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Modern running watches are so much more than just time-keepers and serious athletes all over the world are discovering how convenient and technologically savvy these digital tickers have become. For even the lifelong running pro, the options for watches might seem a little daunting. Navigating decisions about fitness features, data capacity, operating systems, and which watch best fits your running routine is a task most shoppers would rather avoid altogether.
A brand like Garmin with their Forerunner, Fenix, and Vivo series has been leading the way in smart, interactive running watches for years now, but in the current marketplace the brand names are endless. Suunto, Fitbit, Polar, and TomTom, are just a few popular companies to consider. There are even some smartwatches, with brands like Apple and Samsung that can be used as running watches.
If your head is swimming with questions, take heart, dear athlete. With your comfort in mind, we’ve developed an expertly algorithmized quiz and the following stress-free guide to help you select the perfect watch for your needs.
Just click on the start quiz button, answer a few simple questions about your preferences, and compare dozens of watches from the best brands in the business in no time at all. We promise these watches will keep you in athletic bliss for years to come.
The basics for most running watches today are GPS, heart rate monitoring, step tracking, and an ability to observe this all in real-time on your watch’s screen.
While these are all important aspects of your running watch and integral to keeping track of your training, in order to find the perfect watch, you should consider what kind of high-end features you would like to include. These could be cadence and stride trackers to manage your pace, an oximeter for measuring the oxygen in your blood, heart zone training if you’re looking to continuously burn calories, or recovery stats to help you improve your routine. And that’s only a taste of what’s available.
Since the heart rate monitor feature is probably the most crucial aspect of your running watch, consider whether you’d rather use a chest strap or wristband monitor. A chest strap can be more accurate and it provides more data, but some runners find it to be uncomfortable. A wristband monitor is good for everyday runners and it can track your stats all day without any discomfort.
Remember, like with most products, the more expensive the watch, the more data will be available to you. The more data, the more high-end features. The lower-priced models will give you the basics but if you want a running watch that is tailored to your precise criteria, you might have to shell out a couple extra bucks.
Don’t know which heart monitor is right for you? Take our expert quiz to find out.
Just like your laptop or computer, your running watch has an operating system that guides how well your watch performs. So doing a little research on how well each system functions is pretty important when selecting your watch.
Integrated apps are also critical to your running experience. These apps analyze and synch your data and some are better options than others depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you want to integrate popular apps like Strava, MyFitnessPal, Endomondo, or MapMyRun, it’s vital to know if your watch is compatible with them.
Also, not all watches have music capabilities built in, but for those that do, you can use streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music, SoundCloud, etc. But make sure that your watch supports these apps before you buy. Not every service is compatible with every watch. Or you can go old school and use your own music files.
Find out which running watch supports your favorite app by taking our quiz.
Some people prefer smartwatches but, generally speaking, they have less data and battery life than running watches. Likewise, fitness trackers are an option but they usually have a much smaller screen and their features and GPS are often less accurate.
In fact, many running watches are now incorporating smart watch programs into their systems like push notifications for busy professionals who want to check their email during their workout, contactless payment so you can leave your wallet at home, and Bluetooth headphones to enjoy your music without any messy chords.
Running watch beginners are always wondering about phone free devices and for good reason. If you’re keen on listening to music, making payments, and checking out your maps without a bulky cell in your pocket, then a phone free device might be perfect for you and there are plenty of options.
Smartwatch or running watch, maybe both? Take our quiz above to find out which one is right for you.
This brings us to our last and maybe most important aspect of how to choose a running watch that’s right for you. Depending on what kind of running routine you have, certain models might be better choices.
For instance, if you’re a long-distance / ultra runner, you probably want to check out watches with the most battery life available. Cross country, trail, and fell runners can keep themselves from getting lost with a watch that has enough data to run precise GPS and map features. For runners who are trying to see some big gains, certain watches allow you to create personal workouts on the brand’s website and then send them to the watch so you can access them on the go.
Now that you’ve taken this crash course on running watches, take our quiz to find how easy it is find the right running watch for you.