Last Updated on March 15, 2023
Welcome to our guide to the best running watches. If you’re looking to track your runs, monitor your progress, and stay motivated on your fitness journey, a good running watch can be an invaluable tool.
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With so many options on the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right one for your needs. That’s where we come in! In this article, we’ll break down the top running watches currently available, taking into account factors such as price, features, and ease of use.
We understand that not all runners are tech-savvy or interested in complicated features. That’s why we’ve focused on providing practical advice and actionable tips that even the most technologically challenged among us can follow.
Whether you’re a seasoned runner looking to take your training to the next level, or a beginner looking to get started, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and find the perfect running watch for you!
Our Top Picks
- Best Running Watch Overall: Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
- Best Running Watch for the Outdoors: Garmin fenix 7X
- Best Running Watch for Recovery and Sleep Tracking: Polar Vantage V2
- Best Running Watch for Triathletes: Garmin Forerunner 945
- Best Lightweight Running Watch: Coros PACE 2
The Best Running Watches You Can Buy Today
1. Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Best Running Watch Overall
The Garmin Forerunner 245 is a GPS running smartwatch with music and advanced training features. It evaluates your current training status, offers additional performance monitoring features, and provides free adaptive training plans from Garmin coach. It also has advanced running dynamics, safety and tracking features, and can sync with music streaming services such as Spotify.
Key features of Garmin Forerunner 245:
- GPS running smartwatch with music
- Evaluates current training status
- Offers additional performance monitoring features
- Provides free adaptive training plans from Garmin coach
- Advanced running dynamics, including ground contact time balance, stride length, vertical ratio and more
- Safety and tracking features, including incident detection
- Syncs with music streaming services such as Spotify
- Music capability and ability to update via Wi-Fi
- Good GPS and connectivity to Garmin Connect
- Can be used without phone for music, GPS, and safety features
- Charges quickly and has a good-sized battery for its size
- Overkill for some but will do everything you need and more
- Bluetooth connectivity with headphones can be patchy and disconnects
- Initial syncing of music took a long time and could be simpler
- Sleep tracking may not be very accurate
2. Garmin fenix 7X
Best Running Watch for the Outdoors
Garmin fenix 7X Sapphire Solar is a solar-powered GPS watch with a scratch-resistant display and an always-on 1.4″ display. It has Wi-Fi and GPS connectivity and supports various applications such as elevation, distance and fitness tracking, as well as sleep monitoring. Key features and benefits include:
- Long battery life with solar charging capability
- Endurance and real-time stamina tracking
- Training status and advanced performance metrics
- 30+ built-in sports apps
- 24/7 health and wellness monitoring
- Outdoor navigation with multi-band frequency and GNSS network support
- Preloaded maps for thousands of golf courses and ski resorts
- Built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for map downloads.
- Large 1.4” display with touchscreen interface
- Built-in LED flashlight and Power Sapphire™ solar charging lens
- Long-lasting battery life for outdoor challenges
- Preloaded TopoActive maps and worldwide ski and golf maps
- 24/7 health and wellness monitoring
- Solar charging is not very effective
- Battery life may not last as long with certain features enabled
- Expensive, especially the 7x sapphire solar model
3. Polar Vantage V2
Best Running Watch for Recovery and Sleep Tracking
The Polar Vantage V2 is the ultimate lightweight multisport smartwatch for athletes and fitness enthusiasts. It boasts a full aluminum body that weighs just 52g, making it comfortable to wear all day long. It comes equipped with advanced wrist-based HR tracking, GPS, and ultra-long battery life, making it the perfect companion for your workouts.
