Best Running Watch

5 Best Running Watches to consider buying!

Running is one of the best ways to stay in shape, and it has been for thousands of years. While running hasn’t changed that much over time, the tools we have to track our progress and improve our fitness have improved massively.

One of the most popular ways to monitor your fitness and health is to use a running watch.

These devices have exploded in popularity in the last few years, and traditional watches have been replaced by highly sophisticated and feature-packed devices that pair with our phones, tablets, and computers with ease and provide a host of amazing benefits that old-fashioned stopwatches simply can’t match.

Modern running watches are more like wrist-mounted computers than traditional watches and are capable of much more, such as active GPS tracking, heart rate monitoring, sleep tracking, and other health-related metrics to help you learn more about your body and what it needs to stay fit and strong.

Running watches can do all of this while still giving you incredibly accurate times and looking amazing, meaning that they can be worn anywhere without looking out of place. 

However there are many running watches out there, and the rise in their popularity has led to a lot of competition between different brands.

Many of the watches make a lot of claims and use jargon to confuse and entice customers, which can make it difficult to find a running watch that actually meets all your needs.

In this article we’re going to look at five of the leading running watches and their various features, explaining what makes them so useful and which one may suit you best.

We’re also going to include a buyer’s guide beneath the products to help explain what to look for in a great running watch and which features are essential so that you can make the right choice and find a true companion for your fitness journey.

If you have further questions we also have an FAQ at the very bottom of the article where we can provide some answers to common questions regarding running watches and their functionality. Without further ado, let’s look at the watches themselves!

Garmin Forerunner 45S

Garmin is one of the leading names in the smartwatch world, particularly when it comes to watches focused on exercise. The brand has built a reputation for quality and innovation, as well as great customer service.

Their watches are high performance and benefit from many proprietary features and applications, as well as excellent GPS tracking capabilities which Garmin has perfected over many years of GPS usage.

The Forerunner series of watches is a very popular watch for running as they feature built-in GPS tracking capabilities, as well as heart rate monitoring, VO2 max tracking, and even incident and safety features. 

The watch is able to be paired with smartphones very easily and the Garmin Coach app is a great way to take your training to the next level. The Forerunner also looks amazing, with a clean display, simple user interface, and comfortable strap which feels secure and strong.

The battery life is excellent at 7 days in normal mode and 14 hours in GPS mode which means even the longest runs can be tracked with charge to spare.

The watch has a 5ATM water resistance rating which means it can withstand pressure down to a depth of 50 meters and makes it capable of being used in the shower or whilst swimming.


  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart Rate Tracking
  • Can connect to mobile phone for notifications
  • Safety and tracking features
  • Long battery life


  • The software can require updating

Coros PACE 2

The Coros PACE 2 is one of the best-regarded watches in the exercise world partly because it’s so versatile.

It can be used to track and monitor various exercises including swimming and even weight training, making it an amazing choice for anyone who has a particularly wide array of exercise regimes or sports to track and improve in.

The PACE 2 is one of the lightest watches to use a GPS and was actually the lightest in the world when it first launched. This naturally makes it comfortable and easy to wear for almost any situation as you won’t even remember you’re wearing it most of the time.

The watch is compatible with various applications including Strava and Stryd meaning you’ll be able to easily monitor your performance and progress however you want to. 

The watch is capable of monitoring your heart rate as well as your sleep and caloric intake, making it an amazing all-around fitness and health companion for people who are serious about improving their performance and health.

The watch also includes some great additional tools such as a barometric altimeter, compass, gyroscope, and thermometer making it perfect for extreme environments where the conditions can change quickly.

The strap is comfortable and the display is quite clear and bright, however, the interface will take a bit of getting used to. Once you’ve used it a little however it’s very easy to use.

The battery life is one of the longest available, with up to 30 hours of power in full GPS tracking mode, which is far longer than some other running watches.

This gives great peace of mind, and when not using the GPS features the battery will last for 20 days during regular use which is also excellent.

The watch is also water-resistant to 50M making it perfect for swimming and easily able to handle showering and other wet environments.


  •  Lightweight
  • Can track various sports from running to swimming and strength training
  • Various tracking features
  • Long battery life
  • Compatible with various applications
  • Water-resistant to 50M


  • The interface takes getting used to


The Polar Vantage M is a premium exercise watch that has an amazing aesthetic and one of the best-looking displays available. 

The battery life is very long with 30 hours of full training time using the GPS, making it equal to the excellent battery life of the PACE 2 above. The heart rate monitor is accurate and uses advanced sensors to monitor this while exercising.

More than a watch, the Vantage is a complete fitness tracker capable of discerning when you’re doing cardio or strength training and using this data to help you manage your exercise and recovery.

The watch is water-resistant and is a great partner to swimmers with a breakdown of your swimming stroke and pace while in the water, which is a level of detail you’d rarely expect from a watch.

The watch is heavily customizable with the straps being interchangeable and various colors being available. The watch is also very lightweight at just 45g, making it comfortable and easy to use for pretty much any sport of exercise.


  • Water-resistant
  • Heart-rate monitoring
  • Very long battery life even in training mode
  • Clear display/Interface
  • Sleek aesthetic


  • Few color options

Timex Ironman GPS

If you’re looking for something much simpler and more rugged, the Timex Ironman is a great choice that trims down the features to those only used for running. 

A beautifully simple and lightweight watch, with good water resistance, fair battery performance, and excellent GPS tracking, the Ironman has been a go-to choice among triathletes and runners for many years. 

While it lacks some of the futuristic health features of other running watches, the Timex Ironman allows you to monitor your pace and distance with an ease and simplicity that is hard to find these days.


