Running is one of the most popular forms of exercise, and with good reason – it’s a great way to get your heart rate up, burn calories, and relieve stress. But if you’re like most people, running isn’t always the easiest thing to do. That’s where running watches come in – they can help you track your progress, give you personalized coaching tips, and even relay emergency information to help you stay safe while running.
How we chose the best smartwatches for runners
Some smartwatches have fitness tracking, GPS, music player, and smartphone capabilities. We spoke with pro runner Becky Wade Firth to find out the qualities you should look for in a good smartwatch.
Firth found a watch that uses at least two satellite systems. In this way the watch is more accurate than those without this feature and is able to operate in all locations. A strong signal is important because it lets you focus on your run, rather than worrying about your watch.
Make sure that your blood oxygen levels and heart rates are as accurate as possible so you can maximize each workout.
For Firth, simple works best: “I really only use a few features in a watch: current time, run time, distance traveled, current pace, average pace, elevation gained and lost…” Firth admits that she prefers the basics over bells and whistles, but when you’re running hard the basics will let you focus on your run.
Even if you do want more bells and whistles, we made sure to include picks that are easy to use so you’re not fumbling with settings on the run.
It’s important to have a watch with good battery life, or you risk having your watch die before long runs are over. The runner mentioned that he spends a lot of time using his watch and that it can be burdensome if the battery dies without warning.
We picked watches that work for long periods of time. They all have a battery life or ease of charging.
- $ = under $250
- $$ = $250–$400
- $$$ = over $400
Here’s the rundown: The best smartwatches for runners
- Price: $$
- Specs: heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor, compass, barometric altimeter
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, ANT+, Wi-Fi
- Pros: tracks outdoor, indoor track, and treadmill runs; built-in running coach; can store music on the watch, rapid recharging
- Cons: no recovery or progress insights
For those seeking style and function, this watch is your match. We love the Garmin-staple features like GPS, app syncing, exceptional battery life, rapid charging, and advanced health tracking and metrics — but the sleek waterproof design and buttery soft wristband give it an elegant edge other running watches just don’t have.
With this app, you can weigh what diets and muscles you need to work on, learn when to sleep, and find a cross-training workout in between your runs.
Tl;dr: This watch is a 10/10.
Best for Apple users
- Price: $$$
- Specs: elevation tracker, heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor
- Connectivity: cellular, Wi-Fi, NFC, GPS, Bluetooth
- Pros: provides detailed health information while running, tracks route and elevation, quick, 90-minute charging
- Cons: expensive, approximately 18-hour battery life
Getting the latest Apple smartwatch for your next run can be a great investment. This model features all of the necessary features for a runner such as GPS, elevation tracker and heart rate monitor, but the blood oxygen sensor doesn’t always work well.
Apple watches are much more accurate and the quick charge feature allows you to use for long periods of time.
Another cool feature? You can take calls right on your watch during your run (not that you want to do that… but it’s an option!). This is great as a safety feature and for parents who need to stay in contact with their kids. People love all of the health information this smartwatch provides, as well as its connectivity options. Plus you can press the SOS feature if you need help.
One of the most common complaints is the battery life. It’s only got about 18 hours. All it takes is tracking a long run and a few phone calls to blow the battery — but it charges in as little as 90 minutes.
Best for trail runners
- Price: $$
- Specs: elevation tracking with hill splitter, heart rate monitor, VO₂ max estimate, visual map display, built-in compass
- Connectivity: GPS, Bluetooth
- Pros: GPS includes speed, distance, and route guidance; plan and track multi-day trips using Komoot; long battery lasts several days; incredibly accurate biometrics
- Cons: expensive, split hill elevation tracking is somewhat unreliable
The Polar Grit X is an option for those who want a wide range of features that the phone, such as heart rate and location, whilst also supporting multiple sports, up to 130. With accurate biometrics it can track your heart rate and distance no matter what sport you are doing.
This watch provides tips for fueling, even analysis of your workout. This rugged design can resist damage from activities such as hiking.
There are some premium features like split hill elevation tracking — which is supposed to recognize when you’re on the ascent or descent and show your times for each — that aren’t as reliable as they could be. It takes the watch a long time to automatically kick in and it sometimes misses some of the shorter climbs.
Best user experience
- Price: $$$
- Specs: barometric altimeter, heart rate monitor, built-in compass, visual navigation, interval training guidance
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, GPS
- Pros: touch screen with three intuitive side buttons, high quality display, accurate barometer and altimeter, tilt compensated digital compass, GPS functionality
- Cons: battery life goes down quickly the more features in use
There are a lot of menus and sub-menus, but using the side buttons, you can return to the main screen with one press.
The Suunto Movescount App has a heat sensor map that allows you to select the most popular paths. It also tracks your run and creates a map for you when you’re done.
