Whether or not you are a newbie tackling your first 5k or prepping for a marathon, shopping for a operating watch will help you hit your targets.
High operating watches are extra than simply about tempo and distance; they’re now designed to let you know when to coach and when to relaxation, as nicely.
We have reviewed each operating watch available on the market – from low-cost operating watch choices to feature-packed alternate options for athletes – and compiled a roundup of the perfect picks from our testing.
It’s the definitive record, and we have tried to make sense of the dizzying choice for you.
Greatest for rookies: Garmin Forerunner 55
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is slim, light-weight, and easy to make use of, with out complicating issues with too many bells and whistles. It hooks as much as Strava, has a powerful suite of sleep and wellness monitoring, and comes extremely really useful.
Greatest worth operating watch: Coros Tempo 2
The AI Coach, superior metrics, and high battery life make the Coros Tempo 2 wonderful worth, with its sub-$200/£200 price ticket. For runners which are beginning to prepare for longer occasions and constructing velocity, it is a savvy buy.
Greatest for efficiency athletes: Polar Pacer Professional
The Polar Pacer Professional affords operating energy with out the necessity for any additional equipment, and the good FuelWise function helps plan diet for longer runs. Restoration is an enormous focus, with Coaching Load Professional insights, sleep monitoring, and HRV measurements that work collectively that can assist you plan your huge coaching periods.
The primary consideration when shopping for a operating watch needs to be battery life. How far do you run – and how much distances would you wish to run sooner or later?
Some smartwatches with operating watch options will battle to final 5 hours whereas monitoring GPS, thus may not final a full marathon.
Likewise, lots of the most costly operating watches provide 100 hours of steady monitoring, which is overkill for those who simply do a weekend 5K. Think about what you want.
Extra than simply operating
So that you like operating – however would you like your watch to trace different exercises too? Most operating watches will monitor swimming and biking too – however what about issues like golf or HIIT? For swimming, test the waterproof ranking (5ATM needs to be the minimal) and make sure that pool metrics are as much as scratch.
Many operating watches may have guided coaching plans in-built, which is helpful when you’re trying to construction your session – or have a particular objective in thoughts.
Extra superior operating watches can faucet into your physique to disclose issues like VO2 Max (the purest rating of your health), restoration recommendation, readiness, fuelling, and even diet.
There are many operating watches that may retailer music, so you’ll be able to run to the beat and depart your smartphone at residence. Try our special guide to sports watches with music playback.
Garmin Forerunner 255
- 12-14 days smartwatch / 26-30 hours GPS monitoring
- Run, swim, bike, health club, triathlon mode
- Multi-band mode
- Coaching standing, visible race predictor
The Forerunner 255 is among the finest operating watches we have examined – however we’ll caveat this at the start by noting that Garmin has already launched its successor, the Forerunner 265.
We have already taken to comparing the Forerunner 255 and Forerunner 265 for individuals who desire a head-to-head breakdown, but in addition know that we’ll be amending this following our full assessment of the brand new mannequin.
Till then, although, let’s spherical up what the old-gen mannequin affords.
Garmin has two totally different case variations of the 255 obtainable, you will nonetheless get the selection of normal and music editions if you wish to stream your music or playlists from streaming companies like Spotify.
The FR255 additionally has the identical dual-frequency GPS because the Fenix 7, Epix, and FR955 for optimum accuracy, and we have undoubtedly seen an enchancment within the coronary heart price monitoring accuracy. And when you’re nonetheless not comfortable together with your stats, now you can pair up exterior sensors.
On the software program entrance, there’s Garmin’s race day mode – one thing that helps you rely right down to your subsequent huge race, and schedule recommended exercises designed to slot in with the really useful coaching.
The favored ‘Morning Report’, as nicely, offers you a fast recap of your key stats, and any upcoming coaching periods for the day. Included in that is Garmin’s HRV Standing, which seems to coronary heart price variability measurements throughout sleep to supply richer restoration insights.
We must always notice, although, that the 255 lacks the ‘Coaching Readiness’ function Garmin added on the Forerunner 955, although we expect this to land sooner or later in 2023.
