Best Running Watches of 2019 – Buyer’s Guide & Reviews

Running or even just jogging is a great form of exercise to engage in and it comes with a great number of benefits for your mind and your body. For many people, the point of running is to run more, in the sense that progression is the main goal. If you run 2 miles one day, you are going to want to run 2.1 miles the next day. For runners, one of the most important parts is to actually be able to monitor how well they run, how fast they run, and how much effort is being exerted. Of course, this requires some technology in order to monitor various running factors.

You have to be able to track your run in depth in order to be able to tell if you make progress the next time you run. This is where the running watch comes into play. Of course, you don’t want just any old running watch, you want the very best running watch that money can buy. We’re going to talk about some considerations to keep in mind before you buy one, and we also have some of the best options for you to look at as well. If you’re in the market for a new running watch, reading what we have to say will prove to be beneficial!

Summary: The Best Running Watches

What To Look For When Buying A Running Watch

A running watch is a fairly advanced piece of technology, which of course means that it can end up being a pretty pricey purchase. While the money that you spend on any running watch is definitely worth it in terms of the benefits you get for your running endeavors, you do need the right running watch, and moreover one that has good features. Here are some of the most important things that you should look out for before buying any one running watch.

Durability

Perhaps one of the most important things to consider before buying a running watch is how durable it is. Running involves quite a bit of impact and intense movement, things which can potentially damage a subpar running watch. Therefore you want to make sure to get an impact resistant running watch.

Moreover, sweating is inevitable if you run far distances, therefore you will also want to ensure that you get a water resistant or even a waterproof watch, especially if you are a hardcore runner that will go out even in the heaviest of rain storms. You don’t want to spend a few hundred bucks on a running watch that is only going to last for a few days.

Comfort

Another thing that is fairly important to keep in mind when buying a running watch is how comfortable it is. This pretty much boils down to the size, shape, and weight of the running watch in question. You want a running watch that is sleek and lightweight so it doesn’t get in your way or feel like a burden while you are running.

Moreover, you also want to ensure that the running watch you get has a good wristband. The wristband should be fairly soft so it doesn’t irritate your skin, but it should also be quite durable so that it does not rip. Furthermore, the wristband should be able to adjust easily in order to fit your wrist without question.

Battery Life

The next thing that is fairly important to consider when getting a new running watch is the battery life. The running watch you get should be able to easily recharge with a USB or micro USB cable. Moreover, the battery should be able to last at least the whole day without needing to recharge.

These kinds of watches usually do not come with replaceable batteries, so you want to make sure that the battery life and longevity is ideal for your needs. These gadgets can be fairly expensive so you don’t want to dish out a fat wad of money for a watch that has a battery which will only last for a few months. Keep in mind that the battery life of any running watch will be greatly reduced when the GPS function is turned on (if it has a GPS function).

Activity Tracking Abilities

Yet another thing that any good running watch should be able to do is to track your activity and running metrics. A good running watch will be able to tell you how many steps you have taken, how many calories you have burned, how far you have traveled, and a few other things too.

Moreover, a good running watch should be able to keep track of laps and lap times. Furthermore, a really good running watch will also be able to track your sleep patterns and how long you sleep for. All of these features are very important in order to help track your progress and improve on previous running days.

Heart Rate Monitor

A heart rate monitor is also a very important aspect of any good running watch. Your heart rate can tell you a lot about how well you are doing, your own fitness level, your progress compared to previous runs, and how much you are exerting yourself.

A decent running watch should be able to tell you what your current heart rate is, what your maximum possible heart rate is, and what your resting heart rate is. A really good model will be able to give you alerts concerning your heart rate and will be able to tell you whether you need to run faster or slower. Moreover, an extremely advanced model will even be able to tell you about your VO2 or maximal oxygen consumption.

GPS Capabilities

Another important feature of any good running watch is the ability to connect to satellites, or in other words, GPS capabilities. This is a convenient aspect for any runner because it can register your start location, tell you your current location, how far you have run, your pace and speed, and much more. The GPS capability of a running watch is perhaps the most important thing that any running watch could have.

Uploading Features & Connectivity

The next feature that any running watch you buy should have is the ability to connect to your smartphone or computer as well as the ability to connect to different running applications. This is a convenient feature for anybody who is serious about running and all of the running metrics that come along with this form of exercise.

