From tracking your pace and monitoring your heart rate to measuring your foot strike and fat burned, the latest GPS watches for running now let you track, log and analyze every detail of your run. Whether you’re bounding up mountain trails or pacing out personal records (PRs) on the city streets, there’s a GPS running watch to suit your needs. But with all the new technology on the market, how do you know what you should strap on your wrist? Here are our top six sports watches to help you run faster, further and better than ever.
Suunto Ambit 2
Sleek, sturdy and amazingly customizable, the Ambit 2 is an adventure runner’s ideal companion. Basic functions of this GPS watch for running let you track navigation, speed, heart rate, altitude and weather conditions. But for those who demand more, there’s a suite of extra downloadable apps that offer extra tracking power on the go! Plus, it’s not just smart, it’s tough too. The reinforced glass fiber casing gives this GPS watch the strength to withstand even the harshest conditions. Plus the 16-hour battery life means it’ll keep going as long as you do.
TomTom Runner Cardio
The latest GPS running watch to join the TomTom team, the Runner Cardio offers real-time heart rate tracking without the need for a separate chest strap. The built-in optical heart rate sensor detects your BPM from your wrist, helping you tell which training zone you’re in – whether you’re burning fat or boosting your aerobic capacity as you run. As you run, all of your data syncs over Bluetooth Smart to an easy-to-use smartphone app and TomTom’s MySports web tracking tool. There’s also a multi-sport waterproof version of this GPS sports watch with lap-tracking for swimmers or triathletes, although sadly the heart rate smarts don’t work in the pool.
Garmin Forerunner 620
The Garmin Forerunner GPS watch is the complete runner’s tool. Perfect for serious runners and marathon personal-best chasers, it will tell you everything you need to know to improve your running performance. Standout features include real-time heart rate monitoring (albeit with a separate chest strap), cadence and vertical oscillation stats to help you strive for a Mo Farrah style running style, and advice on how long you need to recover from the workout you just did. Great battery life and a responsive color touchscreen make this one of the best running weapons you can put on your wrist.
The Polar RCX5 is a sports watch that’s all about heart rate. The monitor packed inside the sleek shell powers the ZoneOptimiser feature which automatically adjusts your heart rate zones to advise you to train at the right level at all times. There’s also a clever profile feature that lets you switch easily between different sports, making it simple to go from running to biking. Plus, all of your run stats can be fired over Wi-Fi to Polar’s web-tracking tool giving you a level of post-workout detail that’s almost unrivalled. This can help you optimize your performance and perfect your training plan over time.
Garmin Forerunner 910XT
The ultimate GPS running watch for people with multi-sport ambitions, the Forerunner 910XT’s superb features set caters for swimming, cycling and running with confidence. Transitioning between sports is done at the touch of a button, making it perfect for triathletes and Iron Man participants. Waterproof to 50 meters, it will track swim metrics like strokes and laps, while switching to cycling gives you elevation, speed and distance. Runners get the usual distance, pace and splits you would expect from a sports watch, plus you can set a vibrating alert to let you know it’s time to take on fuel or water. There’s even a nifty Virtual Race feature that lets you race a previous personal best and add a healthy dose of competition to your workout. This bulky beauty of a GPS watch will also go for 14 hours on a single charge.
Adidas MiCoach Smart Run
New in 2013, the Smart Run GPS sports watch not only packs a built-in heart rate monitor but also puts all of Adidas’ MiCoach coaching cleverness right where you can see it. The excellent screen makes your run stats easy to see on the move, and the ability to customize your work out views means you’ll always have the important stats available at a glance. As you’d expect from a running watch, all of your run data syncs over Wi-Fi with the MiCoach web tools where you can create heart-rate based training plans based on your personal needs to help you achieve your goals. One word of caution: the battery life leaves a lot to be desired, with dimly screens, frequent charging is necessary for this GPS running watch.