You are still getting all the similar options because the 245, too, together with every day recommended exercises, entry to Garmin Coach, easy breadcrumb navigation, Garmin Pay and Join IQ Retailer entry, and battery enhancements throughout all modes to maintain you away from the charger for a bit longer.
If you’d like a operating watch the place you need extra information, helpful coaching, and evaluation function wrapped up in a light-weight design, the 255 ticks the important thing containers and extra.
In-depth: Our full Garmin Forerunner 255 review
- Wealthy analytics
- New Race Day widget
- Improved HR accuracy
- Misses Coaching Readiness function
- Not fairly as premium-feeling as 955
Coros Tempo 2
- 20 days smartwatch/30 hours in full GPS
- Run, swim, bike, health club
- Energy coaching applications
- AI Coach and Evolab stamina and restoration metrics
Coros is a relative newcomer to the GPS operating watch world, nevertheless it’s shortly made a reputation for itself – and that is finest represented by the Coros Tempo 2.
It has all of the instruments to make it a formidable operating watch with out having to pay a premium. The display isn’t world-beating, however the 1.2-inch, 240 x 240, 64-color LCD places it consistent with Garmin units.
All the important thing sensors and operating profiles are on-board, plus will allow you to pair further sensors like Stryd’s foot pod and exterior coronary heart price displays.
Utilizing the built-in coronary heart price sensor the Tempo 2 can faucet into its restoration metrics courtesy of its AI Coach. This exhibits you a Stamina proportion and cardio/anaerobic coaching impact to indicate how recovered you might be. Coros EvoLab additionally affords the type of coaching insights and a race predictor for runners that you simply’d anticipate finding on pricier watches.
Coros has now additionally added power coaching options that may rely reps, allow you to construct exercises, and can present you whether or not you are focusing as a lot in your legs are you might be bulking up your higher physique.
It really works with third-party apps together with Strava after which there’s battery life. It just about wipes the ground with equivalently priced Garmin and Polar watches for GPS battery life numbers.
- Nice sports activities monitoring
- Loads of metrics
- Massive battery life
- Display screen brightness may very well be higher
- Nonetheless has fairly a bland design
Garmin Forerunner 955
- 1.3-inch touchscreen transflective show
- Full-color mapping
- Race widget, Coaching Readiness, recommended exercises
- Multi-band mode
- 15 days battery in smartwatch mode / 42 hours GPS battery life
If you’d like a operating watch that goes huge on monitoring, coaching, and evaluation options and wraps that each one up in a compact design, then forged your eyes on the 955.
Or, like with the Forerunner 255 detailed above, you would possibly need to as an alternative try the newly-announced Forerunner 965. We’re nonetheless conducting our full checks, so we have not included it right here, nevertheless it’s nearly definitely set to usurp the 955 in our rankings – even with the old-gen possible obtainable for cheaper.
That is to not say the 955 is a redundant watch, both – it is from it. In reality, with the enhancements Garmin made to this 2022 mannequin, it is an unimaginable watch to run with – and likewise affords a touchscreen to make it simpler to navigate maps and menu screens.
You’ve got the choice of the photo voltaic version for somewhat extra outlay, as nicely, and there is an improved efficiency from the onboard coronary heart price monitor. GPS can be significantly better than the 945, with Garmin including dual-frequency current within the Epix 2 and Fenix 7 watches.
There are some excellent software program options right here, additionally, that may attraction to runners, together with Coaching Readiness, which seems at information like coronary heart price variability, sleep, and operating historical past to raised perceive when it’s best to prepare or take a relaxation day. It is felt helpful and insightful in our testing time with the 955.
You are getting Garmin’s Morning Report to provide you an summary of what is in your agenda for the day and a race day widget that is a bit clunky to arrange, however will ship climate updates for the large race, a recommended end time and advocate exercises based mostly on the kind of race you are tackling.
Garmin has made battery enhancements right here, too, although they do not really feel as big as those on its newest Fenix and Epix watches. It is a watch that may final a strong week with common coaching and options like notifications, music streaming, and steady coronary heart price monitoring in play. Deliver photo voltaic into play and people numbers develop so long as you’ve got been out within the solar lengthy sufficient.