A good running app will let you upload all of the data that the watch collected into an online database or interactive program. A good running program will let you analyze the data, or at least just look at it, in a concise and easy to read manner.

This lets you compare one run to another and lets you see how far you have progressed from past runs. Some programs may also give you advice or even let you engage in competitions with other runners who have also uploaded their data.

Guidance Abilities

A decent running watch will also be able to give you alerts in terms of how fast you are going, if you are going too fast or too slow for your own good, if you need to move more, or whatever the case may be. Some kind of alarm or guidance system is always a bonus.

Other Alerts

A really good running watch will also often be able to sync to your smartphone. This has the advantage of letting notifications from your phone be displayed on the screen of the running watch. It’s convenient when your running watch can display text, email, call, calendar, and social media notifications.

The Benefits Of Having A Running Watch

Having a running watch is not just useful because you get to show off your fitness endeavors to others and to look cool, it actually serves a few really convenient purposes. One of the best parts of having a running watch is that it will be able to tell you how far you have run through various GPS methods.

Knowing exactly how far and how fast you have been running for is the cornerstone of progression in running. You can’t make progress if you don’t know what you are progressing from, something that a running watch helps you with no doubt. It is also important to know how many calories you have burned, how many steps you have taken, your speed, and your pace.

Once again, it is important to know these things if you really plan to make progress and improve your running abilities. Without something like a running watch, tracking any of those important fitness factors is virtually impossible. The bottom line is that these things are great tools for tracking your running progress and to help you improve your experience with every run that you go for.

On a side note, many running watches may also double as a normal watch, which means that you don’t need to switch out watches to tell time or to go for a run, yet another convenient factor of the running watch.

Some Running Watch Concerns

There is nothing too vital to mention here, but there are some slight concerns that come along with buying a running watch, at least one that does not live up to its name. One concern that many people have with running watches is that they may not be accurate. We aren’t going to lie to you and say that all those skeptics are completely wrong.

The fact of the matter is that a good number of running watches that you come across are just not very accurate, but that is not to say that they are all inaccurate. There are a fair number of options out there that actually do live up to their names.

To be frank, you need to spend a decent amount of money to get one that really does work. You get what you pay for, and if you aren’t willing to spend a fair amount of money, you aren’t going to get a very accurate running watch. The options we have listed below are of the most accurate ones we have found. You definitely want to read some customer reviews if you are going to look at options other than the ones that we have listed.

Another small concern that many have expressed about running watches is that many of them may be labeled as water resistant, but often that simply is not the case. Water resistant is a very ambiguous term and you need to be aware that being water resistant may mean being able to stand up to some fog but not to real liquid water. To ensure that the watch you get really can stand up to water, you should get one that is labeled as waterproof. To be fair, a waterproof running watch is quite the rare find.

Running Watch Reviews

Our Rating

This is an extremely advanced running watch that also doubles as a swimming watch. It has a ridiculously large amount of features that help you keep track of exactly how your run or swim is going. This is a tough, convenient, and extremely versatile running watch that anybody would be happy with.


Design

One of the best things about the Garmin Forerunner 920XT Tri-Bundle is that it has the ability to measure a large variety of running metrics to help you improve your running results from one time to the next. This thing has the ability to record your total steps per minute (cadence), stride length, how long your feet stay in contact with the ground, how much time each foot spends on the ground, the amount of bounce in your step (vertical oscillation), and the ratio of vertical oscillation to stride length (vertical ratio).

Even better is that when the Garmin Forerunner 920XT is connected with a heart rate monitor it can do even more. This thing can measure your VO2 Max (oxygen consumption), it can predict your race time for several distances based on your heart rate, and it can predict recovery time too. The HRM heart monitor can measure your speed, total distance, current heart rate, race time, recovery time, and much more. There really is not a more comprehensive running watch out there. The Garmin 920XT even comes with a metronome feature with vibrations and audible alerts to help you improve in terms of your cadence training.

This thing also has an activity tracking feature that functions not only when you run, but it also measures the total calories you burn throughout the day, how many steps you have taken, the distance you have traveled, and even how much you sleep.

