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MOTOACTV GPS Fitness Tracker… aka my new running toy

by Meghann on May 11, 2012


And HAPPY FRIDAY!!!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yay for almost being the weekend! ๐Ÿ™‚

After 4 days of complete rest and recovery, I’m happy to report that my first run back after Sunday’s Flying Pig Marathon was a success! It was short (3 miles), it was slower than my average marathon pace ( 9:15ish min/mi), and my legs definitely reminded me that I had just run a marathon 5 days prior, but I did it and, man, did it feel good. ๐Ÿ™‚ I even brought Maddie along for the 3 mile adventure and she was happy as could be to be chugging along. I love my little running buddy!

And – as a welcome back bonus – I even had a new toy to play with on the run!


As part of my brand ambassadorship with Verizon, the company sent me their new MOTOACTV GPS Fitness Tracker and Music Player to test out and review for the blog. It arrived on Wednesday and I’ve been itching to take it out for a run since then. As a dedicated Garmin Forerunner user (I rarely leave for a run without it!), I was actually looking forward to taking another GPS watch out for a run to see how it stacked up (I can rave and rave about my Garmin Forerunner from here until to eternity, but if I’ve never used anything else, it’s tough to sell it as “the best device EVER” if I truly have no idea what else is out there.)

The MOTOACTV GPS has a lot of similarities to the Garmin (it’s big and bulky, it tracks speed, distance, elevation, and route, and there’s ways to customize workouts), but there are a lot of differences (the screen is in full color, there’s a music player, you can wirelessly sync the data to your computer/smartphone, and the workout summary at the end is pretty nifty).

The MOTOACTV GPS is a squared device (similar size and shape as an iPod Nano) where you buy the accessories separately. The kind folks at Verizon were nice enough to send the wrist strap to turn the device into a watch, which was great for seeing the data while running, but sucked for using the MP3 part (connecting headphones to a watch didn’t work out so well). There’s an arm band accessory as well that would make a little more sense with using the device as an MP3 player, but wouldn’t work if you wanted to quickly glance at your pace/distance/time while running.


I stuck with the gold ole iPod for the music portion of my run and decided just to test out the GPS functionality of the MOTOACTV device. I was impressed with how it quickly it gained GPS signal (and liked that it gave you countdown to let you know how long you had been waiting!) and how easy it was to start. Just press start and GO! I also liked how BIG the screen was and how easy the numbers were to read. I only wish I could swap out the “calories burned” from the main box with the total miles run. I’m sure there’s a way to do it, I just need to read the instruction manual to figure it out.


During the run, it was easy to toggle between screens with just a swipe of your finger. I could swipe right and see my split times for each mile “lap”


And I could swipe again to see a map of my run. I’ll admit, the full color map with STREET SIGNS that you could zoom in and out of was pretty impressive. If I ever got lost on a run, this map would be easy to follow to get me back to my car.


And at the end of your workout, all you have to do is press “END WORKOUT” from the paused screen.


Pretty nifty, right?

Of course, the REALLY impressive part was the super detailed workout summary at the end.


SO. MUCH. DATA. Bonus points that the data was super easy to read right off the screen and synced instantly with my computer as soon as I walked in the door!

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Right now my teeny, tiny concern with the MOTOACTV GPS is battery life. It’s supposed to last 6 hours, BUT that’s on full battery life. When you turn it “off” it never really goes off. It’s “sleeping” and silently running in the background, which means I’ll have to remember to charge it before every run (especially long ones). And if you’re a 6+ hour marathoner, it’s sad to think this device wouldn’t see you to the end of the race! ๐Ÿ™

There are also a million and one features this device can do that I haven’t even touched yet. Just like with the Garmin Forerunner, it can be used when cycling (outside) and you can program workouts to it. I rarely use the workout feature on my Forerunner, mainly because it’s a pain in the booty to plug in manually and my Garmin hasn’t synced properly to my computer in well over a year (it freezes up for some reason and will give me the spinning multi-colorwheel for hours without loading a thing!). I’m curious to see if those are easier to create manually for the MOTOACTV device or just as pain in a butt. We’ll see.

Man, information overload. And I’m not even sure I said all I wanted to say about this guy! I’m sure I’ll have more posts on the features as I discover with them and a full review with my final thoughts once I’ve taken it out for more than one run. For now, I’m excited to have a new running toy to play with! ๐Ÿ™‚

Do you use a GPS fitness device? Which one?

After my run I had a bowl of oatmeal with strawberries and walnuts for breakfast.


Simple and delicious. ๐Ÿ™‚

Have a great Friday everyone!

1 Krissy @ Shiawase Life May 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

Thanks for this look at the MotoACTV! I think its great to hear about all the different options in the market ๐Ÿ™‚
Krissy @ Shiawase Life recently posted..Gangs of New York โ€“ my thoughts.