It is packed to the rafters with operating options, and, crucially, has the monitoring efficiency to make these options really feel helpful.
- Added multi-band mode
- New Coaching Readiness mode
- Battery enhancements
- Similar design as 945
- Coronary heart price monitoring at excessive depth
- No big battery enhancements
Garmin Forerunner 55
- 2 weeks smartwatch/20 hours of GPS monitoring
- Run, swim, bike, health club
- Adaptive coaching plans
- VO2 Max
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is the pure successor to the Garmin Forerunner 45, however this entry-level operating watch steps issues up.
The Forerunner 55 boasts a low-profile and minimal design, and it is introduced on board a number of the extra insightful coaching and evaluation options normally reserved for pricier Garmin watches.
The watch case itself measures simply 42mm, which creeps up barely in thickness coming in at 11.6mm thick in comparison with the 11.4mm sized physique on the 42mm Forerunner 45.
Entrance and middle is a 1.04-inch, 208 x 208 transflective, always-on show, which affords sturdy visibility in all situations, and is quite a bit kinder on battery life.
The Forerunner 55 guarantees as much as 7 days in smartwatch mode and 20 hours of GPS battery life and that is what we skilled in our testing. That is greater than ok for these embarking on half and full-marathon coaching applications.
In relation to racing, a key addition is PacePro, which helps you goal race tempo with gradients taken under consideration, VO2 Max estimation, and race predictor information on ending occasions based mostly in your health.
It now helps Garmin Coach and recommended exercises, so it may be extra of an lively participant in your coaching.
There’s Garmin’s Elevate optical coronary heart price monitor to trace coronary heart price constantly, throughout train and unlock options like Garmin’s Physique Battery Power monitor and the improved restoration advisor.
You do even have the choice to pair up exterior coronary heart price displays to enhance accuracy in measuring effort ranges throughout runs.
The Garmin Forerunner 55 is an improved operating companion because of new software program options that search that can assist you run your finest. It balances a implausible set of options that provides far more than the fundamentals, in a modern and light-weight bundle. We like it.
- Small, gentle design
- PacePro and recommended exercises
- Full Join IQ help
- Fundamental metrics in comparison with Coros
- Low res display
Polar Pacer Professional
- 7-day smartwatch/40 hours GPS battery life
- FuelWise fuelling suggestions, HillSplitter analytics
- Breadcrumb navigation and add routes through Komoot
- FitSpark exercises/Efficiency & restoration checks
- Operating energy, sleep, and restoration insights
The Vantage V2 is technically Polar’s top-end watch, however when you think about what number of of its options are crammed into the Pacer Professional for considerably much less cash, it is the Polar watch runners ought to go for in our eyes.
It is also a greater performer than the marginally underwhelming Polar Ignite 3.
Runners are nicely catered for with a full vary of stats – and there is a focus right here on operating energy, for these keen on pacing based mostly on effort fairly than velocity.
Polar has included the Hill Splitter and FuelWise options from its Grit X sports activities watch, with the latter enabling you to plan your journey’s meals consumption and remind you to refuel. We discovered it labored nicely, however the reminders have been somewhat simple to overlook.
There are easy breadcrumb-style navigation options and the flexibility to add routes, although that needs to be finished through the third-party app Komoot, which you’ll finally must pay for.
Restoration is an enormous a part of the Pacer Professional too, together with Polar’s nice Coaching Load Professional insights and a degree of sleep monitoring that’s each correct and likewise pays shut consideration to measurements like HRV to supply higher suggestions in your restoration wants.
Polar consists of its Precision Prime optical coronary heart price sensor tech that provides sturdy accuracy however nonetheless has its odd flaky moments at excessive depth and even on some low-intensity exercises.
In case you like Polar’s software program and wish the watch in its assortment that provides the perfect worth for cash expertise, the Pacer Professional is the one you need.