You can even connect this thing with a power meter to measure your VO2 Max while cycling. Moreover, if you want to use it for cycling, you can also connect it to a cycling cadence, speed, and heart monitor for even more dynamic results. You can then connect to Garmin connect to display your results compared to other people, and the watch itself even displays a color bar which indicates how well you are doing while cycling.

Furthermore, you can use the HRM Swim Monitor to help you improve your swimming. The Garmin HRM-Swim can capture detailed swimming metrics such as distance, pace, stroke count, stroke rate, and more.

This thing also has a drill logging feature that lets you log swim drills and kick sets. It also has 2 sets of rest timers to let you know exactly when you are and when you should be pushing off the wall. You can also include time or distance alerts to let you know about your swimming pace and when a set is over, plus there are special alerts for stroke rates and calories burned too.

We really like the watch itself because it is very comfortable to wear, it is of course waterproof for swimming, and is wetsuit friendly too. It features versatile hinged bands and has a high-quality color display as well.

Even better is that it still functions as a normal watch so you can wear it all day long without having to exchange it for a normal watch whenever you are done exercising. This is a light and user-friendly running watch that is not going to get in your way. There is also the fact that both the swimming and running chest straps are designed to be comfortable, flexible, very durable, and they won’t slip off while in use either. This thing, both the straps and the watch, are just as comfortable in the water as out of the water.

Even better is that the Garmin 920XT can also sync with your smartphone in order to give you notifications about emails, text messages, calls, calendar reminders and even more. You can even connect it to ANT+ compatible sensors to get more readings than ever.

You can then connect to Garmin Connect through Wi-Fi hotspots, USB connection with your computer, and a Bluetooth connection with your smartphone. You can upload all of your data to spreadsheets to keep track of your progress, you can share your data on social media, and compare it with others too. You can also customize the face of the watch to fit your personality by downloading various apps, faces, and skins.

Value for money

This whole bundle costs slightly under 400 dollars, which may seem a little expensive for a running watch. However when you consider the huge amount of tracking features that it has, that it works for swimming, running, and cycling, that it is comfortable and durable, and that it has a variety of connection and upload features, the price really is not that high.

Build quality

The build quality of the Garmin 920 XT is phenomenal. The whole thing is made out of very durable materials, and that counts for both of the included chest straps. Everything about this bundle is extremely comfortable to wear, all of the tracking features are very accurate, and it’s a stylish item too. The fact that it has so many tracking features as well as connection and upload methods just helps to add to the quality even more.

Pros

  • Measure 6 running metrics
  • Ability to measure cycling metrics
  • Can measure swimming metrics
  • ​Upload data to Garmin Connect and compare with others
  • ​Wi-Fi, USB, or Bluetooth connectivity
  • ​Sync with smartphone for text, email, call, and calendar alerts
  • ​Functions as a normal watch
  • ​Very comfortable and durable
  • ​Customize the face of your watch for a personal touch
  • Heart rate monitor for better results

Cons

  • Watch band could be a little stronger

Our Rating

Another fantastic option to go with, the Polar M400 GPS Smart Sports Watch is a high-quality item that will without a doubt help you improve your running in a very limited amount of time. It’s a fairly durable running watch with a great number of features, all of which are meant to help you on your long running journey.


Design

Something which we really like about this particular running watch is that it is a very durable device. The Polar M400 is resistant to both shock and impact, something which is quite important when running, plus it is also completely waterproof so you can run in the rain without fear of having it break due to water damage.

This is also a great choice because it has a comfortable band that won’t irritate your skin, plus it is quite durable, not to mention that you can adjust it to fit the size of your arm without issue. Even better is that the Polar M400 has a large screen high-resolution display so you can see everything you need to see in the blink of an eye.

Another thing that makes the Polar M400 a great watch is the advanced GPS capabilities it has. The GPS feature lets you know exactly where you are, where you started running, how far you have traveled, how fast you are going, your average pace, and your current altitude too. What is also quite neat is that this watch can also measure and inform you of your running cadence, something that every avid runner wants to keep track of.

This watch can do a whole lot more too because it also comes with a heart rate sensor to tell you what your current heart rate is, plus it can also tell you what your perceived recovery time is going to be before you should start running again.

The heart rate sensor also informs you of your target heart rate and lets you train according to your heart rate goals. If your heart rate is too high the watch will tell you to slow down and vice versa.