2 Mary @ food and fun on the run May 11, 2012 at 10:42 am

Wow, that looks pretty awesome! The part that sold me is the map in full color. Seems like it would be way easier to just have the watch, and not have to bring along a phone for some runs. Love love love the color screen! It makes such a difference! How did it do when you sweat a lot? Did the screen still react well to you touching it and stuff (I have problems with that with my Garmin sometimes).
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3 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 10:47 am

I didn’t get super sweaty on my run, so I’m not sure yet! I’ll have to look out for that on future runs though! I know the box said it’s sweat proof and water resistant, you just can’t submerge it in water (same as my Garmin Forerunner 205)

4 Cait's Plate May 11, 2012 at 10:44 am

Holy cow – that certainly is a lot of data! The only thing better would be if they could make these watches a little smaller. That’s the ONE thing I don’t like about my Garmin. It’s like running with a computer on your wrist! Looks awesome though ๐Ÿ™‚
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5 Dori May 11, 2012 at 10:45 am

I just switched from Garmin to Nike+ GPS SportWatch and I am so happy with how much easier the Nike is (and it comes with a foot pod that you can use until GPS kicks in so you don’t have to wait). It seems a little strange that the MOTOACTV comes with all the parts separately, but it is definitely a nice looking watch and seems easy to use. 6 hours of battery life seems a little short, but my Garmin couldn’t even get me through a 30 minute run so I guess it’s not so bad!
Dori recently posted..Nike+ SportWatch GPS Review

6 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

I read your review of the Nike+SportWatch and wouldn’t mind taking it for a spin too! ๐Ÿ™‚ You can purchase the foot pad separately (Garmin has one too). I can’t believe your Garmin only lasted 30 minutes! What’s with you having all these problems with the devices I love?!? First the droid, then the Garmin?!

7 Dori May 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

Everything I buy is a lemon! Even the Nike. Yeah I know Garmin has one but it seemed silly to purchase something in addition to a $300+ watch! I loved that the Nike sensor was included. I’d love to hear what you think of the Nike.

8 Claire May 11, 2012 at 10:50 am

Complete rest and recovery wouldn’t include a 2000 meter swim and yoga routine.

9 Lauren May 11, 2012 at 12:28 pm

I agree. You absolutely need to take several days off of exercising after a marathon.

10 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:49 pm

Hal Hidgon has a great article referring to “Zero Week” where you should do a reverse taper in the weeks following your marathon. He generally suggests taking 2 weeks off from “hard” running or training, but says it’s fine to run again the Thursday after the marathon. HOWEVER, it all comes down to knowing YOUR body and knowing what’s right. I’ve bounced back after marathons in the past and ran two days laters. I’ve also needed to take my time and took 2-3 weeks off completely to give my legs time to recover. It’s all about knowing your body and understanding what’s right for it.

11 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:50 pm

I agree that it’s not “complete” rest, BUT I wouldn’t call the swim or yoga “strenuous” by any means.

12 Lauren May 11, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Do you think you feel a need or compulsion to work out mere days after a marathon, even when common sense would dictate otherwise?

13 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm

There was no “need” or “compulsion” ๐Ÿ™‚ Trust me, there was no common sense dictating otherwise. I listened to my body and didn’t push it past its limits and I waited the appropriate amount of time before running again. There are runners out there who are far more hard core than I am, that take 10 mile recovery runs the day after marathons. Everybody is different.

14 Claire May 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

From the plan that you linked to:

Wednesday: No running! And donโ€™t substitute cross-training in a mistaken belief that it will help you maintain fitness. You may be able to swim or cycle more easily than run because youโ€™ll be using somewhat different muscles, but you still need rest-rest-rest to allow all your muscles to recover. Starting to train too soon can delay that recovery. You earned this period of rest. Take it!

I agree that everyone is different and some people recover more quickly than others, but no one is ready to cross train or weight lift in the days following a marathon. I don’t mean to be a jerk, but I know a lot of novice runners read your blog and will likely think that marathon recovery is take it or leave it. It’s not! It’s absolutely critical and you can injur yourself if you don’t take several days completely off.

15 Hector May 11, 2012 at 10:51 am

Awesome write up, I love the wireless sync feature. I do agree with you the Battery life could be better.
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16 Lauren May 11, 2012 at 10:52 am

Thanks for this review! My husband got me a motoaxtv for mother’s day and today will be my first run with it. I’m excited!
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17 Jana @ Newly Wife Healthy Life May 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

I have a Garmin Forerunner too and really love it. However, I love how bright the screen is on the Motoactive though (one of my complaints on the Garmin) and I like how you can easily check out the split times. Definitely looks like a product to check out!
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18 Annette @FitnessPerks May 11, 2012 at 11:07 am

I don’t use a gps device…but they sound handy!