- Get the perfect of Vantage V2 options for much less
- Gentle design
- Wealthy coaching and evaluation
- Ugly black bezel
- No huge new options
- Sleep monitoring drains the battery
Apple Watch Collection 8 / SE
Again when the Apple Watch first arrived, we’d have struggled to advocate it as a operating watch. Quick ahead to in the present day, and, for informal runners, the Apple Watch Collection 8 (And Apple Watch SE) are two of the perfect choices on the market.
With GPS on board, it’s nicely arrange for the monitoring of outside runs, and there are treadmill exercise choices for those who benefit from the health club.
The onboard coronary heart price sensor is up there with the perfect we’ve used on any machine, and Apple is adept at utilizing it to supply significant information. You’ll see information like VO2 Max and Cardio Health ranges inside the Health and Apple Well being iPhone apps.
And the massive, AMOLED display is nicely fitted to displaying off mid-run metrics, and the Exercise app is well-designed and simple to make use of.
However what actually units it aside is the App Retailer. We want to make use of the Strava app for Apple Watch because it’s our most popular service, however when you like Nike Run Membership or MapMyRun, all these can be found too.
After which there’s the music facet. With Apple Music, Spotify, and Amazon Music apps, it’s one of many slickest units for taking your tunes on the go.
There are downsides. Battery life with GPS monitoring is round 7 hours – and in actuality, could be much less if music or LTE are concerned. In case you’re planning on doing a marathon, we’d in all probability search for one thing extra specialised.
And the rationale we use Strava is that we don’t really feel that the Health app gives the element, evaluation, and motivation we crave as runners. There aren’t month-to-month development targets, PB monitoring, exercise solutions, or particulars on readiness. And that is the place Garmin nonetheless holds loads of playing cards.
Apple Watch Extremely
The concept of the Apple Watch is to be a greater companion to those who love outside adventures – and it solves lots of the ache factors of the Collection 8/SE.
It’s an enormous design overhaul, with a much bigger, brighter show and toughened 49mm case. It’s type of garish, nevertheless it does appear to be a correct journey watch that packs baggage of persona.
For highway runners, the important thing enhancements are boosted battery life and multi-band GPS, which has enabled the Apple Watch Extremely to compete with devoted operating watches.
Battery life is upped to 12 hours of multiband monitoring. That’s considerably lower than the 40+ hours touted by most flagship GPS watches, however good for most traditional individuals’s operating efforts.
We put the Apple Watch Ultra up against the Garmin Epix at Chicago Marathon and located its accuracy was superior across the difficult course of skyscrapers that may destroy most operating watches. So, when you can reside with the battery life, there’s a good pay-off.
For off-road runners, there are some modest navigation options on board, and you may program waypoints within the compass app, and use trackback to search out your approach residence.
As ever, there are third-party apps that may do that higher – and just like the Collection 8 – that is the Extremely’s power. The native evaluation of runs continues to be missing, however with battery life and accuracy boosted, there’s quite a bit to love.
However you do pay for the extras. With a price ticket that eclipses the Garmin Fenix 7, it’s actually concerning the Apple Watch Extremely as a fascinating watch, and the benefits it brings every day, that make it definitely worth the cash.
- Very good persona
- Wonderful, intuitive operating monitoring
- Very full expertise outdoors of operating
- Heavy to run with in comparison with different Apple Watch fashions
- Knowledge not as in-depth as different manufacturers
- Battery life cannot compete with different watches
Coros Apex 2
- 17-day battery / 30 hours full GPS
- Mapping and navigation
- Effort Tempo steering
- ECG sensor for HRV restoration evaluation
The brand new Coros Apex 2 is an efficient choose for superior runners, in search of a very good worth watch that shoots for large health insights.
It’s nearer to the Garmin Forerunner 955, with navigation added to the combo.
There’s a deal with extra superior insights, with stride size, operating energy, elevation, and coaching impact insights all on board.
After which there’s Effort Tempo, which is a brand new tackle operating energy, designed to be extra user-friendly. There’s some improvement to be finished right here, and this new function must evolve somewhat extra to be a real software.
The Apex 2 affords downloadable international panorama maps and topographical regional maps. You may as well use the touchscreen help to navigate round them.
