As a runner, there's nothing I love more than tracking my progress while I'm out on the trail. If you're like me, or you're interested in achieving certain fitness goals, it's essential to invest in one of the best watches for runners, which can really make a huge difference.
There's even evidence that this sort of tracking can be good for runners. While a quick search of "health benefits of running" will lead you to thousands of articles on all the mind-body goodness behind cardio exercise, there are tons of emotional benefits of tracking your progress, too. One study out of Columbia University concludes that when people achieve a goal, no matter how small, personal satisfaction and confidence increase exponentially. Another study out of Harvard calls this the progress principle, meaning that when we see our progress on something meaningful to us, we're way more motivated and a lot happier.
This is where a solid watch comes in. A great watch can help you make progress by monitoring your pace and tracking your heart rate (and fitness level) as you get faster. Some watches can even be used for other sports and to monitor your recovery after a hard run.
If you're ready to push your cardio threshold to the limits, check out this list of the best watches for runners.
1. The Best Daily-Wear Watch
Fitbit Charge 2 Watch
Like a lot of sports watches, Fitbit's Charge 2 boasts a wrist-based heart rate tracker and all-day activity trackers. Where this watch really shines, though, is in its intuitive software that encourage users to find calm in the middle of everyday life. Using Fitbit's app, you can personalize guided breathing sessions based on how high your heart rate is reading. This watch also syncs flawlessly with call, text, and calendar notifications so you can always stay connected, whether you're on the track or at your desk. Even better? It's totally customizable with adjustable clock faces and interchangeable bands. It's super easy to stay healthy without screaming "I'm a runner!" when you're wearing this accessory.
2. The Best Multi-Sport Watch
Fitbit Blaze Smart Watch
Whether you're hiking, biking, or out for a long run, the Fitbit Blaze effortlessly tracks it all. Just set which sport you're doing for the day, and it adjusts its sensors for the most accurate tracking possible. And forget about manual entry — this watch automatically records your pace, distance, and more to your SmartTrack dashboard. It also has a super sensitive wrist tracker for continuous heart rate monitoring and includes a simplified heart rate zones graphic to help you maximize every workout. And if you're not feeling a run, it comes equipped with on-screen FitStar workouts. Just tap the screen to get step-by-step instructions and on-screen coaching!
3. The Best Budget-Friendly Watch
Garmin vivofit 3 Activity Tracker
If you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, Garmin's vivofit activity watch is an excellent choice. With a one-year (or longer) battery life (without recharging!) you can tackle all those long runs without worrying about your watch dying. It also has a "move bar" with audible alerts to remind you when you haven't gotten off the couch in awhile, and it prods you to get going on your daily step goal that you set yourself. This tracker also automatically syncs to Garmin's free online fitness community, Garmin Connect, where you can join fitness challenges to push yourself even further. The only downfall is that this watch doesn't have a built-in heart rate monitor, but you can easily pair it with a separate one if you want an even more accurate read.
4. The Best Investment Watch
Polar M430 Advanced Running GPS Watch
If you're ready to up your running game even more, Polar's M430 watch will get you across the finish line faster. One of the things that makes this watch stand out from the rest is its genius training and fitness platform, Power Flow. Available on desktop and mobile devices, Power Flow syncs with your watch to plan and analyze your workouts, and it follows your runs for the long-haul to monitor your overall progress. With an optical heart rate sensor and 24/7 tracking, this watch's accuracy is unparalleled. Bonus: It even comes with a wearable USB power pack for a continuous charge. Just snap it onto your watch, wear, run, and repeat.
5. The Best Watch For Music Lovers
TomTom Spark 3 Fitness Watch
There's nothing worse than being trapped with the same music on repeat while you're running. Luckily, TomTom's fitness watch has you covered. This GPS-enabled watch comes with sweat-proof wireless earbuds and doubles as a bluetooth music player. It even has storage for up to 500 songs so you can leave your phone behind while you run. There's also a programmable audio coach that can update you on your pace and progress as you run, and it all shows up on the crystal-clear display face. Lasting four (or more) hours when running the GPS with the audio coach and music going, this watch's battery power is no joke. And when you're not in the middle of a workout, the advanced activity tracker and heart rate monitor measures steps, calories, and sleep to give you feedback on your recovery.
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