GPS signal. 

Along with that, sometimes systems need to warm up. It might also have to do with what type of GPS technology is utilized. If you’re utilizing a built-in system, your accuracy will be different from one that is a connected system via your mobile phone.

Do GPS watches lose accuracy?

The truth is no matter what type of GPS running watch you choose, there will be a chance of losing some accuracy. Especially when dealing with the aspects and mistakes, we talked about above. Nothing is going to be 100% accurate, so you have to be OK with accounting for that, which will help you look at your results with pride.

Final Thoughts

GPS running watches are an excellent investment in order to give you a wealth of benefits. We think they are well worth any troubles you may have with the accuracy. 

Hopefully, by giving you an idea of what causes the inaccuracy and how to address some of these mistakes, we’ve helped you. After all, who doesn’t want to invest in motivation and inspiration to reach their health goals!

Sign Up For FREE Access To Fitness Guides And New Product Reviews!

First Name Email Address

  • Get the latest guides on exercise techniques, weight loss techniques, healthy living and more.
  • Receive regular hand-picked videos and content for healthy living, eating and mindfulness.
  • Join The Ultimate Primate movement like many others already have. We’re all in it together to share information on bettering ourselves everyday.

Leave a Comment