If you run off the beaten trail, your digital compass will provide you accurate readings. You don’t have to keep your wrist flat in order for it to work. It also maps out a trail and directs you on course.
One of the few downsides of this watch is the battery life. On the surface, the battery life is amazing. If you only use the watch mode, it can last 14 days. But once you start turning on the digital features, that power drops. GPS tracking, altimeter readings, and notifications can quickly drain the battery so that it only lasts about 20 hours. But the good news is that the watch lets you know when it’s starting to run low so you can get that thang charged before your next run.
Best GPS and navigation
- Price: $$$
- Specs: heart rate monitor, abnormal heart rate alerts, blood oxygen sensor, barometric altimeter, built-in workouts, audio prompts
- Connectivity: GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+
- Pros: available training information — load, status, effect; GPS and navigation accuracy (especially map routing); workout recommendations
- Cons: expensive, precision of biometrics
The Garmin 945 is one of the best smartwatches for runners, as it helps them with their workouts. The most important features are GPS and navigation. They’re more accurate, which keeps you on course as well as tracking your distance.
The watch provides a lot of information for runners. It can help you create intervals and personalize workouts. No need to do the math in your head-the data is all there!
This app will keep track of your workout loads to give you feedback on how they affect your health. This way you can be more aware of when you might be overtraining, and know what effects a new exercise is having on your workout.
All of those features also come with impressive battery life, even when they’re all in use. With the GPS, it can go for 36 hours, though that number will drop by about 10 hours if you’re also using music. Still, that’s over 24 hours of battery life when everything’s in demand.
The downside — the price. You pay heavily for all of those extra features, the accuracy, and the battery life.
Best for fitness tracking
- Price: $
- Specs: heart rate monitor, blood oxygen sensor, advanced training features (downloadable training plans, VO₂ max, and respiration rate), cadence information
- Connectivity: Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, ANT+
- Pros: excellent basic fitness tracking features — distance, time, cadence; add tracked activities through Connect IQ; provides estimates of your body’s fuel reserves; accurate biometrics; streams music
- Cons: broadcast mode can have issues
The Garmin Vivo Active 4 may not have all of the features of more expensive models , but it does basic functions with accuracy, such as tracking heart rate and blood oxygen levels. The device can also calculate your cadence to help you pace your runs.
This watch has some pretty impressive features for this price point:
- tracks a wide range of exercises — and you can add more through Connect IQ (basically the App Store of Garmin devices)
- has impressive GPS tracking that locks onto satellites within seconds of turning on and provides navigation tips
- can stream music
Though it has good battery life, using the GPS and music at the same time reduces the battery life down to 6 hours.
The downside with this model is the broadcast mode, which uses ANT+ (kinda like Bluetooth) to broadcast your heart rate to another device (like if you use a Garmin bike GPS). Unfortunately, it’s fairly unreliable. Thankfully, that’s not the only way to monitor your heart rate with this model — the wrist heart rate monitor is much more accurate.
Benefits Of Using A Smart Watch While Running
Running is a great way to get exercise and improve your health, but it can be dangerous if you don’t use the right equipment. A smartwatch can help you stay safe while running by tracking your progress and providing real-time feedback.
Some of the benefits of using a smartwatch while running include:
1) Tracking your progress: A smartwatch can track your progress in real time, which can help you to improve your speed and endurance.
2) Receiving real-time feedback: A smartwatch can provide you with real-time feedback on your performance, which can give you valuable insights into your progress. This information can help you to make adjustments and improve your performance.
3) Keeping you safe: A smartwatch can help you stay safe by tracking your location and alerting you if something is wrong. This can protect you from accidents and injuries.
How To Choose A Smart Watch?
When it comes to choosing the best running watches, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, you’ll want to consider what type of activity you’re planning on using your watch for. If you’re just looking for something to track your steps and calories, a basic fitness tracker is all you need. However, if you’re looking for a watch that can also track your runs, you’ll need to consider features like built-in GPS and heart rate monitoring.
Once you’ve determined what type of watch you need, the next step is to decide on your budget. Running watches range in price from around $50 to $400, so it’s important to find one that fits within your budget. Additionally, make sure to read reviews before making a purchase so you know what other people think about the specific watch you’re considering.
Finally, be sure to take into account how comfortable the watch is going to be when wearing it throughout your workout. Some watches are made with soft silicone straps that are easier on the skin than traditional watches, while others have hard plastic straps that can cause irritation or pain during workouts. Consider whether or not the strap will fit comfortably before making a purchase.
Running watches are one of the most popular fitness-related items on the market and for good reason. They provide accurate tracking of your distance, time, and pace while helping you stay motivated to keep running. In this article, we have compiled a list of the best-running watches available in 2022 so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. We hope that this list will help you find the perfect running watch for your needs and give you everything you need to get started with your fitness journey!