Paddling workouts

I bought a kayak a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those fold-up jobs by Oru, and I got it instead of a more traditional kayak because it’s very light and can easily fit inside my car instead of being strapped to the roof.

Folded kayak in SUV trunk

I’ve been taking it out to local lakes and paddling around to get myself used to it. The first couple of times, because I was focused on assembling it correctly and getting in without tipping over, I forgot to start the Paddling workout on my Apple Watch, so I didn’t have a complete record of either of those little trips. But I have recorded the more recent paddles and have learned a rather disappointing fact: the Workout app doesn’t keep track of where you went.

This was quite a shock. For years, I’ve been using Workout to track my walks, getting both a nice map of my path and a sense of how fast I was going during each stretch.

Hiking workout map

(The map can also show that you got in the car and drove away before turning the workout off.)

I assumed the Paddling workout would do the same, but here’s what I saw after paddling around at Busse Woods a few days ago:

Paddling workout map

It gives you a dot where you started the workout but nothing else. A search of the web to see if I’d done something wrong soon told me that I hadn’t and that lots of paddlers were unhappy about this deficiency.

Apple has always been concerned with battery life on the Watch, but I don’t understand why keeping track of my location while kayaking is going to be any more draining than doing the same thing while hiking. Or biking, for that matter, a workout type that also tracks location and presents a map.

There are third-party paddling apps that will track my location, so I guess I’ll have to start trying them out. My initial sense is that these apps are meant for people who are a lot more serious about kayaking than I ever expect to be and therefore have features I’ll never use. Oh, well. Every hobby has hidden costs.

Update 18 May 2024 5:42 PM
A few updates:

  1. On Mastodon, Steve told me that cross-country skiing also records just a single dot on the workout map. Just as stupid as how it treats kayaking.
  2. Joe Rosensteel wrote a nice followup post in which he pointed out another Apple Watch/Workout deficiency that you’d think could be easily fixed: while your watch will (a) notify you when it detects that you’ve started a walk without starting a workout for it, and (b) also notify you if it notices that you’re standing (mostly) still without pausing your current workout, it won’t do the obvious (c) notify you to resume your workout when you start walking again. I’ve been bitten by this bug several times.
  3. I’ve signed up for a free month of Strava rather than a paddling-specific app/service. I’m hoping this will make it easy to track both my walking and kayaking in a single place.