And there’s additionally an ECG sensor on board, which is used to energy an HRV take a look at, that may entry your restoration after huge exercises. We’re followers of that utility of ECG, nevertheless, the truth that that is finished manually makes it much less efficient than comparable options on Garmin and Whoop. Nonetheless, accuracy through ECG needs to be higher.
If you’d like extra superior multiband GPS monitoring then you definitely’ll must go for the dearer Coros Apex 2 Professional.
- Tremendous operating monitoring
- Improved battery life
- Gentle and cozy to run with
- No music help
- Good options are poor
- Sleep monitoring drains the battery
Garmin Fenix 7X
- 37 days smartwatch/89-hour GPS battery (with Photo voltaic)
- Full-color mapping
- Visible race predictor, real-time stamina
- Multi-band mode
- Flashlight mode
The Fenix 7X is an out of doors watch first, nevertheless it’s each bit an important operating watch and in order for you correct mapping, huge battery life, and like the thought of getting a pleasant huge bezel in your wrist, then that is one for you.
The 7X is the priciest of the Fenix 7 collection watches and is available in photo voltaic and sapphire photo voltaic editions, with the latter pushing the value up above $1,000/£1,000 for the extra sturdy design and preloaded maps.
That does imply you’ll be able to observe full TOPO maps on this watch and there is now a touchscreen to enhance your navigation time. Garmin’s added its nice multi-band mode to noticeably enhance outside monitoring accuracy and options like a visible race predictor, which pays shut consideration to your monitoring historical past to foretell these occasions.
One function you get on the 7X that you aren’t getting on different Fenix or Forerunner watches is a flashlight mode, which provides an LED gentle on the high of the watch case. You possibly can choose from white or white LED colours and there are cadence or blitz lighting modes to choose from right here too.
Garmin consists of its real-time Stamina mode to assist be sure you do not empty your tank at the start of your run, utilizing your previous exercise information to estimate how far it’s best to have the ability to run. It sounds nice as an idea however we discovered it a little bit of a posh one to get on board with.
Then there’s the battery life. Garmin went huge with its Enduro watch after which with the Fenix 7X, it went greater. We’re speaking about getting by a month of monitoring with common GPS use. GPS battery is an enormous 122 hours (with photo voltaic) and Expedition mode gives you wherever from 62-139 days.
If you’d like a operating watch with big battery life, nice mapping, and the perfect of Garmin’s operating options, that is what you get from the Fenix 7X.
- Massive battery life
- Improved mapping options
- Nice core sports activities monitoring
- Massive case design will not be for everybody
- Coronary heart price accuracy throughout excessive depth
- The value
Learn our full Garmin Fenix 7X review.
Huawei Watch GT Runner
- 14 days smartwatch battery life/15 hours GPS (from testing)
- 100+ sports activities modes
- AI Operating Coach
- Operating Means Index, VO2 Max, coaching load, lactic acid information
In fact, the Apple Watch solely works with iPhones – so if in case you have an Android smartphone, the Huawei Watch GT Runner is a high smartwatch choice.
It is a repackaging of the Huawei Watch GT 3, which can be wonderful for operating exercises. However the GT Runner has acquired a extra sporty design and light-weight construct.
Core operating options embody wonderful coaching plans and training, based mostly in your efficiency as a runner, and you are able to do every thing from the watch itself.
There’s additionally a number of VO2 Max and coaching impact information on the watch – together with the Huawei Operating Means Index, which measures your efficiency and suggests ending occasions for key race distances. And these have been spot on in our testing.
GPS has supposedly been boosted with a brand new floating antenna, though we noticed no actual proof of enchancment in our testing and we did discover some small monitoring points in built-up areas.
Coronary heart price monitoring efficiency was additionally fairly common, with as much as 10 bpm variations from a chest strap, which is barely greater than we might anticipate to see from rival Garmin/Fitbit/Apple units. Fortunately, you’ll be able to pair it up with an exterior coronary heart price monitor to enhance that information.
Just about all Huawei Watch GT Runner options could be discovered on the cheaper GT3, however the design will attraction to runners. Nonetheless, for Android customers in search of a smartwatch, the positives outweigh the negatives.