We also really like the fact that this thing comes with good old fitness tracking qualities and can monitor your steps, pace, distance, calories burned, and it even has some advanced features that inform you of your sleep quality too.

The Polar M400 also lets you set individual training targets and also provides you with customized running advice to better your performance all of the time. This thing also has customized sport profiles, special running programs that guide you on your way, and has a highly advanced running index to give you a quick overview of your running experience.

The Polar M400 can also function as a smart display. You can sync this running watch to your smartphone in order to allow it to give you notifications about texts, emails, calls, and calendar alerts too. Even better is that you can sync this watch with various smartphone models and software versions, use the Polar Flow application, and upload all of your data online so you can get a comprehensive overview of all of the data that the Polar M400 has gathered. You can then share your information, post it online, and compare it to other people.

Value for money

The value for the price of the Polar M400 is amazing. The watch itself only costs around 150 dollars, which is quite a good price for such an advanced running watch. It can measure literally everything that needs measuring to improve your running, it can connect to the Polar app for precise data analysis, it has a GPS function, it comes with a heart rate monitor, and it functions as a smart watch too.

Build quality

We’ve got nothing bad to say about the build quality of this running watch. It’s a very comfortable and durable watch that is even completely waterproof. It’s highly adjustable, it’s very accurate with anything it measures, and it’s quite good looking too. If you are looking for a quality running watch that has GPS capabilities, you are definitely looking at the right model.

Pros

  • GPS Capabilities
  • Monitors a wide array of running factors
  • Comes with a heart rate sensor
  • Connect to your smart device for notifications
  • Connect to Polar Flow to upload and analyze data
  • Waterproof and highly durable
  • Comfortable and highly adjustable
  • High-resolution display
  • Sleep and fitness tracking capabilities

Cons

  • Micro USB port is fragile
  • Heart rate strap does not hold on the body too well

Our Rating

Garmin deserves some kind of reward because they have managed to make some really amazing running watches and that includes the Garmin Forerunner 35 Running Watch. This is quite an advanced little piece of technology with GPS and several running metric tracking abilities that make it a very good choice to consider.


Design

One of the things that we really like about the Garmin Forerunner 35 is that it has very advanced GPS features. You don’t need your phone or any special kind of application to use the GPS feature on this watch. There is also the fact that the Forerunner 35 has a very easy time finding the satellite signal. It can acquire your position in a matter of seconds, and it can even do so when you are indoors or under trees.

This GPS feature is really convenient for any runner because it lets you know where you started your running journey, how far you have traveled, and how long it took you to get to your current locations, all things which a runner always wants to know.

Something else that we really like about this particular running watch is that it has a 24/7 heart rate monitoring feature. This thing can monitor your heart rate at all times of the day, it can tell you what your resting heart rate is, your current heart rate, and your heart rate compared to your maximum possible heart rate. Even more convenient is that you don’t require any extra strap to monitor to measure your heart rate. All you need is the watch itself.

Yet another thing that we like about the Forerunner 35 is that it has a wide array of activity tracking features. It can tell you how many steps you have taken, the number of calories you have burned, the distance you have gone, the time spent exercising, and a few other running factors too.

This watch also has a feature that lets you change the settings between running modes and walking modes, which has the effect of letting you know when to speed up and when to slow down. Even better is that it has an inactivity alarm that lets you know when it is time to get moving.

When it comes to wearing this running watch, it is a small and lightweight model that won’t get in your way, plus it is also quite durable and impact resistant. Moreover, it also features a very large and clear display so you can see all of the necessary info with a quick glance.

The next thing that makes this running watch a good choice to consider is because it has smart connectivity features. You can connect to Garmin Connect whenever you like in order to upload all of your data and running metrics to the interactive app that lets you view all of your data in a user-friendly manner. Moreover, this thing also has the ability to give you smart notifications when connected to your smartphone. It can tell you about text, call, message, and calendar alerts, plus it even lets you control your music too.

Value for money

The value for the price of this running watch is outstanding. It costs around 200 dollars, which may seem a little expensive, but it has more than enough features to make the price worthwhile. It can do everything that you need in order to keep track of your running progress and all of your fitness goals. If you’re on the hunt for a valuable running watch you should consider the Garmin Forerunner 35.

