Looking for the best running watches? Look no further. If you’re someone who loves getting outdoors on a regular basis to go for a run, you’re going to need a running watch to keep track of your data, such as time, distance and heart rate.
The best running watches offer all these features and more, giving you what is essentially your own personal trainer on your wrist. When looking for a running watch, you need to consider how accurate its heart-rate monitoring is, for example, along with GPS accuracy; it’s no good your watch telling you you’ve run 10km when in reality you’ve only run 8.
A vast majority of the best running watches today are versatile when it comes to sports they can track. It’s now uncommon to find a running watch that tracks just running, as most will also track walking and cycling, along with other sports such as swimming (if they’re waterproof) and a whole host of other activities. Some of the more premium running watches on the market will go above and beyond in the features arena, offering music storage, personalised workouts and recommendations, and, perhaps most important of all, a long battery life.
Last but not least, you need to consider the size of the running watch you want to buy. As with their analogue counterparts, digital running watches come in various sizes to suit a variety of wrists. Do you want a large running watch that is easy to see whilst running, or would you rather something more sleek and compact to just track data for you to analyse when you’re finished?
We’ve rounded up the very best running watches available right now, ticking off a variety of brands, budgets and sizes, to help you find the perfect running companion.
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Garmin Fenix 7
Best Running Watch. Period.
Built-in sensors will monitor your heart rate, bloody oxygen level and GPS, so you don't need to take your phone out for a run with you. It will happily track your running times and distances with ease. In fact, Garmin even says you "get more running stats than you know what to do with."
Battery life is excellent, and changes depending on the mode you put it in. It can last up to 18 days in full smartwatch mode, and increase to 74 days in Expedition GPS mode if you get the model with solar power.
The Garmin Fenix 7 will also withstand virtually anything you can throw at it, thanks to military-grade protection. Ultimately, if you want to track something when you're running, the Garmin Fenix 7 will be able to do so. It's easily the best running watch around, if your budget can stretch.
Garmin Forerunner 245 Music
Best Running Watch For Most People
It strips back the features of its more expensive sibling to offer a highly capable GPS-enabled running watch with 7-day battery life and onboard music storage so you can leave your phone at home. Naturally, there's a built-in heart rate monitor too that gives out alerts if your heart rate stays too high or too low during rest.
The onboard Garmin Coach provides adaptive training plans which use previous data to suggest the optimal workout for your individual needs. And, if you happen to want to try out some other sports, you can track cycling, pool swimming and even gym-equipment such as the stair-stepper.
Apple Watch Series 7
Best Running Watch For Apple Users
The screen is incredibly easy to view when you're out for a run and features included in the Apple Fitness+ subscription can give you guided running workouts to help push you that little bit further.
Battery life isn't amazing, and you'll likely find you have to charge it up every night, but for a complete running watch and smartwatch package, it really is tough to beat.
Coros Pace 2
Best Lightweight Running Watch
That's where the Coros Pace 2 comes in. When paired with the company's nylon band, the Pace 2 weighs a measly 29g, so you'll feel like you're wearing nothing at all. In fact, it's one of the lightest GPS watches in the world. The user experience is just as helpful, with modes, settings and everything else being easy to navigate through the intuitive operating system.
Battery life is rather good too, being rated at 30 hours in full GPS mode (more than the Apple Watch) and, like most other running watches, tracking is available for a variety of other sports, including strength training in the gym.
Perhaps best of all, the Coros Pace 2 is incredibly affordable at just $199, making this a running watch you really need to consider.
Polar Vantage M2
Best Running Watch For Recovery
That's where the Polar Vantage M2 steps in. It's easily one of the best at offering proper recovery data and recommendations, and is one of the only to offer recovery based on specific leg data. This means it can analyse your running data and tell you how long you should wait before completing another run. You can choose to ignore it, of course, but do so at your own peril.
Battery life is incredibly good too, lasting up to 30-hours in training mode, or 7 days in full watch mode with continuous heart rate tracking.
Best For Advanced Athletes
It has built-in heart rate monitoring and GPS, as well as sleep tracking and, in similar fashion to the Polar watch above, offers incredibly detailed recovery recommendations.
Whoop analyses how much effort you put into your run, combines this with the amount of sleep you get, as well as the quality, to determine how hard you should push the following day.
Battery life is rated at up to 5 days, but with a wireless battery pack that slides over the top, you can effectively wear it constantly without having to worry about losing charge.
Fitbit Inspire 2
Best Fitbit Running Watch
The Fitbit Inspire 2 offers a more user-friendly experience and covers all the basics for runners who simply want to track their heart rate and distance. It doesn't have GPS built-in, so you will need to have your phone to hand to link up.
However, a long 10-day battery life, 50-metre water resistance and a lightweight, comfortable feel more than make up for it.
Best Hybrid Running Watch
The ScanWatch is what is known as a hybrid, meaning it combines the traditional look of an analogue watch with digital smarts, to offer an incredibly good-looking activity tracking package.
From its unassuming facade, the ScanWatch can monitor your heart rate and can provide ECG readings at the touch of a button. It can also offer GPS data when connected to a smartphone, and this data can be exported to third-party app Strava. Best of all, the ScanWatch offers automatic activity detection, so go for a few strides of your run and tracking will be enabled.
It's an incredibly comprehensive package and one we think offers one of the best alternatives to the 'traditional' running watch.
Best Compact Running Watch
With battery life rated up to 40 hours, you're unlikely to run out of charge, but fortunately, it will learn your habits and recommend when you should recharge, in case you ever do forget to plug it in. It also offers a handy recovery mode, based off previous data analysis and all data can be exported to a wide range of third-party apps.
With built-in GPS and heart-rate monitoring, the Suunto 5 is an incredibly accomplished running watch package.