Key features and benefits:
- Lightweight and comfortable full aluminum body design
- Advanced wrist-based HR tracking and GPS for accurate fitness monitoring
- Ultra-long battery life to last through even the toughest workouts
- Running and cycling performance tests to help personalize heart rate, speed, and power zones
- Training load and recovery tracking tools to help optimize workouts and avoid overtraining
- FuelWise feature to help with nutrition and hydration during workouts
- Route guidance to help navigate new training routes
- Sleep tracking to monitor and improve overall rest and recovery
- Free online tool Polar Flow for workout planning and progress tracking
- Compatibility with popular online sports communities for easy social sharing
- Essential smartwatch features like music controls, weather, and phone notifications.
- Beautiful and lightweight design.
- Embedded heart rate (HR) monitor that checks HR multiple times a day, during training and rest, and links to the sleeping activity report.
- Hill splitter feature, useful for analyzing running routes and splitting them into segments for better performance analysis.
- Watt measurement feature that tells continuous energy transfer during running.
- Komoot link for trail runners to use maps on the watch.
- H10 HR sensor pairing can be difficult and frustrating.
- Touch screen is not waterproof and can select virtual buttons during shower.
- Battery life is only about three days, which may be shorter than some competitors.
Whether you’re a road runner, swimmer, cyclist, or triathlete, the Polar Vantage V2 has you covered. With its advanced features and comfortable design, this smartwatch is the perfect tool to take your training to the next level.
4. Garmin Forerunner 945
Best Garmin Running Watch for Triathletes
The Garmin Forerunner 945 is the ultimate GPS smartwatch for runners and triathletes. With its premium features, it allows you to track your performance and monitor your progress in detail. Download your favorite playlists from Spotify, Amazon Music, or Deezer and listen to them on the go. Performance monitoring features include Vo2 Max and training status with adjustments for heat, altitude acclimation status, training load focus, recovery time, and aerobic and anaerobic training effects.
With the Garmin Pay contactless payment solution, you can leave your cash and cards at home and make payments with your watch. Full-color, onboard maps guide you on your run, so you never have to worry about getting lost during your workout. Safety and tracking features include incident detection, which sends your real-time location to emergency contacts through your paired compatible smartphone during select activities.
The battery life of the Garmin Forerunner 945 is impressive, lasting up to two weeks in smartwatch mode, 10 hours in GPS mode with music, or up to 60 hours in ultratrac mode. Its display resolution is 240 x 240 pixels, providing a clear and vivid display. Overall, the Garmin Forerunner 945 is the perfect running companion for those who take their fitness seriously and want to track their progress accurately.
Key Features of Garmin Forerunner 945
- Premium GPS smartwatch for running, triathlons, and other sports
- Download and play music from Spotify, Amazon Music, and Deezer (with premium subscription)
- Measures your VO2 max, training status, and aerobic/anaerobic training effects
- Includes performance metrics like heat and altitude acclimation, training load, and recovery time
- Built-in safety features include incident detection and real-time location sharing with emergency contacts
- Garmin Pay contactless payment lets you leave your cash and cards at home
- Full-color, on-board maps help you navigate your runs without getting lost
- Long battery life: up to 2 weeks in smartwatch mode, up to 10 hours in GPS mode with music, and up to 60 hours in Ultratrac mode
- Accurate performance and recovery tracking
- Provides granular metrics for training
- Body battery feature helps with workout scheduling
- Touchscreen is easy to use
- Compatible with Garmin Connect app
- Limited battery life
- Sleep tracking may not be as accurate as other devices
5. Coros PACE 2
Best Lightweight Running Watch
The COROS PACE 2 is the lightest GPS watch on the market, weighing only 29g with the new Nylon band. It has a 20-day battery life with regular use and 30 hours in full GPS mode. It features built-in running power metrics, native integration with Stryd power meters, and modes for running, cycling, swimming, cardio, strength, and water sports.
The watch includes an optical heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and thermometer for 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep, step, and calorie tracking. The COROS EvoLab offers an advanced fitness analysis with metrics for fatigue, training load, running performance, and race prediction.