Build quality

We really have nothing bad to say about the build quality of the Forerunner 35. This is a rugged and durable piece of technology that is comfortable to wear, easily adjustable, and quite accurate too. The GPS function of this running watch is outstanding, the fitness tracking features are more than convenient, and the connectivity capabilities are really neat too, all things that make the Forerunner 35 a quality find indeed.

Pros

  • Advanced GPS capabilities
  • Great fitness tracking abilities
  • Connect to Garmin Connect to view your info
  • Built-in heart rate monitor
  • Vibration alerts for various notifications
  • Various smart alerts – text, email, call, and calendar updates
  • High-quality display
  • Comfortable and user-friendly

Cons

  • Difficult to sync to various devices
  • Wristband could be a little more durable

Our Rating

If you are on the market for a new running watch that will help you analyze your running metrics and make improvements, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is a good option to keep in mind. This is an extremely high-quality running watch with a plethora of features that make it one of the best choices that we have seen in a long time.


Design

A really great feature of the Garmin Forerunner 235 is that it has advanced heart rate monitoring features. It can monitor your heart rate through advanced sensors in the watch itself, plus it uses the neat display to show you what your normal resting heart rate is, what your current heart rate is, plus it even displays a graph of your heart rate over the past several hours.

It can also give you advice based on your current heart rate, informing you of how much time you need to recover until you start exercising again, and much more too. What is also pretty neat is that this particular smart running watch can also inform you of your VO2 max, or in other words, how much oxygen your body can use during running and any physical activity.

This watch is great because it lets you customize your workout based on your heart rate and oxygen capacity, and even gives you pieces of advice as to how intense the next part of your run should be. Moreover, you don’t need a chest strap to measure your heart rate, plus everything that is measured is done in real time.

Another great feature of the Garmin Forerunner 235 is that it has advanced activity tracking features too. This thing has the ability to measure various running metrics. It can inform you of your steps, distance, pace, calories burned, and a few other things too.

Yet another thing that makes this a great running watch is that it has advanced GPS features that can tell you when and where you started your run, the distance you have traveled, where you have traveled, and how long it took you to get there.

Even better is that this running watch also doubles as a sleep tracker and can tell you how long you sleep and how well you sleep. This thing even has special little alerts that let you know when you should get up and move. What we also really like about this running watch is that it has specialized advanced workout options which guide you through various different running workouts.

Something else that is quite neat about this particular running watch is that you can use the wireless feature to receive current weather updates so you don’t have to go out and run in the rain. Even better is that this smart running watch can also connect to your smartphone in order to give you notifications concerning texts messages, emails, calls, calendar alerts, social media updates, and even more. When connected to your smartphone this thing can also give you voice prompts to inform you of your laps and lap times when running.

It’s a convenient way to get all of the info you need, even while you are in the middle of your run. You can also download some apps, widgets, and customizable watch faces for free, all to create a highly personalized watch.

Another cool part about the Garmin Forerunner 235 is that it can upload all of your running data to the Garmin Connect app. This allows you to view all of your running and activity metrics in a concise and easy to read manner, it allows you to compare your data with other people, with your own data from previous days, and it can tell you what you need to do to improve your results the very next day.

Finally, this is also a great option to go with because it features an extra-large screen with large font, a bright display that is very high resolution. This makes the Garmin Forerunner 235 very easy to read even in bright daylight conditions.

This is also a very durable watch that is fairly impact resistant, plus the wristband is also quite strong, not to mention comfortable and easily adjustable to suit your sizing needs. If you need a versatile, comfortable, durable, and highly accurate running watch, the Garmin Forerunner 235 is definitely a good option to keep in the back of your mind.

Value for money

The value for the price of this running watch is pretty good. It does cost around 330 dollars, making it a fairly expensive option to go with, but with the high price also comes high quality and function. This is quite a durable and comfortable little running watch with a large high-resolution display. It has high accurate GPS running features, activity tracking features, and a few other things too. It connects to your smartphone for various updates, it can give you weather info, and you can upload all of your running data as well.

