Best Running Watch

The sport of running hasn’t changed for centuries, but the advent of smartwatches has transformed the way we run, allowing us to monitor a wide variety of aspects such as heart rate, calories burned, distance covered, speed, and more. Most of the latest running watches have GPS and provide you with a wealth of information both during your run and afterward, as well as planning your training and tracking your progress.


The advent of smartwatches has transformed the way we run. 

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Running Watch

There are a plethora of watches on the market designed for running with a wide range of functions like tracking systems to help you monitor and improve your performance. It is important to select a watch that will suit your running skills level and needs, whether for counting calories or tracking distance to monitor your heart rate, and providing training programs.

Here are some features to consider if you are thinking about getting a running watch.

1. Design

The design of the watch includes several factors such as its aesthetic appeal, the size and weight of the watch, and what it feels like to wear. Specialized running watches are generally made from hypoallergenic materials to prevent allergic reactions on the skin when sweating and are lightweight and comfortable to wear.

2. Waterproof

Waterproof or water-resistant capability is an important feature to consider if you are training for biathlon or a triathlon so you can use the watch across both sports.

3. Display

Basic running watches have mechanical displays that show the time and monitor your performance. Smartwatches have a digital display and typically offer many more features compared to a standard running watch. These are your best bet if you want more than to simply monitor your performance when running – you can track the number of calories, set timed goals, and much more.


Smartwatches have a digital display and typically offer many more features compared to a standard running watch. 

The Benefits of Training with a Running Watch

When it comes to training with a running watch, there are ample health benefits that range from increasing your metabolism to improving your heart health. You will also benefit from a training point of view in that a running watch will only help you stay in your prescribed training zones and ensure you are running at the right pace to improve, but it will also help you to monitor your progress on the track, trail, or the road.

Here are some of the benefits of training with a running watch:

1. Accurate Measurement of Heart Rate During Training

Using a running watch will help you measure your heart rate accurately, which will, in turn, help you to manage your workouts correctly and gain better results. This device will also give you a factual measurement to understand your workouts better and determine whether you are working at your full capacity.

2. Motivation to Stay on Track

There is nothing worse than trying to stay motivated when you are training alone and sticking to your goals. A running watch can help to motivate you to stay on track with your workouts by providing accurate information about your effort levels and whether you are pushing hard enough or not. Understanding your limits and gradually increasing them by using your heart rate monitor will also give you enough confidence to set yourself more challenging goals and milestones.

3. Helps You Stay in Your Prescribed Training Zones

Staying in the prescribed training zones is a very important factor when working to increase your strength and speed, as well as on recovery days. A running watch is very useful on recovery days, where your goal is to keep your heart rate low to allow your body to recover sufficiently. Conversely, a running watch can also indicate whether you are not pushing yourself enough on days when your workout should be at a high intensity.

4. Increases Metabolism

Running is an excellent form of cardio exercise, which is very beneficial in improving your overall body health. Cardiovascular exercise accelerates metabolism in your body, which increases the burning of calories and reduces the amount of fat in your body. Running is an excellent form of exercise for staying slim and toned and a running watch can help you monitor your time and effort on the track, trail, or the road.

5. Improves Heart Health

Regular exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy heart and running is one of the best forms of exercise to do this. Using a running watch can help you monitor your heart rate and the amount of work your heart is doing while you are running. It also allows you to increase or decrease your effort in line with your heart rate.

Best Running Watch

We hit the road and picked the best running watches for runners of every level, from beginners to ultra-runners. Here are our favorites for monitoring your performance on the road, trail, or track.

Best Overall Running Watch: Garmin Forerunner 945

The Garmin Forerunner 945 has it all from accurate GPS location-tracking and biometrics to a Training Load Monitor, full-color on-screen maps, safety and tracking features, and Body Battery function. This superb training aid for the serious athlete has an array of high-tech features such as a Training Load monitor, which measures your training over the last seven days and indicates whether you need to push harder or avoid over-training.

A Body Battery function measures your recovery, full-color on-screen maps make navigation easy, and the watch can be synced with compatible smartphones for music transfer. Features for monitoring performance include altitude acclimation status, VO2 max and training status, aerobic and anaerobic training effects, training load focus, and recovery time.

It also has a safety and tracking feature that includes incident detection and when paired through a paired compatible smartphone, sends your real-time location to emergency contacts.

