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Best Running Watches
Tracking your athletic progress as a runner is easier and efficient with a GPS (Global Positioning System) running watch.
When searching for the best running watch, you may notice that many of them appear to be very similar. The fact of the matter is, each one offers different styles and features.
So, how will you be able to know which one is the best fit for your athletic lifestyle? The short answer to this question is “research.”
No worries. We have researched the best GPS watches for running, so you don’t have to.
Here are the best-running watches the industry has to offer beyond the standard features.
Best Overall Running Watch: Garmin Fenix 6
- Premium Features Option
- Workout Animation Displayed on the Watch
- Long Battery Life for GPS Mode
- Multiple GNSS (Global Navigation Satellite System)
- Available in Three Different Editions
If you’re looking for a runner’s watch filled with additional features beyond the basics, this is the best choice overall.
This stylish, user-friendly watch will remain durable while allowing you to customize your daily activities so that they match your desired results.
Versions and Display
Housing diameters range between 42 mm and 51 mm, and each edition provides an 18% larger screen than previous Fenix models.
Talk about a display upgrade!
The Sapphire edition is equipped with a scratch-free lens, while the Solar edition has a solar lens that accumulates and stores energy from the sun to extend your battery life. However, if you are a night runner, you may want to check your watch’s battery before heading out.
This watch is not a touch screen but offers five easy to use push buttons that surround its 1.3-inch display.
Training Features and Analytics
This water-resistant GPS running watch will help you reach your full running potential with its built-in sports app and daily workout suggestions that are put together specifically for your goals.
Follow along with the Animated Workout app, and complete your required cardio for the day in the comfort of your home or outside.
Ensure a healthy work out with its basic wellness features, including a Hydration Tracker and built-in Heart Rate and Oxygen Level monitors
Store up to 2,000 songs by syncing your music to your watch from your favorite streaming services compatible with the Garmin brand.
The Fenix 6 also offers premium perks for an additional cost. These features include Trendline
Popularity Routing, PacePro, and SkiMaps, all of which can create a more fulfilling fitness experience.
On top of its long-lasting battery, which can last up to 9 days with no charge, this watch offers an Expedition Mode. This feature allows your GPS mode to last for weeks due to its low power requirements.
Navigate all over the world with the Multi GNSS feature.
This tool will equip users with a well-connected GPS watch, even in low signal environments, which is outstanding because some athletes prefer to train on rural trails and other isolated locations.
- LightWeight Design
- Music Syncing
- Larger Screen than Previous Fenix
- Not a touchscreen
Running Watches: Runner’s Favorites
Garmin Forerunner 945 4.5/5 Stars
- Contactless payment option
- Find the best running trails in your area.
- Measure your past performance up to 7 days
- Receive real-time information of upcoming climbs
This GPS watch is amongst one of the newer models that the Garmin brand has released.
It has become a fan-favorite since its release in the spring of 2019, for sustainable reasons.
This lightweight athletic choice offers a nice black finish, with the option to change band color from black to blue or vice versa.
The Garmin Forerunner 945 provides an LCD full-color screen of 1.2 inches. All secured by its Gorilla Glass lens.
Training Features and Analytics
Its ClimbPro feature uses a barometer and altimeter system to notify runners in real-time of any upcoming climbs or elevation gains. These notifications allow runners to maintain their pace while advancing on their trail.
Keep track of your goals with the Training Load. This option traces your accomplishments for the past 7days so you can compare your weekly achievements.
This watch can help predict your race time by analyzing ways to improve your running form.
With its ability to maximize users’ achievements, Garmin Forerunner 945 provides excellent performance metrics while allowing athletes to listen to their favorite tunes.
Stream up to 1,000 songs on this smartwatch from Amazon Music, Spotify, or Deezer and connect your headphones with it’s built-in Bluetooth feature.
Even with your headphones in, you can feel safe while running with your Safety Tracking activated.
The Safety Tracking offers an alerting system that reaches out to an emergency contacts list, providing them with your name and location in the case of any unforeseen circumstance or emergencies.
The Forerunner 945 also allows you to go on a run while leaving your wallet and cards at home.
Enjoy the convenience of contactless payment with Garmin Pay by following the easy on-screen instructions when making a purchase.
This edition also offers a bundle package called “The Blue Bundle” for an extra price. The bundle includes a set of blue and black watch bands and two body monitors specifically designed for swimmers and triathletes. Also included is a quick release kit for cycling.
This bundle is the ultimate triathlon upgrade.
This running watch has a battery life of up to two weeks in smartwatch mode and 10 hours in GPS mode with music.