Build quality

The build quality of the Garmin Forerunner 235 is just as high as the quality that you get for the price. This is a highly durable watch that has some impact resistance, plus it’s comfortable to wear, and quite lightweight too, so much so that you won’t even notice that it is there. Something else about the build quality that we really like is that this watch features a rechargeable battery that can last up to 11 hours on a single charge. The fact that this thing can track so many different running metrics only serves to add to the quality of the Forerunner 235.

Pros

  • Long battery life – rechargeable
  • GPS running features
  • Activity tracking – measures various running metrics
  • Durable and comfortable wear
  • Very large high-resolution screen
  • Upload your data through Garmin Connect
  • Get weather updates
  • Built-in heart monitor
  • ​Downloadable workout programs
  • Provides you with several smartphone alerts

Cons

  • Quite expensive
  • Screen is prone to scratching
  • Heart rate monitor is somewhat unreliable

Our Rating

This is a great GPS running watch to consider. This is not the most advanced running watch out there, but it has all of the basic features that you need to improve your running routine. It actually has quite a few good features that every runner can make good use of, not to mention that it comes in at a very affordable price. It’s a decent option to consider if you want a good running watch that won’t completely empty your wallet.


Design

Something that we really like about the TomTom Runner GPS Running Watch is that it is a very user-friendly option to consider. This is a running watch that was specifically designed for the comfort of runners. This is a very slim and sleek watch that you will hardly notice on your wrist. It is also a very lightweight watch that is not going to weigh your arm down.

Moreover, it has a very comfortable armband that is quite durable, won’t rip or degrade very fast, and is also highly adjustable to suit the size of your arm. Furthermore, this thing is also very durable, the screen is scratch resistant, and the whole thing is waterproof so you can run in the rain without fear of damaging it.

We also like the fact that the display is high resolution, it’s large, and uses big font, all things which make it convenient to read in the middle of your run. It also has a one-button control feature to make it as user-friendly as humanly possible.

Yet another thing that we really like about this particular running watch is that it has the ability to connect to an external heart rate monitor, such as a chest strap. This is great because it allows you to keep track of just how much effort you are exerting.

When connected to the heart rate monitor it can tell you what your usual resting heart rate is, what your current heart rate is, and what your heart rate is compared to your maximum possible heart rate. This lets you adjust the intensity of your heart rate based on the amount of effort you would like to be expending.

The next thing that makes the TomTom GPS Running Watch an ideal choice is because it has some really good GPS features. The GPS feature has the ability to find your location very quickly, plus it can tell you when and where you started your run, how far you have traveled, and how long it took you to get there. Even better is that this thing also has all of the basic activity tracking features that you could expect a running watch to have. It can measure your calories burned, distance, pace, speed, and a whole lot more.

Another thing that makes the TomTom an ideal choice for all is that it comes with several different training programs that you can customize to your needs. It can provide you with different intervals and various programs to guide you on your way. You can also recall past data or upload it to the TomTom mobile app so you can compare various running days and compare your data to see how far you have come in terms of running progress. You can use Bluetooth wireless connections to connect to your smartphone and upload the data to various fitness monitoring and guidance applications.

Value for money

You definitely get a whole lot of value for the money that you spend on the TomTom GPS Running Watch. This thing costs under 100 dollars, which is relatively cheap for such a good running watch. The comfort and durability of this running watch add a whole lot of value to the package, not to mention that it has various tracking features, plus it has GPS capabilities too. Value is not an issue when it comes to the TomTom Running Watch.

Build quality

We are big fans of the TomTom and a reason for that is the great build quality it has. It is a very sleek, lightweight, adjustable, and comfortable watch to wear, which is of course a big factor that decides the build quality. The watch itself has a good battery life, is rechargeable, and also has a convenient large screen display for easy reading. It takes accurate readings that you can upload for concise analysis and has an easy to control one button operation too.

Pros

  • Sleek, lightweight, and comfortable
  • Good build quality
  • GPS tracking capability
  • Regular fitness tracking features
  • Easy to upload your data
  • Can connect to a heart rate sensor

Cons

  • Heart rate sensor not included
  • Battery life in GPS mode is somewhat short

Conclusion

There is a lot of consideration that has to go into buying a running watch, especially if you want to find the best running watch that will suit your needs without question. We’d recommend looking at the above options, but as long as you keep all of the considerations in mind, you can always go searching for yourself.

If you have any questions about buying or using a good running watch, simply let us know and we will get right back to you!

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