Pros

  •         Accurate GPS tracking and biometrics
  •         Safety and Tracking feature
  •         Excellent performance monitoring features
  •         Full-color on-screen maps
  •         Great battery life

Cons

  •         Very expensive

Best Lightweight Running Watch: Coros Pace 2

The Coros Pace 2 is the lightest running watch on the market at just 29 grams. It may be lightweight, but it’s packed with features and has several features ranging including an ‘AI trainer’ for managing your training load, multi-sport modes, and compatibility with third-party sensors like heart rate monitors and foot pods.

It has an impressive battery life with a battery life of 20 days of regular use and 30 hours in full GPS mode. Features include built-in running power metrics, an optical heart rate monitor, an accelerometer, gyro meter, and barometric altimeter, a compass, and a thermometer with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep, step, and calorie tracking.

Pros

  •         Super lightweight
  •         Excellent satellite and GPS tracking
  •         Multi-sport modes
  •         Optical heart rate monitor
  •         Great battery life

Cons

  •         The screen is dark without a backlight

Best for Distance Runners: Garmin Instinct Solar

The Garmin Instinct Solar is a super-tough running watch that’s perfect for serious distance runners with extremely long battery life, an array of advanced training features, and highly accurate location tracking.

It features a photovoltaic glass lens, which keeps the watch charged for weeks, and it has fantastic features like a pulse oximeter for tracking changes to blood oxygen saturation. It also has a heart rate monitor with heart rate variability that can estimate and help manage your stress levels throughout the day.

The GPS positioning is accurate and reliable, and the TracBack navigation feature is great for finding your way back to the start when off-road running. The Garmin Instinct Solar has a rugged plastic shell that is tough in all conditions.

Pros

  •         Excellent satellite and GPS tracking
  •         Photovoltaic glass lens
  •         Optical heart rate monitor and pulse oximeter
  •         TracBack navigation
  •         Great battery life

Cons

  •         Large, chunky design

Best for Multiple Sports: Garmin Fenix 6

The Garmin Fenix 6 is a great multi-sport watch with an impressive array of features. It includes an accurate heart rate monitor that is accurate and is fully waterproof for water-based activities like open-water swimming, triathlon, and biathlon.

The rugged, sophisticated design includes a sunlight-readable display with stainless steel bezel and buttons and an enhanced estimated wrist heart rate. A Pulse Ox supports altitude acclimation at high elevations and supports advanced sleep monitoring

Features include running and cycling dynamics, training load balance, training status, and smart notifications. A multiple global navigation satellite system with built-in sensors for a 3-axis compass, gyroscope, and barometric altimeter helps to navigate the outdoors and more challenging environments than GPS alone. Battery life is good – the watch will continue running for two weeks in regular use, or 36 hours with GPS in continuous use.

Pros

  •         Multisport features
  •         Waterproof for water-based sports
  •         Sunlight-readable display
  •         Pulse Ox supports altitude acclimation

Cons

  •         Very expensive

Best for Navigation Tools: Coros Apex

The Coros Apex is a great alternative to the more expensive running watches with fantastic built-in features such as training loads, accurate GPS tracking with detailed maps, and an Intelligent Stride Algorithm that tracks cadence and stride length.

Designed for mountain athletes with route navigation and checkpoint features, the Coros Apex has built-in running power metrics from the wrist, as well as complete integration with Stryd power meters. It has an optical heart rate monitor with 24/7 heart rate monitoring, sleep, step, and calorie tracking, and an accelerometer, barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, and thermometer.

The watch is built with a stainless-steel bezel and a sapphire glass screen and a gesture-activated backlight that makes the screen easy to see in the dark.

Pros

  •         Accurate GPS tracking with detailed maps
  •         Waterproof for water-based sports
  •         Intelligent Stride Algorithm
  •         Stryd power meter
  •         Gesture-activated backlight

Cons

  •         Screen lacks brightness

Best for Recovery Stats: Polar Vantage V2

The Polar Vantage V2 is a lightweight multisport smartwatch with an aluminum body and weighs in at just 52 grams. This running watch packs a load of features such as advanced wrist-based HR tracking, satellite GPS tracking, cycling, and running performance tests, route guidance, sleep tracking, and ultra-long battery life.

The Polar Vantage V2 features a new fitness test, which provides numerical values for your VO2 max, maximal aerobic power, and maximal aerobic speed. A training load and recovery tracking tool helps you to optimize your training and prevent over-training.