- Good, gentle design for operating
- Helpful operating software program options
- Good for every week’s price of heavy coaching
- GPS accuracy missing at occasions regardless of new antennae
- Missing third-party help
- Common smartwatch expertise
Garmin Venu 2
- 11 days smartwatch battery life/22 hours GPS
- Garmin Coach
- VO2 max
The Venu has emerged as Garmin’s reply to the Apple Watch. With the Venu 2, you are still getting a colour display, the perfect smartwatch options Garmin has to supply and people monitoring staples that make it an important match for operating.
The newest Venu now is available in two measurement choices the Venu 2 (45mm) and the smaller Venu 2S (40mm). The Venu 2 gives you the larger, greater decision colour AMOLED touchscreen show, however each embody Garmin’s newest Elevate optical coronary heart price sensor that guarantees to ship extra correct information.
You may get built-in GPS after all and core operating metrics together with further ones like operating VO2 Max discovered inside Garmin’s companion Join app.
As a smartwatch, it is one thing that works with Android and iPhones and offers you notifications, a music participant with room for two,000 songs, and help for streaming companies like Spotify.
There are additionally funds and entry to Join IQ Retailer so as to add extra apps, watch faces, and information fields. in order for you some voice-enabled options, the brand new Venu 2 Plus affords a built-in microphone and speaker to allow you to entry your smartphone assistant out of your watch.
We discovered monitoring accuracy dependable and the larger display and improved UI make it a nicer watch to run with too. We did not see enhancements in coronary heart price accuracy for operating, regardless of the inclusion of that new sensor. You possibly can pair up an exterior sensor no less than.
The quoted 12 days battery life got here up quick for us and is best suited to only over every week. In case you think about utilizing it with the display set to always-on, that is going to drop to nearer to 4-5 days. The 22 hours of GPS battery needs to be match to get you every week’s price of monitoring too.
If you’d like extra battery than an Apple Watch and nice run monitoring, the Venu 2 is one to have a look at as an alternative.
- Good well being options
- Nice sports activities monitoring
- Wrist elevate is just not nice
- Clunky in locations
Garmin Epix (Gen 2)
- 1.3-inch AMOLED touchscreen show
- Full-color mapping
- Visible race predictor, Coaching Readiness, recommended exercises
- Multi-band mode
- 16 days battery in smartwatch mode / 42 hours GPS battery life
The Garmin Epix is what you get whenever you take the AMOLED display from Garmin’s Venu watch and match it up with the options of a Fenix 7. If that sounds just like the recipe for an important operating watch, then you definitely’d be proper.
Packed right into a 47mm case that is available in stainless-steel or titanium, the Epix incorporates a 1.3-inch, 416 x 416-pixel decision, matching the display measurement and backbone included on Garmin’s cheaper Venu 2 collection.
It is a touchscreen too, which is easy and responsive and brings an entire new dimension to viewing the complete mapping it helps. It additionally makes scrolling by menu screens and utilizing music controls a a lot slicker expertise.
The entire operating options are included on the Fenix 7 minimize. There’s the multi-band mode, which does knock the battery greater than regular GPS mode however does ship supreme outside monitoring accuracy.
The guts price monitor performs nicely for steady-paced runs and handles the high-intensity stuff nicely too normally.
You’ve got additionally acquired the much-improved race predictor and questionably helpful addition in real-time stamina metrics. You possibly can add routes, and entry Garmin Coach and there are every day recommended exercises right here as nicely.
With that AMOLED display in place, that does imply battery life is not fairly on par with the Fenix 7, nevertheless it’s nonetheless ok to get you thru a strong week of monitoring and doubtlessly two weeks based mostly on utilization.
It is the type of compromise you can also make based mostly on the distinction that colour display makes dwelling with the Epix day-to-day in comparison with the Fenix. It is an important operating watch and when you’ve needed an important operating watch with a colour display, that is the perfect one on the market.
- Nice AMOLED display
- Strong run monitoring
- Nice display for viewing maps
- Join app nonetheless feels busy
- Massive price ticket
- No solar energy