I love a good run outside–might have to head out for one ๐Ÿ™‚
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19 Hennie van Loggerenberg May 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

Garmin Forerunner 405… Tough to move to anything else.

20 Hector May 11, 2012 at 11:42 am

Question. What did you think about the wrist strap? I want to get a Womens perspective? Bulky, stylish, sweaty, etc.?
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21 Tim May 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Currently have the Garmin 910xt. Have to say its Garmins best watch! Its basically a updated 305 but is waterproof. One of the best features is when you are doing lap swimming it knows when you have made a turn and keeps track of your distance so no more counting laps! Think Ive tried about every Garmin watch and the 305 was always my favorite but the size was just so big, with the 910xt you get the same form but smaller and with a lot more functions, mainly for swimmers. This watch is built for someone doing a ironman so battery life is 19 hrs.

22 Jessica May 11, 2012 at 12:17 pm

What is the advantage to using something like this compared to using a program on your smartphone, such as Map My Run? Just curious. I use Map My Run and I have checked in to a Garmin but want to know that it would really be worth it for me to spend that kind of money. Thanks!

23 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

That’s an answer I’m still trying to come up with. Honestly, I think it all comes to personal preference. I LIKE the watch aspect of the Garmin or other GPS watches. I only run with my phone on long runs and it’s usually tucked out of sight in my fuel belt, so I can’t glance at it quickly. I’ve personally never used a running app on my phone and don’t have any desire to because of that. I think it also comes down to a battery life issue. I could see the running app quickly drowning the battery of my phone (just as using the GPS feature tends to do) and not being able to get more than an hour or two run out of it. I’m curious to hear others’ thoughts. I have a friend who swear by her running app and I can’t convince her to use the Garmin just as she can’t convince me to use the running app. To each their own.

24 Courtney May 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm

The Map My Run app announces when you hit every mile, what your running clock time is, as well as your pace. Plus, I’ve taken it on 22 mile runs and my battery life has gone down 10%, if that, and that includes music running in the background via Pandora or the iPod on my phone. All that for free makes it hard to pay lots of money for anything else.
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25 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Exactly my point – different things work for different people! ๐Ÿ™‚

26 Courtney May 11, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Yes ma’am!
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27 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Also, what phone do you have where the battery only dropped 10%?

28 Courtney May 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm

I have an iPhone 3GS.
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29 Hector May 15, 2012 at 2:37 am

I think the main benefit of a GPS watch unit is going to be the size. I honestly hated running with my phone on my armband. Bulky. Can you do interval trainings with Mapmy run? Just curious.
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30 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats May 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I also use a garmin, but that device looks pretty cool! I like that it syncs wirelessly and the map is great, that would come in so handy!
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31 Rachel May 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I’m dying for a Garmin but can’t afford one! Im new to running and just starting to work on speed…using a digital watch is old school but guess I’ll see how I do after my race and if I PR.

32 Lena @Fit on the Rocks May 11, 2012 at 12:35 pm

That looks so much cooler than my Garmin! The map feature would be so helpful when running in a new city. I went on a long run in Chicago and accidentally overshot my finish, and it took me forever to find my way back…no bueno.
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33 brittney May 11, 2012 at 12:42 pm

That seems awesome- I need one. I wanted your opinion. I use an app on my smartphone for tracking my distance while running, and next Sunday will be running my first 1/2 Marathon. I’ve done long runs (only 11 miles so far) holding both my iPod and phone, but am nervous about feeling overwhelmed on race day. Do you think I should leave my phone? And yes, I know I need to eventually invest in a Garmin or something!

34 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm

If it’s your first 1/2, I would say just leave the phone behind (or invest in a belt or arm band). I ran my first half marathon device free (minus my ipod) and didn’t even think twice about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

35 Faith @ For the Health of It May 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm

I have a Soleus, which is the most basic GPS watch, and it’s driving me bonkers taking 10 minutes (no joke) to pick up signal. If the people at Track Shack where I bought it can’t help me get it straightened out, I’ll definitely be looking into the Motoactv!

36 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City May 11, 2012 at 12:54 pm

That watch does look pretty cool. I have the Garmin 403 and I like it a lot. My only problem is how long it takes to sync up!
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37 Kimberly @ Healthy Strides May 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm

I have a MOTOACTV, and I love it. I’ve been using it for months now, and I would never go back to the Garmin. I had the same problems with syncing with the cord but I also like the display and touch screen.