The Polar Vantage V2 is compatible with Polar Flow – a free online tool for planning and following up on your workouts, analyzing activity progress, and sleep. It also has all the essential smartwatch features such as music controls, weather, and phone notifications.

Pros

  •         Super lightweight
  •         Multi-sport modes
  •         VO2 Max Fitness Test
  •         Advanced wrist-based HR tracking

Cons

  •         Laggy touchscreen
  •         A limited set of watch faces

Best for Multi-Day Events: Polar Grit X

The Polar Grit X is built for serious athletes that enjoy multi day events with super-accurate biometrics and adaptive fueling advice to help you stay hydrated. This lightweight outdoor watch has full GPS and HR tracking and is water-resistant for up to 100 meters.

It has real-time turn-by-turn route guidance and route import compatibility, as well as a compass and barometric altitude. The Hill Splitter feature automatically detects uphill and downhill gradients and monitors your performance by using your speed, distance, and altitude data.

Another great feature is the Polar Nightly Recharge which automatically measures your overnight recovery. It has over 130 sports profiles and is compatible with Polar Flow for analyzing and planning your training sessions.

Pros

  •         Super accurate biometrics and adaptive fuelling advice
  •         Over 130 sports profiles
  •         Real-time turn-by-turn route guidance
  •         Hill Splitter feature
  •         Compatible with Polar Flow

Cons

  •         Very short battery life

Best for Design: Fitbit Charge 4

The Fitbit Charge 4 is a slim, stylish-looking watch that has a great range of features including GPS for running, open water swimming, heart rate monitoring, and calorie expenditure. It is waterproof for up to 165 feet/50 meters and is compatible with Android/iOS/Windows. It doesn’t have a color screen but has a good battery life of up to seven days and you can control your Spotify playlist with the device.

Pros

  •         Waterproof for up to 165 feet/50 meters
  •         Stylish design
  •         GPS tracking for open water swimming
  •         Compatible with Android/iOS/Windows
  •         The watch has a good battery life of up to seven days

Cons

  •         No color screen
  •         Few physical buttons

Best for Everyday Wear: Apple Watch Series 6

The Apple Watch Series 6 is a great running watch for everyday wear. It has GPS tracking for charting your route in the water as well as measuring distance covered and strides per distance.

It does measure heart rate, although not 100% accurately all the time, but it gives you a broad idea of what your heart rate is like while you are swimming. It has a constant, easy-to-see high-definition display and feedback of intervals, stroke rates, times, and distance that can be viewed during your workout.

One awesome feature of this watch is the water lock feature. It is an Apple app that you can download that locks the screen to prevent accidental touches during the workout in the water and repels water from the watch’s speakers using the app once your workout is done.

Pros

  •         Water-lock feature that prevents accidental touches and repels water from the speakers
  •         GPS function for open water swims
  •         Easy-to-see high-definition display
  •         Measures and records heart rate, intervals, stroke rates, times, and distance
  •         Compatible with various third-party swimming apps

Cons

  •         GPS function isn’t always accurate in the open water

Best for Style: Garmin Vivoactive 4

The Garmin Vivoactive 4 is a stylish smart running watch with full workout-tracking, accurate satellite GPS, and music streaming capabilities. This GPS running watch is stylish to wear and has all the Garmin smarts, such as multi-sport support, full GPS and heart rate tracking, and on-watch music streaming for Deezer and Spotify.

The battery life provides around 18 hours of GPS training without streaming music and has a comfortable rubberized strap. The Pulse Ox feature helps you to keep track of your energy levels, along with other health aspects.  You can personalize your watch with thousands of free apps, widgets, and watch faces from the Garmin Connect IQ store.

Safety and tracking features include incident detection and, which both send your real-time location to emergency contacts

Pros

  •         Full workout tracking
  •         Accurate satellite GPS
  •         Music streaming capabilities
  •         Pulse Ox feature monitors energy levels
  •         Free apps, widgets, and watch faces from the Garmin Connect IQ store

Cons

  •         No training load monitoring
  •         Poor ANT+ support

Garmin Instinct Solar GPS Smartwatch

The Garmin Instinct Solar GPS Smartwatch is a fantastic high-end waterproof device with some great features and impressive battery life. This super-tough, practical fitness tracker uses solar power to keep the watch in power-saving mode, giving it an almost limitless battery life.