The Forerunner 945 global navigation options go beyond GPS. This feature will keep runners on track through the most challenging obstacles and environments.
Are you looking for a change of scenery in your daily run?
Make use of this smartwatch Trendline Popularity Routing to find the best routes and trails in your area.
- Offers a “Bundle Package”
- Built-in music player
- Accurate route tracking
- Great for triathletes
- Low quality display compared to other watches
- Not very user friendly in the beginning
Polar Grit X 4.4/5 Stars
- Offers physical energy-saving recommendations
- Turn by turn route guidance
- Predict your racing performance
- Hill performance report
Polar Grit X is beneficial to runners in their everyday fitness and personal life. From its versatile displays to its useful features, this watch is on the list of best GPS watches for running for a reason.
Athletes love the amount of personality that comes along with this watch.
The Polar brand takes pride in this watch being one of the lightest GPS watches on the market, weighing in at only 64 grams.
Run in style by choosing one of the colors this watch offers, including white and silver, green and silver, or the limited edition green and black.
This GPS running watch offers different sizes𑁋 wrist circumference options ranging from 130mm-215mm.
Directly control what’s on this watch’s clear and bright screen with your fingers or use 1 of the 5 dedicated buttons on the side.
Don’t let the fancy display fool you.
This watch has military-level durability and is ready for any environment or weather conditions.
Training Features and Analytics
This watch for runners monitors your VO2 max(maximum rate of oxygen) while noting run progression and racing performance with the Running Index feature.
Its unique training features like the Training Load Pro allow an athlete to monitor the body parts that strain during a workout, preventing possible running-related injuries.
Keep track of your hill performance during running sessions with the Hill Splinter. This feature takes note of your speed and distance when running both uphill and downhill.
Make use of the newly added fueling assistant, Fuel Wise. This feature helps you maintain energy so you can perform at your best during long-distance running. Fuel Wise also offers a smart carbs reminder that gives you recommended carb intake during long sessions.
After each session, receive motivating feedback from the Training Benefit. This feature will show you what you need to improve on while giving you an overall summary of your completed workout.
The battery for this watch has been reported by Polar to last up to 100 hours in standard mode and has a GPS mode battery length of 40 hours.
Stay on the right path during your run with the turn by turn guidance offered by the navigation app Komoot. This feature can help you obtain access to worldwide maps and safe routes even when you’re offline.
- Excellent battery life
- Fueling reminder for long training sessions
- Great for high elevation running
- Komoot route planning
- No music Options
- No pulse oximeter
Coros Apex Pro 4.5/5 Stars
- 30-day battery life in standard mode
- Titanium bezel finish for everyday wear
- Enhanced Digital Dial
- 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring
- Running form memory
This option falls under the category as one of the brands’ most versatile watches, so runners favor this specific choice.
It has been trail tested and athlete approved to ensure no matter what fitness journey you choose to embark on, this watch will be there to help you achieve your goals.
Coros Apex Pro’s appealing titanium bezel comes in silver or black and is surrounded by a digital dial that is enhanced to perform under any condition. Move your navigation track accordingly while being able to zoom in and out on this user-friendly watch.
Its LCD sapphire touch screen makes it easy to use and easy to read during all athletic activities.
The 22 mm silicone band offers extreme comfort while being sported around its owner’s wrist during fitness training or participating in everyday life activities.
Training Features and Analytics
Ensure you are running safely with the blood oxygen monitoring feature. This feature offers 24/7 oxygen measuring while providing updates from its altitude advisory.
Utilize the Training Mode that’s sure to increase your motivation in reaching your fitness goals.
Create your daily workout routine or take advantage of over 200 trained athletes’ suggested workouts in this feature.
This GPS watch preloaded with a Stride Model learns your running form and can be useful if running outside your typical trail or track.
Refer to the Stride Model when running indoors or in places with a low GPS signal.
This Battery has up to 14 % longer battery life than the previous model offered by Coros.
Avoid the need to charge your watch daily, or even weekly, with this watch choice. This athletic watch has a 2-hour charge uptime and a battery life of 30 days for regular use and 40 hours in GPS mode.
You enjoy training after sundown or after midnight, when the streets are more clear?
Utilize Night Mode for nighttime activities without having any adverse effect on your durable battery life.
When operating the GPS mode on this watch, be sure to take advantage of its zoom features to help you stay on the right path.
Suppose you find yourself losing your track, no worries. The Coros Apex Pro will help you keep a course by alerting you with directions to get you back on your correct route.