The new Nylon band is more breathable and provides a more comfortable and snug fit. It comes in various color options, allowing you to make a personal statement. The watch is perfect for beginner to intermediate runners who want a lightweight, durable, and reliable GPS watch to support their workouts.
Key Features of the COROS PACE 2:
- Lightweight design at just 29g with new COROS Nylon band
- Long battery life of up to 20 days for regular use and 30 hours in full GPS mode
- Modes for running, cycling, swimming, cardio, strength, and water sports
- Built-in running power metrics from the wrist and integration with Stryd power meters
- Advanced fitness analysis with COROS EvoLab, including training load, fatigue, and running performance
- Optical heart rate monitor, barometric altimeter, accelerometer, compass, gyroscope, and thermometer
- 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep, step, and calorie tracking.
- Long battery life of up to 12-14 days, even with moderate usage
- Lightweight and comfortable to wear, even while sleeping
- Customizable watch face display and multiple faces to switch between during workouts
- Great always-on display that is clear even under direct sun
- Configurable workout data screens with up to 6 data pieces on each screen
- Inaccuracy of workout recording, especially for strength training exercises
- Limited ability to edit workouts or add missed activities
Running Watch Feature Comparison
|Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
|Up to 7 days
|Garmin fenix 7X
|Up to 18 days
|Polar Vantage V2
|Up to 40 hours
|Garmin Forerunner 945
|Up to 2 weeks
|Coros PACE 2
|Up to 20 days
How to Choose the Best Running Watch for You
Consider Your Budget
When it comes to choosing a running watch, price is often a major consideration. Luckily, there are options available to fit every budget. While some high-end models can cost hundreds of dollars, there are plenty of affordable options that still provide valuable features for beginner to intermediate runners. Before you start shopping, think about how much you’re willing to spend and what features are most important to you. While it may be tempting to go for the cheapest option, keep in mind that a higher-priced model may offer more advanced features or better accuracy. Consider investing in a mid-range model that offers a balance of features and affordability.
Consider Your Training Goals
Your training goals and style can also play a role in choosing the best running watch for you. For example, if you’re training for a specific race or event, you may want a watch that offers advanced training features like interval training, heart rate monitoring, and GPS tracking. If you’re more interested in casual running or just want to track your daily activity, a simpler watch with basic features like step counting and distance tracking may be sufficient. Consider what features will be most useful to you and your training goals, and choose a watch that offers the right balance of features and ease of use.
Consider Your Preferred Features and Brand Preference
Finally, think about any additional features or preferences you may have when it comes to choosing a running watch. Do you want a watch with a touchscreen or physical buttons? Do you prefer a specific brand or operating system? These factors may not be essential, but can still play a role in choosing the right watch for you.
What to Look for in a Running Watch
there are several factors to consider. It’s important to find a watch that suits your specific needs, preferences, and budget. Here are some things to look for in a running watch:
- GPS: A GPS-enabled watch allows you to track your distance, pace, and route. This is especially important for runners who want to keep an accurate record of their training and progress. Look for a watch with reliable GPS capabilities and consider the battery life for longer runs.
- Heart Rate Monitor: A heart rate monitor can be a valuable tool for tracking your training intensity and monitoring your overall fitness. Some watches come with built-in heart rate monitors, while others require a separate chest strap. Consider which option works best for you, and look for watches with accurate heart rate tracking.
- Battery Life: Battery life is an important factor to consider when choosing a running watch. You want a watch that can last through your longest runs, so consider the battery life in GPS mode, and how long the watch lasts on standby mode.
- Durability: Running watches take a beating, so you want to make sure your watch is durable enough to withstand the wear and tear of daily use. Look for watches with scratch-resistant screens and rugged materials that can handle tough conditions.
- Water Resistance: Whether you’re a casual jogger or a serious runner, you’ll want a watch that can withstand sweat and rain. Look for watches with water-resistant ratings to ensure your watch can handle all types of weather.