  • Lightweight
  • Simple
  • Distance and Pace tracking via GPS
  • Decent battery life
  • Water-resistant


  • Fewer features than some other watches

Fitbit Charge 4

Fitbit has made a huge splash in the fitness world, and the Charge 4 is the latest incarnation of their very popular fitness-focused watches.

The built-in GPS and HR monitor work well and sync easily to most smartphones, while the sleep tracking helps you make sure you’re getting the rest you need to work out to your maximum potential.

The Fitbit is also waterproof and extremely lightweight making it comfortable and easy to wear for long periods.

A great feature list and comfortable design explain why this watch has become so popular, however, the relatively low battery life may not make this watch suitable for some users.


  • Built-in GPS
  • Heart Rate monitoring
  • Syncs easily with smartphones
  • Waterproof to 50M
  • Sleep tracking


  • Battery life quite low when using GPS

Buyers Guide

Running watches are absolutely packed with features, which makes them amazing for their intended purpose, but difficult to choose between. Finding a watch that meets all your needs can be difficult, especially when having to wade through tons of jargon.

While many running watches are now capable of very similar functions, not all are created equal.

It’s just as important to make sure you’re not wasting your time chasing features you don’t really need, as well as ensuring you do get the features that will help you improve your running and training experience. 

To this end, we’re going to explain the crucial features to look out for on a good running watch, to make sure you’re able to hit the ground running… so to speak.


One of the most important parts of any watch, particularly a running watch, is the quality of the display.

This is key for a few different reasons, the first of which being that a running watch deals with a lot more information than a standard analog or even digital watch.

These watches need to be able to show time, distance covered, heart rate, pace, and a whole host of other important information, and it needs to be clear and easy to understand while running or exercising which adds to the importance of a well lit and organized display. 

Another important factor here is toughness. A weak display will be far more likely to break or become damaged when going through the rigors of exercise, so a strong display is very important to ensure your watch lasts as long as possible. 

Another important aspect of the display is how it’s organized and how easy it is to interface with. Some running watches use a touch screen, while others rely on buttons to navigate around the various menus and settings these watches provide.

It can often be difficult to see via pictures which watches are actually touch screens and which aren’t so make sure of this before purchasing if a touch screen is important to you.


Another highly important feature of a running watch is a sturdy and comfortable strap. This seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people overlook the strap, particularly on watches that are so packed with features. 

There are various materials that are used depending on the brand and the specific model, with everything from rubberized straps to nylon and even leather in some cases.

What you want is to make sure that your watch strap is big enough to fit comfortably around your wrist, is easy to use, has a strong clasp, and feels comfortable.

Some designs can pinch your hair or skin, while others can rub against your skin uncomfortably which is even worse when trying to exercise.

A weak strap will also risk you losing your watch while out exercising which makes retrieving your watch that much more difficult. 

Aesthetics can be important too, as you want your watch to look good and you want to feel good wearing it, but this shouldn’t be a factor that is taken more seriously than comfort and strength.


As you will have noticed by now, running watches are some of the most feature-rich gadgets currently available, with enough readouts and displays to make things feel very science fiction. 

In terms of monitoring your performance and getting the best out of your exercise, a running watch needs to have a few features to be considered a true running watch.

The first is some sort of GPS tracker. All of the watches on this list use one, and it’s important because it allows you to track your movement, speed, distance, and time, as well as upload these metrics for performance monitoring and progress reports.

Another common feature is heart rate monitoring, and while not all running watches use this and it certainly isn’t essential, it’s a great feature that is fast becoming a standard feature to allow you to track your fitness and health easily and conveniently alongside your exercise. 

There are also a host of other great optional features such as water resistance, sleep tracking, recovering tracking, safety features, and even training aids.

Naturally, the more features that are packed into your watch the more expensive it will be, but there are many excellent and affordable entry-level options too.

Water Resistance

While certainly not essential, most running watches will be water-resistant to ensure that they are safe to use while it’s raining, however, many running watches are capable of being submerged to huge depths and can comfortably handle being used in the shower or even the local swimming pool.

Always make sure to check this to prevent damaging your watch, and service your watch often to make sure the seals are still solid to prevent damage over time.


Another important feature that shouldn’t be overlooked is battery performance.

This is because the GPS tracking that these watches use when in training mode is very demanding on battery life and this can really affect the ability of your watch to function over long periods and distances. 

If you plan to use these features a lot, you want to make sure you are able to have the best battery life possible.

There is quite a lot of variance between the different types of the watch, and it can be hard to tell how many hours of use they have.

The watches will often have max battery life for use without the GPS/training mode, and a far shorter battery life when the GPS is active, so double-check this to avoid disappointment out on those longer multi-day adventures.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can sweat affect my running watch?

It mostly depends on whether the watch is water-resistant or not.

Even a low level of water resistance can prevent sweat from damaging your watch, however, if the seals are damaged or the watch body is compromised sweat could damage the delicate and sensitive internals of smartwatches/running watches so be careful to treat your watch well and get it serviced if damaged.

Can I wear a running watch on my ankle?

This is a surprisingly common question as some people believe that using a running watch on their ankle will make the performance tracking more reliable.

As long as the strap is large enough to accommodate your ankle and the watch is secure, there’s no reason why your watch can’t be worn in this way.

Some believe it makes the running metrics more accurate but this can vary and isn’t a reliable way to improve tracking accuracy. 

It will also be impossible to make use of the heart rate monitoring or other health features if you choose to wear your watch on your ankle. 

Are running watches worth it?

This is the million-dollar question, but it’s a highly subjective one. Only you can determine whether a running watch is going to be worth it. You should think about how much you intend to use it, and what you hope to get out of tracking your exercise in this way. 

If you’re looking for a better understanding of your fitness levels, health, and your performance, a running watch will massively improve your ability to do this and can be a huge motivator for beginners, which can make them a great investment.