- Longer Battery than Previous models
- MultiSport tracking
- Preloaded Maps
- Sleep Monitoring
- No safety tracking
- No music streaming
Garmin Forerunner 745 4.5/5 Stars
- Personalized recovery time suggestions
- Stay motivated with daily workout suggestions
- Metrics for biking, swimming, and running
- Monthly menstrual mood and stress tracking
Since being released in the fall of 2020, this watch has gained excellent reviews and has worked its way to the list of best-running watches.
Its design helps runners who also enjoy biking and swimming reach all of their performance goals.
The preloaded activity profile and advanced GPS that this watch offers makes it the best newly released option, especially for triathlon athletics.
Customers can find feature similarities of this 700 series watch to that of the Garmin 945. The main difference is that the Garmin 745 provides these features at a lower cost.
With its durable build, this runners’ watch can withstand all training environments that may come its way.
The 240X240 display resolution and 1.2-inch display screen are surrounded by the comfortable band that completes its 1.7 x 0.5 x 1.7-inch design.
These bands are available in four colors: Black, Neo Tropic, Magma Red, and Whitestone.
Training Features and Analytics
The Garmin Forerunner 745 can assess your fitness level to provide accurate training recommendations with its Race Predictor tool.
Every good runner should understand the importance of recovery time. It is the key to reaching one’s full potential.
When wearing this GPS watch, you’ll notice your Recovery Time suggestion varies depending on your stress or adequate sleep level. Follow these recommendations to ensure your safety, no matter if you’re training or running just to achieve daily cardio.
With just the flick of your wrist, you can monitor your running dynamics and increase your flexibility and muscle strength when maintaining your desired cadence and stride length.
On a trail or fresh out the water with no access to funds? Use the contactless payments feature to make purchases using Garmin Pay, which most stores accept.
Ladies, if menstruation while training is a concern for you, then the Forerunner 745, like other Garmin generations, keeps track of your period cycles to help you adjust your activities based on flow, symptoms, and mood.
This watch holds a one-week battery life in smartwatch mode and six hours in GPS mode with music. It even has an “UltraTrac” feature that ensures optimal battery life during prolonged training periods.
The Forerunner 745 has access to multiple GNSS support, which assists in accurate positioning while on the road or running a trail.
Group live tracking allows users to run worry-free while sharing their location with other people using Garmin compatible devices in case of emergencies.
- Contactless payment
- Music Syncing Options
- Access to Connect IQ Store
- Daily workout suggestions
- Lower battery life than previous models
Garmin Forerunner 245 & 245 Music 4.5/5
- Two models offering music or non-music
- Built-in coaching for intense training
- Connection to the IQ store for apps
- Optimize your run with the VO2 max feature
Whether you want music or not, Garmin offers a choice to accommodate you with two versions of the same edition.
This runner’s watch has the best value in regards to price for available features.
The Garmin Forerunner 245’s sleek design offers several color options: Berry, Gray, and Aqua. If you are seeking a more neutral color, this watch provides Black and White bands as well.
Its 240 x 240-pixel display sits under a durable gorilla glass.
Training Features and Analytics
Receive personal training from one of three coaches through the Garmin Coach feature. The credible experiences of these coaches range from Physical Therapy to the Olympics.
How cool is that?
They personalize your workouts and sync them directly to your watch with step by step guidance from start to finish.
Jump right into your desired workout routine with the built-in Sports Apps.
This feature allows you to choose from various Training Programs such as cycling, pool swimming, track running, elliptical, stair-stepper, and more. Each training program this watch offers is accompanied by an activity profile that provides specifics on what to do for that routine.
The VO2 max is an exceptional feature that helps you train smarter. It prepares you for performance changes based on altitude or heat differentiations. VO2 Max is an excellent use for people who train and perform in unorthodox environments.
With the Forerunner 245 music, you can store up to 500 songs and listen to them via Bluetooth headphones.
Keep track of where you run with the navigation features that are preloaded on this watch.
Receive maximum benefits from this GPS watch by visiting the Connect IQ store to download compatible apps and widgets.
Enjoy this lasting battery for up to 7 days using smartwatch mode and up to 24 hours using the wrist-based heart rate and GPS Mode.
- Offers music version
- Nice and comfortable design
- Excellent performance metrics
- Easy to read screen
- Treadmill tracking may be inaccurate
- Navigating this watch can be time-consuming
Garmin Forerunner 45/45s 4.5/ 5 Stars
- Gain balance with stress tracking
- Monitor energy during and after activities
- Maintain adequate wellness with fitness tracking
- Receive phone notifications straight to your watch
If you want an everyday watch that can still provide the necessary functions to aid you in your training, Garmin 45 edition is your best choice.