- User-Friendly Interface: You don’t want to spend a lot of time fiddling with your watch while you’re running. Look for watches with user-friendly interfaces that allow you to easily access the features you need while on the go.
- Budget: Running watches can vary greatly in price, so it’s important to consider your budget when choosing a watch. Think about which features are most important to you, and look for watches that offer the best value for your money.
Frequently Asked Questions About Running Watches
What type of watch is best for running?
The best type of watch for running is one that is specifically designed for runners. Look for a watch that has features like GPS, heart rate monitoring, water resistance, durability, and a user-friendly interface.
What is the best running watch in the world?
The best running watch in the world is subjective and depends on individual needs and preferences. Some popular brands and models include Garmin Forerunner series, Polar Vantage V2, and Coros Apex.
What smart watch is best for runners?
Smartwatches with fitness tracking capabilities like the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch can be good options for runners. However, for more advanced features, a watch specifically designed for running like the Garmin Forerunner series may be a better choice.
Why do runners use Garmin watches?
Garmin watches are popular among runners because they offer a variety of features specific to running, such as accurate GPS tracking, advanced training metrics, and long battery life.
Is it worth getting a running watch?
If you’re serious about running and want to track your progress and improve your performance, a running watch can be a valuable tool. It provides more accurate data than a phone app and allows you to track metrics like heart rate and GPS more easily.
What watch do professional runners wear?
Professional runners often wear a variety of watches, but popular brands include Garmin, Polar, and Suunto. Specific models may vary based on individual preferences and sponsorships.
What does a running watch do?
A running watch tracks a variety of metrics related to running, such as distance, pace, and heart rate. It also often has features like GPS, advanced training metrics, and water resistance.
Is Garmin or Apple Watch better for running?
Garmin watches are typically considered better for running due to their more advanced features specifically designed for runners. However, the Apple Watch is also a popular choice for runners and offers features like heart rate monitoring and GPS.
What is the best watch for running without a phone?
Watches like the Garmin Forerunner series and the Polar Vantage V2 offer standalone GPS tracking, allowing you to run without a phone and still track your metrics.
Is Garmin or Fitbit better for running?
Garmin is generally considered better for running due to its more advanced features specifically designed for runners, like advanced training metrics and long battery life. Fitbit watches may be better for general fitness tracking and everyday wear.
What watch do Navy SEALs use?
Navy SEALs often wear tough, rugged watches with durable and rugged designs, like the Luminox Navy SEAL watch or the Casio G-Shock Frogman.
What watch does Elon Musk use?
Elon Musk has been seen wearing a variety of watches, but has been spotted wearing the Xeric Trappist-1 Moonphase watch and the TAG Heuer Monaco.
What watch do most ultra runners wear?
Most ultra runners wear watches specifically designed for running and endurance events, like the Garmin Forerunner series, the Coros Apex, and the Suunto 9.
Are running watches worth it?
If you’re serious about running and want to improve your performance and track your progress, a running watch can be a valuable tool. However, if you’re a casual runner or don’t prioritize tracking metrics, a running watch may not be worth the investment.
Do I really need a GPS watch for running?
While a GPS watch is not necessary for running, it can provide more accurate data than a phone app and make tracking metrics like pace and distance easier. If you’re serious about improving your running performance, a GPS watch can be a valuable
Choosing the right running watch is an important decision for any runner who wants to track their progress with precision. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced runner, there are plenty of options on the market to suit your individual needs and preferences. By considering factors such as GPS accuracy, battery life, and fitness tracking features, you can find a running watch that will help you achieve your goals and push your limits.
We hope this guide has been helpful in narrowing down your options and providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision. Remember, investing in a quality running watch can make a significant difference in your training, helping you to stay motivated, track your progress, and achieve your running goals with confidence.
If you’re a runner looking for the perfect pair of earbuds to accompany you on your runs, look no further than our list of the Best Earbuds for Running.
Last update on 2023-12-10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API