MilestonePod review

Some time ago I write an post about tracking indoor runs on treadmill. Basically it’s possible but we have to know what foot pod, app and system to use in order to make this work. Or have a watch that supports either footpod or distance measurment by wrist movement (highly inaccurate). But now a different option has appeared. The MilestonePod. It’s a foot pod like device that allows to track indoor/outdoor runs and the shoe mileage without phone or watch. All we need to do is to attach the device to the shoe and start running. After a run we just synchronize the pod with mobile app (Android/iOS) and can analyze the training. Sounds good? Let’s check how it works!

How does it work?

MilestonePod looks like a standard foot pod. The installation on the shoe is very straightforward. Just place the cover under 2 laces, attach the pod and skew until it click. After many runs I didn’t lost it so it just works. Without the need to de attach the laces like in the case of Polar Stride sensor.

Afterwards it already works and measurer the distance of our shoe pair. Without the need to start/end or press anything. How does this work? According to the MilestonePod FAQ that’s the algorithm:

POD START-STOP-PAUSE PARAMETERS

1) A “Session” starts when your cadence is 100 spm or more, for 6 minutes or more.

2) The Pod sees pauses and erases them. A “Pause” is a drop under 100 spm for less than 30 minutes. If a pause is longer than 30 minutes, the session will end.

3) A session is considered a “Run” when your cadence averages above 140 spm.

4) A session is considered a “Walk” is when your cadence averages above 100 spm and below 140 spm.

5) If a session is at least 60% “Running” (over 140 spm), the Pod will trim walks from the beginning and end of the session (i.e. warm-ups or cool-downs).

6) The Pod counts all walking and running within a session, as long as your cadence is above 100 spm.

7) The Pod counts every step towards the shoe life total (odometer feature) even if it’s not part of a Session.

So basically the pod automatically detects the runs and walks + removed the pauses if done. Additionally it measure every km (run+walk) and adds it to the total amount of km of the shoe. Pretty simple.

I have done many runs with it and for my style of running the above was working every time. So basically without the need to start, pause, resume training it’s recorded in the background.

What is measured?

The pod main purpose after release was to measure the shoe mileage. And that’s still the main functionality since if we add the foot we have to pair it with our shoes. I always have 1 pair of shoes that I use so it’s not a problem for me but if you have more shoes then I suppose it’s necesairly that every shoe is at the time paired with 1 MilestonePod.

That’s how the pairing process looks like:

 

And our shoe mileage is always presented on the top of the app:

Additionally the pod measures many running metrics like:

  • Distance.
  • Cadence.
  • Steps.
  • Foot strike: percentage of time your foot strikes the ground on your heel, mid-foot or toe.
  • Ground contact: average amount of time your foot is on the ground.
  • Rate impact: how quickly the force is transferred from the ground to your legs.
  • Stride length.
  • Leg  swing: the distance the ankle is from the ground.
  • Runficiency: metric calculated from the above to give you some kind of indicator about your running technique.

Screens of the metrics:

Is the above measurement accurate? I can only check the ground contact time and the stride length to the ones calculated by the HRM-RUN and the 920XT and those values looks more or less the same (average values). During the run if I compare e.g. the ground contact time graphs then they looks different so I think the recording technique is not the same. But the average is almost the same. For the stride length the MilestonePod and HRM-RUN shows me always 0,95m-1m with 1 or 2 cm difference. Which one is correct? I don’t know but the results are pretty near to each other.

One thing is for sure, the distance measurement made by the MilestonePod looks very promising. After first run over clear sky I have calibrated it against the distance measured by my Polar V800 (in my opinion a watch with most accurate GPS) and every next run the distance measured by the pod and Polar V800 was almost identical. Without calibration the difference between the GPS watch and MilestonePod was about 5%. Once calibrated I, after several of my runs and test on treadmill, the difference accuracy was about 1%.

Real time metrics

MilestonePod recently introduced real time data from the pod (currently in beta). This means it can be also used as a Bluetooth Foot pod. The metrics that are provided in real time are: cadence, stride length, pace, distance and duration. At the end MilestonePod will transfer all 13 available metrics in real time but I suspect those will be only available in the MilestoneApp since in order to use it the developers of other app/watch firmware would have to write the support for it. Currently real time metrics are: cadence, stride length, pace, distance and duration. It is also worth to mention that the real time metrics are at the time being in beta and in order to get access to it we need to contact the MilestonePod support team and provide our email. After a while you will receive an confirmation and on the next sync the pod will update it’s firmware. That’s it:). For me it took about 1 day.

According to the blogpost the foot pod is compatible with following apps/watches:

Compatible apps:

Compatible watches:

  • Polar M400 | See a quick “how to pair” VIDEO
  • Polar V800
  • Suunto Ambit 3
  • Suunto Spartan and Spartan Ultra

Personally I’ve tested it with Suunto Spartan Ultra and Polar V800. In case of Polar V800 it was working fine. Even the stride sensor menu is activated (until now it was active for me only with the Polar Stride Sensor). The automatic calibration on the watch sadly doesn’t work but that’s fine since we like to set the calibration factor manually to 1.000. Why? Because the MilestonePod sends already calibrated values to the watch so it doesn’t need to be calibrated automatically – only on the app. After 2,3 runs, that were followed the manual calibration of the MoilestonePod in the app itself, the pace from the pod was very stable and reliable.Also the distance was matching the one from the watch.

I can only assume the same is valid for the Polar M400 but sadly I’m unable to confirm that since I doesn’t own that device. To be hones after the runs I think to completely get rid of the Polar Stride Sensor – it’s bulky and ugly. Sure the automatic calibration doesn’t work but it’s handled correctly with calibration of the sensor itself on the MilestonePod app.

Suunto Spartan Ultra/Sport also calibrates the footpod automatically. Here sadly we cannot control it but it’s a problem of the Spartan, not MilestonePod. But it also works out of the box and provides proper distance, pace and cadence measurement. From my experience if we calibrate the pod then the watch need also few runs to calibrate itself against the new values that are coming from the pod. But eventually it also works fine.

When it comes to the Apps compatibility I’ve tested it with the Wahoo Fitness on Android and also here no problems. Strava uses it only to calculate cadence (Strava limitation). I’ve tried also to test it with the Adidas Train and Run but this app is no longer available in Google Play (sadly Adidas is abandoning the platform, one of the best in my opinion when it comes to training plans).

Sadly the ANT+ devices (so Garmin and older Suunto watches) are not supported. I just wonder if it is compatible with the new Fenix 5 or Forerunner 935. There Garmin introduced, for the first time ever, the support for Bluetooth sensors.

Data export

There is an option to export the data from the app but it’s just an simple export in Excel. In my opinion there should be an option to export the data into *.fit or *.tcx file so it would be possible to import it in Garmin Connect or Endomondo. Maybe in the future this option will be added.

Summary

It’s a great device. For the price of 29€ (+3€ shipping, that’s the price in Europe) it’s a no-brainer! It’s a great and cheap an odometer and post run analysis tool. A very accurate one for distance, cadence and stride length (those metrics I was able to compare). And the fact that additionally it can work as a foot pod only makes it only a better deal. In fact, in my opinion, only as a Bluetooth footpod this device is definitely worth it’s price. But it offers so much more! I highly recommend MilestonePod!

The only thing that I miss is the tcx data export or Garmin Connect integration. But that can be done with software update without any problem.

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