The only difference between these two beginner-friendly watches is the sizes: Forerunner 45 has a housing diameter of 42mm, while the Forerunner 45S sizes in with a slightly smaller housing diameter of 39mm.
At no additional charge, these models offer excellent colorful finishes.
The Forerunner 45S: Vs. The Forerunner 45:
- Iris Black
- Black Lava Red
Training Features and Analytics
This watch comes with a free coaching feature similar to the one preloaded on the Garmin Forerunner 245, which can be useful if you consider yourself a beginner runner.
Track your daily moods with the unique Stress Tracking feature.
If this watch detects that you’re stressed, it will send short breathing reminders to calm the tension. With a well-balanced mood, you’ll have more motivation to get up and achieve your athletic goals.
If you’re not getting adequate rest, the Forerunner 45 will know it and suggest incorporating more resting time with its Body Battery Energy monitor.
Besides providing resting recommendations, this feature also determines the best time to begin your training activities.
Stay up to date with Facebook alerts and important text messages while running when you link this watch to your smartphone.
This runners’ watch also keeps track of your day-to-day activities that do not involve training. When you’re casually out, this watch records your heart rate, steps, intensity minutes, and more.
This watch reports a battery life of 7 days in smart mode with 13-hours of battery use in GPS mode.
The GPS on this edition keeps track of all of your paths and distances ran during your daily training.
- Variety of colors
- Two watch face sizes
- Monitor body energy
- Incident detection
- No access to third party apps
- Sport profiles are limited
Older Watches Great Value
Garmin 735XT 4.6/5 Stars
- Fit for a multisport athlete
- Live tracking for increased safety running experience
- Free Customization for watch face
- Receive live feedback on your progression
This watch precedes the Garmin Forerunner 745 and remains on the list of best GPS watches for runners, despite being released in May of 2016.
You can buy this watch and enjoy many similar features that the Forerunner 745 model offers for a lower price.
If you are a runner, looking for something simple yet reliable, this may be the watch for you.
Choose the best watch for your fitness training from these three versions that the Garmin 735XT offers: watch-only, runners bundle, or tri-bundle.
This watch offers two colors black/gray and midnight/frost blue. Its silicone band completes its 44.5 x 44.5 x 11.9 mm design with a chemically strengthened glass lens.
Training Features and Analytics
Receive notifications on your watch during activity when you pair the Garmin 735XT to your smartphone.
Share your running achievements and location with friends and family with Garmin Connect Mobile and live tracking feature. These features will allow you to enjoy your run worry-free.
Obtain live feedback on your current activities and compare them to your previous records with this watch’s compatibility to Strava Live Segments.
Train your heart during your daily runs by utilizing the built Heart Rate monitor. While monitoring your HR, this watch can predict your race time with the VO2 Max feature.
Keep track of your running form with the Running Dynamics feature to improve your overall performance.
This running watch can last up to 11 days with activity tracking and smartphone notifications. In GPS mode, up to a 16-hour battery life can be expected.
This running watch has a GPS and Global Navigation Satellite System that is extremely easy to access and is one of the best GPS running watches known for its tracking accuracy.
- Offers simplicity
- Pairs to smartphone
- Strava Live Segments
- Awesome running dynamics
- Has competition with battery life
- Not great for high altitude running
Garmin 235 4.5/5 Stars
- Tracks the activity of your training routine
- Appeals to the runners on a shopping budget
- Larger Screen Than the Forerunner 225
- Three different colors to choose from
Since its release in 2015, this watch has remained useful for runners. Though it doesn’t consist of the numerous features that other watches on this list may have, it can still get the job done.
When purchasing this watch, choose the best color to accommodate your running mood. These color options include a clean black and gray, a frost blue, or marsala silicon.
Measuring in at 45 mm x 45 mm x 11.7 mm, the Garmin 235 offers a 31.1mm screen in diameter, which exceeds the size of one of Garmin’s more recent creations, the Forerunner 245.
This option may not be for you if you’re a fan of touchscreens.
Training Features and Analytics
As a runner, take advantage of this Garmin 235 Activity Tracker, which counts steps and monitors sleeping cycles to ensure you are pushing yourself to receive the best results.
Its advanced training tools and 24/7 wrist-based heart rate monitor tracks your activity and allows you to customize your data to reach your personal goals.
Stay connected during your run with features such as social media sharing, instant phone notifications, and audio prompts.
The Garmin 235 has an impressive battery life of 9 days when using the smartwatch in its standard mode and 11 hours with the GPS mode.
Track your running distance using the accurate GPS this watch offers.