Just a note: You can power off the MOTOACTV – you just have to hold the side button and select power off. Also, if you update the software, you’ll get longer battery life. I’ve used mine for long runs while training for a half and had no problem, and I rarely charge mine during the week. The only time I’ve seen battery be a problem is when I use the music feature but even then it lasted 12 miles and still had plenty life to spare.
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38 Lauren May 11, 2012 at 1:08 pm

Just finished my first run with my motoactv. I had been using an android app, sportstracker, which I loved when stroller running because it was easily visible. But having it on my arm and not being able tto see the screen was difficult, even though it does call out pace, distance, etc at set intervals. It nearly drained my bbattery completely and didn’t call out lap times which were huge drawbacks. So far the motoactv is far superior to any app I’ve used aas well as my old 305. Only issue I had was that it played 3 Jessica Simpson songs, unacceptable ๐Ÿ˜‰
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39 Emily May 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

Sweet! Nothing like a new toy to get me out the door!
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40 Carissa May 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

What a cool device. I’m addicted to my Garmin, but I like some of the additional features there like the color screen and wireless transmission. I never actually sync my Garmin to my computer so I’d like that. battery life scares me though! Will you use it again over your Garmin?
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41 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm

I can’t commit to an answer on this one right now. I plan to use the MOTOACTV on a few more runs to see how it goes, but I wouldn’t say I’m 100% sold on it yet (I tend to be fiercely loyal to products or name brands). Once I test out the other features, I’ll see if I’m leaning sharply one way or the other and report back.

42 Bethany @ Accidental Intentions May 11, 2012 at 1:34 pm

What a snazzy little device! I love the color and that you can see the map of your run while you’re running — that’s super cool. I have a Forerunner 210 that I am simply in love with. I’ve been training for a 10K (tomorrow!) for 11 or 12 weeks now, and I bought the Garmin right before that for my training. It’s been a lifesaver, especially in regards to planning runs. I love the freedom it gives me to just go wherever I want while it takes care of keeping track of my distance for me. I don’t have a phone capable of doing anything close to that, so the Garmin has been clutch, especially on long runs.
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43 Lisa in IL May 11, 2012 at 2:54 pm

I have been researching & researching & researching gps fitness devices & I am stumped. I want one that won’t break the bank, tracks miles, tracks my time & tracks my heartrate. I am more confused than ever.

44 Brandi May 11, 2012 at 4:03 pm

It’s nice to hear about other companies producing these types of products as I have yet to find one as good as thorough as Garmin (believe me, I tried them all to avoid Garmins price tag). I have been using the Garmin 310XT for 2 years and its unbelievable. Its waterproof and wirelessly transmits to my computer the second I walk in the door (supposed to be within 5ft). The summary on the computer is my addiction – gives you splits, maps, calories, elevation map, everything! It keeps a log which makes it so easy to compare race and route times.

45 Hillary May 11, 2012 at 5:47 pm

I adore my Garmin, but have never heard of the Motoactv. Sounds pretty cool!
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46 BroccoliHut May 11, 2012 at 6:01 pm

Eee! How spiffy! I love the overall style of this fitness tracker and the fact that it provides lots of data. I am definitely a numbers-motivated person ๐Ÿ™‚
I use my Garmin (the one without a HRM) and the Nike+ app on my phone. Both seem to do the job alright for my needs, but it’s fun to see what else is out there!
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47 Terri May 11, 2012 at 6:40 pm

Wow the Motoactiv looks fantastic. I asked for a GPS watch for Christmas, and that was one of the possibilities I hinted at. Hubby went with a different one since they were still working some kinks out at the time (though from what I understand, they were releasing updates in a very timely manner).

He got me the Timex Run Trainer with the heart rate monitor stuff. Overall I really like it – being able to customize the display is nice, though the layout could be more polished. Every time I finish a run, I come home and plug my watch in so I can bring up a map and graph of what I just did. ๐Ÿ™‚

48 Nanci May 12, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Looks pretty cool! That screen is GINORMOUS! lol

I have the Garmin Forerunner 110, my first GPS watch, and I love it because it’s so simple and easy to use. The MotoActv seems like the best of both words, simple and super cool.
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49 Dj May 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Thanks for the write-up! I’ve been looking at this for a while and this is the first good review I’ve had.
And congrats on the Flying Pig finish… I ran it as well for my first marathon.

50 Meghann May 11, 2012 at 1:33 pm

you’re right – his plan does say that. Honestly, when it came to swimming – it was really to social aspect of seeing my friends, and yoga was needed. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There are novices that read my blog and I will try and put disclaimers in the future of marathon recovery stating that this way of recovering is not for everybody. However, I do hope that my readers see that I’m not a novice (just as I see from other runners who are more advance than I am in the running/training department) and discover their own timeline for recovering.

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