It has an array of features, including all-day heart rate monitoring, onboard GPS, stress tracking, and SpO2 monitoring. You can load several activity profiles from swimming and surfing to kayaking and are waterproof up to 330 feet/100 meters. The device is compatible with Android and iOS.

Pros

  •         Unlimited battery life using solar power
  •         Waterproof for up to 330 feet/100 meters
  •         GPS tracking for open water swimming
  •         Compatible with Android/iOS
  •         It has a good battery life of up to seven days

Cons

  •         Very expensive
  •         The chunky design may not suit everyone

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Benefits of Running?

  1. Burns Calories

Running combines cardiovascular and strength training and burns large amounts of calories depending on your body weight and the effort you put in. Running can burn between 11 and 17 calories per minute.

  1. Reduces Stress

Physical activity, like running, helps produce endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in your brain. Endorphins help with insomnia and help you to sleep better; they act as natural relaxants and painkillers; and generally, make you feel great! Regular running sessions will lift your mood, reduce stress, and improve your self-esteem.

  1. Improves Cardiovascular Fitness

Running is a cardiovascular exercise that uses both the arms and legs, as well as the core and back to propel the body forward. It tones the lower and upper body, and the core, and produces better overall muscle definition than other cardio activities like running. Running regularly can help increase your stamina and endurance, as well as overall aerobic and cardiovascular fitness.

  1. Heart Healthy

Running is a cardiovascular exercise and one of the best exercises for maintaining a happy and healthy heart. Cardiovascular exercise helps to get the heart pumping, muscles working, and sweat flowing and helps make the heart stronger. The heart is the engine of the body and the core of the complex and hard-working cardiovascular system, which also includes the vast network of arteries, veins, and other blood vessels that run throughout the body, taking oxygenated blood to every cell.

  1. Tones Muscles

Running works the muscles in the arms, legs, back, and core, building lean muscle, as well as toning, and tightening flabby muscles, leaving the body looking lean and mean. Running builds and strengthens muscles without putting any strain on the musculoskeletal structure and helps to target muscle groups that wouldn’t normally be used in other exercises. It also helps flex and stretch the muscles, which is great for people of all ages to fend off the stiffening effects of aging.


Running works the muscles in the arms, legs, back, and core, building lean muscle, as well as toning, and tightening flabby muscles, leaving the body looking lean and mean.

  1. Strengthens Your Core

Running makes your core stronger by working the neutralizer and stabilizer muscles, which are the same muscles that create balance within the body and prevent you from injuring your back when you pick up something heavy.

  1. Improves Flexibility and Mobility

A 20 to 30-minute session of moderate running will loosen joints and muscles and increase flexibility. The repetitive stretching actions of running help keep the body flexible and also helps to reduce stiffness post-exercise.

  1. Good Cross-Training Exercise for Other Sports

Running is a great cross-training exercise that benefits an array of other sports like swimming, running, tennis, and squash. Because it works so many muscle groups in the body, Running strengthens and tones the arms, legs, back, and core and helps most forms of other training.

  1. Running is Beginner-Friendly

Running is an easy way to start working out as it is easy to perform and can be built up to varying levels of resistance. Running can show results in a short time for both beginners and more advanced rowers, so stick with it and you’ll see the results.

  1. Improves Posture

Running is an excellent form of exercise to improve posture if done correctly without slouching or over-compressing when you pull back. It requires a straight strong back and core and this can lead to a marked improvement in posture over time.

  1. Running is Versatile

Running is a very versatile form of exercise that combines cardiovascular, strength, and fat-burning training. Running at lower intensities for a longer period can build endurance and stamina, while Running at high intensities for short periods with set intervals is great for building speed, increasing heart rate, and overall fitness.

  1. Improves Circulation

Running improves circulation and helps the heart to pump oxygenated blood to all parts of the body, move nutrients around for cell repair, and remove cell waste quickly and efficiently. A healthy circulatory system reduces the risk of embolisms, blockages caused by blood clots that typically form in the veins in the legs and travel to the heart and the lungs, which can be deadly. Improved circulation can also reduce the risk of strokes and other circulatory problems.

  1. Helps with Brain Functioning

Regular exercise, such as running, improves cognitive functioning, memory, and thinking skills. Running increases the heart rate, which increases the blood flow to the brain, and reduces inflammation and insulin resistance in the brain, which supports the growth of new brain cells.

  1. Quick and Easy

No more long hours in the gym… running is a quick and easy form of exercise that can give you a full-body workout in just 15 minutes!

Happy running!