- More affordable than most GPS watches
- Data syncing option with Garmin Connect
- Modern Design
- Heart-Rate sensor
- No music options
- Not a touchscreen
- Tracks distance, pace, time, heart rate and more
- Connected features¹: automatic uploads to Garmin Connect™, live tracking, audio prompts, smart notifications and social media sharing
- Activity tracking² counts daily steps, distance, calories and sleep
- The Garmin Forerunner 235 continues to be a Runner’s Favorite. Even though it is an older watch, it’s still a great value!
How to Choose the Best GPS Watch for Running
Most brands claim they have the best GPS watches for running, but there are a few key things to know before choosing.
When choosing from the best running watches, you want to be sure to find one that fits your personality, ensures longevity, and guarantees compatibility with your training routine. You want a user-friendly runners’ watch that creates the most interactive running experience and stellar training results.
Each watch is uniquely engineered and tailored to aid athletes in monitoring and recording the stats of many different workout routines. It is essential to know what features you’re looking for to ensure you’ll choose the most satisfactory option out of the best Gps watches for running.
You do not want to buy a watch with an excessive amount of apps that you may never use or a watch that is missing the apps you need.
For example, if you are just beginning your journey as a runner, it may be best to purchase a watch that offers the standard amount of basic workout-compatible features. This way, you can become familiar with the watch’s programs as you monitor your desired training routine’s accommodations.
If you are an athlete who avidly participates in triathlons, it would be best for you to find a runners’ watch that offers a multisport feature, such as the Garmin Forerunner 745 or something similar. You will have exceptionally accurate readings at any stage of the multisport competition.
Suppose your training environment is often changing (i.e., frequent traveler); purchasing a runners’ watch with a vast selection of basic and advanced apps is your best bet.
Consider the Garmin Fenix 6 to fit your traveling needs.
What are the Advantages/Benefits of GPS Running Watches?
When you think about how these watch brands and creators find ways to fit so many undeniably-innovative apps into a small device on your wrist, it can be mind-boggling.
A vital advantage of a GPS runners’ watch is the support of apps that aim to meet your expectations, no matter the climate, terrain, or environment.
You set your goal, and your GPS watch helps you achieve it.
With built-in motivation, these watches are “personal trainers” that accompany you during each workout. Even in feeling fatigue, some watches can read your mood and vital signs to recommend resting like the Garmin 45/45s.
Track your accomplishments with your watch, and set new goals accordingly. Creators of GPS watches keep the user’s training journey in mind when designing new products. These watches will provide you with suggestions on obtainable goals specific to what sports programs you choose to train on.
Their durability goes beyond that of an average smartwatch.
Most runners’ watches have been tested and proven to be not only shockproof but waterproof as well. Due to mother-nature being unpredictable, durability is beneficial when running outside under certain weather conditions.
Just because you’re not training does not mean you can’t wear your runners’ watch. Its sporty fashion accompanies a luxurious finish while remaining discreet enough to wear with any attire.
GPS runners’ watches allow you to monitor your oxygen levels and heart rate, which is excellent for running and day-to-day life. These features help you stay in the recommended ranges at all times.
The benefits packed into these lightweight devices equip athletics with the tools necessary for achieving an unparalleled running experience.
The Controversy of GPS Running Watches
People have their preferences in the products they choose to use in their lives, and GPS watches for runners are no exception.
Although many athletes marvel at these watches’ advantages and benefits, some are personally more comfortable and efficient with the more straightforward tools.
Athletes that are opposed to utilizing GPS running watches stand firm in their beliefs.
Some may feel that charging these watches is too much of a hassle and inconvenience before running or beginning training. If you are used to working out with a runners’ watch, a dead battery could ruin your momentum.
These watches can be pricey, depending on the tools they possess. Some may feel they’re a waste of money, and you don’t need them for successful training sessions.
Despite the advanced technology and very supportive tools these watches offer, they still won’t be accepted by everyone. So, make the decision that best fits your life’s preferences and convenience.
Final Thoughts on the Best GPS Watches for Running
These watches mentioned in this article are all great choices, but which one is the best?
As of right now, the Garmin Fenix 6 remains at the top of this list for a reason. This GPS running watch takes most of the apps and benefits of other watches and loads them into its lightweight design.
If the price isn’t a factor in a potential user’s decision, this durable choice is the best overall.
This watch will remain the top choice until another watch presents as competition to its premium features.
While we rank these watches according to their features, design, and prices, they all have one common goal, and this is to ensure you have an exceptional running experience for the long term.
Every runner is different, so choose the watch that fits you and your fitness lifestyle.
As new athletic GPS watches continue to be released yearly, their objective will remain the same; and that’s to help you continue your love for fitness.